The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers (Review)


 I watched “Fellowship” again last month, you can find my insightful and witty review here.

I was told by TOG that my review of “Fellowship” came off as a bit harsh, upon scanning it again I can’t really see that. In any case I will reiterate that I loved the first movie, (And the second. And the third.) and have never found reason to bag it publicly.

So let me again say right here I wouldn’t sit through a three hour film, the second three hour film in a series of three three hour films, for a third time if I didn’t like it, I just don’t got that kinda time.

A reminder that I don’t think I need to give a plot summary or a review, so I am just giving a running commentary while I watch the film, including helpful time elapsed figures in case you are the fact checking type.

Here we go….“Lord of the Rings – The Last temptation of Frodo” or “The Two Towers” my memory is a bit fuzzy, (I know which I prefer).

1st Minute – Remember New Zealand? If the first film didn’t do enough for NZ tourism the tourist board wield their considerable influence and refresh our memory with a 120 second helicopter shot of the most beautiful areas in the country.

I love the story that wealthy Americans would ring their travel agents asking for prices to Mordor, yes they knew Orcs and Hobbits weren’t real but the countryside in Mordor still looked amazing!

3rd minute – Gandalf Vs Captain Flamey. Good idea to kick off the action with one of the coolest looking bits in any films in the trilogy. This Peter Jackson guy might have a future in films yet, keep an ear out for his name.

Before I progress further, it was a sharp idea to film all three flicks at one time so all the effects and action looks consistent. This avoids the dilemma faced by Star Wars Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, where Darth Maul has the coolest and most lethal hand to hand weapon in any of the films and apparently the manufacturers simply discontinued the model, meaning it wouldn’t be seen in the ‘sequels’.

Continuing my tangent, seriously how cool did Darth Maul look and what did he get, like 10 words of dialogue? One fight scene later and he snuffs it. And Jar-Jar Binks gets a free pass for all three prequels?

Wow, unleashed some inner fanboy I didn’t even know I had then!

7th minute – The first appearance of Gollum up close, I am still amazed at how well they integrated a CGI character into the film without it being a little “talking to the dot”, and not just a bit part guy, Gollum is in a good hour of scenes and interacts with the Hobbits in almost every one.

13th minute – Gimli whinges about having to chase the Orcs for three days and nights. They can’t find a horse? A giant eagle? A dragon? A poxy walking tree?

Edit – They are gifted some horses a bit later, but there are a wide array of rideable creatures in this film, I’d hope if I ran for three full days and nights I’d find something to give me a lift. (Though three days and nights running for me wouldn’t get me to the next suburb.)

25th minute – Randall was right, this movie really is “run, run, run, run”, although it’s by no means as bad as he makes out.

Gimli does get the bulk of the joke attempts over the journey, both good and bad. I think he has his best lines in this movie though.

Ø     “I’m wasted on cross country. We Dwarves are natural sprinters, very dangerous over short distances.”

Ø     “It’s true you don’t see many dwarf women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance, that they are often mistaken for dwarf men.”

Ø     “You could have picked a better spot.”

Ø     “Nobody tosses a Dwarf!”

Ø     “Don’t tell the Elf.”

John Rhys-Davies, who plays Gimli must have gotten shitty with acting on his knees though…. On a related note, so must Paris Hilton… Zingggggg! (I’m working on technology so when your eyes scan this section you will hear a rim shot with a cymbal “ting” that symbolizes you have just read a crappy joke! Jimmy Fallon desperately needs it to save his terrible show.)

30th minute – Take that Cochise. Aragorn tracks the steps of Pippin and Merry, (who as Hobbits must weigh around 35kg each), in the middle of a battle scene between 50 plus Orcs and a similar number of assailants on horses! Good work really.

33rd minute – First appearance of the Ents, the talking trees. Dunno why in a series of films including dragons, trolls, giant spiders and a host of similarly fantastical creatures but these things give me the shits. I will make scant reference to them from here as I didn’t pay them much attention after this. The only redeeming feature is that they didn’t speak in rhyme, but that’s like saying at least Jessica Simpson doesn’t drown puppies.Right now let’s get this thing moving through the next hour and a half.

The Ents: Waste of time? Or TOTAL waste of time? Discuss.

The Ents: Waste of time? Or TOTAL waste of time? Discuss.

37th minute – Dragons are both gay and cool. Dunno how, they just are.

43rd minute – The return of Gandy, and what an entrance.

50th minute – The good old rock shaped cloak trick. Clinically proven to fool 99 out of a 100 inquisitive Uruk-Hai. (Not for use with more than two Hobbits.)

59th minute – Whaddya mean someone named Wormtongue isn’t trustworthy?

78th minute – Multi-tusking! Handy split level oliphants are just cool.

84th minute – AAHH! Hugo! Butcher scenes in your own time buddy.

88th minute – First cool fight in this flick, even though afterwards I realized once again 90% of the scene has guys swinging and stabbing fake stuff, as all the Doggy style creatures and most of the Orcs are CGI.

90th minute through 117th minute – Every sub-story inches forward bit by bit without anything of note happening.

118th minute – The return of Aragorn from seemingly certain death. When he swings the doors open he could’ve walked up to Eowyn (Miranda Otto) with his todger out and gone to town. (I’m pretty sure he could’ve walked into any cinema and had the same response, judging by the frequent high pitched sighs that I heard during this film.)

129th minute – And here come the Elves to reinforce us! Seriously, if I hadn’t seen Legolas fight already a bunch of Nordic looking Backstreet Boys showing up wouldn’t have thrilled me.

133rd minute – Walking stops. Helm’s Deep battle starts.

Here’s a thought, if we weren’t in the 6th hour of the trilogy so far no-one would get away with a 45 minute battle scene, fortunately by this time after 5 hours of walking in a line and only two decent battle scenes I was more than ready to see someone kick some Orcy-Ass.

And boy do we get just that.

Yet another aside, in this and a million other battle standoff scenes there is the guy standing with the archers saying “Wait for itttt…..”

Why? As soon as you reckon you can hit the bad guys start pinging away, when you are 4 or 500 strong max and you are going up against 10,000, surely knocking off a few early can’t be a bad thing?

Theodin, the King of Rohan was a pretty cool cat to this point, but for most of the battle he either stands at the back looking around or just spouts arrogant sounding non-sequeters to himself, including:

“So it begins.”

“So much death, what can men do against such reckless hate?”

Anyway, then he says:

138th minute – “Is this it? Is this all you can conjure Saruman……….?”

139th minute – Saruman decides it is time for rebuttal. The first Orc suicide bomber blows the wall of the stronghold sky-high in a massively cool looking stunt. It is here when you realize just how much care they took when making this film, watch the debris hitting the Uruk-Hai soldiers.

140th minute – The first noticeable fault in the series. A good guy drops a rock over the wall and hits the helmet of an Orc underneath. Sounded tinny and hollow. (Yeah picky I know.)

141st minute – Legolas goes shield surfing down a flight of steps. Not terrible but I just thing Jackson was gunning for unnecessary cool points when the audience had already been won over.

144th minute – ELF DOWN! ELF DOWN! For some reason the leader of the Elvish allies getting dropped means enough to Aragorn to elevate him to another level of pissed, considering he killed about 197 Orcs whilst reasonably stable that should mean the rest of the good guys might as well go home. Aragorn’ll finish off the last of ‘em.

145th minute – Theodin decides to step from the backline to get involved defending the main gate, less than 25 seconds later he gets a minor owie, cries for back up and runs off. Way to lead from the front chief!

153rd minute – The Ents finally pull their weight in this film. (They have been popping up from time to time but I was using that time to write.)

159th minute – Theodin and friends have their G-Force moment and ride out of the castle in tight formation, mowing down every Orc on the bridge out. Every Orc seems to get be surprised and not expecting to get hit by a horse despite seeing them all ride out, and none of them think to have a mad slash at a horse? They can’t all be animal lovers?

Battle and film essentially over, either the Orcs have clear blood or everyone was very lucky in not getting their costumes messed up, especially Gandalf in his pristine all over white ensemble (from Versace).

In summary, this is my favourite of the three films, even though it really was basically a bridge between the first and last with one main set piece being Helm’s Deep. This is where every character is defined to the point where you start to know how they will act before they act.

Also by this time if you don’t like any or most of the main characters in the original Fellowship then you’ve wasted 6 hours and should cut ties now.

And lastly, I couldn’t let it pass without mentioning that this is the movie where the pent up sexual tension between Sam and Frodo simmers along to almost boiling point.

There are so many “lean in” moments where I almost yelled at the screen “kiss him already”, they also have running tiffs when Frodo has his “dizzy moments” and you can almost hear him silently screaming “Why must you always do this to me?” when Sam tries once again to snap him out of it by talking sense.

And of course Sam is totally jealous of the new guy-pal Gollum and doesn’t even try to hide his disdain.

And when they look into each other’s eyes when Sam gives his speech at the end my heart just melted a little, I was just soooo envious of their unconditional Hobbit love.

And I guess that was what J.R.R. Tolkein was trying to get across from the beginning.

Final Rating – 9.5 / 10. Standing tall as the best movie in one of the best series of movies ever ain’t a bad place to be. (I knocked off 0.5 for the hollow helmet sound, guy’s gotta have standards.)

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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