The Two Towers, a review

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I must say right off the bat that this film is superb for the most part. Like the The Empire Strikes Back with Star Wars, it expands upon events and characters introduced in the Fellowship of the Ring. Despite some popular opinion out there, the book and the film are by no means intermediary filler to be glossed over on the way to The Return of the King.

Arwen and Aragorn


The Nazgul at Osgiliath

Legolas near Edoras

A warg confronts Gimli

Trolls open the gates of the Morannon

The film is never boring, it never drags out any particular scene or event.

Nonetheless, to any that have read the books, the film is going to appear like a condensed version in several places. Like with The Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jackson takes license with many events and people. In the main, this is not a negative thing.

The Two Towers introduces us to several new characters, the most influential of whom is King Théoden of Rohan. Bernard Hill plays Rohan's beleaguered leader with aplomb and defiance. His people, the Rohirrim, come first, a point he makes at every turn to Aragorn. The battle at Helm's Deep tests his mettle, and the courage of all around him.

Brad Dourif plays Wormtongue the way only Dourif could. I love Dourif's acting; he has a twitchy and frenetic style that is engaging to watch. Wormtongue is Théoden's principal advisor, but is a tool of Saruman.

Karl Urban plays Éomer, nephew to Théoden. Éomer doesn't get anywhere the screen time he deserves. This is one facet of the film that disappointed me. Éomer is a central player in the The Two Towers book. Much of what happens and what outcomes do happen, are the work of Éomer. Alas, Jackson has made him a minor character.

Miranda Otto excels at Éowyn, sister to Éomer. She's a good actress who now has the chance to exhibit her skills to a larger audience. She plays the role of Éowyn precisely, shield-maiden of the Rohirrim, desiring to do battle against Saruman's horde.

David Wenham plays Faramir, younger brother of Boromir. Wenham plays Faramir a little too matter-of-factly for my taste, and like Éomer, doesn't get the time on screen that his character warrants.

The film perpetuates the nonsense introduced in the Fellowship of the Ring that Saruman is allied with Sauron. There is no "union between the Two Towers". Makes a great movie idea, but it rankles with fans of the book, like myself. It does carry on the modern fantasy idiom that all dwarves are gruff and resolute. Gimli's character is definitely given more breadth here, but an Everquest "dorf", he is not. Seriously, read the books and you'll see Gimli in a much different light.

This instalment of the Lord of the Rings is decidedly more action-oriented. Reflects the book for the most part. The battle scenes at Helm's Deep are mind-bending and brilliantly done. Portrays a siege to a tee. The ambush of the Southrons by the forces of Faramir is great. We see the vaunted Oliphaunts or mûmak as they're called in the Southron tongue. Giant elephants in other words. The battle of Saruman's warg-riders against the forces of Rohan is well done.

I've saved the best for last, and that is Gollum. Gollum is depicted and acted out in such resplendent living colour that Tolkien himself would be impressed. He is exactly how you would imagine him; a twisted and thin hobbit, mutated by centuries of corruption from the One Ring. His debates with himself are a classic; the "angel" and the "devil" parts of Gollum are always in contention, but his sick desire to possess his "precious" is the one driving force of his persona. He really is up there with ET, the Alien and Jabba the Hutt when it comes to "memorable non-human personalities". If you leave the cinema with one impression only, it'll be of Gollum. Kudos to Jackson's team and especially to Andy Serkis.

Memorable Moments

The Book and the Film :: The Differences and other Points

Sam and Gollum

The Southrons and their Oliphaunts

Faramir of Gondor

Faramir and Boromir