Friday, January 14, 2011

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Unlike the next movie there are only a few scenes with the hobbits, thus greatly enhancing the entertainment value and watchability. The Two Towers is home to the best battle scenes and introduces a couple of great new characters. Faramir, Boromir's brother, is not quite as awesome as Sean Bean but he's still pretty good and the scenes with him are excellent. Theoden is great throughout this movie as well, these are once again the most human characters, as Aragorn is still some sort of immortal deity, and it is easy to sympathize with their actions. While neither is as great as Boromir the extended edition has a fantastic scene that has Boromir in it.

The scene with Boromir takes place a bit before the council of Elrond and is easily the best extra scene in any of the extended editions. Denethor comes to Osgiliath just after Boromir takes it back from Mordor and tells him to go acquire the one ring all the while insulting the hell out of Faramir. This is much more direct than the troubled relationship described in the third film and works much better. Of course, Sean Bean being awesome still helps a lot. A bizarre thing to note is that Fellowship takes place over ~10 years while the next two films take about a year each which greatly alters the perspective of either film. Saruman breeds his army for that entire time as opposed to just popping them out in the span of a few months, and Mordor is considerably strengthened for the Pelennor fields. This is never explained directly in the films so it causes some confusion, the only real hint you get is that Bilbo is so much older in Rivendell than he was in the Shire, but that's actually been like 5 years without the ring by the time Frodo gets there.

Gandalf of course returns but I sort of favor Gandalf the Grey as he also displayed some human characteristics. Obviously he's supposed to represent the ressurection and it's power but showing at least some flaw in the next two films would be nice. He is after all still a Maiar and thus not completely invincible. He's not as invincible as Aragorn but he's pretty close at this point. I always liked Eowyn as a character, while her characteristics aren't exactly human by any current measure her tale is still very interesting. She sort of achieves what Liv Tyler fails at as Arwen, and her life revolves around some discussion of eternal decay despite not being an Elf. Sam becomes quite a bit more endearing at this point as well, even though Sean Astin is an excellent actor the film still fails to convey his badassery in this and the next film but it works well enough. He's certainly a hell of a lot less annoying than Frodo.

One thing this series overdoes is the "all is lost, oops we succeeded at the last possible moment guess not" angle which seems to happen 4 or 5 times in each film. While in Fellowship it is pretty palpable (and people actually died!) with the major battle sequences and the walking through Mordor of the second two films there is no doubt that good will succeed magnificently, most of the time not even harming any of the major characters. This is perhaps what makes the Nazgul less impressive despite their CGI beasts of doom. Also a big black drooling badass horse is better than a green screen effect. The siege of Helm's Deep is very well done, easily the best big battle in the series, but there is never any doubt whatsoever that good will emerge triumphant with little to no casualties. Also when characters actually do die (with the exception of Haldir, who didn't die in the book so whatever) they always seem to be the awesome characters, it would be nice if one of the annoying ones died instead for brevity's sake. This film is still watchable for the entire 4 hours or so and relatively interesting, so it still beats the hell out of Return of the King.

Final Score: 9/10

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