Hey folks, Harry here... with the latest barrage of reviews from THE TWO TOWERS, all links and reviews on this page are heavy HEAVY HEAVY Spoiler Filled. So read only if you wish to know. Here ya go...
After our review of THE TWO TOWERS went live we were bombarded with e-mails from fellow fans with questions about the film.
We've started an FAQ that I think your visitors might enjoy...if they don't mind HEAVY SPOILERS:
Here's the review link just in case: The Review Link!
Hope this helps!
Next we have a pair of reviews from Norway... Oslo to be specific. So here's ManwÃ« with a very excited first look, and remember, English is not his primary language, if you're going to criticize his English in Talk Back, do it in Norwegian. Ok? Cool!
ManwÃ«'s first impression review:
Walking into the great realm of Colosseum Cinema in Oslo feels very much the same as walking into the great realm of Moria, Lothlorien, the city of Gondor, the great landscapes of The Shire, the tower of Orthanc, it even feels like standing at the foot of The Black Gate of Mordor. And while your body and flesh is safe for the evils of Sauron, your heart, body and spirit floats off into the world of Middle Earth.
Seeing The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers is not like a dream, it is more the part of reality you wish could go on forever. The anticipation of fans worldwide is enormous. As it should be. It should be said that I have only read the first book (after seeing the movie) and my impression is as mind-blowing as any.
We start off at the beginning. As I watched the title burn across the screen and spellbinding my soul for the next three hours, I knew that this was highlight of the years. I could have died right after the filmed with a great smile on my face. Off course I would be a bit pissed later on, realising I would not return for the last movie. But if Gandalf can, why can’t I?
The first shot of the film is a wideshot of Middle-Earth, and we fly back over Caradhras, just like the start of the trailer. This may be the most beautiful shot in the movie, you have your nails pinned down the chair and your eyes try not to blink, so they won’t miss a single second of what’s going on in the film. We are then taken into the mines of Moria and the bridge of Khazad- Dum, back to the events from Fellowship of the Ring. As Gandalf falls from the bridge we follow the struggle against Durins Bane (the Balrog of Morgoth). As they land in the water deep down in the mountain, we are taken to Emyn Muil and our two little hobbits, Frodo and Samwise.
When it comes to describing the realness of Gollum, let me be brief: he is THE most incredible, life-like CG character of all times. And if New Line is considering the man behind Gollum, Andy Serkis, for an Academy Award, they have my blessing. As for the controversy in nominating an CG character, I feels totally just. It is, in one world, UNBELIEVEABLE.
Meduseld, the great hall of Edoras, with the beautiful Eowyn at it gates, another great shot. And one by one we are introduced to the characters of Edoras: Eowyn, Eomer, King Theoden’s corpselike spirit who is released from Saruman by you-know-who The White, at last but not least Grima Wormtongue. Brad Dourif, with no eyebrows, is creepy and intense, and the obvious traitor in the halls of Meduseld. It is here the trio of Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn arrives after they encounter Gandalf the Grey-now-turned-White. He has come back to them now...at the turn of the tide, and together they ride towards Edoras.
The last part of the Fellowship, Merry and Pippin, are released from the Uruk-hais captivity when the creatures are slain by Rohan riders, banished from Edoras by Grimtongue. Follwing their release, the fled into the Fangorn forest, only to encounter Treebeard. He is another great creation of the combination between CG and live shots. The (pretty distant) voice of John Rhys-Davies is great, like a suspicious grandpa. Maybe more a guardian than a grandfather for the two hobbits.
Off course, the part I haven’t mentioned…the battle of Helm’s Deep, consists of the most complex scenes in the movie. An incredible mix between Bigatures and full sized sets, CG characters and real-life characters. The Massive program from Weta Digital is here proven to be a immense and formidable success! Thousands of orcs, men, elfs…and a funny little dwarf in the middle of it all. I found myself shaking, biting my tongue, slicing my gums and choking in my own spit. It was one of the MOST BREATHTAKING MOMENTS IN CINEMA HISTORY…to say the least.
By the way, Gimli, that hairy little teddybear, is in The Two Towers the great comic relief. Funny throughout the movie, but never ridiculous. He knows how to use an axe, and he knows how to slice the head of evil creatures.
Now, this is written why the veins in my head still is about to burst,
minutes after the end of the movie, so my views are instant and my
impressions on their peak. I was overrun by questions from my friends, but
my stuttering was hard to understand. Although, I did have the reaction
they were hoping for. Trying to shut up about this will be hard (you are
reading this, are you not?) but who cares. You’ll never get me, New Line!
Next we have "Whatever" with his look at TWO TOWERS from the same screening. Thus far this is the most critical look at the film I've seen, of course he admits to being ambivalent to the first film, so that probably figures in.
Today I saw "The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers" at an industry/press-screening at the Colosseum theatre in Oslo, supposedly the largest THX-auditorium in the world.
Those who loved "Fellowship" have nothing to worry about. "Two Towers" is equally good. The problem for me is that I've always been quite ambivalent to the films. The trilogy is quite an accomplishment for Peter Jackson; just surviving the epic shoot and (presumably) hectic post-production schedule is impressive - to have made films with such excellent craftsmanship and artistry is nothing short of miraculous. But I still have reservations. For me, the "oomph" is lacking.
I read an interview with Peter Jackson, where he recalled an experience with some adventure film he'd seen (I can't remember which one). He could intellectually recognise that it was a great film, but he could never get into the story. I've had the same problem with the "Fellowship of the Rings" and now "The Two Towers". They've never really carried me along. But that's my problem, not yours. I understand that I'm in the minority on this; everybody seems to love the films. I'm just trying to let you know where I'm coming from. Oh, and I've not read the books.
I will skip the synopsis, since Torben's already covered this, and most of the readers will know everything that happens.
LIKED ABOUT THE FILM:
The pacing, especially in the first half, was great. After a superfluous prolouge (which I will get to later), it spends some quiet time with Frodo and Sam. It is beautifully written, directed and acted. After that it moves like a bullet, introducing old and new characters and plotstrands.
Bernard Hill, which gives the most memorable performance of the "newcomers". His King ThÃˆoden is conflicted but strong. Like Sean Bean in "Fellowship" he has really gone to work with creating a character that has a distinct reality. Hill has a couple of great monologues, which I presume are lifted from the book, where he expresses doubt, anger and determination. It is beautiful language, and very nicely incorporated into the film.
Gollum! I agree with Torben; the technology is not quite there yet to create a digital character that seems 100% photorealistic. But the acting, by Andy Serkis and the CG-people, is so good that we soon forget this. As far as I understand, the film is very faithful to the book here, with action and dialogue.
The action is breathtaking, especially the assault on Helm's Deep. I will not ponder the withertos and whyfores (or someting), except to say that it's awesome. Peter Jackson's great achievement in this sequence is (in collaboration with his DP and editor) the choreography. The battle scene is chaotic in nature, not in form; it is always made very clear where we are and what's happening when. The Ent's revenge on Sarumann is also amazing. Again, the lucidity of the action and the sheer ballsiness of scope and conception transcend occasionally shoddy CGI.
The ending. I don't know the current definition of a "cliffhanger," but this ending worked like one for me. It ends on a quiet, terrifying note: a simple monologue from Gollum that makes us very, very anxious to see the next instalment. Too bad it's a year away.
It is of course needless to say that the production design, costume and makeup are all amazing. Jackson and his collaborators have truly created an environment that seems real and lived-in. And that (almost) everyone involved give great performances. The music is good. You get the idea.
DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT THE FILM:
The beginning, as in the very first scene. We are treated to an extended rerun of Gandalf's battle with the Balrog from the first film. I don't like this because a) it recycles the worst moment in "Fellowship", when Frodo screams, "GANDAAAAAALF!" and "NOOOOOO!". B) the "new bit" where Gandalf fights the Balrog while they both fall, is choppy and confusing, with some truly crap CGI. Since Gandalf at a later point in the film related the details of his battle with the Balrog in another flashback, this whole sequence seems utterly pointless. Jackson obviously wants to start the film with a big special-effects eyeopener, but the following, subdued scenes between Frodo and Sam would, in my opinion, made for a better start to the movie.
Some of the dialogue. I'm no "Rings"-addict, but what I like is the inclusion of Tolkien's poetic, declarative and archaic dialogues and monologues. When Jackson allows his characters to break free from this, it breaks the spell. During the battle for Helm's Deep, Legolas and Gimli have a competition of sorts where they call out loud the number of orcs they slaughter. I understand that this is meant as comic relief, but it doesn't suit the film. Neither does "NOOOOOOO!" Aragorn's agonised scream (and subsequent angry kicking of an orc-helmet) when he thinks that Merry and Pippin are dead (note to worried purists: they turn out to be ok), seems to belong to another, more modern film. (It's probably straight from the book and I've just made an ass of myself).
I understand that Boromir is a crucial character in the book, but the subplot involving him in the film seems underdeveloped. It is never interesting. Jackson doesn't seem to have some dramatic hook to make it work. He just drags his feet through all the scenes. It's in there only because it has to. You get my drift.
I'm very tired of all the scenes where Frodo almost puts the ring on. It's getting very boring and repetitive. Shoot me if I'm wrong (I probably am, and you probably will), but the ring has always seemed like a MacGuffin to me. Jackson and his screenwriters seem to spend too much time on it. I mean, what they've done is very ingenious, making, as Jackson has said in an interview, the ring into a character in the story. They communicate the horrendous terrifying extreme evil of the thing and all that, but for a small circular object, the damn thing gets too much screen time, and there seem to be way too many scenes where it is discussed ("Let me put it on." "No, you can't, see, because...").
The subplot with Arwen seemed like a superfluous womanpleaser in "Fellowship," but here it's just... strange. We get a scene between Arwen and Elrond where they talk and talk, about Aragorn, about their future. It just seems like the filmmakers are quickly trying to tie up some loose ends before starting the movie again. Doesn't work; it only slows the pace even more in an already slow part of the movie (leading up to the assault on Helm's deep).
In closing: it's of course a very good film. Fans need not worry, they'll probably love it with a passion. This is just the view of someone who hasn't read the books and doesn't quite get it. I wish that I could be absorbed by the story and carried away, but it just never really worked for me. You'll probably tear me apart in talkbacks because of it. But that's what you do.
Call me whatever.