Hey folks, Harry here... I'm dying. I don't get to see THE TWO TOWERS for another 12 and a half days, when I'll finally watch the film after watching the first film at the Alamo Drafthouse as part of an amazing double feature. I'm waiting, because I want to see the film that first time the way I want to see the film... with friends, family and an audience that is electric and charged beyond belief in my favorite theater on the planet. That's why I'm not in New York today or in Paris next week. I was invited and offered the chance to attend, but for me... I'm waiting. There's even a screening here in Austin this coming Monday for Press, but for the life of me, who on earth wants to see this movie with the press... ewww... Now having said that, I'm dying. Today, I've been watching these online clips and going INSANE. I want to see the movie so bad it hurts. Reading these reviews have me foaming at the mouth. I reload TheOneRing.Net at least once an hour. Their Treebeard Christmas card with Merry and Pippin in his branches... ACK!!! TOO COOL!!! Here's some clips followed by reviews....
Click here for Peter Jackson on the Today Show and additional clips like Merry and Pippin with Treebeard and Rohen Riders vs Orcs on Wargs!!!
Next up we have Elanor - Queen of the Tailend Talkbacks and goddess of geeks - She's been with us for quite some time providing insight into the lands of MiddleEarth as they affect New York City... once again, she's here early, this time with a look at THE TWO TOWERS...
Elanor from AICN tailend talkbacks. Here’s the review I promised you, spoiler, free. Thanks again for last night! (hee hee now people can wonder what I mean).
I just got back from an Academy screening of The Two Towers with my friend Michael (may his beard ever grow long). We saw the 6PM showing at Disney’s screening room at Park and 59th St.
In a word, WOW! In seven words, I can’t wait to see it again. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens, Wingnut and WETA have taken us to Middle Earth again. I am a Tolkien fan, know the books well and love them dearly. This is a great movie, bold, brilliant film-making from start to finish. Once again they have given us a marvelous translation of the story, spirit, tone and themes of the book into cinematic form, full of excitement, jaw-dropping action, exquisitely beautiful cinematography and, best of all, heart, soul and intelligence. Oh, and humor. Much of it from Gimli, to be sure, but all in character and well placed. However, Tolkien "purists" (those who think the book should either be filmed page for page, or who are so married to the ideas in their own minds that they cannot accept what is in the filmmakers’ minds) will likely not be pleased. As news reports have warned, The Two Towers deviates considerably from the plot we know so well. Does this harm the movie? Not a jot. The changes compress time, move the action forward and reveal character. I’m sure the changes also make it more engaging and understandable for the average non-book-reading viewer. I am amazed that the ways they found to introduce an enormous number of new characters as well as keeping four different separate story-lines going. And never fear, Tolkien fans, it all turns out like it does in the book. It’s as if the characters start at a point we know and end at a point we know, but discover a different path to get there. I do think a warning is in order for those who know the books well: for maximum viewing pleasure, be open. Scene for scene it is not as close to the book at Fellowship was. But don’t worry. Every time I thought "why are they saying that? How will they get to….oh! I see. Like I said, it all turns out the way it’s supposed to.
Gollum is phenomenal. He holds the screen all by himself by virtue of his acting. His CHARACTER, the one Tolkien conceived, is delivered in riveting fashion. His very first scene had me crying. And about six other scenes, too. And PJ doesn’t hide him behind rocks or branches. He is boldly out there. His misery, his cunning, his malice and his great aching loneliness are all beautifully portrayed. Forget the technical achievement, which is stunning enough. What I saw was a performance by a 500 year-old Ring-addicted hobbit. I just giggled all the way out of the theater thinking of all the bitching in talk-backs about Gollum. Ha! I suppose not everyone will agree with the filmmakers’ concept and execution of him (he’s perfect to me), but anyone who is not moved by this depiction of him is devoid of emotion or just plain dead.
All the acting is great. The only reservation I felt was a little bit Faramir but that was likely because there is a big change in his story line, even though many familiar elements are present. I confess to wanting more Gandalf (not while I was watching, but now, thinking about it). There is great stuff from Eomer (yay, new swoons!) Theoden, Eowyn (great little scene with Aragorn that had me squealing) and Grima. Treebeard was a surprise (I successfully avoided spoilers of him) a very good surprise. His scenes with Merry and Pippin undergo a great deal of change, but, again, it all leads to the same place.
All the Fellowship characters have a chance to deepen and grow. Not long scenes but enough to show their friendship and loyalty and love of one another. Viggo delivers completely and his scenes with Arwen are sweet and sad. I know some folks were worried that in the emphasis on Helm’s Deep that somehow Frodo and Sam would get shortchanged. Nope. (DoT take note) They are still firmly in center focus. Elijah and Sean are marvelous together. Some alarming things happen to them that you won’t expect and an especially harrowing moment toward the end that both actors play to the hilt. My heart was in my throat. I’m thrilled there were Elves at Helm’s Deep and that we got some nice scenes with Elrond and Arwen. (Even Dufy will finally be happy, I think, about one of Elrond’s lines.)
The movie sweeps you along, just as FOTR did, and it is a wonderful ride. I really can’t wait to see it again. It drives to a visual and emotional climax on three fronts. And the ending, while not a cliffhanger, is really cool. Again, my non-Tolkien-fan friend said "that didn’t feel like three hours". His only disappointment was that someone had told him Sean Bean was going to show up in this film. I asked him if he could follow what was going on. He said, not always, but I know it’s a battle between good and evil and what’s happening on the screen is so fascinating, the film-making is so marvelous, I just enjoy it.
Some non-spoiler-spoilers: no sewers and no wizard-ka-bob. Yay! Also, there are also some scenes that we saw in the trailers that are NOT in this, (just like FOTR) so I’m expecting them in the extended version. When the screen went black I felt like saying NO! Don’t end here! More! More!
One last thing, the Gollum song plays over the credits and it's weirdly wonderful and goes very well with the Gollum we’ve just spent hours with.
I could write more of course, but now I want to go back and read all the earlier reviews that I missed.
Take care, mellyn and may you each see it soon.
Sigh... Elanor... till we have another such night... oh even now as my heart breaks, I take you next to Mouldy, who saw the film in Oslo...
Hi Harry! Greetings from Oslo!
I was very privileged to see The Tow Towers at the impressive Colosseum Cinema in Oslo a few days ago. I have been dying to post my thoughts on the film ever since then, but I have been away on a short break with my wife.
All the same there is not much more I can tell you that has not already been said. I would like to add a few things that I think truly make this movie great, and better than the first.
The most powerful aspect of this film is that we have not time to spare, unlike Fellowship that spends almost an hour and a half of screen time introducing characters, places, historical events, cultures etc etc, this film just throw you into the deep end and lets you fend for yourself. The introductions of the Rohan court, the Dunland Men, the new characters, Gollum and the Ranger’s of Ithilien are all executed with a far better precision than in Fellowship. I think about thirty minutes of film is really spent doing basic introductions, the film tends them to expose certain aspects of characters, places, events and so on as the film goes on in a more subtle fashion than Fellowship. The best example is Gollum, he has a short monologue in the first hour of the film that will bring a tear to your eye. Peter and Andy have created the entire character, his struggle between Gollum and Smeagol, his ! background, his lust for the Ring in one impressive speech. It also has a frightening emotional impact that is almost always lacking in psychological based characters in film. If Andy does not win best supporting actor, and if Peter does not win best director it will be nothing short of a crime.
I read too on another review posted to TheForce.Net (yes I am a big Star Wars fan) that the energy and bonding of the characters are like the original classic Star Wars trilogy, something that the first two lacked. I would like to re-enforce this point to the max. The energy and chemistry these actors have on screen is amazing, in some scenes the electricity literally zaps you in your seat. It is a little unfortunate that the worst aspect of the characters in the story is the Aragorn/Arwen love sub-plot, it just does not work as a series of dream sequences and flashbacks. But if you can look past that everything else works very nicely. The Eowyn/Aragorn love triangle stuff is brilliant, there is more chemistry here I my opinion than in the love scenes from Fellowship with Aragorn and Arwen, I so have the hots for Miranda Otto now! I must see it again if only for her. The only other thing I wil! l say is Gollum is again perfect here, he just fits into the Sam/Frodo sub-plot of friendship so well and really challenges them both to be true to each other. The final scene of the film will utterly break your heart, Sam really steals the end of the show only to be shown up to Gollum who finally allows his darker self to take over, he will let “her” kill the Hobbits and then he’ll take the Ring…. **Sense of impending Doom! Dang must wait another year.
But as I already hinted there are things I disliked, in fact almost hated. The whole Elves sub-plot is totally bogus and it ruins the pace of the film. There is some really slow scenes that work fine by themselves, but then they cut an Elrond/Galadriel argument in the middle of them and the whole film becomes a bit stilted. It was like the editing of the Caradhras sequence where Saruman king of spoke to himself in a real theatrical monologue sense almost as if he was Gandalf’s thoughts during the whole scene. It just interrupted the flow of the film. Thankfully however, just like Fellowship the film moves on quickly and we are spared any more torture. Some people have already mentioned a small prologue in the middle of the film, it is pointless really and needed to come earlier! Having said that all the Elven scenes, including the Live flashbacks could have been done in about 8 minutes of scre! en time as one single scene, well maybe two and then we could leave it and then have the Elves show up at the Deep.
Another thing I disliked was Faramir, he was one of my beloved characters from the book and he has been completely re-written almost as a new character. I remember a noble man, somewhat tempted by able to control it almost like Aragorn. To me he was like an Aragorn who had been hardend by endless war on the boarders of Mordor. This then lent itself to the reasons why Eowyn chooses to marry him in the end, or at least that is what I thought. Peter’s Faramir is like an older Boromir, he is not as reckless, he is more talented but he is still tempted. He does however redeem himself! After Sam puts Faramir back in his place (I was cheering for Sam, Go SAM!) he has a change of heart and sacrifices his life to let Frodo go. A bit cheesy really as Boromir kind of dies for a similar reason, but it brought a tear to my eye and made you feel like you did when Fellowship ended. Now just to be clear, Fara! mir does not die, his captain tells him he will be punished by death if he lets them go. Obviously Denethor has somehow fallen under the influence of evil because the Gondor soldiers are not exactly nice people, they a bitter like Boromir.
The battle with the Wargs was a little poor in terms of CGI, and Aragorn falling off the cliff seemed somewhat clichÃ© to me! I mean how many times can a main character appear to die in these films??? I mean Frodo does it AGAIN in ROTK! But is served the purpose of the film so I guess it was ok… Oh and it was the only Arwen scene that rocked. She turns up all glowing and kisses Aragorn, at which point he wakes up to find Brego at his side. The Ents sometimes felt too CGI as well, but they make up for it by being the coolest trees ever, I love the way they talk! There was not enough Gandalf The White, there was also not enough of Legolas and Gimli, well Gimli gets a lot of screen time as the laugh factor but that is all. You will all die with laughter at Helm’s Deep when Gimli tells Aragorn to do something, reference to FOTR here! It got the biggest laughs at the screening if I remember correctl! y.
But that was pretty much it for my hates… My favourite scenes are, in no particlar order:
- Helm’s Deep: Just way too much to take in, must see it again!
- The Ents DESTROY Isengard: The BEST part of all!
- Samwise and his speeches: Go SAM!
- Gollum: particularly his monologue and the very end of the film!
- The Ringwraiths: Fell Beasts rock! I want one!
Overall I cried in a bout ten different scenes in this film, and I suspect that when I see it again that I will be more comfortable with what I did not like about the film. I mean the Faramir stuff is growing on me right now. I think I will have to say that it won’t win best picture, simply because you have to see it more than once to take it all in! I am sure I have missed so much and I even think that some scenes I have forgotten about because I was so overwhelmed!!! Anyway this review was longer than I intended it to be so I will stop now…
All you fans – rest assured this film rocks!!!
Next we have Ms. X, who saw the film at a Washington D.C. screening with about 20 other reviewers there... here's what she had to say...
got to see Two Towers yesterday morning here in washington d.c. new line had the screening in the wonderful 'uptown theater' and they were only about 20 people there! very nice way to see it. (feel sorry for those who got the MTV crap)
let me just say, this movie was AWESOME, it'll be said again and again in the coming weeks. in my opinion it was better that FOTR. since i havent read the books and i dont want to give spoilers i wont get into detail (plus i dont have much time).
the battle scenes were simple brilliant. i was literally on the edge of my seat and secretly making gestures of victory toward the screen. i'd say the battle at helms deep, although broken up, lasted a good while--about 30 min. or more (i am a bad judge of time during a movie.) gollum was amazing also. i was extremely impressed overall with the quality of the CGI, especially in gollum and the orak hai troops. they dont look anything like GCI footage (bravo Jackson). the cinematography is also impressive, especially the opening sequence.
my last comment has to be on peter jackson. this man is going all out to do these films justice and it is obvious. we need more directors like him around! you all are gonna be stunned and dazzled with this film, it is just wonderful. sorry this is so short and quick but i have to get going.
anywho, i've contributed before but havent in a while since not much goes on around here. hope to bring you some more stuff if the opportunity arises.
Next from the same screening as Ms. X comes "Writers do it between the covers" - who was disappointed in the film... Here's his review and his problems with it...
I saw The Two Towers at an engagement in Washington, DC on December 2nd.
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
One of the best parts of "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" was the sense of a small person discovering a world much larger than he ever imagined. Like all good fantasy stories, the hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) is compelled by forces much larger than himself to take a role in changing the world.
At the end of part one of "The Fellowship of the Ring," the fellowship was forced to divide. Frodo and his hobbit-friend, Sam (Sean Astin) journey to the dark land of Mordor, Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John-Rhys Davies) attempt to rescue two hobbits, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd). Although this cliffhanger of an ending appears to have a great second part, the ensuing story disappoints.
In "The Two Towers," the second part of the series, Frodo's part is minimized, as are all the other characters, in favor of gratuitous action and war scenes. Normally, this would not be a problem. But in this movie, one gets the sense that the fights are the hallmarks of the movie, and things like dialogue and plot are brief interludes between the violence.
At three hours in length, "The Two Towers" does not pass as quickly as the first film. The characters are not adequately developed and things like plot and the locations where battles are fought are not well explained. Although we learn that the kingdom of Rohan is under the manipulation of Saruman (Christopher Lee), we do not understand why this is so sinister besides the fact that Saruman is a corrupted wizard. Through the movie, the significance of the characters is subservient to battle scenes.
In addition, many of the characters continue their roles from the previous film as if there was no character development at all. The heir to the throne of Men, Aragorn (Viggo Mortenson) has halfhearted flashbacks to his love, the elf Arwen (Liv Tyler). He also does his share of staring stoically into the camera and saying nothing.
Like the first movie, the ring of power is a character, but in this movie, it feels extravagant. Too many shots are concerned with Frodo gazing lustfully at the ring. The only interesting character is the creature Gollum (Andy Serkins), whose nature is divided by the ring's power. In addition, Gollum is the best CGI image ever created, and his presence looks completely realistic.
Die-hard "Lord of the Rings" fans will flock to the movie regardless of what any review will say, but those who are hesitant about epic stories or who did not care for "The Fellowship of the Ring" should stay away. The story feels like it's stretched too thin and action scenes go on too long without adequate explanation or provocation. Although all viewers will not be disappointed, it is best to go into the movie with lowered expectations.
Writers do it between covers.
Alrighty - well then, next we have "Hey Now" Hank who feels there's plenty of story, character and movie to go along. Here ya go...
The opening scene of The Two Towers provides an outstanding, yet very brief, taste of action, cinematography, and special effects, only to be matched (and far surpassed) in the final hour of the film. The stunning events of the third hour of The Two Towers are undoubtedly the centerpiece of the film, and while the first two hours serve finely as story development, they primarily build anticipation for the final hour, which mostly depicts the battle of Helm's Deep. More than anything else, the first two hours merely tease and torment the patient audience. It's a shame that such a gap has to exist between the first minute and the final hour, but I take no reservations in saying that despite how you feel about the first two hours of the film, the final hour will make the wait entirely worth its while.
As stated, the road to the battle of Helm's Deep can be enormously long and painful for any viewer aware of what breathtaking scenes await towards the end of the film. Perhaps The Two Towers' biggest fault is in its own accomplishments; the first two thirds of the film are well shot, well paced, and they necessarily and adequately progress the storyline, but when compared to the spectacular final hour, the first two hours seem uneventful and insignificant. However, to be fair, I feel that it's simply impossible to create two hours of film that could appropriately lead into the battle of Helm's Deep. It's difficult to comprehend how such scenes came to exist in the rather short amount of time Peter Jackson has had to create six hours (so far) of finished film. The battle of Helm's Deep is simply unreal; it's unlike any event that has come to pass since fantasy films gained, and regained, popularity.
As assumed, The Two Towers begins where The Fellowship of the Ring ended. The majority of the film follows four separate groups and their story lines: Frodo and Sam; Aragorn and Legolas, Merry and Pippin, and Saruman and his army. The performances live well up to the standards of the first film, with a particularly notable performance from Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, whose role is significantly larger in The Two Towers. Aragorn satisfies a thirst for someone to root for, a thirst that was left partly unquenched in Fellowship. It's much easier to root for Aragorn than it is for Frodo; Aragorn has many more qualities of a leading man, a soldier, and a hero. More than once did the audience, filled mostly with academy voters, applaud the heroics of Aragorn. Gollum also shines in a much-welcomed large role, due to extremely realistic computer animation, and a fine performance from Andy Serkis, upon which the animation was modeled. In Fellowship, it was appropriate to consider Gollum one of the many great 'features' of the film. However, here he is more of a leading character and a 'star,' and his convincing dual-personality, stabbing voice, and well-choreographed body movements make him consistently eye-grabbing and the center of focus of nearly every scene in which he appears.
As was The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers is a visual delight. Those who have seen Fellowship are no doubt familiar with the beauty of the landscapes of New Zealand. The cinematography is, again, one of the best aspects of the film. The swooshing camera movements that follow the armies and horsemen throughout the fields are extremely satisfying in this post-Matrix era. The shots of the ascending enemy-laden ladders in the battle of Helm's Deep are terrifying and chillingly gorgeous all at once. The visual effects take an appropriate leap forward from those of the first film. While the visual effects in Fellowship were outstanding, the battle of Helm's Deep provides for the best application of CGI since the rippling waves of The Matrix's 'Bullet Time.' The battle of Helm's Deep features absolutely awe-inspiring and seamless integration of acting, stunts, and computer animation. Each orc seems to have its own personality, demonstrated in its movements and visual features. The masses of armies fight with strategy and true character, which I imagine is much harder to accomplish than animating thousands of identical clone troopers. The only problem I have with the visual department is the look of Gimli, the Treebeard. Gimli's visual features seem a bit childish and uninspired, inconsistent with the standards set by the rest of the film. But again, there is simply nothing that compares to the battle of Helm's Deep. George Lucas and the Wachowski brothers certainly have not created anything that approaches the grandness and magnificence of The Two Towers' final hour, and I doubt they will do so anytime soon.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, I had a few minor problems with Howard Shore's score. While I thought it was gorgeous and it established several very memorable themes, I don't think it handled the sentimental scenes (opening in the Shire, Gandalf's passing) properly. I thought it caved in to the melodrama a bit too much, resembling the emotions from James Horner's Titanic. However, I believe that The Two Towers requires the type of score which Howard Shore accomplishes best: dark, continuous, and unrelenting, as demonstrated in Se7en and Silence of the Lambs. The theme used in many of the action scenes in Fellowship (low brass, six notes repeated with a rest in between) is much more present in The Two Towers, appropriately. A brand new theme is also unveiled, the theme for Rohan, a prominent kingdom in Middle Earth. Rohan's theme is played more often than any other melody in the film, underscoring most of the memorable and heroic scenes with great effect. Howard Shore undeniably exhibits his skills as an 'A-list' composer, and with a possible double Oscar nomination this year for The Two Towers and Gangs of New York, he could get propelled to the very top of the 'A-list,' right beside John Williams and Hans Zimmer in terms of demand.
Unfortunately, it's hard to imagine The Two Towers winning Oscars in anything but the technical categories. It may in fact rack up a large amount of nominations, as did Fellowship, but the competition in the picture and director categories is stiffer than last year, and with two potential best pictures up its sleeve (Chicago and Gangs of New York), Miramax seems likely to take the crown.
If not the picture itself, there should be a way to recognize and award the battle of Helm's Deep. It is evident that neither the Academy nor the viewing public will witness anything remotely like the final hour of The Two Towers this year. The battle of Helm's Deep represents successful filmmaking in its highest form. The choreography of the battle, the visual effects, the pacing, acting, cinematography, and music, all work together in perfection to achieve grand filmmaking which is as entertaining and enjoyable as film can be. For this very reason, no one, whether a fan of Fellowship or not, should miss The Two Towers.
-"Hey Now" Hank
Harry here... if you've made it this far... you're probably dying. You're shakingly excited and you need something to calm you... well, the following link won't do that. You'll get even more charged...