Tuesday, August 6, 2013


(December 2002, U.S.)

Before we get into the second chapter of the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, let's start off with a little story that goes something like this...

"Twas the night before Christmas in the year Two Thousand Two and all through New York City, the movie theaters were filled with lots of Jews!
Eric F. and his wife decided to spend the evening seeing THE TWO TOWERS, and they decided to wait until the late night hours!
Ignorant presumption called for the theater that night to be empty and quiet, but little did Eric F. know there'd be a crowd large enough to constitute a riot!
To assume the theater would be a pleasant experience that night was something Eric F. had truly trusted, however instead he ended up angry, upset and totally disgusted!"
They ended up sitting in the very last row of the theater room and all through the film, Eric F. felt a dreaded sense of doom!
He had to contend with the tall man in front of him and his real big head, and all through the film Eric F. wished this man was dead!
Alas, this clearly seemed a night where Eric F. was royally fucked, so as a result he concluded that THE TWO TOWERS sucked!"

Okay, I'm not exactly a pro at poetry or rhyming, but if you all don't mind, I'll really like give myself a pat on the back for that one! And it's a true story, too, people! You see, sometimes your moviegoing experience can go so horribly wrong that you're simply determined to hate whatever film you're watching, even if it doesn't deserve such a negative reaction. Such was the case with me and THE TWO TOWERS on Christmas Eve 2002. The film wouldn't get a fair shot with me until it was released on DVD months later. By then I'd calmed down considerably and looked at the film again with a fresh pair of eyes in the privacy of my own living room. In other words, your entire trilogy is safe with me, Mr. Jackson!

Continuing the plot of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, the film intercuts three storylines. Frodo and Sam continue their journey towards Mordor to destroy the "One Ring to Rule Them All", meeting and joined by Gollum (played with real precision by Andy Serkis), the ring's former owner who is also being slowly destroyed by the ring as he seeks to ultimately possess it. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli come to the war-torn nation of Rohan and are reunited with the resurrected Gandalf (I'm still not exactly clear on how that happened, but there are some things I don't try to completely understand because I'm just not that much of a fantasy geek!), before fighting at the ultimate Battle of Helm's Deep. Meanwhile, the two hobbits Merry and Pippin escape capture from the Orcs in the previous story and meet Treebeard the Ent, and help to plan an attack on Isengard. By the end of the film, Gandalf remarks that Sauron will seek retribution for Saruman's defeat, stating that hope now rests with our hobbit heroes Frodo and Sam. At that same moment, Gollum vows to reclaim the Ring (his "precious") by killing Frodo and Sam even as he deceives them by serving as their guide to Mount Doom of Mordor.

While THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS sets the story and events in motion, THE TWO TOWERS now takes this journey head-on into danger and the action-packed conflict of good versus evil. The Battle of Helm's Deep is an especially thrilling screen battle with its sweeping cinematography against the backdrop of vast, open spaces. There are moments you can tell when Peter Jackson has filmed on location in New Zealand and the results are breathtaking. However, despite all its good points and having gotten over my terrible evening of Christmas Eve 2002, I won't claim that this film is not without irritations. First of all, despite his true importance to the entire saga, their are times I found Gollum more annoying than the dreaded Jar Jar Binks of THE PHANTOM MENACE! I mean, seriously, how many times can one listen to this creature say "MY PRECIOUS!" without cracking a few knuckles?? And watching him eat raw fish is no picnic, either. Look at what I mean...

I also wasn't too particularly thrilled with the slow pace of the talking trees carrying Merry and Pippin through much of the film. But then again, maybe there are some things I just don't get when it comes to J.R.R. Tolkien. Still, THE TWO TOWERS balances spectacular screen action with emotional storytelling, leaving fans both wholly satisfied and very eager for the final chapter in the saga to hit the theaters just one year later.

Favorite line or dialogue:

Frodo: "I can't do this, Sam."
Sam: "I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something."
Frodo: "What are we holding onto, Sam?"
Sam: "That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo...and it's worth fighting for."

(Boy, even a hard-ass cynic like myself can feel touched by that one!)

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