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The Lord of the Rings: 
The Two Towers
Released December 19, 2002

Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian Mckellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Liv Tyler, John Rhys-Davies, Dominic Monaghan, Christopher Lee, Miranda Otto, Brad Dourif, Karl Urban, Cate Blanchett, Bernard Hill
Director: Peter Jackson
Rated: PG-13 for epic battle sequences and scary images

Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers © 2002
- See it or die!

The essence of "The Lord of the Rings" phenomenon is shrouded in a cloud of commercialism and hype, but J.R.R Tolkein’s novels, written mid-way through last century, still hits a central nerve in the new millennium, despite having ideas that are Old Testament in nature.

Tolkien’s myth is universally applicable: a tale of good verses evil where the only way to secure triumph over adversity is through a saviour-figure, tempted to the same evil he is meant to help obliterate.

Some American commentators note the similarities the story has to contemporary problems with Iraq, yet this is another extrapolation, with films like Gladiator supposedly doing similar justice to social commentary. However, this is of course, not the thrust of the spectacular imaginative odyssey Tolkien portrays.

What stands out in "The Two Towers", the second instalment of the series, is the magnitude of its story telling, whether it is meant to be commercial fodder or social comment.

It is better than the first instalment, The Fellowship of the Ring, but its enormous length, more noticeable because of the lagging pace towards the end, hinders both films. "The Two Towers" does better, though, in regards to pace and timing and is more complex and multi-layered.

This sequel is essentially about when the forces of evil collaborate to cast their dominance over the mythical Middle Earth where the heroes – led by wizard Gandalf and Aragorn – must defend the race of men from the luring clutches of Sauraman and Sauron, while Fordo Baggins continues on his journey to rid the ring – coveted by Sauraman to use in his oppression - to the fiery pits of Mordor.

Star Wars could learn from The Two Tower’s visual sense, sense of gravity and importance, and complexity of character, considering the former films had grand intentions.

"The Two Towers" comes together convincingly as an involving fantasy: it makes for true epic filmmaking, helmed super-ably by Peter Jackson, who is supported by superb editing and cinematography.

New characters are introduced, excellently performed by the new comers, particularly Brad Dourif (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) as the creepy Wormtongue, and Bernard Hill as the King of Rohan. There is more action (some scenes are great, others, like the battle at Helm’s Deep, is overrated) and there is more melodrama, which reflects Jackson’s darker sensibilities as seen in his Heavenly Creatures.

Ambiguous, sublime, a mighty visual experience, and even spiritually enlightening and thought provoking – yet, "The Two Towers" feels as if there is something missing by film’s end, maybe because we have just witnessed a part of a whole story, and that it was really only about the birth pangs and consequences of a battle, and you need to wait another year for its ongoing expansion, and I for one am no fan for it to really matter.

"The Two Towers" accentuate the visual experience, and it underlines the supernatural dimension in a fantasy discourse with all that special effects can do to enliven that. It is interesting how films have got bigger with the technology and are making plenty of money at the box office - maybe this is a lamentation about how we tend to need spectacles to enchant us, or that blockbusters are getting the right mix in communicating with the fears and desires of audiences. "The Two Towers" is not perfect, but has the right stuff.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Trailer Pics: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Peter Jackson

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