following review was written BEFORE seeing
the excellent Special Extended DVD Edition of the film. Click Here to read my review
for the Special Extended Edition of The Two Towers! I have NO IDEA what
I was thinking when I wrote the following review. I'm embarrassed to
even keep it online. Read it for novelty's sake, only.
And if you think this is high-flying action,
wait'll you see the matching stone staircase
I have in the back with even more majestic
mountains as a backdrop!
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Review written by: Alex Sandell
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the D&D section of your local comic shop, along comes Peter Jackson's follow-up to last year's semi-successful, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Director Jackson made all three Lord of the Rings' films simultaneously; risking the wrath of a disappointed group of hardcore LOTR fans that, if not pleased, would tear down his trilogy before the second one even entered a theater. Luckily for Jackson, the first was a geek-driven near-blockbuster and would have warranted sequels even if they had not already been in the can. Unluckily, for Jackson, myself, and any individual who may tire of slo-mo shots of people staring at each other in melodramatic fashion for a good third of a three hour "epic," the director dropped the ball and that dropped ball fell into a pit of artistic despair far deeper than that of the fiery Hell of Mount Doom.
In this newest installment, Jackson traded slo-mo shots of a ring flying through the air for slo-mo scenes of epic battles. Additionally, we are given more of the moments of one character staring into another's eyes, as though an elementary school staring contest can be a life-changing event, that we were provided in the first. All of this is emphasized by the quasi-operatic singing of an over-zealous chick straining her vocal chords on the overbearing soundtrack. Much like it did last year, all of this has me asking, "what went wrong."
Taking into account that Peter Jackson's 1994, Heavenly Creatures remains one of my favorite movies ever projected onto a screen, I know that Jackson isn't solely at fault for the mess that is, The Two Towers. I feel that it's Jackson's need to be faithful to Tolkien that has screwed up both of his, The Lord of the Rings' films.
Tolkien, while a great intellect, couldn't grasp character development for the life of him. He struck gold with The Hobbit, which was entertaining, in an L. Frank Baum sort of way, but then his brain went geographically haywire and he began caring about maps more than motivations, settings more than saviors and languages more than liveliness. Because of his need to explain each intricate detail of the world that encompassed his adventure, the LOTR trilogy that Tolkien released turned out to be one overly-long story that couldn't keep a coma victim's attention span.
The proof was in the pudding when the stories failed to sell for years. It was only when the hippies took note of the numerous drug references, which may or may not have actually been there, that the series began to sell. Essentially, Tolkien's tale could only be tolerated by stinky goofballs whacked out on weed. In the years since, Tolkien's trilogy turned into what some would call, "a modern masterpiece." I feel that this happened, not because of what Tolkien wrote, but because of what the fans wrote around it.
I honestly believe that it is Tolkien's diehard legion of fans that brought to life the mystical aura around Lords, not vice-versa. A few potheads came up with some neat side-stories and from there it grew into a cultural phenomenon.
Tolkien gave each of his readers a vast blueprint that could be built upon, allowing them to create a fantastical world which would inspire them on a daily basis; dictating their actions, emotions and beliefs. Tolkien's novels benefited greatly from what his readers brought to them. No longer were they merely a slow-moving tale of goons trying to throw a ring into a volcano; they were life itself.
Peter Jackson is an extremely imaginative man, but he turned timid with his task, and didn't dare push what Tolkien created to the next level. The most he dared to do was get rid of a character here and there, while throwing a few females into the mix, hoping to add a bit of romance to the series.
As in The Fellowship of the Ring, both female actresses are wasted in, The Two Towers. Cate Blanchett, in her most inane role to date, plays some elf girl who mumbles a few words for about 45 seconds and disappears. Liv Tyler, playing Arwen, is the "love interest" of Viggo Mortensen's Aragorn, and she shows up in a pathetic dream-sequence, or two, that would make anyone but the ultimate nerd flinch. Fortunately, the whole thing is far less "squirm-worthy" than the love story Lucas put on screen in Attack of the Clones.
It is obvious that, unlike the aforementioned Star Wars' prequel, The Two Towers was created to do a lot more than sell toys. Jackson did take meticulous care to create a believable world to be projected in front of us, and it's at least partially evident that the work he did was a labor of love. You're bound to be impressed with the visuals in the film, and it's doubtful that you'll leave the theater feeling empty-handed.
The cinematography, by Andrew Lesnie, is nothing short of genius, and can take your breath away with its beauty. Ngila Dickson and Richard Taylor created a wonderful set of costumes for the movie that rival the majority of films released over the past 10 years. The special FX in the film, as in the first, are incredible. Too bad that, as amazing as they were, they couldn't match the fun of the fireworks display showcased near the beginning of, The Fellowship of the Ring.
It is the fun that is missing from The Two Towers. The film is muddy and unpleasant to look at. The members of the Fellowship have been divided up, making for a more disjointed story. The character development is exceedingly poor, which is also symptomatic of the first film, and all three of the books, but could have been improved upon in The Two Towers movie.
And then there's Gandalf (Ian McKellen).
For whatever reason, Jackson decided to edit out, or shorten, all of Gandalf's scenes from the book. In consequence, the part of the always entertaining wizard is far too small in this second installment, and his absence makes for a less enjoyable three hours spent sitting in a theater seat.
Jackson should have beefed up Ian McKellen's role. Instead, we get a ton of bad comedy from that "proud" dwarf, in the most inappropriate of places. During important battle sequences he'll pull a Jar Jar, ending up taking a large part of the impact out of climatic fight scenes, tense dramatic scenes, or any scene you really care about. This weakens an already weak film to the breaking point.
The Two Towers is wearying, muddled, poorly-paced and hard to sit through. Jackson brings us an LOTR film that's actually WORSE than the last. If the third takes another step down in quality, I won't hesitate to declare it the worst sequel to an event film ever put on celluloid. As things stand, The Two Towers is the least entertaining sequel to an event film this side of, Men in Black II.
On a scale of 1-10?
3 (but an "A" for effort) What was I thinking? Click here to read my new thoughts on The Two Towers!
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After receiving over 100 venomous pieces of hate mail in less than 12 hours, regarding this review, I've removed my email address from this page. My apologies to anybody with a valid opinion they wished to express (you won't have much trouble finding my email address on other pages in The Juicy Cerebellum), and a big middle-finger salute to anyone writing in to call me a bunch of names and to say really vile things about me, my family, my girlfriend, my time spent in the hospital and my pets, simply because I don't agree with them on a dorky film. You people are the ones that give geeks a bad name (and being a geek myself, that pisses me off), and are the very reason someone came up with the expression, "get a life." Now, go back down to your parent's basement and pretend that it's Hobbiton. Thank you.
Text ©(Copyright) 2002 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].
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