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December 02, 2002 - December 13, 2002


Ebert and Roeper Give 2 Thumbs Up!
Xoanon @ 1:52 pm EST
Art writes:

Not sure if you want to use this - but I have a close source who tells me that when Ebert and Roeper taped their weekly show today at WLS here in Chicago, they both gave The Two Towers a thumbs up.

Roeper explained that he enjoyed it, but that it did not make him change his mind about not liking FOTR, and he wondered if all of the emphasis on fighting was in the true spirit of Tolkien's work (he commented that since he didn't know the books, he did not know the answer).

Ebert said (when he gave it a thumbs up) that he was really looking forward to the ROTK, and that when all three are completed that they will be a major achievement in the history of motion pictures. They also talked about how TTT was a whisper away from being rated R because of the violence.

On a lighter note, my source tells me that they had trouble pronouncing all of the characters names, especially Eowyn's.

In Chicago -


The TTT NYC Premiere
Arathorn @ 11:19 pm EST
Ringer Fans Luthien and Bellerophon have sent in the cream of their photos taken from the World Premiere of The Two Towers in New York (from the 5th December 2002). These photos complement Luthien's great report of the event. [More]

World news: England, NZ, Costa Rica, Australia, Italy
Tehanu @ 8:56 pm EST
London: Rob writes: Thought your readers might be interested to know that there is to be an exhibition of Tolkien illustrator Ted Nasmith's works at the Chalk Farm Gallery in London, England. The preview will be this Saturday, December 7th from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM, and the exhibition will run until January 12th. The show — entitled “The Return of the King” — will feature paintings from the forthcoming 2004 Tolkien Calendar.

From NZ, Silvermoon writes: This sunday at 9pm EST the Travel Channel is having a show hosted by Karl Urban about New Zealand. They are also going to have a tour of the country by the Prime Minister. But it mentions LOTR being filmed there. Unsure if there will be any more about it, but Karl Urban is hosting! Date: Sunday, 15 December Time:9:00pm EST Where: The Travel Channel

From Costa Rica, Larvarela writes: Just to update about the auction going on in Costa Rica of 200 tickets to watch The Two Towers on December 17th....

Right now there are 310 persons participating and the total amount of money is around $5815

A lot of money to the childern of the Make-a-Wish Foundation...... look which is the real power of the ONE RING!!!!

Australian Ticket Buyers Screwed?

Nash writes: Ticket sales for Two Towers went on sale today, for non-corporate purchasers that is.

However Australian (NSW) Fans who would like to see it in style using Gold Class tickets or similar, are probably out of luck. It seems all Gold Class tickets for opening day (Dec 26th), and quite a few the day after were sold through corporate bookings already. The best I could get, after queuing from 9:00 am was Saturday (28th). I was 20th in the queue. Greater Union head office just confirmed to me there were no tickets available for gold class on opening day, they were sold before the tickets went on sale.

What makes it even worse was that anyone asking about tickets being available on the phone on the 11th were told that there were 'plenty of seats available' for the day. I'm sure the number of people queueing would be significantly less if we'd told the real story.

So not only do we see it last in the english speaking world, we can't get tickets for it.

Fans in Italy are also upset: Italian distributor Medusa, after choosing to release Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Rings a month later (January,18 instead of December, 19) than United States and western Europe, announced that the next two episodes, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, will receive the same treatment. Medusa claims taking this decision because there are too many important titles presented during Christmas period in Italy, even if Peter Jackson's movie was greeted with enthusiasm both by critics and public worldwide since 19, December and there is no doubt the same will occur in Italy.

LOTR fans, you're not directly interested in the Italian release date, but please, consider what your reaction would be if you'd be forced to wait a month before seeing the next episodes of this masterpiece. With this petition we ask Medusa to listen to fans' opinion and to release The Two Towers and The Return of The King at the same time with United States and European Community.

With confidence, Caltanet Cinema


Hobbits fight each other in new Lord Of The Rings film
Xoanon @ 10:37 am EST
Elijah Wood says cinema goers will see a fight scene in The Two Towers which is not in JRR Tolkien's book. He says his character Frodo will fight with Sam Gamgee, played by Sean Astin. [More]


World News: NZ, Brazil, UK
Tehanu @ 2:57 pm EST
In NZ there will be a programme on 'TTT behind the scenes' on Sunday at 7pm (NZT) on Channel 2. Thanks to Fiver for the news.

Also in NZ, Aucklanders should hie themselves down to the Americas Cup Village and check out the Pavillion, which is doing a show celebrating innovative New Zealanders. Richard Taylor is one of the people featured there.

In Brazil it's CONFIRMED that TTT will be released earlier than initially planned, on Dec. 27. - thanks to Ivan for the news.

Ali writes: I'd just like to let U.K Tornsibs know that the WB special 'Return To Middle Earth' will be on ITV1 on Saturday Dec 14th at 12:30pm.It will be 30mins long. Enjoy!


TTT Review From Oslo
Xoanon @ 9:34 pm EST
Mouldy sends in yet ANOTHER review for TTT, yet another lucky bugger who has seen the flick before me. I guess I'll just have to be patient and wait to see the flick tomorrow night in New York City with PJ, Elijah, Viggo, Miranda and the others. Such is life.... :) (more about the NYC premiere and after party soon! -Xo)

Hey Xoanon! 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 will 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 screen 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, Faramir 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 cliché 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 correctly.

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 Beats 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!!!



Another Spoiler-Free Review
Tehanu @ 2:22 pm EST
Nerdanel writes: "I saw TTT last night at a screening for the Los Angeles Film Critics (of whom my spouse is one). As I pretty much agree with every word of both of Sarumann's reviews, I write to add only a few additional comments.

"TTT is a remarkable achievement in two very different ways. The first has already been commented on extensively--the battle scenes are spectacularly done. I'm no fan of war movies, but the Battle of Helms Deep is well paced, suspenseful, and remarkably easy to follow--I must admit that I've never been entirely sure what exactly was going on in that part of the book, or where the Glittering Caves might be relative to the Deep, but the film made all that quite clear. At the same time, we get caught up in the fortunes of Gimli, Aragorn, Legolas, Eowyn,Theoden and others and are able to follow these separate threads as they weave through the larger tapestry of the battle.

"The second great feature of TTT is the way many of the characters from the book are actually deepened and humanized in the movie. Eowyn, to take one example, already the closest thing to a breathing female anywhere in LotR, is really brought to life by Miranda Otto in her scenes with Aragorn and Gimli, and leads me to have high hopes for her role in RotK. Aragorn, too, continues the complex character development begun in FotR but largely missing from the books--his interaction with Eowyn is both sympathetic and subtle and provides a fine counterpoint to the unfolding and (to me) still not entirely convincing Aragorn/Arwen story. I also join the crowd completely blown away by Gollum--not just a great effect but a truly great performance, probably the best in the film. (Can a CGI effect be awarded best supporting actor?) Elijah Wood's portrayal of Frodo benefits considerably from juxtaposition with this richly detailed rendering of Gollum, which makes it clear both to Frodo and to the audience what Frodo is in real danger of becoming."

Oh, by the way, I loved it. Can't believe I have to wait over 2 weeks to see it again.

Norwegian TV Clips Transcripts
Tehanu @ 1:53 pm EST
Dimatariel in Norway has done great work by writing out a description of the TTT clips that are available on Norway's TV2 website. It's nons-streaming 3MB Quicktime, so for those who don't want to deal with that, and with registering, here's her description:

It's a sixteen minute film with all sorts of clips from The Two Towers! But a problem is, you'll have to be a member on this site to be able to see them. Anyway, the page adress is this one

It's the Norwegian TV channel TV2 who's made this. And in case people don't want to get a password and all on this site, I've written a detailed review of what we can see throughout these sixteen minutes of TTT-clips:

CLIP 1: This one is the latest trailer.

CLIP 2: This clip is called "Lembas bread". The scene opens with Sam and Frodo, sitting on a group of rocks somewhere around Emyn Muil, I suppose. We see Frodo closest to the screen, drinking from a bottle. He asks Sam: "What food have we got left?" Then the picture changes to a close-up with Sam, which shows him looking in his bag and picking up a piece of lembas as he says: "Well, let me see. Ah, yes. Lovely. And look! More lembas bread." He tosses a piece to Frodo and they both start eating it. Sam says something like: "I know we usually eat forest food. But this stuff... It's not that bad." Then Frodo smiles and says: "Nothing ever dampens your spirits, does it, Sam?" And in the end, Sam stares towards the sky and answered: "Those rain clouds will."

CLIP 3: This one's called "We're not alone". This is also a Sam and Frodo clip, where we see them climbing across a rocky hill. Finally they stop and Sam says: "This looks strangely familiar." Frodo answers to him, sadly: "It's because we've been here before. We're going in circles!" They're look around a bit, and then Sam says: "There's a nasty smell nearby. Can you smell it?" Frodo walks down to him and answers: "Yes. I can smell it all right. We're not alone."

CLIP 4: The clip is called "They're closing up faster". We first see Aragorn lying on a piece of rock or something, I'm guessing he's been resting. Then he stands up as he says: "They must have caught our scent. Hurry!" And runs off, as Legolas approach the screen and shouts "Come on, Gimli!" as he runs after Aragorn. Gimli is standing below the rock Legolas had stood on, and says as he follows them: "Three nights of hard pursuit. No food. No rest." Then he mumbles something I can't make out, and so we see the three of them running off over great hills, and there's some fantastic landscape shots.

CLIP 5: This is a really exciting clip. It's called "Whispering trees", and we see the darkness of a huge Uruk-Hai army and Pippin crawling towards a lying Merry, both of them tied up. "Merry!" Pippin cries, and then Merry looks up with the oh so familiar cut in his forehead from the books and says, sadly, to his friend: "I think we may have made a mistake, leaving the Shire." Moving on we see the Uruk-Hai cutting down a lot of trees around their camp area, and then we hear a scary, whispering sound. Pippin asks Merry: "What's making that noise?", and Merry answers him: "It's the trees", and he's sitting up and his face looks like its being refilled with hope. "What?" says Pippin, and Merry explains: "The trees. Remember the Old Forest? The people in Buckland used to say there was something in the water that made the trees grow tall... and come alive. Trees can whisper, and talk to each other. Even move..."

CLIP 6: It's called "What brings you here?", and we see the same clip that's in the trailer with the Riders of Rohan approaching on Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. As they're surrounded, Éomer says to them: "What business does an Elf, a Man and a Dwarf have in the ridder mark? Speak quickly!" And then Gimli says to him, rudely: "Give me your name, horse master, and I shall give you mine." Then Éomer climbs down from his horse and says back to Gimli: "I would cut off your head, Dwarf, if it stood but a little higher from the ground." Then Legolas quickly grabs his bow and arrow and shouts angrily to Éomer: "You would die before you tried!" or something like that, and all the horsemen prepare their weapons. But Aragorns pushes Legolas's bow away and says to Éomer: "I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn. This is Gimli, son of Gloin and Legolas of the woods unknown. We are friends of Rohan, and of Théoden, your king." Éomer sighs and answers: "Théoden no longer recognizes friends and foe." Then he removes his helmet and says on: "Not even his own kin."

CLIP 7: "Arrival at Edoras", is this piece called. And it opens with Éowyn, walking in her white dress out to the steps of Edoras. She stops here, and stares out over the land while a flag loosens by the wind and flies out of the city and lands before the feet of Aragorn's horse as he and his friends enter. The flag shows a white horse.

CLIP 8: This is a really great one. It's named "The hospitality has left this house", and it opens with Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli entering the Golden Hall for the first time. We see Gandalf speaking about the non-welcoming, and then jumps to the shot of Gr'ma and Théoden, the king looking very old and tired. Gr'ma whispers to him about Gandalf: "He is not welcome", and then Théoden says to Gandalf: "Why should I welcome you, Gandalf storm-crow?" Grima says to the king: "A good question, my liege." Then he stands up and speaks towards the newcomers: "Late is the hour in which the fool chooses to appear." Gandalf faces him and says: "Be silent! Hide your poisonous tongue behind your teeth! I have not walked through fire and death to bandy meaningless words with the wretched Worm."

CLIP 9: This one's called "We have to get out of here". It actually opens with Sam saying this exact sentance, I think it's in the secret cave that Faramir leads them to. Sam and Frodo are alone in a room, and Sam says to Frodo: "We have to get out of here. You go. Go now! You can do it." He crawls slowly over to Frodo and sits right next to him as he continues to talk: "Use the Ring, mister Frodo. Just this once. Put it on. Disappear." Frodo sighs, and then he finally answers in a quiet voice: "I can't. You were right, Sam. You tried to tell me. I'm sorry..." And it actually ends here, as frustrating as that will seem!

CLIP 10: This is called "The answer to all the riddles", and it opens with Faramir entering the same room that they're in in CLIP 9. Faramir says, looking at Frodo and drawing his sword: "So. This is the answer to all the riddles." He is approaching the two hobbits as they stand up. Faramir walks towards Frodo, poiting his sword at him and saying: "Here in the wild I have you, two halflings, at the host of Men. The Ring of power within my grasp...!" And then his sword is pointed at Frodo's neck, sort of playing with the chain which the Ring hang by. And the scene ends with Frodo's terrified face.

CLIP 11: "There is still hope" is the name of this one. We see Arwen lying in her bed in Rivendell, with her eyes wide open. Then we hear Elronds voice say: "Arwen", and then he continues to speak in Elvish to her and it's subtitled in English: "It is time. The ships are leaving for Valinor. Go now... before it's too late." Arwen sits up and says to him: "I have made my choice." Elrond steps into her room and says with a firm voice: "He is not coming back. Why do you linger here when there is no hope?" But Arwen replies: "There is still hope." Elrond steps away, staring in another direction as he continues: "If Aragorn survives this war, you will still be parted. If Sauron is defeated, and Aragorn made king and all that you hope for comes true, you'll still have to taste the bitterness of mortality."

CLIP 12: It's called "Ten thousand men strong", and it opens with Aragorn entering the Golden Hall. The new, younger-looking Théoden is meeting with him. "All Isengard is in war," Aragorn says to him. Théoden asks: "How many?" and Aragorn answers: "Ten thousand strong at least." Théoden turns when he hears the shocking news and says: "Ten thousand?" Aragorn continues: "It is an army bred for a single purpose: To destroy the world of Men. They will be here by nightfall." Théoden first looks terrified, then he gains up his act and says strongly: "Let them come."

CLIP 13: Another Merry and Pippin-clip, called "Maybe we should go home". It opens with Merry putting on his jacket as Pippin approaches him, slowly. When he's nearby, he says: "Maybe Treebeard's right, Merry. It's too big for us. We can we do in the end? We've got the Shire. Maybe we should go home." Merry looks up, but not at Pippin. Then he says: "The fires of Isengard will spread. And the woods of Tuckburrow and Buckland will burn. And... and all that was once green and good in this world will be gone." Then he turns to face his friend, grabs him by the shoulder and finishes: "There won't be a Shire, Pippin." Then he walks away.

CLIP 14: "Good with the sword", have they named this one. We see Éowyn, practicing her skills with the sword in a hall. Then Aragorn walks in on her just as she turns, but she nearly "defeats" him in combat. (It's that very well known clip from the trailer where the two of them "fight" with their swords.) Aragorn says to her: "You've got some skills with the blade." Éowyn puts her sword away as she says: "Women of this country learned long ago. Those without swords can still die upon them. I fear neither death nor pain." Aragorn looks at her and says: "What do you fear, mylady?" She looks up at him and answers: "A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accepts it. And all chance of value has gone beyond recalled desire." Aragorn just shakes his head and says: "You are a daughter of kings. Shield maiden of Rohan. I do not think that would be your fate."

Well, that was the fourteen clips that TV2 had published. Hope you at TheOneRing.net can find use of them. [Sure can! - many thanks - T]


Two Towers Review from Sarumann
Calisuri @ 2:30 pm EST
Our good friend Sarumann had a chance to see The Two Towers, at the now infamous, MTV screening last night in Los Angeles, CA. He was kind enough to send us two reviews. One spoiler free and one full of spoilers!

Spoiler Review Non-Spoiler Review

Non-Spoiler Review (okay, maybe some light spoilers)

The lights go down, the picture comes up, and as the title "The Lord of the Rings" comes across the screen, you know that you are in for three more hours of one of the greatest stories ever told.

The tale of The Two Towers is one of battle, inner turmoil, and conquering demons, both inside and out. The audience is taken on three separate yet intricately connected stories, each one leading to the same fate: the final battle against Sauron and the hosts of Mordor.

Frodo and Sam continue their journey east with the creature Gollum as their guide. Gollum is a breathtaking feat of CG animation and incredible acting. Andy Serkis lends a child-like quality to Gollum that makes him both fearsome and pitiful at the same time. As the Ring takes a closer hold on Frodo, Sam's role as protector becomes all the clearer.

Merry and Pippin, escaping the orcs in the confusion of battle, find themselves among the Ents, the tree-shepherds, led by Treebeard. While the Ents seem a bit goofy-looking, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with. And Merry and Pippin transcend their roles as comic relief from the first film, and become a driving force in the battle against Saruman.

Aragorn, Legolas, and Gilmli, hot on the trail of Merry and Pippin (with some scenes that finally show Aragorn's abilities as a Ranger), are brought into a much greater peril. The kingdom of Rohan has been infiltrated by Saruman via the evil Grima Wormtongue. It is up to Aragorn to claim his destiny as King of Gondor and fight alongside the weakened King Theoden of Rohan against the forces of Isengard.

With the help of the reborn Gandalf the White, Grima is ostracized, and the influence of Saruman exorcised from Rohan and King Theoden.

The Two Towers takes us on three separate journeys, yet each one is dependent upon the other. While information is given to us at a feverish pace, there is never a sense of information overload or confusion. The stories never skip a beat. They never halt to gaze at the scenery (which is breathtaking). It is cinema storytelling at its finest. Each character (both old and new) is given their moment to shine.

And shine they do. The performances from the most minor of characters to the largest of leading roles are superb. The battles are the most epic that I have ever seen. There is action without limits, and characters such as Legolas show us why Elves were the greatest of all beings.

As Merry and Pippin come into their own, Gimli is the one who takes the helm as comic relief. From a rather funny rant about Dwarf women to eloquent screams that are equal to any form of "Lemme attim!" Gimli brings the right amount of levity without being over the top. There is one exception when one joke about his height, while given a terrific first delivery, is revisited a few times with less and less humor.

The strengths of The Two Towers greatly outnumbers its weaknesses. There are many more alterations to the original text in this film than the firstoa few of which are sure to spark heated debates among fans for years to come. And while the alterations range from minor to drastic, the spirit is still the same, and carries through the entire film.

This is a fantastic second chapter of the trilogy, and the anticipation for the third and final chapter next year is almost too much to bear. I can guarantee that this fan will be revisiting this movie quite a few times before it leaves theaters.

Spoiler Review

To compare The Two Towers to its predecessor, The Fellowship of the Ring is like comparing two equally-sized pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. One may be more aesthetically pleasing than the other. One may seem to make more sense than the other. But, when placed together, they create something more incredible than the individual pieces.

A lot of anticipation has been built up over this second installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and this movie does not disappoint in the least. Without skipping a beat, we are brought into the Misty Mountains, with Gandalf's defiant declaration of "You shall not pass!" hanging in the air like an echoey whisper, the screams, battle clashes, and cries of desperation growing louder until we are transported like a flash of light back to Khazad-Dum, and Gandalf is once again standing against the Balrog. We relive those last moments before Gandalf's fall (albeit slightly abbreviated), and then follow his freefall after the Balrog into the depths of Moria.

The rest of the movie follows the same feverish pace to bring us all up to speed, as three separate plotlines now need to be established: Frodo and Sam on their way to Mordor, Merry and Pippin in the snare of the Uruk-hai, and Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli hot on their trail. On top of that, the storyline of Saruman's impending assault on Rohan and the weakening of the throne of Edoras are all established...and all of this in the first half hour. Information comes so quickly and relentlessly, that I felt myself struggling to keep up.

But once the film settles into its own pace, the intense storytelling begins. Each character (both old and new) is given their moment to shine. The relationship between Sam and Frodo is tested. Legolas and Gilmli develop their quickly-building friendship. Theoden transforms from a beaten old man to a valiant leader. Gandalf becomes the shining light of destiny.

But, this movie is truly Aragorn's moment to shine. The King to Be is forced to face some personal demons and come into his own as the Leader of Men. He can no longer hide behind the Elves or his own frail apprehension. The desperate times of the War of the Ring have begun. It is his time to stand up and be counted among the heroes of battle and accept the mantle of the leader he is destined to be. By the end of the film, Aragorn has stepped up and claimed his destiny.

While Aragorn has the strongest character arc of any in the film, the character that struck me that most was Gollum. The tortured creature of whom we only get a few fleeting glimpses in the first film now takes center stage in Frodo's storyline. While there are times that the CG elements of Gollum show forth, and others where he blends so seamlessly, that I found myself wondering if there was, in fact, some very advanced animatronic work going on. And, when it comes to CG character effects, that is a huge compliment. Gollum's true performance is in subtlety. With a twitch of the lip or a lift of an eye, Gollum can transform for Slinker to Stinker instantaneously. Andy Serkis' performance brings a quality to Gollum that is almost child-like. Gollum's inner turmoil is brought forth so unfettered, that I truly understood the "Pity of Bilbo."

On the other end of the spectrum is Treebeard, an Ent: one of the ages-old tree shepherds. Of all of the CG characters, Treebeard and the Ents seem to fall a bit below the mark. Their bodies are made up primarily of legs, and Merry and Pippin seem to spend about 80% of the film riding in Treebeard's branches while he takes them aimlessly around Fangorn Forest. He finally brings them to the Entmoot, where we encounter other Ents, each one looking just a bit more cartoony than the next. However, once sprung into action, the Ents truly steal the show with one of the most fantastic battles in the film.

That battle is second only to Helm's Deep, which is consistently intercut with the other developing plotlines, while never losing its own momentum. The desperation of the people of Rohan comes through in a number of scenes leading up to the battle (the most poignant one for me is a scene of confused children attempting to brandish weapons). Even before the battle begins, the entire effort seems hopeless. Until, we are met with a subplot that was not in the books at all: Elrond's decision to bring the Elves into the War of the Ring. I am still trying to figure out if I like this change or not, and I know that this will be the subject of many a heated debate among fans. I honestly think I need to see this movie a few more times before I say for sure how I feel about it, as it plays well despite how it seems to go in direct opposition of the general theme that this is a war for Men to fight.

In spite of this drastic alteration, the battle is a spectacle unlike I have ever seen on film before. Armies flow like seas of people over the battlefield. The Orcs bring with them huge numbers and large amounts of weaponry, and the men and elves counter with fury and passion. The battle is so epically intense, that I found myself wondering how this movie got away with a PG-13 rating.

By the end of the battle, when all hope seems lost, and the people of Rohan are cornered, Aragorn convinces Theoden to ride out in one last glorious attack. As Helm's Horn is sounded, Theoden cries "Forth, Eorlingas!" and leads a spectacular charge which had the entire audience cheering. The men on horseback plow through orcs like a knife. And, if things can't get better, Aragorn spies Gandalf atop Shadowfax, leading a charge with Eomer and the Rohirrim with the rising sun behind them. The tide of the battle turns in a spectacular display of power and destruction. The battle effects have come a long way in the year since we were first introduced to them with the Battle of the Last Alliance. At this rate, the Battle of Pelennor Fields in the next film will be mind-blowing.

But, there is still a third battle that is shown in this film. We also see the sacking of Osgiliath, the border city of Gondor. In a change from the book, Frodo's encounter with Faramir ends very differently, with Faramir taking Frodo and Sam prisoner, and forcing them to return with him to Gondor for the explicit purpose of using the Ring to turn the tide of battle. Again, it is a very drastic change, but one that adds much more dramatic tension. As Frodo and Sam are taken into Osgiliath, we are brought face-to-face with the Nazgul on their new winged steeds, and they look ten times more horrifying than before. Frodo's building conflict with his resistance to the Ring comes to a heart-wrenching climax, as Frodo finds himself in front of the Nazgul yet again, and this time offers the Ring to them. It is only Sam's interference that saves him, and Faramir witnesses this and has his change of heartoof course, this is also after Sam gives him a very harsh lecture on how Boromir gave in to the Ring.

By the end, Frodo and Sam are led again into Mordor by Gollum. And it is this final scene that will break the heart, as Gollum had earlier fought with his own inner demons and come out triumphant, trusting Frodo to be a good and kind person. However, when he is captured by Faramir, everything comes crashing down, and Gollum's dark side takes over once again. In this last scene, Gollum fights with himself one more time, only to have the dark side win this round, transforming him into the truly devious stinker that will lead Frodo and Sam to the lair of Shelob.

While this film is stronger in certain areas than Fellowship, as well as weaker in some areas, it is the perfect complement to the first, and an excellent continuation of the story. The Two Towers is the second piece of the great jigsaw puzzle that is The Lord of the Rings. There are scenes in this that will enhance others in the first, and there are scenes in the first that lend themselves to others in this film. The Two Towers stands on its own very well, but when coupled with Fellowship, the whole becomes something even greater. This only makes the year-long wait for The Return of the King and the final chapter that much more unbearable.


News from Singapore, Costa Rica, South Africa
Tehanu @ 10:08 pm EST
Liam writes: In your international release dates, you say TTT is released in Singapore on the 20th - but there are a number of of sneak previews before hand! It is because the films are released on a Thursday, although the do have "sneak previews" - last year on December 18th all showings at one of the largest cinemas (9 screens) were FOTR after about 11am.

Tickets are available at shaw.com although not for all showings yet...

Meanwhile in Costa Rica, Larvarela writes:

The Costa Rica Premier of The Two Towers is December 20th 2002 but..... A Local Newspaper named "La Nacion" is having a very special event.

It's an Auction of 200 tickets to assits on Tuesday December 17th to The Two Towers Special Premier. Yes, December 17th one day before the official premier.

This special night is in favor of the Make-a-Wish Foundation. 100% of the money will be to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses.

Right now there're more than 155 persons in the auction an paying as high as 100 Dolars for a single ticket..... Tolkien Fans no doubt!!!

For more info: Wish.org and also Cinemania

And Gary writes with news of the South African release date of TTT:
According to Numetro LOTR:TTT will be released in South Africa on 18 December 2002.

TTT Review from Aulë
Calisuri @ 12:49 pm EST
Ringer fan Aulë sends us this quick, but SPOILER FILLED review of the Writer's Guild screening last night:

I loved FOTR and I think TTT was even better, in the sense that it had all of the qualities of the first film, plus the extraordinary, never seen before Helm's Deep sequence that made ATTACK OF THE CLONES look like it was shot in a barn with hand puppets.

Some of the characters stuff is, IMHO, better and more credible that the way it was presented in the novel)(sort of like Spider-Man's origins). Theoden, Grima Wormtongue and Eowyn come across better and more believable, with more depth to then. The Aragorn and Arwen bit works fine for me, and Bill the Pony is back! Yay! Gollum also has a lot more depth. Great characterization all the way.

The film breaks off naturally, before the Stairs of Cirith Ungol, and more surprisingly befire the reckoning with Saruman, but I suppose it's long enough as it is... The only thing "missing" (ie: from the book), which I hope will find its way in the DVD, is some of the stuff that happened between Merry, Pippin and Treebeard. No entdraught... I don't blame the film-makers 'cause that would have taken us away from the main action for too long, but still.

Some nice touches: mentions of the Valar, Valinor, and yes even a mention of Morgoth...

I just can't wait for the DVD version, and of course TROTK. I cannot, simply cannot imagine how Peter Jackson will manage to top that one again.

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