[MOVIE REVIEW]‘Two Towers’ amazes with exhilarating action

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[MOVIE REVIEW]‘Two Towers’ amazes with exhilarating action

The director Peter Jackson makes it clear right away that he doesn’t consider "The Two Towers" to be a sequel to last year’s hugely successful "The Fellowship of the Ring." The film picks up right away, where the last one left off, no recaps, no flashbacks, no summaries.

Instead, "The Two Towers" is a continuation of the "Lord of the Rings" story. Frodo (Elijah Wood” and his faithful servant Sam (Sean Austin) are traveling to Mordor to destroy the evil Ring of power. Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) have been kidnapped by Uruk-hai and orcs. Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), the elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the dwarf Gimli (John Rhys- Davies) are pursuing their captured friends.

But the real stars of this film, even more than in "Fellowship," are the computer graphics. The battle scenes make your eyes pop with details, as thousands of computer-compiled warriors swarm across the screen like a plague of locusts through a wheat field. The treepeople, the Ents, are impressive, especially once they are sufficiently provoked to grow angry.

And the twisted Gollum is the best and most convincing computer-generated character ever. Mr. Jackson once again shows his inventive style in how he portrays Gollum wrestling with himself, between his good and evil sides.

The story switches between the three story arcs, with Merry and Pippin getting the shortest shrift. Frodo and Sam have gotten lost on the way to Mordor, but when they discover Gollum following them, they capture him and convince the wretched creature to be their guide.

Much of the film focuses on Aragorn and his attempts to rally Theoden (Bernard Hill), the king of Rohann, into joining the fight against the other evil wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee). Hopelessly outnumbered, Theoden and his people take refuge in the hills for the final, great battle.

More than the first film, "Towers" veers from the J.R.R. Tolkien book, often for no significant reason that I could fathom.

For those people who gave up on "The Lord of the Rings" in print form, the second book, "The Two Towers," is where the trouble usually lies.

Of the three books, "The Two Towers" has some of the weakest writing, and far too many scenes of people just walking (or running) and talking. By the end of the film, just about every character has been thought dead, only to reappear alive and well, three or four times. In addition, there are times when Mr. Jackson’s message of hope crosses well into cheesey territory.

But most of the problems with this movie are, as in "Fellowship," the same weaknesses of the book. None of those problems, however, prevent "The Two Towers" from being the most majestic, overwhelming movie of the year.

by Mark Russell

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