OK, I saw The Two Towers

It was pretty good. Opinionated spoilers to follow.

The last hour is great, as is gollum (which surprised me). The rest of it was a bit slow, I thought. Not as well-paced as Fellowship, by a long shot. Very little characterization, and way too many shots of forlorn old ladies and big-eyed kids. Jackson kind of went overboard with the slow-mo as well, especially anytime Aragorn looks at anything.

Some of the dialogue was fairly bad. Lots of obvious call and response scenes: such as when Wormtongue says that Sauron will need a huge army to storm Helm’s Deep, and then they epicly pan to the huge army.

I also thought the changes to the story, unlike in Fellowship, seemed unnecessary.

But Gollum has a few great scenes (seriously, it’s weird at first, but once you get over the fact that he’s CG he steals the movie), and the battle sequences are great, for the most part. Helm’s Deep, the siege of Isengard, both good.

Overall, I liked it. But I’m gonna stick with 24 Hour Party People as my favorite film of the year.

Well they’re his kids. Gollum’s definitely the show stealer though.

Kinda combining two Dulin posts.

I agree – it’s not as much of a stand-alone narrative, and it’s not as well paced. The slower scenes aren’t filled with characterization either - they’re just, slower.

I liked it better than Fellowship - at least that’s the way I feel right now, primarily because of the final confrontations, and because much as I loved the first film, there were several scenes that I didn’t think worked well (as well as many interesting touches of detail that surprised me). I also agree that I don’t understand the reasons for some of the changes from the book in this one (Haldir, Arwen, Faramir (especially), Theoden’s motives), but I loved almost every damn scene in the movie. A few things in particular:

  • golum, who really does come across sympathetically, primarily because of the amazing expressions brought out by the animation. The first CGI character that actually added something to a movie;

  • having the men from the East and the South make appearances (as well as the wild men near Rohan).

  • Pretty much all of Helms Deep and the Ent confrontation at Isengard;

  • acting was, again, amazing – it was great to see Brad Douriff actually act for a change again, instead of just providing his standard creepy weird guy (ironically, while playing a creepy weird guy). Thought Faramir and Eowyn were also particularly strong. I thought Eomer was weak, although he’s barely in the movie.

Edit: Also the incredible settings, once again. Helms Deep (the layout of which I always found a bit confusing in the book) and Edoras – built into a mountain.

CGI was definitely better in this movie than in Fellowship too. The only elements that didn’t seem “right” were the close-up shots of Treebeard - distance ones looked great.

Stefan.

But Gollum has a few great scenes (seriously, it’s weird at first, but once you get over the fact that he’s CG he steals the movie),

It can’t be hard when you consider the only actors he has to be better than are fatty Sean Astin and Elijah Wood, whose greatest role was that scene in the Faculty where he is slammed spread-eagled into a telephone pole over and over again.

Someone told me this the other day, and it’s really fitting: “Lord Of The Rings is the Star Wars of this generation.”

Think about it.

Fuck Lord of the Rings?

I not only didn’t understand the reasoning behind the changes, I didn’t like them. The cut with Treebeard taking Merry and Pippin to Gandalf seemed forced, a very flimsy plot device just to get the hobbits out of the way. They’re pretty much discarded here. I liked how the Ents voted against entering the war, and how Merry and Pippin were made more important here, but they wrapped that sequence up far too quickly. First of all, how did Pippin know that Saruman had been destroying trees? Second, how did Treebeard summon all the Ents in mere moments, after walking many miles across the forest from the Entmoot? It was way too pat, though the scene following it was spectacular.

Then there’s the Faramir stuff. That I really didn’t get at all. I presume the episode was changed to give Frodo another scene with the Nazgul, which was pretty cool, and to further drive home the point that Aragorn is the only really strong man in the movie, and worthy of this crown he’s going to take in Return of the King. But it was a little much. And considering all the strength that Sauron has, it seems ridiculous that Frodo would be able to expose the Ring to a Nazgul without the entire of army of Mordor showing up in Osgiliath before sundown. It was also bizarre that one arrow drove the Nazgul away when he was just a few feet away from grabbing the Ring. I’m presuming that Jackson will make a big deal about Aragorn looking into the palantir in the next movie, to draw Sauron’s eye away from Frodo and confuse him into thinking that they’re planning on using the Ring in defense of Gondor, but the plot doesn’t make sense as it stands right now. There should have been a few thousand orcs and all nine Nazgul waiting for Frodo and Sam as soon as they left Osgiliath.

Also relating to Frodo – what was the deal with he and Sam doing the Keystone Kops routine just feet from the heavily guarded front door to Mordor? Half the orcs on the wall would have seen that tumble down the cliff. And the use of the elf cloak was tossed in, deus ex machina style. It was a cool scene, but we had no lead-in that the cloaks were capable of such magic. Of if we did, I missed it.

Then of course the Aragorn changes. I like what Jackson’s done here, beefing up the character and increasing his stature so that he really stands out. But I don’t see why Jackson has to weaken so many other characters to emphasize this. Gimli’s a joke through most of this movie, Theoden’s a wimp who has to be goaded into fighting and even then only seems to do so because the last charge is tantamount to suicide by orc, and Faramir’s a weasel who changes his mind after Sam gives a speech that could have been written by David E. Kelley. It’s becoming a bit much. Also, what was the point of having Aragorn fall into the rapids? Was that supposed to be some sort of Moses thing? A baptism? An excuse to show Liv Tyler again?

Man, that sounds negative. Anyhow, I liked Two Towers a fair bit over all, but just didn’t appreciate the plot changes. I didn’t have any problems with the pace. If anything, I thought the movie went too fast, particularly the opening. Although Jackson could have done away with some of those flashbacks and cuts to the elves, especially that strange, apparently mental conversation between Elrond and Galadriel. But I really liked Gollum, how Jackson handled the Ents, the battle sequences, and the flooding of Isengard was incredible.

I’ll probably enjoy the movie more the second time I see it, as then I’ll be able to acknowledge this story instead of constantly comparing it to the original. Last year I avoided reading the books before the movie. This year I decided to read The Two Towers, which I finished just last week, and I think that might have been a big mistake.

I just finished The Two Towers two days ago. I won’t get to see the film until next week, but that’s a lot of changes Brett’s talking about. I’m not so excited to see it now as I was before. :(

–Dave

I saw it last night and really enjoyed the movie, even with the major changes in the story. I can understand the reasoning behind some of these changes to the story, and I’m looking forward to seeing the extended version to see if they flesh out those scenes more. Particularly Faramir, there was no need to change his character so much, unless it was to further elevate Aragorn’s stature as someone stated. It was cool to see Osgiliath and the contigent of elves at Helm’s Deep, and Gollum was very well done. I also am enamoured with Eowyn, even if she only had a few scenes that developed her character.

It’s very different from the first movie, but taking it into the context of the overall narrative works quite well. I was glad they didn’t try to over explain previous events.

Sar-U-man.

Sar-U-man.[/quote]

yeah, yeah. It was 3:30 in the morning and I was exhausted. You are the Tolkein expert, Bub, for knowing how to spell Saruman. Or maybe I was kidding? Is that joke old yet?

Sar-U-man.[/quote]
According to CNN, Gollum leafs Frodo and Sam to Saruman.

http://www.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/Movies/12/17/sproject.ca02.review.two.towers/index.html

“I liked how the Ents voted against entering the war, and how Merry and Pippin were made more important here, but they wrapped that sequence up far too quickly.”

I couldn’t agree more. I liked that they fleshed out Merry and Pippin and gave them something important to do. I also liked that they are now somewhat differentiated from each other, rather than being the interchangeable hobbit clowns from FOTR. However, that scene where Treebeard howls and suddenly twenty Ents come walking up, as if they’ve been inexplicably tagging along behind him the whole time, was kind of lame. One cool thing, though: I loved Merry’s speech about why the hobbits need to fight. SO much better than Sam’s similar speech at the end of the film.

“Then there’s the Faramir stuff. That I really didn’t get at all.”

This was one of two changes I really hated. Faramir was my favorite character in the books, and I did not for the life of me understand why PJ did this. And all the stuff Brett said about Osgiliath, I totally agree with. The whole point, in the books, is that giving the ring to Frodo is supposed to be secret. I mean, maybe we’re supposed to believe that Sauron sees the ring at Osgiliath and therefore assumes it is going to be used in the defense of Gondor, but still–as Brett said, there should have been an entire army there within the hour. Also, as Brett mentioned, that scene were Faramir drives the Nazgul off with a single arrow is ludicrous.

“And the use of the elf cloak was tossed in, deus ex machina style. It was a cool scene, but we had no lead-in that the cloaks were capable of such magic. Of if we did, I missed it.”

To be fair, this is explained in the extended version DVD (where Galadriel mentions that the cloaks have the magical ability to hide) but was cut from the theatrical release because of time constraints; also, Sam makes mention of the cloaks’ ability in TTT, shortly before this scene (“I don’t think even our magical elven cloaks could hide us in there” or words to that effect).

“Then of course the Aragorn changes.”

I really enjoyed the extra stuff added for Aragorn’s character, but he was the subject of the other change that I really, really, hated: the stuff with him going over a cliff. I think it’s fine for the character, but I have fucking had it with Peter Jackson trying to trick the audience into thinking that a main character has been killed, when really he has not. That’s bad in any movie unless it’s done very judiciously; it’s particularly bad in LOTR because the story already has one character who comes back from “death.” It really sucks, because at this point, anytime someone dies the audience is probably not going to care that much, because so many people (Gandalf, Aragorn, Merry, Pippin, and the four hobbits in Bree) have “died” onscreen but then come back to life; it’s extremely rare in these movies for a character (other than a redshirt-equivalent generic soldier) to die and then stay goddamn dead. And the thing is, there was really just no good reason to add this stuff. It ticked me off.

“Gimli’s a joke through most of this movie”

I actually didn’t mind this. I thought Gimli was good, even though he was almost all comic relief.

“Theoden’s a wimp who has to be goaded into fighting and even then only seems to do so because the last charge is tantamount to suicide by orc”

I didn’t mind this either. I really liked Theoden’s character in the movie. I wouldn’t really classify him as a “wimp,” I just saw him as trying to do the best thing for his people. He doesn’t understand the threat that Saruman’s army poses until he sees it; he just doesn’t believe or understand that Saruman is trying to wipe the race of men off the earth. He thinks this is the typical war, where he will hole his people up in the fort, wait for the army to get sick of sacking the countryside, and then re-emerge and re-build their homes. It isn’t until the whole Uruk-Hai army shows up at Helm’s Deep that he realizes this is actually a battle for the whole enchilada. I thought it was cool, in a WW2-allegory sort of way. Theoden’s character was actually my favorite one in the whole movie (Gollum is a close second), and huge props to Bernard Hill for an outstanding acting job. He better get an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting.

“I didn’t have any problems with the pace.”

I didn’t either, and I’m surprised to see this as a complaint. I thought the pacing was excellent–it went a lot faster than FOTR, for me at least, and I thought PJ did a much better job in using appropriate touches of humor to keep things moving. I didn’t find the slow scenes overly slow, and I thought they did have good character development in them. I thought the Merry/Pippin story was too slow once they got picked up by Treebeard, but was willing to excuse that as possibly being deliberate (so the audience will feel the same feelings that Merry/Pippin feel–exasperation at the slow pace of the Ents). Overall, this movie went by a lot quicker for me. I thought the pacing was great.

My only complaints about the movie are the two changes noted above, which I really hated (Aragorn’s “death” and the changes to Faramir), and also that the movie, like FOTR, is somewhat marred by Peter Jackson’s occasional lack of subtlety. For example, there was no need for Theoden to physically transform so much under Saruman’s spell, and the “exorcism” scene was too over-the-top. If it had been me, I would have been a lot more subtle with that, because the spell/effect itself was supposed to be subtle (IIRC). Similarly, Sam’s stirring speech at the end of the film was way, way, way too melodramatic.

In general, I feel the same way I did about FOTR. Jackson is a very risk-taking director. Sometimes those risks fall flat, but 95% of the time, they pay off (even just the way he made the films to begin with). The stuff I don’t like about the movies is mostly nit-picking; overall, these are towering epics that may end up being my favorite movies of al time. I was glued to my seat throughout TTT (and FOTR), and can’t wait for ROTK. Great stuff, even with the minor annoyances. And TTT features the best battle I’ve ever seen on film, as well as the best CG character I’ve ever seen anywhere. I think about all the brouhaha that was made over the movie-cum-tech-demo “Final Fantasy,” and here Peter Jackson has made a CG character that is miles beyond that and integrated it into a movie that is ten thousand times better.

The changes to Theoden still bothered me quite a bit, in the book you’ve got Theoden and the riders charging off towards Isengard until they meet a scout of Erkbrand’s, Gandalf looks off into the distance, and then tells them they must fall back to Helm’s Deep if they’re to put up a fight. Instead we get the opposite in the movie, Gandalf calling Theoden a fool (or something) for heading straight to Helm’s Deep and that being Theoden’s plan from the begining, making him seem much less noble than I imagined him from the book. I didn’t like how much Eomer was cut out from things by being banished (instead of the book where he was jailed after hunting Merry and Pippen’s Orcs against orders), though something Jackson said from the first movie applies here. He talks about substituting Arwen for Glorfindel and says that almost more than anything it’s just too many characters to keep introducing. I can see how that could apply here in giving Eomer Erkbrand’s role, charging in with Gandalf to save the day.

As for pacing, aside from the Elf-Intermission-Bathroom Break bit in the middle, I thought the pacing was good too. I need to see the first half hour or so again soon though, the audio wasn’t correct in the theater for the begining of the movie and it was more distracting than I’d have imagined; it kept me from getting a feel for the opening pacing.

Naw, that comes after they hide, and they’re about to rush in, and Smeagol convinces them not to.

I thought the pacing was excellent–it went a lot faster than FOTR, for me at least, and I thought PJ did a much better job in using appropriate touches of humor to keep things moving.

Agree 100%. I saw TT as part of a double feature with FOTR first, and man, it felt so slow.

I never made it past the first book, so the artistic license is not obvious to me.

Best part about the film for me was the the cheering and applause from the gals whenever Legolas did something cool. Audience participation is great.

I didn’t cry anywhere in this movie. In FOTR, I cried at the end when Sam cried, “I made a promise!”

Agreed. I not only can’t understand the reason for the change (other than, I guess, to give an additional action-oriented scene with Frodo/Sam), – it adds logical errors into the movie, for the reasons you and Brett indicated.

I didn’t mind that one at all – in the book, they use the cloaks on a few occasions (Merry/Pippin when Rohan riders attack; the three pursuers when Rohan riders advance) that were left out of the movie. It isn’t really explained without the gift-giving scene in the extended edition, but it’s pretty obvious what’s happening from the visuals.

It seemed pointless to me as well, although the additional Warg scene was great. But I couldn’t help thinking how annoyed Viggo must have been, since in real life he almost died filming the scene where he’s in the water (he got stuck by currents under some rocks) and that scene was cut from the movie, heh heh.

It’s not really much different than in Fellowship, in hindsight, but it was more obvious here. I thought it was all, at least, generally in character, and not slapstick stuff that takes you out of the movie (ala Jar Jar in Phantom Menace).

I agree. If anything, he seemed stronger willed because he was unwilling to simply accept Gandalf’s direction. Theoden’s my favourite character in the books, and I thought he was well handled.

I agree with all of that. Also, Jackson’s insistance to have a “flashback” scene to an earlier line -in the same movie- is goofy (although at least, unlike Fellowship, it was just a voice-over this time).

I feel exactly the same way.

Stefan

The woman 2 seats to my left was crying when Aragorn was given up for dead. She honestly believed that he died and wasn’t coming back.

I think the scene in Helm’s Deep where the head of the elven army (I spaced his name, ack!) died was meant to provoke the Boromir response, but the audience (including me) didn’t seem to care much that he died.

That reminds me… wasn’t that elf from Lothlorien, ruled by Galadriel and yet said he was sent by Elrond? I need to go back and see FoTR for the 20th time to make sure I’m not mixing up my elves. Could’ve sworn he was the one who said “The dwarf breaths so loud we could have shot him in the dark” in Lothlorien.

You’re right – he’s Haldir, who’s one of the key Lorien elves, who first meets the fellowship (and makes the comment about Gimli’s loud breathing). I presume he said he was sent by Elrond because of the conversation Elrond and Galadriel had, since they’ve built up Elrond as more of the military leader of the elves.

I’m surprised no one has complained about the elves at Helms Deep – I didn’t think the Haldir scene you’re referencing worked at all, but I was glad to see them, and felt they added a lot (their presence, although inconsistent with the book, is consistent with the general involvement of the elves in battle during the story, since I presume Jackson has no intention of showing the battles in Lorien or Rivendell).

I couldn’t help thinking to myself as Haldir died “Well that’s what you get for showing up in the story where you don’t belong!”

I was a little disappointed that we got some archers instead of the Huorns. I was really looking forward to that part :(

Nice.