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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Four-Disc Special Extended Edition)
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While it may seem that there would be nothing left to say after the bevy of features on the extended Fellowship, the four commentary tracks and two discs of supplements on The Two Towers remain informative, fascinating, and funny, far surpassing the recycled materials on the two-disc theatrical version. Highlights of the 6.5 hours' worth of documentaries offer insight on the stunts, the design work, the locations, and the creation of Gollum, and--most intriguing for rabid fans--the film's writers (including Jackson) discuss why they created events that weren't in the book. Providing variety are animatics, rough footage, countless sketches, and a sound-mixing demonstration. Again, the most interesting commentary tracks are by Jackson and writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens and by 16 members of the cast (eight of whom didn't appear in the first film, and even including John Noble, whose Denethor character only appears in this extended cut). The first two installments of Peter Jackson's trilogy have established themselves as the best fantasy films of all time, and among the best film trilogies of all time, and their extended-edition DVD sets have set a new standard for expanding on the already-epic films and providing comprehensive bonus features. --David Horiuchi
Top Customer Reviews
Sam - please read the books again as many of your review details are wrong. Gollum does have an internal struggle of Smeagol vs. Gollum, it's right in the book. It is pretty obvious in the movie that Sam is disgusted by Gollum and Frodo is more pitying him, same as the book. There is the conflict between Arwen and Elrond about her relationship with Aragorn and her struggle with remaining elfen and going West vs. staying with Aragorn. But it is subplot not detailed in the books as much, but Jackson is trying to flesh out characters. Aragorn does have doubts and struggles about coming out of hiding to rise to the thrown, he sets this up more in movie #2 for movie #3 but it is there in the books. Saruman does have control over nameless character "A" which nameless "B" breaks with a struggle and in the movie he has to make it obvious (over-do-it) what is going on or movie-goers would go "what the heck?" since they aren't reading the book. Saruman does rip down all the trees and into forest which P-O's the Ents, moving them into action, which WAS inspired by Tolkien's dislike of the industrial age (more to come in movie #3 I'm sure as in the books). There are warg-riding (i.e. big rats) orcs (even back in the Hobbit books) - READ THE BOOKS AGAIN!!!
But some variations are needed for a movie version for the general public; I'll agree with you that all were not needed _FOR_US_, but there is the Joe Blow ticket buyer he is trying to entertain as well, to actually make money on this colossal project (which was completed, by the way, before movie #1 came out and was still a gamble then; hindsight only shows he could have gotten away with "less", perhaps).
It's easy to tear down pick on every detail especially when movies are based on books. But this has to be (with the others in the series) some of the best movies ever made, and clearly the best attempt to mirror books on the screen; especially with the fantasy setting and special effects requirements. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is another great adaption, but it's not so hard to find a small Southern town and a guy named "Boo" as it is to create Balrogs, Orcs, Rings of Power and the Eye that Never Sleeps. Give him a break.
The movie picks up where "Fellowship" left off: Merry and Pippin have been captured by Uruk-hai, and Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are pursuing them. But they are sidetracked by an old friend: Gandalf, returned in a new form and with new powers, as Gandalf the White. He takes them to the kingdom of Rohan, whose king is bewitched by the evil Saruman. They barricade the people of Rohan in the fortress of Helm's Deep, for a final defiant stand against an army of Uruk-hai.
Sam and Frodo have left, to venture into Mordor alone so that Frodo can destroy the Ring in Mordor's Mount Doom. When the two hobbits become lost in Emyn Muil, Frodo realizes that someone is following them: Gollum, the tormented, twisted former owner of the Ring. They capture Gollum, who swears to serve "the master of the Precious." But even Gollum's shaky allegiance isn't enough for them to succeed, because the Ring has started to bend Frodo to its will.
While the first movie revolved around Frodo, the Ring and the Fellowship, here the focus widens. We get a better sense of the epic quality of the story and how it affects the whole world, not just our heroes. Gondor is crumbling, Rohan is beaten down by orcs, and even the forces of nature -- the tree-like ents -- are being attacked by Sauron and Saruman. It's nature versus the destructive machines, and the wild wrecking of Saruman's forges by these ancient tree shepherds is something to cheer for.
Elijah Wood blossoms in this film as Frodo Baggins, the little hobbit who could. In the first movie Wood played Frodo as an innocent who loses his innocence; here he takes it a step further, showing the darkness and violence that are swallowing Frodo up. Because we saw what a bright, sweet person Frodo was before, it's all the more horrible to see him starting to slide down (even attacking his best friend -- the look on Frodo's face as he comes to his senses is stunning). Sean Astin perfectly embodies Sam Gamgee -- increasingly desperate, trying to keep Frodo from going under. He serves as a reminder of what Frodo is fighting for, and Astin has perhaps the most powerful lines of the film, near the end: "But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer." These simply-worded lines will bring tears to your eyes.
But if Frodo is just starting to be addicted, Gollum is a junkie. Even if Andy Serkis doesn't appear in one frame in the entire movie, his motions and voice are heard and seen behind an exquisitely detailed CGI puppet. This is no Jar Jar or Dobby -- Gollum is detailed down to the last hair and wrinkle, believable in his appearance (I actually forgot he was animated for most of the movie), and has a multifaceted personality that reflects his own inner struggle -- Smeagol and Gollum, good and evil. The scene where Gollum's two halves argue is too amazing for words.
The other supporting actors shine almost as brightly. Viggo Mortensen turns his reluctant hero Aragorn into a leader and a warrior. Ian McKellen manages to make Gandalf more stately and majestic, yet keeps that little grandfatherly twinkle. John Rhys-Davies provides a bit of comedy as Gimli, mostly related to Gimli's stature, but never loses his dignity; Orlando Bloom is outstanding as ethereal elf archer Legolas once again. Liv Tyler captures Arwen's fear of mortality and loneliness. Billy Boyd's Pippin and Dominic Monaghan's Merry, the well-meaning goofballs of "Fellowship," are now forced to make their own decisions. And new cast members Miranda Otto and Bernard Hill also shine as the strong-willed Eowyn and tough old king Theoden, in roles that will bloom further in the third film.
Peter Jackson (who makes a few cameos) once again outdoes himself with camerawork and direction. His cameras as like living things: they swoop, dive, pull back for outstanding combat shots and then zoom in for exquisite close-ups. The battle scenes are dark, bloody, explosive, and full of chaos; only near the finale does any hint of glory shine through. He adds little human touches (the family split up by the war) that give a glimpse of what the non-heroic, ordinary people are suffering.
Of course "Two Towers" isn't as good as the book. Few movies are. But taken purely as a cinematic experience, and an adaptation, "Two Towers" is virtually without peer. Epic, majestic, action-packed and brimming with pathos, this is a treasure. And they say "Return of the King" will be the best of all...
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