The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
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Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (DVD) (WS)
In the part second of the Tolkien trilogy, Frodo Baggins and the other members of the Fellowship continue on their sacred quest to destroy the One Ring--but on separate paths. Their destinies lie at two towers--Orthanc Tower in Isengard, where the corrupt wizard Saruman awaits, and Sauron's fortress at Barad-dur, deep within the dark lands of Mordor.]]>
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a seamless continuation of Peter Jackson's epic fantasy based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. After the breaking of the Fellowship, Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring of Power with the creature Gollum as their guide. Meanwhile, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) join in the defense of the people of Rohan, who are the first target in the eradication of the race of Men by the renegade wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) and the dark lord Sauron. Fantastic creatures, astounding visual effects, and a climactic battle at the fortress of Helm's Deep make The Two Towers a worthy successor to The Fellowship of the Ring, grander in scale but retaining the story's emotional intimacy. These two films are perhaps the greatest fantasy films ever made, but they're merely a prelude to the cataclysmic events of The Return of the King. --David HoriuchiSee all Editorial Reviews
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I'm sure that the story is familiar to most who would show an interest in this film but, for the unindoctrinated, the overall adult fantasy trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien chronicles a group of travelers which includes a wizard, two men, a dwarf, an elf, and four hobbits, ergo: "The Fellowship". They are traveling because two evil wizards have joined forces to eventually conquer and enslave all inhabitants of Middle Earth. At the behest of these dark and nefarious sorcerers are orcs, trolls, wargs, and other heinous minions.
One of the hobbits [Frodo Baggins] has inherited a magic ring from an aged relative [Bilbo Baggins, of *The Hobbit* fame, a fantasy written by Tolkien for young people] and it soon becomes clear that this is *The One Ring* which rules all other magic rings of power within Middle Earth. It was created by The Dark Lord [Sauron, the more powerful of the two evil wizards] but it was inadvertently lost for many years. As The Ring [which can render one invisible, with certain negative caveats] ultimately ends up in the hands of Frodo, it becomes his quest (along with the rest of The Fellowship) to destroy the ring at Mount Doom, a huge volcano which lies within Sauron's sinister and well-patrolled realm of Mordor.
In *The Two Towers* the viewer is brought back into the tale just after a partial dissolution of The Fellowship has occurred. This nuance is a deviation from the first film [*The Fellowship of the Ring*] which is a very linear tale. Here, the story diverges into three or more directions: the journey of Sam and Frodo to destroy The Ring; Aragorn's development as a warrior and as a prospective King, and; Gandalf the Wizard's plan for dealing with the Evil sorcerers, Saruman and Sauron.
One could rightly say that this film has no beginning and no end, being derived from the middle book of a trilogy; however, this movie stands on its own, especially in the Special Extended Edition version which is being reviewed here. One could watch this film with no knowledge of either Tolkien's trilogy of books or the other two films of the series and still enjoy it. If it doesn't actually have an ending, it does still feature a *conclusion* of a sort. I don't think viewers are left hanging.
Director Peter Jackson, the cast, and the crew got ever more proficient as they produced these three films. Jackson sort of viewed his task as making one long film, thus the scenes were not shot in sequence, quite typical of film-making, but noting also that most films are not nine hours in length. Naturally, many changes were adopted within the scripts of all three films as time rolled along... and thus each movie clearly became better than its predecessor.
I think that most of the *MAGIC* of this film trilogy came from Jackson's inclusion of multiple technologies and special effects techniques - he did not wholly depend upon Computer Generated Images but when he did they were effected in post-production with absolute perfection.
Additional film magic was manifested through Howard Shore's magnificent classical filmscore for the trilogy. There is little doubt from my view that the soundtrack from this second film of the series was the greatest of the three. One of the outstanding segments includes singing by Isabel Bayrakdarian, a terrific Canadian soprano who is currently my favorite of all. The *Rohan* score is equally inspiring.
Of course the Special Extended Editions contain much more original music than the theatrical versions and it's all a great joy to the ear, even including the gloom and doom facets of the three soundtracks. They are available as three individual sets: The Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring (The Complete Recordings),The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (The Complete Recordings), and, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (The Complete Recordings).
Perhaps the most important facet of my review is to encourage you to not bother with watching the theatrical versions of these films on DVD, and this is especially applicable if you've never read Tolkien's books. The theatrical versions are very good but they were meant more for theaters to collect from patrons for two showings per evening rather than to convey the details of Tolkien's complex story. The Special Extended Editions are perfectly edited to be both impressive and informative but they are never boring.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD! *The Two Towers* provides us with an exciting Battle at Helm's Deep between Saruman's minions and the men of both Rohan and Gondor [the elves help out too], as well as the Ents' assault on Isengard, the Tower of Sauron; the continuing flight of Frodo and Sam into Mordor itself in an effort to destroy The Ring, and; all the dangers and hazards which befall Aragorn, Legolis [the elf], two of the Hobbits, and Gimli [the Dwarf]. The story jumps around from place to place (and from story to story) but it's all quite well-done and coherent. Since Tolkien depicted several towers in Middle Earth we cannot precisely say this for certain but, it would appear that *The Two Towers* are those of Saruman and of Sauron -- or at least Christopher Lee thinks so and so do I.
Every facet of this film manifests the cutting edge of every aspect of film-making, from the technology, even extending to the acting [and motion capture] of Andy Serkis who plays the creature Gollum, who really develops in this second film of the trilogy. We get to experience a broad range of acting styles from Orlando Bloom (who was cast for the role of Legolis fairly fresh out of acting school) to the venerable Christopher Lee [Saruman] who has made more films than anyone else that I'm aware of. To a person, all were magnificent in their perfectly cast roles.
Fans of the trilogy should also be aware that even though the character Denithor [Steward of Gondor] does not appear in the theatrical version of *The Two Towers*, he does show up in this Special Extended Edition. It's also a chance to see Boromir [Denithor's eldest son] again and the segment is quite a good one.
This is probably a good juncture to detail what one gets in this boxed-set edition. There are two DVDs which make up the film and there are *multiple* sound tracks which can be brought up on each of these, depending upon whether you wish to watch the films themselves or listen to various available commentary tracks [for example, a track of cast member running remarks as the film progresses]. Two more DVDs make up the total of four: these two are the appendices which beautifully depict exactly how this film was made, cast and crew interviews, details of the musical score, and so on. All this lasts for at least as long as would the film itself and it's all quite fascinating and well-done. Finally, the set comes with a small pamphlet inside which is a sort of map of what to look for on the DVDs and where.
I can hardly convey an adequate number of positive comments about this film except to say that the final film [*The Return of the King*] is even better! I cannot state that this is the best film I've ever seen but I can honestly comment that I've never enjoyed any films *more* than those included in this Special Extended Edition trilogy.
Yet I just had to comment on the technical marvels packed into this film.
The quality of video and sound on the two main feature discs blew my mind. Of all DVD's I've ever seen, this has had the most crisp and heart-pounding sound of anything I've ever watched. Mind, you, part of this is that I watched it on a PS3 and got the uncompressed Dolby Digital track, which was incredibly satisfying even with just 2 great stereo speakers and a bumping subwoofer. So really, if you have a PS3 or any other especially good sound system and a good TV you cannot get many better experiences than this DVD. The sound Oscars went to all 3 LOTR films for a reason - every sound is effect is appropriate and impactful.
The image is also particularly beautiful. The colors are warm and rich with color, making every frame a gorgeous picture. The battle scenes are appropriately dark and everything as they should be, but when all different colors are bright and distinct in other scenes, and in Fangorn Forest's verdant green vistas especially, the picture hypnotized me.
I guess I'm saying that we all know these are great movies. Get this release for the extras if that's your thing, but this release's best feature in my mind is the quality of the sound and picture - they're on a level I have never seen. And I'm not that picky with sound either, so it stood out even for me - you don't need to be a fan to appreciate this release, and the same goes for the other two Extended Edition releases. The Two Towers is just the one I happened to watch recently, so I have the freshest memory of it, but I own the other two releases as well and they are equally excellent all around. I don't think I can use enough superlatives to praise these 3 DVD releases, and I'll be watching the Return of the King tomorrow to finish off the trilogy. I know I sound like a fanboy, and so be it - a lot of other DVD's will sorely disappoint me after these Extended Editions, I have no doubt.