Review by Dean Allen
COMING only three months after the film's debut in cinemas, comes
this beautifully presented and lavishly collated book of concept
paintings, pre-production drawings, abandoned images and gloriously
detailed maquettes of creatures and sets from the second instalment
of what promises to be the greatest cinema trilogy since Star
Wars (the original).
Those of you familiar with the first volume from the Fellowship
of the Ring will already know what to expect.
Though familiarity doesn't breed contempt, as Gary Russell states
in his foreword: "Fantastic just could not do justice to
what I saw. During the months between my visits, the bar of Peter
Jackson's expectations had been raised considerably - and the
quality of new artwork had improved to meet the challenge of making
The Two Towers
even more of a visual feast than The
Fellowship of the Ring." And he's not overstating!
The introduction shows just how involved everyone was in the
project, ranging from those who had worked for six years, to those
whose involvement is over, the passion for the project still remains.
Proving that Middle-Earth is actually the star of the three films,
the book is divided into sections by locations. So we get detailed
looks at Zirak-Zigil and a new slime-version of the Balrog, Emyn
Muil, the Dead Marshes, Rohan, the Black Gates, and the scene
of the climactic battle, Helm's Deep.
Each section is filled with the most glorious watercolour paintings
done to provide mood and colour schemes to pencil sketches and
digital artwork that provide the most delicious eye candy available.
Some of these images are begging to be reproduced, enlarged and
Of course, the one major character that gets his own section
is the marvel that is Gollum. Not so much concentrating on the
technical aspects of how he was created, this simply traces the
design evolution of the character, from an emaciated zombie-look,
a truly nightmarish version that would scare kids to death, to
the final look, that we discover was actually changed from the
one glimpsed in the fellowship, after Andy Serkis came aboard.
Jackson and the animators were so surprised by the power of Andy
Serkis' performance that they made Gollum more closely resemble
The price may well detract some buyers, but fans of the series
so far will not be disappointed. And with a tantalising glimpse
of a Mordor design, the series will be concluded in The Return
of the King. There's no doubt that it'll be another essential
purchase when it is released.
(Gary Russell, HarperCollins, £25)