Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES: Discs One And Two: Four audio
commentaries by the director and writers, the design team, the
production team and the cast.
Disc Three: Adapting the book into a screenplay and planning the
film. Designing and inspiration for locations in Middle-earth.
Storyboards to pre-visualisation. Weta Workshop visit the
weapons, armor, creatures and miniatures. Atlas of Middle-earth:
tracing the journey of the Fellowship. Interactive map of New
Zealand highlighting the location scouting process. Galleries
of art and slideshows with commentaries by the artists. And much
Disc Four: Sending actors to battle preparation for sword
fighting. Principal photography: stories from the set. Digital
effects including motion capture and "Massive" (a program
to create armies of Orcs). Bigatures a close-up look at
detailed miniatures used in the film. Galleries of behind-the-scenes
photographs and personal cast photos. Post-production editing
it all together. Sound design demonstration. And much more.
JUST 12 months ago, Lord of the Rings-mania swept the world as
Peter Jacksons eagerly anticipated first chapter in JRR
Tolkiens sprawling trilogy, The
Fellowship of the Ring, opened to almost universal acclaim
and quickly became one of the highest grossing films of all time.
The Fellowship was rightly lauded as a modern masterpiece, cleaning
up at the BAFTAs and being nominated for 13 Oscars (although,
ultimately, it only took four).
Well, brace yourself, for one of the smallest heroes in cinema
history is back in chapter two, The Two Towers, which continues
the saga on an even grander scale.
When last we parted company with Frodo and co, the Fellowship
had been forced to divide, following the death of Boromir (Sean
Bean) and Gandalfs plunge into the pit at Khazad-dum.
As the Two Towers picks up, Frodo (Elijah Wood) and loyal friend,
Sam (Sean Astin), are forced to enlist the support of the mysterious
Gollum, a mercurial creature who has previously been warped by
the power of the Ring, in their path to Mordor, while Aragon (Viggo
Mortensen) and co encounter the besieged Rohan kingdom, whose
once great King Theoden (Bernard Hill) has fallen under the evil
The other two hobbits who made up the Fellowship - Dominic Monaghans
Merry and Billy Boyds Pippin - escape from their captors,
meanwhile, and flee into the mystical Fangorn Forest, where they
discover an unexpected ally among the ancient trees.
The ensuing stories unfold as the forces of the Dark Lord Sauron
continue to grow stronger, sweeping Middle Earth and destroying
all before them on their way to the climactic battle of Helms
Given that the Two Towers is so plot heavy, it is tribute to
Jackson that proceedings seldom sag or become too confusing, while
the darker tone never feels too overbearing. This is, after all,
a film which takes the business of war and genocide as its central
themes, but which manages to punctuate events with some much-needed
The wow factor which was ever-present during the Fellowship is
also surpassed here, with several jaw-dropping moments to savour
- not least the barnstorming finale which has to rate among the
finest movie spectacles of recent years.
At a time when audiences have begun to take special effects for
granted, it is all the more satisfying to be gobsmacked and there
are several sequences here that can truly be described as groundbreaking
- the character of Gollum, for instance, is undoubtedly the greatest
CGI-creation to date.
Yet in spite of being a special effects tour-de-force, Jacksons
film never loses sight of the human conflicts involved, allowing
its actors the chance to shine throughout. The likes of Sir Ian
McKellen (returning as Gandalf the White) and Christopher Lee
(as Saruman) obviously steal the show, but few of the performers
are found wanting.
Astin, especially, lends the film its emotional edge as Frodos
fiercely loyal companion (even if Wood comes across as a little
one-dimensional), while Mortensen exudes charisma as the heroic
Aragon, as does Orlando Blooms swashbuckling Elf archer,
Legolas (a personal favourite). The ever-excellent John Rhys-Davies
also injects some much-needed humour, as Gimli the Dwarf, and
provides one of the great visual gags of the film.
Of the new cast members, Brad Dourif is deliciously slimy as the
duplicitous Wormtongue, while David Wenham, as the Gondorian brother
of the slain Boromir, also stand out.
All in all, though, this is hugely impressive stuff - a classic
story, well-told, on an epic scale. Jackson has once again excelled,
providing audiences with a cinematic feast upon which to savour.
It is a towering achievement and we await, with baited breath,
the arrival of the third and final part of the trilogy.