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LOTR: The Two Towers 861

Posted by michael
from the when-ents-attack dept.
Let's try to mash all the LOTR submissions into one. Reviews: comingsoon.net, Empire Online (UK), CNN, Slate, Salon. The LA Times has a story about animating Gollum which we can't link to because it requires registration. Lord Satri writes "Ents, elves and mages being on every orc's lips, new versions of Tales Of Middle-Earth are available. It is an open source, one player and online multiplayer game. It is ported to many OS's. Yeah, no terrific graphics, but the game is really worthwhile. It is based on the famous roguelike Angband (variants here). Faithful to Tolkien's writings."
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LOTR: The Two Towers

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  • Let's try to mash all the LOTR submissions into one... by CmdrTaco
    • by jaeson (563206) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @02:28PM (#4917291) Homepage
      One Submission to rule them all, One Submission to find them,
      One Submission to bring them all and in the Slashdot bind them
      • In full.... (Score:4, Funny)

        by mav[LAG] (31387) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @04:37PM (#4918350)
        Three submissions for the trolling missions, daring the Reply
        Seven for the editors and their brains of stone
        Nine for portal ads doomed to die
        One for the dark Katz and his dark Tome
        In the land of Mordoration where the mod points lie
        One Submission to rule them all, One Submission to find them,
        One Submission to bring them all and in the Slashdot bind them
        In the land of Mordoration where the mod points lie
  • ...is it good?
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tmhsiao (47750) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:45PM (#4916896) Homepage Journal
      It's pretty good. I found I liked Fellowship more, because the separate stories in TTT slows the pace of the movie and makes you feel the long running time more than Fellowship's pace (understandable, given the costraints of plot). This could also be because I saw it at 12:01 am in a very hot, crowded theater, with people discussing Guinan's friendship with Picard behind me.

      For the purists: I'm going to have to re-read the book, but Jackson does make some big changes to plot (far bigger in the plot-sense than substitutiing Arwen in or eliminating Tom Bombadil).

      Visually, the film is spectacular, from the siege at Helm's Deep, to just the amazing scenery of Edoras.

      My primary complaint with the movie: Not enough Ents. But what you do see of them is awe-inspiring.
      • Re:So... (Score:5, Funny)

        by digitalsushi (137809) <slashdot@digitalsushi.com> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:57PM (#4917000) Journal
        So what was the consensus on Picard's and Guinan's relationship? It's not fair to keep us hanging!
        • "So what was the consensus on Picard's and Guinan's relationship? It's not fair to keep us hanging!"

          It died down after a crack Picard made about Guinan's face resembling that of Shrek.
      • Re:So... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by the gnat (153162)
        For the purists: I'm going to have to re-read the book, but Jackson does make some big changes to plot (far bigger in the plot-sense than substitutiing Arwen in or eliminating Tom Bombadil).

        Oddly, I thought many of these improved the movie. It made it into a more coherent whole than it otherwise could have been, and emphasized some themes that are harder to pick out of the books.

        I think I liked it better in some ways. It looked gorgeous, there was less exposition, and the characters just keep getting better.

        The Ents, in fact, were one of the only things that didn't really do much for me. That and the winged steed- I had high expectations for that, and they just weren't fulfilled for some reason.
        • Re:So... (Score:3, Informative)

          by MtViewGuy (197597)
          Having read LoTR several times, I think Jackson did a pretty commendable job considering the original source material.

          His strong emphasis on action really stands out in the breathtaking Helm's Deep sequence. That is some of the most amazing CGI I have ever seen. :-)

          Yes, Jackson deviated much from the books, but who can blame him? The conversation between Faramir and Frodo/Sam in the novel would have bored people to tears, to say the least.

          I for one cannot wait for The Return of the King. Imagine battle scenes ten times bigger in the Battle of Pelennor Fields! I think Mirando Otto will really be great as Eowyn in the next movie.
          • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by gfxguy (98788) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @08:57PM (#4920059)
            Well, first off, I really liked the movie a lot, but this is one of the times I think I would have liked it more if I hadn't read the book because I didn't like the plot deviations.

            I will say that, knowing Gollumn was CG, I was completely convinced by his character - it was amazing, and the duality of his personality couldn't have been done any better, just fantastic.

            [SPOILERS]

            The part with Faramir really bothered me. I think the movie makes it seem like that whole family is so weak minded they just can't let the ring go - and it's not like they had some "bonding" time like Frodo, Bilbo, or Gollumn - they just see the ring and become idiots. Then, and this is the worst part, Faramir decides he should let Frodo go it alone after seeing how willing Frodo was to give the ring over to the enemy in a weak moment. That made no sense to me. I know the sentiment was supposed to be that he saw what evil the ring brought, but that's not immediately how I saw it.

            One of my friends who saw it last night (I saw it today) mentioned that it was more of a movie than a film. I hate when people say things like that, it seems somehow really snotty to me, but I when I saw the movie I understood what he meant - it pandered to the moviegoer; Legolas sliding down the steps on the shield, all the dwarf jokes. When I see stuff like that it snaps me out of my trancelike state when I'm watching a great movie and makes me think "oh, come on now, did they have to do that?"

            I also think they eliminated one of the greatest scenes in the book - and if they haven't, they've really hurt the effect it will have in the next movie. I'm referring to Gandalf's premature meeting with Saruman through King Theoden. In the book, Theoden was not "possessed", he was really simply downtrodden (I can't think of a better word) after having been misled by Wormtongue for so long. The greatest dialog in TTT (the book), was Gandalf saying to Saruman, as he stood outside the tower of Isengard: "Behold, I am not Gandalf the Grey, whom you betrayed. I am Gandalf the White, who has returned from death. You have no colour now, and I cast you from the order and from the council"

            So they butchered that and put it in the wrong place, and I think it made a much bigger statement standing in front of the real Saruman in Isengard. Now maybe this scene will be in RotK, because TTT (the movie) ended before TTT (the book), but it's been ruined at the premature meeting. The portrayal of Theoden actually also made him a lot weaker than he was in the book.

            Again, don't get me wrong - I liked a lot of the additions; the dynamite was nice touch. I also like the elves joining the men, I thought that was actually a very touching and very cool moment. There were lots of places they strayed from the book that didn't particularly bother me - things to help the movie fit into the 3 hours, but there were a lot of things that could have been more faithful to the book, things that showed some of the characters inner strengths, that wouldn't have taken any more time.

            On the upside, I liked Elijah Wood a lot better in this movie. I thought he was one of the weaker actors in FotR, but he was a standout this time.

            Anyway, just my two cents - I liked the movie a lot, but frankly I thought FotR was actually a better movie. I might simply be that TTT has no beginning or end, so I felt more like I was missing something.
      • Re:So... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Golias (176380)
        I actually liked it as much as FOTR, but I must agree with you on the point about the ents. In the book, the march of the ents comes across as a massive, dark, stormcloud of trees creeping unstoppably toward Isengard. In the movie it was more like 20 really tall stick-figures lumbering (ugh... bad pun) their way down the hill. A small cinematic let-down, perhaps, but it was probably the scene I was most looking forward to, and I can't help but feel a little cheated.

        Also, the speaches were a little heavy handed (first, a completely unnecesary voice-over by Galadriel half-way through... then a long ramble by Sam near the end), and should have been chopped in favor of more screen time for Faramir.

        Oh well, I'm sure we will be thrown another bone or two when the "special edition" DVD arrives next November.

  • by pmacwill (316644) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:29PM (#4916717)
    the eyeball did it.
  • Thank You (Score:2, Interesting)

    by namespan (225296)
    I'm beginning to see that I should subscribe to a filtering service that blocks anything related to "roguelike" and "nethack". My employment search will almost certainly be mortally wounded.

    If someone invents a time machine, could you please go back and somehow prevent the invention of Rogue?

  • I've had my ticket confirmation print out pinned to my cube since I bought my tickets on 11/27/02.

    Now my anxious salivations are almost to an end though...in just 6.5 short hours, I'll be in the theatre when the film roles! (insert evil laugh here).
    • by mstyne (133363) <mike@nospaM.alphamonkey.org> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:33PM (#4916751) Homepage Journal
      since I bought my tickets on 11/27/02

      Precisely why I was too afraid to go to the midnight showing. I'll wait a couple weeks until the scary people aren't going anymore.
    • You have to wait another 6.5 hours? I saw it at 12:01am this morning. I'm tired as hell though today.. I left the theatre at 3:10am and got to work at 7:10am. I'd say that everyone in the theatre was aged 16-28, and of course there were a few crazies that dressed up. However, it was all worth it, the movie exceeded my expectations and I'll be watching it again this weekend!

      -hero.
    • by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:38PM (#4916814)
      "I've had my ticket confirmation print out pinned to my cube since I bought my tickets on 11/27/02.
      Now my anxious salivations are almost to an end though...in just 6.5 short hours, I'll be in the theatre when the film roles! (insert evil laugh here)."


      Just think: LotR's revenues would double if people brought dates!
      • My girlfriend will sooner stab me in the leg with a fork, then see a Blockbuster movie on opening night. This way I get to see it twice though. Once on opening night, and once a few weeks later when she agrees to go.
        • "Once on opening night, and once a few weeks later when she agrees to go."

          Heh. Anybody else read that and get an image of Steve Urkel saying "I'm wearing you down baby!"
        • really? my girlfriend would sooner stab me in the leg with a fork, then let me STOP her from seeing this movie tonight. Personaly, I don't see what the big fuss is about since I never read the book(s) or saw the first movie, but I'm more of Tom Clancy fan myself.
          • Re:I'm a geek... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DEBEDb (456706)
            Here's a little story in relation to
            "what all the fuss is about" sentiment.

            My family and relatives are all immigrants
            to the US. When they get together, and TV is
            showing baseball, they say: "What the hell is that
            game all about? We don't get it." And I say:
            "How about I explain the game to you, and
            you'll figure it out then." And they say:
            "Nah, too much of a bother."

            I never understood the desire to say "what's
            the fuss all about" over and over again, instead
            of picking up a damn book. You may like it,
            you know. And if you don't, well, you can
            say "it sucks" instead of that wondering about
            the stuff.

  • Didn't make it out (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bhsx (458600) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:31PM (#4916736)
    The AMC up the street apparently sold out 3 theatres for a 12:01AM showing. Knowing the size of those rooms I'm guessing that's around 1600 people, and in the burbs, not the city. Amazing. They'll break $100M by Sunday.
    • Here in Pittsburgh, the larger theater complex had a 12:00, 12:01, 12:02, and 12:03 showing and I believe there was more than one theater room for each of these showings (so somewhere like 6 to 8 rooms). These are large theater rooms too. And it was PACKED! I couldn't believe it. You had to be in line two hours early to get a seat even IF you had tickets.

      By the way, the movie rocked!
    • by derch (184205) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:47PM (#4916910)
      There's a good possibility it won't break $100M. Fellowship of the Ring only did $75M the first weekend.

      Box office take is a misleading number. The movie is twice as long as most movies, therefore theaters can squeeze fewer showings into one day.
  • Registration links? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ctrl-Z (28806) <tim@timcoleman. c o m> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:32PM (#4916744) Homepage Journal

    The LA Times has a story about animating Gollum which we can't link to because it requires registration.

    Since when? Is this a new leaf turned over in Slashdot history? Did it originate after the posting of articles from sources that require paid registration?

    I see no problem with posting registration-required links. Just make sure there are others (as there are in this case).
  • Some links (Score:4, Informative)

    by PhysicsGenius (565228) <physics_seekerNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:32PM (#4916745)
    Reviews: 1 [tennessean.com],2 [www.rte.ie],3 [tri-cityherald.com],4 [icnetwork.co.uk] That last one lets you submit your own review. Pretty cool.
  • by SL33Z3 (104748) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:33PM (#4916760)
    I wonder if the people at Verant received an all-time low in their log-ons of Everquest -- all their geeks were out for three hours watching this thing :)
    • by Asprin (545477) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (dlonrasg)> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @03:37PM (#4917879) Homepage Journal
      When I was in college I briefly delivered pizzas for Domino's. One month, their corporate newsletter had a sidebar describing how the Washington D.C. franchises could tell when something important/catastrophic/ominous was happening because orders to particular government buildings went through the roof as people worked late.
      • Re:Midnight showing (Score:3, Interesting)

        by aslagle (441969)

        Okay, so this is a bit offtopic, but I thought I'd speak to your pizza story.

        When I was in the military, this type of information was usually marked as unclassified, but sensitive. What that meant was, even if the enemy couldn't get a hold of actual documents that listed what 'Operation X' was, they could probably deduce a lot by finding out who was activated, how many extra planes were coming in to the airbase, etc.

        The idea was that just because it was unclassified didn't mean it was okay to tell it to everybody around.

        I know, way off topic, but your pizza story just brought it back.

  • BIG SPOILER (Score:2, Funny)

    by pulse2600 (625694)
    Gandalf comes back!!!!! OMG
    • Re:BIG SPOILER (Score:2, Insightful)

      by the_argent (28326)
      That is funny, but I was actually a little miffed that they showed Gandalf in the trailers.There are people that haven't read the books, my wife for example,and to me that is a major spoiler for the film.

      argent
  • by sideshow (99249) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:35PM (#4916772)
    A lot of people will probably wanna wait 'till the shows stop selling out to go but my advice is: Don't. I saw LOTR in Burbank at 12:01 this morning and being in a room with hundreds of exicited people really made a difference.

    I give the movie 9/10 and the guy who did the acting for Gollum should definalty win Best Supported Actor from the Oscars.
    • Agreed.

      Having a true fan-based audience was great [saw it in Boston at 12:01] -- it really made it all the better to have people cheering, but knowing when to stop so they wouldn't miss Gimli's next wise-ass remark.

      the guy who did the acting for Gollum should definalty win Best Supported Actor from the Oscars

      No kidding -- Gollum, even for some of the noticable CG-ness, was completely amazing.

    • the guy who did the acting for Gollum should definalty win Best Supported Actor from the Oscars

      Did he really have to wear a jockstrap all the time?
    • I give the movie 9/10 and the guy who did the acting for Gollum should definalty win Best Supported Actor from the Oscars. Thanks. It wasn't easy, was it, Precious?
  • The first one did a pretty good job with following the book, the second is a stylized interpretation. And where is SHEBOLA? I guess after Harry Poter and tCoS she needed a break.
    Yes we'll let her do it....
  • by irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:35PM (#4916774) Journal
    If CmdrTaco really wanted to cram all of these into one, He'd include the dupes planned for tonight and just link everything twice.
  • No LOTR Logo/Icon? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by halo8 (445515) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:37PM (#4916794)
    Why oh Why Dear Slashdot Editors dose Lord of the Rings not have a Logo? Starwars has a Logo.. the Ipod has a Logo.. why dosent LOTR?

    Think about it.. all the Posts that are going to be made over the next +2 Years for LOTR.. Movie Reiviews, Spoilers, Trailers, DVD's, DVD Reviews, Special Ed. DVD's, Cast Interviews, Award Shows, ect.. ect... ect..

    LOTR DESERVES its own Logo/Icon
  • ents... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bje2 (533276) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:37PM (#4916795)
    i have tickets to see the movie at 8:00 tonight, but i was just curious how good do the ents look? the reviewer in my local small town paper said something about they looked "unrealistic" and like "muppets crossed with plants", or something like that...yeah, way to go jackass, cause you really have a good idea of what a "realistic" ent would look like...so, how do they look???
    • so, how do they look???

      Like...Ents.
    • Re:ents... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Cap'n Canuck (622106) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:43PM (#4916865)
      how good do the ents look?

      All depends on what you find sexy in an Ent. I'm a trunk man, myself...

    • Re:ents... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by daoine (123140)
      Surprisingly, Treebeard was my least favorite ent stylistically speaking. Although he's really the only Ent we got to see in depth -- I thought some of the others looked cooler. I liked the more gnarled Ents better -- their faces looked more interesting.

      Unrealistic isn't the right word -- and it could be construed as Muppets crossed with plants, but don't think Muppet show Muppets...think more like the really good Muppets in Labyrinth. The cool ones. I think it's not really a measure of realism, but of expectations -- what do you expect a tree to look like once it has eyes and a face? I thought they did a great job.

    • Re:ents... (Score:2, Informative)

      by deverox (177930)
      The Ents look a great deal like the Whomping Willow in Harry Potter. I thought they looked cheezy but that was my opinion. Definatly had that "CG Overlay" look about them.
    • Re:ents... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by swb (14022)
      The Minneapolis Star Tribune said they looked like the Asparagus from Veggie Tales.
  • by malibucreek (253318) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:37PM (#4916798) Homepage
    http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/cl-fi-gollum17d ec17.story [calendarlive.com]

    All LA Times entertainment stories are available without registration at http://www.calendarlive.com [calendarlive.com].

  • Exit Polls (Score:4, Funny)

    by SL33Z3 (104748) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:39PM (#4916818)
    I would like to have taken an exit poll of how many of the people at the midnight showing had Everquest accounts. If you wanted to take Sony/Verant/989Studios down, all you would have to do is bomb all the theaters last night. It would have taken out most of their customer base :). As a plus, from the looks of it, you would have killed Hot Topic's sales too!
  • by airrage (514164) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:43PM (#4916866) Homepage Journal
    Here's a few of my favorite paragraphs from the review in the ny times [nytimes.com]:

    With the narrative of "Rings," Tolkien was investigating determination, loyalty and, finally, faith, finding innumerable ways to offer up the concept of purity of heart, as found in Matthew 5:8 and in Kierkegaard, whose contention was that purity of heart was the ability to will one thing into being. The pursuit of purity is at the center of "Towers."

    Mr. Jackson's mastery of craft in some areas is so powerful that the flaws are more noticeable than in the first film. The little-boy allure of the storytelling in "Towers" is sure to evoke the same reaction that it did in "Fellowship." "Towers" is like a family-oriented E-rated video game, with no emotional complications other than saving the day. Women have so little to do here that they serve almost as plot-device flight attendants, offering a trough of Diet Coke to refresh the geek-magnet story.


    Not sure if I should enjoy the movie or write a critical essay about it. But there's a couple of lines in there that are real zingers.
    • by Corporate Drone (316880) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @12:33AM (#4921025)
      Women have so little to do here that they serve almost as plot-device flight attendants, offering a trough of Diet Coke to refresh the geek-magnet story.
      you know, revisionism really, really torques me...

      Tolkien meant LotR to be, among other things, a mythos for Great Britain. That being the case, his treatment of women reflected their role in pre-Christian times. Ya know, as much as some folks might dislike this depiction, it's accurate to historical accounts! Hey -- if the reviewer wants a strong, independent woman, s/he should read RotK, or talk to someone who has! Eowyn rocks! Besides, didn't the reviewer catch the theme that there's more to her than meets the eye in TTT? geez...

  • by KMitchell (223623) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:44PM (#4916881)
    I saw it last night at midnight and really liked it.


    My biggest complaint with the changes from the book was that Faramir was turned into a pretty weak character. I did get a nice chuckle when Sam said something along the lines of, "We're not even supposed to be here," while in Gondor as I was thinking much the same thing.

  • But the guard at the theater would not let me in with my broad sward and plate mail armor......

    Insert more quarters Elf is about to die!!!!

  • by proyZ (264772) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:46PM (#4916898)
    Saw it this morning at the 0h premiere :-)... In general i loved the movie since it has a lot of good things going on (battles, gollum is absolutly great,etc!)... but i was a little dissapointed at the portrayal of some characters like faramir (they show him as unwise and eager to have the ring as boromir which he wasn't at all!), showing ents as stupid stubborn old folks, and some liberties they took in the story..

    anyways it is a very good movie but from a tolkien fan standpoint at the end i had very mixed feelings about the movie..
    ..well i suppose that means i'll have to go see it again...

  • by Tidan (541596) <tidan_md@NosPAM.yahoo.com> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:46PM (#4916899)
    Here's a copy of the game in case anyone is interested. It's about to be slashdotted:

    Angband is a roguelike dungeon exploration game based on JRR Tolkien's works.

    There are a lot of Angband variants because Angband's sources were cleaned up by a remarkable person, Ben Harrison, which meant that as more people could understand the code, more people made variants. ToME, my own variant, expands upon the Middle-Earth influence and is based on Zangband 2.2.0. ToME now follows the Tolkien world more closely than any other variant!

    ToME was formely known was PernAngband, but it's name was changed because of copyright issues. Almost all Pern influences have been removed in the current CVS version.

    The current version is T.o.M.E 2.1.0 aka "No Surrender, No Retreat" .

    "Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
    Seven for Dwarf-Lords in their halls of stone,
    Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
    One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
    In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.

    One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
    One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them,
    In the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie."

    "The Lord of the Rings", J.R.R. Tolkien.

  • by setzman (541053) <stzman AT stzman ... removeit DOT org> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:47PM (#4916914) Journal
    Must be geek love

    • The adventure is everything in the second "Lord of the Rings."

    By Manohla Dargis, Times Staff Writer

    When the final chapter closes on Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," the whole extravaganza -- three features, nine hours and a catalog of characters as seemingly infinite as the films' crew -- may well be heralded as one of the more heroic ventures in commercial cinema. Launched last December to enormous success with "The Fellowship of the Ring," the ongoing epic has now entered an awkward adolescence with its middle feature, "The Two Towers," on its way to its concluding volume, "The Return of the King." Slated for completion next year, the entirety of the "Rings" looks auspicious even if in its present manifestation this once and future landmark is a bit of a yawn.

    Based on the second volume of Tolkien's novel, "The Two Towers" begins fairly soon after "The Fellowship of the Ring" leaves off with the hobbits, Frodo (Elijah Woods) and Samwise (Sean Astin), warily traveling toward the Dark Tower of Mordor, the lair of Sauron the Great. Conquered in an ancient war, Sauron has been gathering his forces with the intention of obliterating the world of men, Middle-earth, for which he needs the ring. In the first film, Frodo had become the ring's reluctant keeper, charged with its destruction by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), a mission that transported him out of the idyll of his homeland, the Shire, and into a fellowship with eight other Middle-earth inhabitants. Splintered at the close of the first volume, the fellowship has now scattered to fight its enemies separately.

    "The Lord of the Rings," built on a bedrock of mythic archetypes and sagas such as "Beowulf," is essentially a quest story but one in which the seeker aims to renounce power, rather than to seize it. That makes Frodo uncharacteristically humble for a hero and an unusually appealing seeker no matter what the troubled times, and it also speaks to why the book was a cult favorite during the 1960s. (The hobbits' fondness for smoking an herb called pipe-weed likely appealed to the book's original counterculture fan base, as well.) Although Frodo hails from the pastoral Shire and is by nature and inclination gentle, each step of his journey brings him closer to cataclysmic warfare that rumbles during the first volume, erupts in the second and rages throughout the third.

    Tolkien began writing "The Lord of the Rings" in 1936 and for years after its publication insisted that it had nothing to do with the Second World War. Jackson has no such qualms but his inspiration is cinematic not political. In "The Two Towers," he cribs an iconic image of massed troops from Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda reverie, "Triumph of the Will," but the allusion loses its punch when you realize that another shot of goose-stepping troops has been lifted from "The Wizard of Oz." Tolkien built his story on foundation myths; Jackson builds his on movies: The film's most charming new creature, a mossy shepherd named Treebeard, walks like the heron described by Tolkien but looks like a relation of the animated trees in "Oz." When Gollum (voiced by Andy Serkis, with goggling computer-generated eyes and slithering silvery body) returns to the scene to pull the word "master" from its mouth, it's with the same sinister fawning as Dracula's helper Renfield.

    Despite these cinephile fillips, Jackson and fellow screenwriters Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Stephen Sinclair have enough to do just keeping Tolkien's histories and characters in play. To that end, the new film faithfully opens with the human warrior Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), a huntsman with his own impending quest issues, in the company of the Elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the Dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies). Together, the three are hotfooting across green slopes in search of two other fellowship members, the hobbits Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), who have been kidnapped by Orcs, servants of Sauron's strongest ally, the wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee).

    Tolkien devotes the first half of "The Two Towers" to Aragorn's exploits and the second to those of Frodo; Jackson instead oscillates between the questing travelers before getting swept up in a battle that nearly proves the undoing of Aragorn and the film. While searching for the hobbits, Aragorn and his companions enter the human kingdom of Rohan, where they're soon engaged in protecting its people from Sauron's army. Jackson spends an interminable amount of time in Rohan, lavishing his attention on a battle that consumes less than a chapter in the novel. Set at night, the fight unfolds with hordes of the enemy ("thick as marching ants," in Tolkien's words) descending in waves. Despite Mortensen's energetic vaults across the set, the tension slackens precipitously. It isn't only that there's no fun to be had watching ants get squashed; it's that the battle, designed for the video-game generation, proceeds in frustrating starts and stops, as if Jackson couldn't get past the first level.

    With "The Fellowship of the Ring," Jackson delivered us into never-before-seen worlds. The fellowship covers new ground in "The Two Towers" but the story bogs down in Rohan, a dreary stopover that fails to capture the imagination; unlike the Shire or Elvish lands, it doesn't look that different from the back-lot Middle Ages we've seen elsewhere. During the past few decades, computer technologies have enhanced (and waylaid) numerous films but it wasn't until Jackson's first try at Tolkien that we saw the greater possibilities of those technologies, particularly in the realm of fantasy, where now everything seems possible. After years of anemic space escapades in which the blue screen was invariably more important than the flesh-and-blood actors, digital video technologies were put in the service of a juicy story and not the reverse.

    That more or less holds true in "The Two Towers" even if for stretches at a time the tools at Jackson's disposal distract him from what he does best, which is push the story forward with the enthusiasm of a filmmaker who hasn't put ego before movie love. The director's great strength is the confidence with which he translates Tolkien's vision into visual imagery even if he still gets tripped up converting that vision into dialogue.

    "The Fellowship of the Ring" was periodically hampered by the writers' attempts to cut swaths through the narration. There's as much exposition in "The Two Towers" but because Jackson and his screenwriter partners don't want to repeat themselves, they lay out the story even less clearly than they did on their first outing. When Aragorn consults with Gandalf, it's easy to get lost in a thicket of names and allegiances.

    It was during one such eyelid-drooping moment while watching "The Two Towers" that I flashed on an old Gary Larson cartoon that pokes gentle fun at the nomenclature found in books of this sort by contrasting the names we give dogs with those they give themselves. "I am known as Vexog," says one dog (a.k.a. Rex), "Destroyer of Cats and Devourer of Chickens." "I am Zornorph," says another, proudly, "the One Who Comes by Night to the Neighbor's Yard, and this is Princess Sheewana, Barker of Great Annoyance and Daughter of Queen La, Stainer of Persian Rugs."

    The absurdity of the dog names was a relief, giving me a momentary reprieve from the film and its insistent monumentality. At that instant, I stopped bumming about the second film and began looking forward to the third. Such is the nature of geek love. As with "The Fellowship of the Ring," the excitement and pleasure of "The Two Towers" comes from the feeling that we're doing more than simply watching a film but have, rather, embarked on an epic journey with like-minded travelers. If the second film never reaches the highs of the first -- we have met the players before and there are no new worlds of wonder -- it nonetheless invests moviegoing with a sense of adventure. Like Frodo and Aragorn, we have to cover a lot of middling expository ground in "The Two Towers" -- here, we're just passing through on our way to the end.

    'The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers'

    MPAA rating: PG-13 for battle sequences and scary images.

    Times guidelines: There's a lot of fighting and death but little bloodshed; overall, it's less scary than the first film.

    Elijah Wood ... Frodo
    Ian McKellen ... Gandalf
    Liv Tyler ... Arwen
    Viggo Mortensen ... Aragorn
    Sean Astin ... Sam

    New Line Cinema presents a Wingnut production. Director Peter Jackson. Writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, Peter Jackson. Producers Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson. Director of photography Andrew Lesnie. Production designer Grant Major. Film Editor Michael Horton. Music Howard Shore. Visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel. Special makeup creature miniature and digital effects Weta Ltd., NZ. Costume designers Ngila Dickson, Richard Tyler. Running time: 2 hours, 59 minutes.

    In general release.

  • Help (Score:2, Funny)

    Hey one thing I've never understood about LoTR is why the forces of light didn't attack Mount Doom from the air. See, they had over 10,000 giant eagles, and you could have mounted an elven archer on each one. Mount Doom was undefended from the air, and only the Black Riders could fly. So it would have been 10,000 against nine.

    Instead, Gandalf sent two of his weakest soldiers on foot. I can only assume he was suicidal or an agent of darkness... does Tolkien cover this in a sequel?

    Anyway, I'm going to play "Tom Bombadil" and sing a song of protest on my way into the theater, so I don't have to pay the evil MPAA.
    • Re:Help (Score:5, Informative)

      by Silverhammer (13644) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @02:29PM (#4917299)

      Blockquoth the poster:

      Instead, Gandalf sent two of his weakest soldiers on foot. I can only assume he was suicidal or an agent of darkness... does Tolkien cover this in a sequel?

      Even though this was modded "Funny," I'm going to respond because the question is asked all the time.

      Sauron always expected a frontal assault, just as he always expected some Elf or Man to try to use the Ring against him. He expected it because it's what he himself would do, and as Gandalf's notes at some point, Sauron cannot conceive of any other possibility.

      Remember what the Ring represents: raw, absolute power. Sauron craves that power so much, he cannot imagine that someone else would not.

      That's why the Fellowship was formed, to attempt to sneak into Mordor whereas an army would be stopped at the gate. That's also why the Ring went to Frodo, because of everyone at the Council of Elrond, he was most able to resist it (for a while).

      As for why they didn't use the Eagles earlier -- you saw Gwaihir in the first movie. He was pretty damn conspicuous. And the Fellbeasts aren't the only aerial defense available to Sauron. He also had crows and ballistas and stone-throwing trolls, not to mention his own magic. The Eagles would have been swatted down like flies, so long as they tried to go straight in.

      Nope, it wasn't until after Aragorn used the Orthanc Palantir to get Sauron's attention -and- the Gondorian army attacked the Morannon -and- the Ring was already thrown into the Cracks of Doom that Sauron was finally distracted enough to let one (or two? I forget) Eagle zip through to rescue Sam and Frodo.

      Yes, I'm a Tolkein geek.

    • Re:Help (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mr.Intel (165870)
      See, they had over 10,000 giant eagles, and you could have mounted an elven archer on each one.

      No they didn't. They are the special agents of Manwe (the cheif Valar) and as such are only used in special circumstances. To say that the fellowship had 10,000 of them at their disposal is ludicrous. There may not have been more than one (Gwaihir) at this time in Middle Earth in the third age.

      As for Gandalf's strategy, as others have said, he was playing the only card he had. Outright attack on Mordor would bring the whole of Sauron's wrath on them when he knew they could barely defend assaults from parts of Sauron's forces. While very risky, it was not without thought or care. Gandalf may have well believed that Frodo would be successful, [*SPOILER*] even after he had evidence of his death.

  • by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:57PM (#4917004) Journal
    I loved this line:

    If I have misspelled or mischaracterized any of the above, please send corrections to eatme@Idontgiveashit.com
  • by Dark Paladin (116525) <jhummel@NospaM.johnhummel.net> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @02:01PM (#4917041) Homepage
    Based on the one I wrote [gamerspress.com] a year ago and posted on Slashdot, here's my own take on the newly released The Two Towers [gamerspress.com].

    Personal Note

    I'm not big into spelling characters names, so if I've misspelled Ghimli or Aragorn or WhoFrigginGivesACrap, please forgive me for not rushing home to open the books and get every letter in the right spot - if you know the stories, you'll know whom I'm talking about.

    Get Your Elf Ears On

    About a year ago [gamerspress.com], I made a bet with New Line Cinema. I put up $10, scheduled my time to see the midnight showing of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with a bunch of geeks. I mean, we're talking the kind of folk who make their own chain mail, call each other pussies if they haven't read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy once a year and can't talk Elvish, and girls that are hot. Look, I'm sorry to sound sexist, but geek girls are hot. (Trust me - the smarter the girl, the better they shag.)

    I basically bet New Line Cinema they couldn't do it. They couldn't translate Tolkein's epic work into a movie format - even at over 2 hours long. There was too much, the actors would surely suck, and the only reason to go to the midnight showing was to poke fun at the geeks who showed up in their cadaver wax Elf Ears.

    Well, the joke was on me. The Fellowship of the Rings turned out to be the True Shit - the kind of movie most Hollywood types can only dream of making. A movie that is, as near as I can figure, perfect: perfect acting, great timing of the plot, special effects that are so subtle you sometimes don't realize they're there, and an attention to detail that would make a compulsive counting accountant weep in envy.

    But one year later - could Jackson and his team do it again? The Fellowship turns from the story of a small band of would-be heroes (and the fodder for just about every role playing/fantasy epic that ever existed), into the gigantic tale of war, treachery, and conflict - both great and small.

    And while the movie has it's weak points, I think it's safe to say that Jackson still has the power to entertain on a level that should make just about every other hack director piss his pants in fear.

    Ass Kicking in the Underworld

    If you haven't seen the first movie, then you are boned - there's no introduction, no "here's what happened before" - it just takes off with Gandalf getting thrown into a pit, and takes off running.

    For a three hour movie, the first 90 minutes of it hit the ground running faster than Richard Simmons on crack. We quickly see Frodo and Sam, the two remaining members of the former Fellowship still trying to fulfill their quest: take the One Ring to Mordor and destroy it before the all-evil Sauron can get his grubby mitts on it and use it to bring in a reign of terror worse than the Steve Balmer developers video. Frodo is sliding into e-vile as the Ring gives off its Evil Rays into its brain, and it's former owner Golem is hanging around them, guiding them to Mordor in the hopes that he can be reaquainted with his "Precious" once again.

    Meanwhile, the multi-racial League of Heroes - Aragorn the human, Legolas the tree elf (so sexy I've known Geek Girls to take up residences in trees hoping to find their own tree elf), and Ghimli the Comic Relief - wait, I mean Dwarf, long of the axe and the source of most of the movie's humor. (I have the feeling that the Height Challenged segment of the population might have a bone to pick on how Ghimli is the butt of most of the jokes here - about height, short women, height, inability to ride horses, height, burping, and don't forget - height) - are trying to track down Hobbit-napped Merry and Pippin, two small people captured by Orcs to be taken to the evil Sauroman.

    And what is Sauroman doing? Well, he's amassing the biggest baddest army to ever exist to kick everybody's ass to make up for all the times he got shoved into a locker in Wizard's School, and that Potter kid got all the credit. With his orcs killing everyone in the nation of Rohan, his aide Wormtongue keeping the Rohan king under evil possession, and using lots of conditioner to keep away split ends from his long, white locks, Sauroman looks like he's going to put him and Sauron on top of the heap.

    Before you know it, there's major wars being fought, the return of fallen hero (and let's face it - if anybody hasn't read the books and still doesn't see this coming after all the previews, they should be surprised when I say Gandalf comes back), giant tree-like people called Ents are working their mojo in the forest, and Aragorn is getting the hot looks from not one, but two good looking women - and one's even Elf based. How hot is that?

    Geeks Enter Here

    The good news is that the pacing is excellent. There was only one moment about 3/5'ths of the way through the movie I found myself looking at my watch (during the long Elf dialogue scenes), but otherwise, it doesn't feel like a three hour movie. You're kept moving right along, no time to get bogged down with all the people and events hurtling by. It's not too fast of a pace either - each scene gets exactly the amount of detail and explanation it needs - no more, no less. This is not a movie where you're told 15 times some crucial piece of information - you should have gotten it the first time, and if you didn't, you'll figure it out on your won later. (Unlike another movie [gamerspress.com] that had to tell you no less than 5 times every 5 minutes about the planetary alignment happening once every 5000 years.)

    The movie is still targeted at Geeks themselves - they'll eat up all the details about people and places that most mere mortals will go "huh?" at, like when a character announces "Look, the Mystical Knights of Rayearth have passed by!" (All right, not literally, but you get the idea.) There's lots of names to pass around (and what was up with some of the names? We've got Aragorn, Arwen, Aowen - man, it's surprising that the characters don't get confused and launch into a Who's On First segment sometimes), but you don't have to pay attention to that - most people will get the gist and ignore it, while Geeks will be creaming their pants that Jackson got their favorite detail right.

    As far as the acting - it is still as flawless as the original. There's not a scene where anybody feels out of character, or like their just standing around with a sword in their hand waiting to head out to their air-conditioned trailer. Every single actor in the movie - from the main cast down to the stand-in's - plays their role so well, you're convinced this isn't a movie you're watching, but some portal into another history that might have existed. And once again, Ian McKellen proves that he's still the best damn actor out there. His portrayal of Gandalf is spot on - one moment just another old man, full of compassion and slyness, the next second the ass-kicking terror in White. Do not get on this guys bad side, or you'll wind up worse than Mike Tyson's last date.

    Look, Mommy - It's Computer Generated!

    If there's one major complaint about the movie, it's in the special effects. 80% of the time, they're perfect when used to describe scale. When you first see the Black Gate and realize this fucker is huge, you can't help but just go all Keano Reeves as you breath "Woah!". Or as you look in the twisted forest, perfectly rendered, or the caves beneath the earth, or how our heroes get dirty, bloody, dusty, and generally look like they've been through the ringer.

    The main problem with most of the effects is that we know their effects, unlike the last movie where the effects were so subtle, sometimes you didn't realize it was a trick until it was too late. Here, we've got computer generated characters in the form of Golem and the Ents running around the place, or the giant computer generated armies that just don't quite look right. They look good - but there's a level of reality still lacking, some quality that triggers our brain that this isn't real, and dissolves that suspension of disbelief just a little bit.

    And sometimes the effects seem to be there just for effects sake - like when Legolas makes the coolest "around the horses neck" mounting of a horse ever, or another scene where Legolas goes down a flight of stairs skateboarding on a shield shooting arrows. Cool? Sure. Necessary? Maybe, maybe not. With all of the conflict going on, you feel that maybe 5 minutes could have been cut out of the movie. Then again, if action's your thing, you might wish for another 5 minutes to watch Aragorn keep up his Superman impression, taking on nearly an entire army of 10,000 orcs on his own with nothing more than a pair of chopsticks and a can of gasoline. Wait, that was from an episode of MacGuyver - my bad.

    Then there's the looks of the characters. It's like the old Westerns, where the Bad Guy always wore a black hat. Here, if you're Evil, you're ugly. No good looking baddies here that make women's toes curl [ohtori.nu] - bad guys seem to sprout warts, moles, slime, bad teeth, and a horrible case of gangrene all over their skin. On the other hand, good guys are usually sexy, even if you're a hobbit (I've had enough Geek Girls let me know that Frodo Baggins is close to winning Sexiest Man Under 5 Feet of the Year for the second year running).

    Macro and Micro Conflict Systems

    What really makes this movie special is more than just the retelling of The Two Towers adapted for the screen. If there's a theme running through the whole movie, it's about Conflict, on the Macro and Micro scale. There's the obvious Macro conflicts - giant armies pitting themselves against the other, the survival of mankind itself at stake. We see up close the effect this war has on people as women and children flee their villages, boys hardly old enough to sprout facial hair being put in armor, handed a sword, and told to go die for their people.

    The army scenes are impressive. Once again, Jackson plays the sense of scale beautifully, and when you look out and see 10,000 orcs ready to attack, all you can think is "Damn - the humans are so fucked." Wars are shown to be the confusing, messy and random events that battles become, even if the good guys seem to be able to take out 100 baddies for every goody.

    The micro conflicts are the true meat of this movie. Frodo against the corrupting power of the ring. Golem fighting against his own evil nature. This part was probably the best, as we see Smeagel, the man that Golem once was, try to fight his way back to the light. For the first time, Golem becomes more than a slimly froggy bogeyman. He becomes a creature deserving of our pity, proof of what any man will become once the Ring gets its hooks into you far enough.

    We see Aragorn and Arowen the Elf deal with their separation, and the realization that only unhappiness may come of their love, since he'll be dead within a century, and she will walk the Earth forever to grieve for her lost love. The conflict of father over his daughter's safety and happiness, or the conflict of a leader uncertain how best to serve his people.

    And of all of Jackson's achievements for the movie, it is the micro conflict that is the greatest effect of all. It makes so many of the characters more than just figures on the screen. It gives them humanity, a reason to cheer, to suffer, and to fall right along side them as the events of destiny hold their sway.

    Once again, Jackson has created this years best movie - and there's still another 12 months ago before we meet the climatic ending of the trilogy. Personally, I'm already planning on plunking down my $10 to see the next one. After all, it's no longer a bet - it's now a sure thing.

    As always, I'm John Hummel [mailto]. And that's my opinion.

    • by smileyy (11535)

      Then why did you butcher the names?

      Gollum -> Golem
      Gimli -> Ghimli
      Saruman -> Sauroman
      Eowyn -> Aowen

      Chump. I even cut you slack on owyn. (why is /. chewing up the &Eacute;?)

  • Angband - FYI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The_Shadows (255371) <thelureofshadows@noSpam.hotmail.com> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @02:12PM (#4917132) Homepage
    For anyone who may or may not be curious, Angband was Morgoth/Melkor's dark fortress in the Silmarillian. Morgoth was Sauron's boss, so that should give you an idea of the level of villany that went on in the place.

    On a side note, I bought my ticket last night for the first non-sold-out showing today.... at 9:50 PM. Of course, I'm looking forward to seeing it on the 26th more, so I can see it with loved ones.
  • by Jack William Bell (84469) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @02:19PM (#4917190) Homepage Journal
    Also on my /. Journal... [slashdot.org]

    Well, I got my LoTR fix finally. And I gotta tell ya, it was pretty damn good. The action sequences were especially nice. The battle sequences will set new standards. Gollum was, well, just plain amazing. The Ents looked just like I had always imagined them.

    Downsides... This film missed several opportunities to work on the Strider-to-King Aragorn transformation. There was limited character development with Gollum and (surprisingly) Gimli coming across as the most three-dimensional.

    The Faramir thing? Well, I already knew about it so I wasn't surprised, but it is pretty damn egregious. I think they could have kept it like the book without losing a beat. Sometimes changes add to a movie because they are needed to keep the flow. Other times they strike a false note, and I think that is the case here.

    And, although I really liked the Ents I felt they got pretty short shrift scriptwise. Maybe there are some cut Ent scenes that will show up in the TTEE (Two Towers Extended Edition) DVD when it comes out.

    I am going to have to see it a couple more times before I can make the call as to which is the better movie, but right now Fellowship gets the nod as a more rounded picture. Still, any complaint I make is because TT isn't perfect, not because it isn't the best movie to come out this year. Go see it. See it soon so you can share the experience with other LoTR fans instead of the mundane masses.

    And remember to go to the bathroom right before the previews start. It is three hours long and you won't want to miss a second...
  • Dissenting Reviews? (Score:3, Informative)

    by screwballicus (313964) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @03:42PM (#4917920)
    Here's what I thought was an interesting dissenting review [globeandmail.com] of the movie. It's a little ridiculous that three out of four stars constitutes a dissenting review, but I'm sure some watchers will consider it that. And Roger Ebert [suntimes.com], who was critical of the first movie, approves of the second, but also has some interesting criticisms to make.
  • by revery (456516) <charles@c[ ].net ['ac2' in gap]> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @03:54PM (#4918015) Homepage
    First some background: When I first saw The Fellowship of the Ring, I had not read the books in over five years, and thus, I missed several of the less obvious modifications made to the story line. Of course, I noticed the absence of Tom Bombadil, the failure to acquire the Westernesse swords from the mounds of the barrow wight, the deletion of Galadriel's gift giving (generously reinstated in the Extended Edition), the substitution of Arwen for Glorfindel, and so forth. But there were an equal or greater number of things that I did not notice at the time: such as Barliman Butterbur's failure to give Gandalf's letter to Frodo, I did notice that Barliman barely remembered Gandalf, but I had forgotten that Gandalf never promised to meet Frodo at the Prancing Pony, and that he had not been present at the departure of Frodo from the Shire. I could not remember exactly when Anduril was reforged, I had forgotten that Gandalf, not Gimli suggested the path through Moria, nor did I remember the warg fight that took place between the Fellowship's defeat at Carhadras and their descent into Moria. The list goes on and on. Nevertheless, FOTR was magical, and not once did an omission or addition jar me from my reverie.

    Would that it were so with the Two Towers. Perhaps it is primarily my fault. In the past year I have reread the entire series more than once, I have practically memorized certain sections, I have immersed myself in war and sorrow and the rising shadow of Mordor. I enjoyed the movie, and I will see it again. But I wanted more. It is the subtle moments that make the story shine for me. The moments of greatness revealed, of veiled danger, the cruel mercies of the Orcs, the politics of Sauron and Saruman, and the cleverness of Merry and Pippin. It is such moments as when Aragorn announces himself to Eomer, show Anduril and reveals his hidden kingliness that takes my breath away. I know that Jackson is painting a more troubled Aragorn, a king who fears his destiny and hesitates to claim a forgotten crown, but I long for the Aragorn of the novels, the king who bides his time and knows that his day is coming. I missed the strength of Faramir. Of his ability to perceive the ring and it's power, to understand his brother's weakness and avoid that same fate, and his quick conclusion that the ring must be sent beyond temptation. I did not understand the necessity of changing Theoden from a king crippled by a manipulative advisor, to a victim of Saruman's wizardry.

    Credit must be given though to every scene in which Gollum graced the screen. There has never been a CGI character so flawlessly placed on screen with so complete a repertoire of inhuman emotion. Also excellent were the Ents, the battles, the acting, the sets, the mood, the wargs.... For all my criticism, the simple truth is this: it is not that the movie is not excellent, it is that the book is even more so. A movie can only do so much to reveal the inner thoughts of a man without resorting to narration or soliloquy, and LOTR is full of such moments. Is the Two Towers a wonderful movie? Indeed. Did it meet my every expectation? No, but in retrospect, I'm not sure that it would have been possible.
  • by tarsi210 (70325) <nathan@na t h a n pralle.com> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @05:21PM (#4918671) Homepage Journal
    NO SPOILER SECTION

    OMFG, was that a cool movie. I liked one other reviewer's comments: "Was it better than LOTR:FOTR? No. Was it just as good? Yup!" and I would agree with that statement when I view the movie as a whole. There were, obviously, parts that I liked better and parts that I didn't. Watch it, people, watch it and then watch it again.

    It goes FAST. I never looked at my watch once, and it was almost exactly 3 hours long. Why or WHY is next December so far away????

    Advice: Make sure you go to a theatre that has Dolby 5.1 sound. I didn't, but the midnight premire was only at this theater, but some parts are VERY hard to hear if the sound sucks.

    SPOILER SECTION FOLLOWING

    IF I WAS RUNNING THE OSCARS FOR THIS MOVIE:
    Best Actor: King Theoden (Bernard Hill)

    I would have given this to Gandalf but he just didn't have nearly as much screentime in this one as last. Bernard Hill gave my mind Theoden again and again...and in true Peter Jackson directing, gave me a human king...one I loved. The man *cried*. And did it in a beautiful way, I was never so much touched as the scene where he's mourning for his son. Gorgeous, wonderful filming and acting. He was full of despair and power, hope and anguish. Kudos.

    Best Actress: Eowyn (Miranda Otto)

    I just *knew* that this would be my best actress before I went in, and she didn't disappoint me. OMFG, can that woman act! I was in love, I was enamoured, I yearned/pined/ached. The tears, the smiles, the sighs, the terror....everything. The hair in front of the face shot when she's looking over the hills and the sword fighting with Aragorn are two of the best scenes....the scene with Wormtongue where you don't know if she hates him or wants to kiss him or what...but where she really shows the power of subtle acting is when Aragorn shows up at Helms Deep and she has to portray the horribly mixed powerful emotions inside of her churning....She pulled me along all the way. And, ladies pardon this, holy cow is she CUTE! Double kudos for an EXCELLENT job well done.

    Best Supporting Actor: Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen)

    I know the movies were all shot together, but his character had a lot more to work with and did a much better job in this one, for some reason. I liked him a lot more, much more depth and such. Maybe it was just better scripting, but much better, Viggo.

    Best Supporting Actress: Arwen (Liv Tyler)

    Much more depth to her character and some real emotions gave her the supporting actress, she was much more lifelike in this one. Great stuff.

    Best Evil Dude: Wormtongue (Brad Dourif)

    Was this the absolute incarnation of Wormtongue or was it just me? Although, I would have rather seen his character give Gandalf grief for a bit longer instead of getting out of the way so quick, but that was scripting...not his fault. The scene should have been longer, period. Excellent job on his part. Nice makeup, too.

    Worst Evil Dude: Sauruman (Christopher Lee)

    Sauruman sucked, period. What a crappy role in this movie. Ugh. I've seen steamed peas that were more intimidating.

    MOMENTS I NEARLY WET MYSELF
    1. Gollum. Enough said. Esp. the inner fight with himself.
    2. The scene at Theodred's mourning.
    3. The Wargs.
    4. Helm's Deep
    5. The Dead Marshes (damn that was cool)
    6. The moment when the Elves at Helm's Deep (read the note below for the displeasure part of this) turned inside their ranks to face Haldir. Very nice.
    7. The final battle scene of Helm's Deep where the Riders and Gandalf dive into the fray. Well done.
    8. The eye of Sauron.
    WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT? moments
    1. What in blazes were ELVES doing at Helm's Deep? This was stupid, stupid, stupid, and we will be able to hear the yelps of displeasure all across the country when people see the movie, just due to this one factor. Poor choice, PJ. Bad director. No bone.
    2. The ring is going to Gondor? The ring went to Osgiliath? Faramir is a real asshole? Frodo had Big Macs in his pack instead of lembas? Which of these crazy, outrageous statements is true? Unfortunately, too damn many of them. Whereas we did get to see the lembas, the rest we saw and hated.
    3. The Ents. They were.....odd. Not bad, not good....odd. PJ didn't render them out of the books to my satisfaction, but I'm not sure how I would have had him do them, really. They were nice, very nice...just not....yeah. I dunno. I'm kinda at a loss for words except to say that they almost didn't fit in the movie at all. The jury will be out on this one a looong time, for a lot of people, I think.
    PJ mussed with the story a bit more than I would have wanted him to in this one. In FOTR, he just removed things, except for that whole Glorfindel/Arwen thing. There were a LOT of changes in this one, which made my stomach twist in places. But, all in all, excellent movie, fits nicely with the first, and can't wait the year for the second.
  • by Nermal (7573) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @06:02PM (#4919072) Homepage
    Originally posted to IMDB LOTR Message Board:
    I have been really, honestly surprised by the number of positive reviews that this film has been getting. Not because I think it's a bad film (though even in that respect I think it pales in comparison to the first movie), but because after a more-or-less true retelling of "Fellowship.." it was a lousy adaptation. Below is my review of the movie. Please read it BEFORE writing me off as just another ringnut who can't stand the slightest deviation from the book. And I wonder: does _anyone_ else feel the same way that I did?

    ------------
    A few disclaimers:

    First, I have enormous respect for the effect of Tolkien's work despite the fact that, to be honest, his writing style doesn't do much for me.

    Second, I loved the first movie. It really brought the book to life for me. The changes PJ made were forgivable because, like having Arwen save Frodo instead of another elf (really just a cheap way to get Liv Tyler more screentime), they didn't particularly alter the plot or the nature of the characters.

    Third, I was annoyed with people who slammed the first movie for whatever little quibble they could come up with. I wanted these movies to be great and get no satisfaction out of reporting otherwise.

    But with this second installment it seems that Jackson and co have decided to throw Tolkien's book out the window in favor of their own screenwriters in far more detrimental ways than before. Again, I am not one of those "it differed from the book by a sentence and is therefore crap" people. But there are limits to how much one can change before such changes become audacious and it matters whether or not the changes are improvements. In interviews, Peter Jackson has acknowledged that he thought the books were too "dense" and that they needed to be "simplified" for the average person who was unfamiliar with Tolkien. In the same interview, his justification for all this is that "there is a lot of money at stake here". So much for PJ being our savior from the Hollywood infection.

    The sad part is that his 'simplifications' don't even work. During the beginning of the movie, I was trying to watch it as someone who had never read the book (which was not so difficult as it had been some time since I had) and was already disappointed. Characters are introduced too quickly, plotlines are rushed... and the changes this time around are far from trivial.

    -- SPOILERS BELOW --

    Of my wife and I's three favorite characters, only Eowyn, who is actually played quite well, is spared. Poor Gimli has been reduced to comic relief and does little more than fall off horses, be the subject of height jokes and axe people in the groin (yes, the film actually sinks this low). But Faramir fares worst. Apparently the average, non-tolkien-reading person off the street can't grapple with a concept as complex as a man who shows the wisdom to, unlike his brother, see the ring for what it is and not try to take it. No, in this version we are given the 'simplified' Faramir, who does try to take the ring and deliver it to his father as a gift (how is the story improved by this?). It takes a close call with a Nazgul (another event that never appears in the book) and Samwise spelling it out to him for the 'simplified' Faramir to actually let the ringbearer go. Simplified, or just plain simpleton? The worst part is that this change does absolutely NOTHING for the plot! Sam and Frodo still end up parting ways with Faramir and Faramir is still on his way to defend Gondor. The only difference is that anyone who has read the book and loved the character of Faramir is now disgusted with what we've been given instead.

    I said that was the worst part. Actually, I lied. The worst part is that there are numerous scenes like this. A completely new, ill-contrived subplot involving Aragorn and Arwen wastes time by doing nothing but giving yet more screentime (now in a story that the character isn't even meant to appear in) to a Mabeline-laden Liv Tyler and then taking us back to exactly where we started (unless PJ ends up messing with the characters in even more tasteless ways in the next film). The 'simplified' ents, rather than noticing that a huge chunk of their forest has been hewn down, initially refuse to take part and have to be manipulated by Pippin into going to Isengard before doing anything about it. The 'simplified' Gollum/Smeagol doesn't just have conversations with himself, he uses cartoonish visual devices like peeking from behind alternating sides of a tree in order to help the poor, stupid (but lucrative) audience keep up with which side is talking. Sadly, I could go on.

    I felt alienated and even betrayed by this movie. It would have been much better if the first film had been lousy, or at least not so true to the book. At the time, I wasn't expecting much else. But now I feel like after being led to expect a true-ish adaptation I have instead been handed something more Jackson than Tolkien. When I first read The Two Towers, I longed to see the battle of Helm's Deep on screen. When I saw Jackson's "Fellowship.." I had faith that it could really happen. Never in my wildest imaginings would I have expected to be contemplating leaving the theater in the middle of it. The thought actually crossed my mind that 'maybe the whole thing is really just a dream from which I'll wake up and then go see the real movie'. My wife, who is the real Tolkien fan of the family and had just finished re-reading the book, was left literally in tears.

    For those who are interested, below is the most complete list of major (ie not just nitpicking about lines added or sideways glances omitted) changes that we could put together. And again, it wouldn't matter so much if every single one of them weren't, in my opinion, either unnecessary or simply inferior to their counterparts in the book. The fact that, because of the popularity of these movies, the Jackson versions of these characters and events will for many people become "The Two Towers" more than the Tolkien versions only adds insult to injury.

    - Gandalf literally exorcises Saruman from possession of Theoden. Why is banging Theoden's head against his chair so much more dramatic than subduing Grima who, in the book was the one through which Saruman exerted control.
    - Faramir, a noble and wise character in the book, is here really no different than Boromir. The only thing that differentiates them is luck. Unlike Boromir, Faramir gets ahold of himself when he still has time to do something about it.
    - Theoden is much less heroic at Helm's Deep and has to be coaxed into doing anything (usually by Aragorn). Like Faramir, he is a watered-down version of Tolkien's character, as though Jackson felt that every other heroic character from the book had to be emasculated in order to make Aragorn look good.
    - Gimli is reduced to bumbling comic relief except for one added-in scene where he joins Aragorn for one of his patented "me unscathed against 3-million baddies" fights. Only this one is even LESS believable than those in the first movie (which due to the excellent fight choreography I could actually suspend disbelief for)
    - New subplot with dog riders attacking the people of Rohan en route to Helm's deep, Aragorn's "death" and Arwen's (apparent) decision not to stay with him.
    - Elves show up to announce their alliance with the humans and save the day at Helm's Deep (????)
    - The women and children of Rohan are kept in Helm's deep instead of another keep in the mountains, apparently for no other reason than to give us lots and lots (and lots) of shots of women and children crying during the fight. Eowyn is therefore there at the battle, but neither fighting nor having been given stewardship over her people.
    - Ents have to be tricked by Pippin to decide to to do anything about Saruman. Why? Pippin and Merry get their moments of glory later on. Was PJ just impatient?
    - No Shelob *
    - Gandalf does not confront Saruman (he's never even at Isengard) *
    - Gandalf and co never receive the Palantir from Orthanc (black, spherical seer stone thing) *

    * = this may just have been moved to the beginning of the third movie, but as it is, we only get through half the book.
    • by KKin8or (633073) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @08:22PM (#4919860)
      The 'simplified' Gollum/Smeagol doesn't just have conversations with himself, he uses cartoonish visual devices like peeking from behind alternating sides of a tree in order to help the poor, stupid (but lucrative) audience keep up with which side is talking.

      He's not peeking around different sides of a tree-- he's sitting in exactly the same place. The only thing that changes is the camera angle. PJ is using the camera to drive home the point that Gollum/Smeagol is a divided personality. When he says "our precious" he really means "our". I thought it was a very clever way of doing it, and lent very well to the character development of Gollum (he had the most of any character in this movie, I think, and I think I like the movie Gollum better than I liked the book Gollum).

      The reason it really feels like two separate people is because PJ violates one of the rules of cinematography-- crossing the "line" (I don't remember exactly what it's called, but if there are two people talking to one another, there's an imaginary line between them. In order to not confuse the audience, the camera should never cross this "line" when switching between shots of one and the other). By switching between shots from one side of the line and the other, it makes it feel as if there are two Gollums, facing one another. The most movement Gollum does to facilitate this is perhaps a slight turn of his head in a different direction. Otherwise, the switching is all done by the camerawork.

      In response to your other comments, I agree with your disappointment about Faramir. It was my one real dislike about the movie. As a whole, though I enjoyed it.

    • by jdbo (35629) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @12:04AM (#4920914)
      One thing that fans of the book should keep in mind going into this movie is that different generations will visualize the movie in differenet ways; people who read the Bridge of Khazad-Dum sequence in the 60s tend to have a much less visually apocalyptic "mental imagery" of the scene than its presentation in Peter Jackson's film. Meanwhile, younger readers raised in a environment containing much more visually dynamic storytelling were far less startled - they visualized something much more akin to Jackson's visual intensity.

      My large point is that there's little purpose to getting worked up about visual interpretations that don't necessarily match ones expectations; no one has the "one true interpretation" of any reasonably complex novel. Many, many things come down to taste, and this is only greatly complicated by adding a translation to another medium.

      Having said that, I feel ornery enough to contradict most everything you list to complain about.

      - Gandalf literally exorcises Saruman from possession of Theoden...[rather] than subduing Grima

      Jackson has to demonstrate the connection between Grima and Saruman visually; this accomplishes that. The presentation may have been over-the-top, but a long back-and-forth between two old men while Grima squirms would have had less visual impact and lost the Saruman connection.

      - Faramir, a noble and wise character in the book, is here really no different than Boromir.

      While it is true that there are some drastic changes to Faramir character in TTT, I enjoyed the conflation of Faramir's return to Osgiliath with the Ringbearer's quest (which isn't all that huge a departure from the text, BTW - the Forbidden Pool is quite close to Osgiliath). The confrontation with the wraith provides a visual dramatization of Frodo's plight, Sam's bravery (heretofore not well shown) and convinces Faramir _not_ to take the ring. The closer-to-canon-alternative would have been to have a drawn-out debate between Faramir and Frodo that, which would have to be intercut with Helm's Deep and thus destroy the pacing/tone of both sequences (imagine intercutting between the Council of Elrond and the Tomb of Balin battle - blech). Finally, I wouldn't be surprised if Faramir's character comes into his nobility and bravery in the next film (consider the drawn-out character arc being applied to Aragorn, and my next reply).

      - Theoden is much less heroic at Helm's Deep and has to be coaxed into doing anything (usually by Aragorn).... Like Faramir, he is a watered-down version of Tolkien's character...every other heroic character from the book had to be emasculated in order to make Aragorn look good.

      You may notice that Jackson, by having Theoden show hesitation and doubt, has constructed a more psychologically realistic (i.e. believable) character than Tolkien did (in the books, both Aragorn and Theoden make life-altering changes in the space of a chapter and are never shown displaying doubt or hesitation thereafter - this ain't gonna work on screen, where dramatically static figures are dull unless they're engaged in battle... but I guess you think Legolas was "just perfect" and not at all dull?).

      Anyway, Aragorn is shown despairing, frustrated, and scaring the crap out of the Rohan refugees while Theoden is shown trying to do his best under impossible circumstances, not always making the best decisions, and struggling with the results - this sounds like paralleled human dramas to me.

      Also, to contradict your idea that Aragorn is being shown off to his best advantage and others downgraded, I would say that Theoden actually got the best dramatic notes in the film (next to Gollum) - at Theodred's grave, and while Hama suiting him up in armor.

      - Gimli is reduced to bumbling comic relief except for ... patented "me unscathed against 3-million baddies" fights.

      I do agree that Gimli could've used more gravity (hopefully with the Halls of the Dead sequence in ROTK)..., but I also recall the comic relief during Tolkien's Helm Deep sequence came from Gimli - wheee, canon! And in a book, one does not notice the ridiculousness of a dwarf maintaining top speed running alongside two full-sized people. I think the choiuce was "laugh at" or "laugh with" the movie, and Jackson chose "laugh with".

      As for the "me unscathed against millions" fights... did you not read the book? Any warrior in any battle taking down forty-plus enemy warriors in one-on-one combat is superhuman, period.

      - New subplot with dog riders attacking the people of Rohan en route to Helm's deep, Aragorn's "death" and Arwen's (apparent) decision not to stay with him.

      Oh no, another departure from "canon"! The flashback/connection scenes are used to develop the Aragorn/Arwen relationship and make the mortal/immortal choice plain to those who never read the novel (this was only hinted at in Jackson's FOTR), and thus shed more light on Aragorn's inner conflicts. This also adds interest to his relationship with Arwen, something almost entirely lacking in the Tolkien's original text (until you read the appendices - which were the inspiration for those flashbacks, BTW).

      As for the Wargs, sure they're a plot device... but dammit, that was a great battle scene and helped the pace of the movie, while setting up character development. Not too shabby, I think.

      - Elves show up to announce their alliance with the humans and save the day at Helm's Deep (????)

      Oh no, another departure from "canon"! There are several ideas underlying this change:

      a) that Arwen knows what is happening with Aragorn (re: the kiss at the riverbank), and is trying to help
      b) to keep the elves from coming across as uncaring, aloof cowards (running to Valinor...).

      This way, they are shown to be involved with the conflict , rather than simply fleeing the conflict (which would be a perfectly reasonable conclusion, otherwise).

      - The women and children of Rohan are kept in Helm's deep instead of another keep in the mountains...

      Having the women/children at the Deep provided:

      a) a greater, more immediate sense of danger; crude, but still a smart decision.
      b) the opportunity to show Theoden conscripting young men into the war, thus underlining Tolkien's theme of the horrors of war, a good reality check to help balance out the glamor of the battle sequences.

      - Ents have to be tricked by Pippin to decide to to do anything about Saruman. Why? Pippin and Merry get their moments of glory later on. Was PJ just impatient?

      The movie's way uses visual drama to show the betrayal of the ents; the other way invlves lots of swaying and Hoom-hooominh. I wonder which will work better in a visual medium? (speaking of which, Merry and Pippin were still rather too passive in this film).

      - No Shelob

      This is in the next movie, and was announced about ten months ago in an interview, and repeated ad nauseum everywhere on the 'Net. next!

      - Gandalf does not confront Saruman / receive the Palantir

      Given that none of the Fellowship has actually begun riding to Gondor at film's end (a departure from canon that you failed to note, along with the absence of the Huorns at the Deep), both of these could be shifted to occur at the beginning of the next film. Neither was necessary to demonstrate the defeat of Saruman or of the Uruk-Hai at Helm's Deep.

      Sorry for the flamey bits of my response, but I do get the impression that your criticism focused on the changes to the text vs. whether underlying themes and tone of Tolkien's work was violated. You begin to make some good points, and I'd be interested in seeing those elaborated upon.
    • by Flambergius (55153) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @02:08AM (#4921291)
      I too liked TTT much less then FOTR. Of course, I loved FOTR so "much less" still leaves TTT in the positive.

      I left to theater asking both "could it have been better" and "was it any good?" After couple hours I still don't have answer to the first but for the second: "yes, it's pretty good but not excellent."

      This must have been really difficult script to write. No begining, no end, loads of material you would like to cut but can't.

      Most of the changes you list are quite understandable, or at least the writers had their reasons. I don't know if you have listened to the writers' commentary on the FOTR Extended DVD version. (Althou PJ is the Author of these movies, there are three other writers too.) They talk a lot about their motivation for any and all changes for FOTR. Naturally, pacing is the most important, but often it's the need to build up characters, especially the bad guys. I wouldn't think their motivation has changed too much.

      Seems clear that almost half of third book (Return of the King) has been cut. PJ says himself that there's no Scrouging of the Shire and I would hazard a guess he won't linger too much on the Return part after Sauron gets it. Some of the material in the second book has to go into ROTK (the movie).

      Saruman has been build up as the active enemy all the way through. In the book Witch-king, Saruman and Sauron are pretty evenly build up. In the movie Witch-King is an non-entity (which I belive to be a mistake) and Sauron not much more. Only Saruman has been really build up. "The Exorcism" is part of that. It had to be Saruman, not Grima, Gandalf takes down a notch or that scene would have been just stepping on a bug. After all, what is Grima the Henchman to Gandalf the Powerful Wizard if not a bug.

      Gilmi truly is a comic relief, although he still does some serious damage in battle. I do see the need for a comic relief. TTT would a weary, if not all out horrible, movie without some humor. Gilmi's lines and bumbling are for most part done well, which means that they are funny, work within the story and setting and don't totally distroy the character's serious side. As unofficial member of Friends of Gilmi Society, I would have liked more respectable dwarf ... well, I'll live.

      Pippin and Merry really did need a moment of glory in this movie. Without it (or them as they both have one) they would have been just baggage. Maybe you and I could watch that baggage being carried because Tolkien wrote it so, but the movie would have been worse because it. The writers have license, maybe even duty, make changes of this moderate magnitude if it makes the movie better.

      Eowyn had to be at Helm's Deep. She really had to be. Just had to be. It was that good. Miranda Otto ,what an performance! She had little screentime make impact, but boy did make most with it. Maybe I'm not really able to objectivly estimate if the writers were correct in making those changes, after all, it might have sucked if Eowyn hadn't been so masterfully played. Anyways, if Eowyn has to be at Helm's Deep then women and children are there too. Theoden can't have been riden to meet the orcs in battle, because then women and children and Eowyn would have been left behind. ... Yeah, my speculation and excuses are getting a bit thick here and I'm not even done yet. ... I didn't see Theoden as particulary week. True, he isn't the hero and needs a little nugging along, but that's just consistent with his questionable decision to retreat to Helm's Deep. A decision he must make because we want to have Eowyn there. See, it all fits. :-) And anyways, Theoden gets the best lines of the whole movie in that poem he does while his armor is being put on.

      For the the battle with worg riders I offer simply the need for action scene at that point. I don't know if that really was necessary, that would need at least a second watching. (I started to really dislike Moria sequence on the third watching.) Again judging from his own comments on FOTR ExtDVD , PJ seems to be quite sensitive to the need for a fight every now and then.

      Another way the worg battle works for the movie is by giving us an excuse for Aragorn tripping into the Arwen flashback. Both the flashback and the excuse are indeed needed. Aragorn already has one regular flashback. There's a limit to the lenght and the frequency of flashbacks you can have before the audience starts wondering about the character's sanity. Another regular flashback would have been pushing it, specially if there hadn't been a fight inbetween. As to the need for the flashbacks and the whole added subplot/drama between Aragorn and Arwen, ask yourself this: in ROTK when A&A finally get eachother, do you want to feel that Aragorn would have done better with Eowyn. Without the added A&A material and with the wonderful Eowyn stuff in, 99% of the audience would have prefered Eowyn over Arwen, no matter what Tolkien wrote in Appendices.

      For elves showing up at Helm's Deep ... no reason for it that I can see. It worked though. I was in tears, litereally. Maybe that was to some measure get Elrond off the hook. Agent Elrond is nothing short of a manipulative bastard in this movie.

      Why was Faramir changed? You got me there. A real character assassination on him. In the books he really is wise and likeable and you feel good for Eowyn when they hook up. In the movie, I'm dreading the prospect that Eowyn, my love, ends up with that bonehead. Maybe they cut that ... probably a false hope; they have added female screentime significalty, would they now cut something that is in the book? Anyways, I can't see anything gained character-wise in Faramir's change, nor does consistency so far require it. Reason may be in ROTK but really don't how that could have been a must.

      One possible explanation is that the pacing just required more material for Frodo and Sam. Can't really comment pacing with one viewing, so let's just speculate. It is possible that they needed scenes near the end of the movie dealing with F&S. Those scenes would be cut into from the battle of Helm's Deep, so they couldn't be about picking berries in Ithilien. Something strong, preferably action. Assuming I remember the sequences correctly, an added action scene for F&S is needed. Did it have to come at Faramir expense? Couldn't Faramir have turned down the ring and shown his wisdom and strenght and then, for example, have the close encounter with the nazgul almost unchanged (location wasn't important in that scene)?

      In the book, the whole F&S in Ithilien and their meeting with Faramir is much too light and full of exposition to be used very directly. Lot of rewriting and adaptation to be done for sure, but thats what they been most always so good at. Pity they failed here.

      -- Flam
      --what! this emacs doesn't have a spell-checker
  • by Wraithlyn (133796) on Thursday December 19, 2002 @06:57AM (#4921888)
    Well, I just got back from the movie. Let me just start with WOW!!! and go from there. As I did with Fellowship last year, I re-read The Two Towers the week before the movie, so as to have a fresh image in mind for a comparison... and here it is.

    There will be ***MAJOR SPOILERS*** as I will be discussing the movie in depth... this is not intended as a review of the film's strengths and weaknesses, but rather a description of how the movie differs from the novel. I am not some zealous purist who hates any small differences.. I love how Jackson is adapting them, but I think the changes are an interesting discussion in themself.

    -

    *** MAJOR TWO-TOWERS MOVIE SPOILERS BEGINNING ***

    -

    Still with me? Good.

    The movie opens with a replay of the Balrog scene from Fellowship, only this time we follow Gandalf on his plunge into the abyss of Khazad-dum. My jaw was literally gaping for the entire sequence. If someone asks me what the coolest sequence I have EVER seen in a film is, I will name this one without hesitation. Gandalf soars downwards after his sword, Glamdring, takes it from the air, and starts grappling and hewing the Balrog as they continue to fall. This is Mithrandir, the grey pilgrim, greatest of the eternal Istari, in full glory.

    We cut to Frodo, who seems to have been dreaming of the Gandalf sequence. Sam and him are lost in the Emyn Muil, and they sense they are not alone. There is some tension between them, Frodo is weary and irritable. I thought Elijah Wood's Frodo was a bit of a single note performance in the first film, but now I see he was merely establishing the baseline for Frodo's descent into a paranoid, obsessed nutbag. Good stuff.

    We see shots of the orcs carrying Merry and Pippin, and Aragorn and company in close pursuit. Merry pulls his Lorien clasp off with his teeth and spits it away from an orc back instead of running off and dropping it like in the book. (You really don't see the Orc company stop at all until they reach the edge of Fangorn) Lots of comic relief at Gimli's expense, showing him having trouble keeping up with the other two.

    We see an early shot of Edoras, setting up the listless, paralyzed Theoden and the venomous Grima Wormtongue, and see Eomer get exiled.

    After an argument among the orcs involving eating the hobbits, Merry and Pip start to crawl away, when the riders of Rohan launch a surprise assault into the heart of the orcs, instead of the protracted herding and encircling described in the novel. Merry and Pippin crawl to freedom during the assault, instead of being carried out by Grishnak... although Grishnak does pursue them into Fangorn, and gets crushed by Treebeard. Treebeard takes them directly to Gandalf (although we don't see him yet). I've read some complaints about the Ents (even one calling them the 'Jar-Jar' of the movie), but I don't know what the problem is, I thought they were great. Slow and ponderous, just like the book.

    Frodo and Sam are asleep when Gollum pounces on them, as opposed to the book where they ambushed HIM when he climbed down the cliff. They subdue him, the elven rope burns him, and Frodo extracts his promise. There's a nice sequence of him leading them through the Dead Marshes. Gollum is un-fricken-believably amazing. He steals every scene he's in. His schizophrenic arguments with himself are just brilliantly done. Imagine a naked Steve Buscemi alternately imitating a kitten and then a snake. No wait, don't do that. Don't EVER do that. How a creature so wretched and deceitful can win the compassion and pity of the entire audience is a minor miracle. You really feel sorry for this creature that is so helplessly and violently torn between two natures. An Oscar deserves to be given for this performance, somehow. Don't know if he technically qualifies as an actual actor, but he's got my vote. :)

    Aragorn and co. meet up with Eomer and learn of the orc slaughter, and are given 2 horses. This part is very faithful to the book. They find the burial mound, and track the hobbits' trail into Fangorn. They encounter Gandalf, think he is Saruman and actually attack him, he just shrugs it off without trying. Otherwise, this part was very faithful to the book.. with him barely remembering the name Gandalf, etc. They leave Fangorn, meet Shadowfax, and head for Edoras.

    There are many shots interspersed of Merry and Pippin being carried by Treebeard, with lots of wonderful dialogue straight from the book.

    Frodo, Sam, and Gollum arrive at the Black Gates. Army of evil men entering. Cave trolls working the gate mechanism, nice touch :) Sam slips and falls down, and they are almost discovered, but Frodo covers them with his cloak and they are mistaken for a rock. Gollum persuades them to try his secret way and they leave.

    Gandalf, Aragorn and co. arrive at Edoras. Gandalf 'excorcises' Saruman's spirit from Theoden while Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas beat the crap out of the guards bare-handed. This part bears little resemblance to the book, with Gandalf throwing Theoden back into his throne forcefully several times, it reminded me a bit of his fight with Saruman in the first movie. After, they throw Wormtongue down some stairs and he leaves. Some shots of Theoden grieving his son and despairing about the state of the world. Some arguing over what to do, Theoden decides to empty the city and head to Helm's Deep. Theoden comes across as stronger (and perhaps more headstrong) than he does in the book at this point. In the book, Gandalf advises Theoden to go to Helm's Deep. In the movie, Theoden orders it of his volition, in fact Gandalf is against it and calls it a trap.

    A bunch of dream/flashback sequences about this point heightening the doomed romance of Aragorn and Arwen, Elrond trying to convince each of them in turn to drop it. Some shots of Elrond and Galadriel discussing (telepathically) whether to leave Middle-Earth alone to its fate.

    Around here is the first large departure from the plot of the novel. The refugees from Edoras are attacked by Warg Riders en route to Helm's Deep. Eowyn and the refugees flee while the men deal with the attack. In the ensuing battle (which is very cool) Aragorn, stuck to a Warg, is thrown over a cliff and presumed dead. Of course, he's not, he's just floating in the river, gets washed up on shore, and nuzzled back to life by the ghost of Arwen in a romantic horse scene. Yeah, I said that. I really didn't think the whole Aragorn getting separated thing was neccesary, but it didn't bother me either. I wonder if they added this action sequence to offset the subtraction of Shelob's Lair? It even has the common element of the hero being presumed dead.

    Frodo and Sam witness the attack of Faramir's company on the Southrons, complete with a pair of Oliphaunts. Very cool. They are seized by Faramir's men, bound, and taken to their hidden waterfall hideout at Henneth Annun. Lots of talking about the Fellowship and Boromir and such. (although Faramir never mentions just HOW he knows Boromir is dead) Frodo lies to Faramir, says Sam and him are alone (he admits Gollum is a companion they met on the road in the novel) but then later Frodo admits he's their guide when he intervenes at the Forbidden Pool to help them capture Gollum instead of kill him.

    Initially, this is very faithful to the book, but then, probably the biggest change of all occurs: Faramir tells them the Ring will go to Gondor, and they are dragged forcefully to Osgiliath, which is under attack. I have to say honestly I did NOT like this change.. it seems like a core change to one of the main characters of the last two books. Faramir resists the Ring in the book, in fact he tells them he would not take the Ring if he found it lying by the road. Denethor and eldest son Boromir were desperate to save Gondor, and thus easily swayed by the power of the Ring, but Faramir was of a more pure heart. I don't know why Peter Jackson decided we needed another Boromir figure... I mean, the Ring corrupts, we GET it already!

    Helm's Deep prepares for the siege. Lots of very effective shots of children and elderly arming for brutal combat. Aragorn returns from his invented detour, spies the approaching army, and enters the Deep. At the last second, a company of Elvish archers led by Haldir arrives! This of course is not in the book.. the prologue calls it the Last Alliance of Men and Elves for a reason, the species are estranged and the Elves dwindle and fade. But I don't care, I loved it anyway. It's almost like the Lothlorien Elves were pissed they didn't get to slaughter the Orcs pursuing the Fellowship out of Moria like in the book (anyone see the storyboard sequence on the DVD for that? Oh.. if only they shot that..), so they decided to pitch in on Helm's Deep instead.

    The Entmoot begins. This is a large difference in chronology from the book... where the Ents are already at Isengard in time to see Saruman's army depart. Here, they are discussing what to do as the assault on Helm's Deep begins.

    Back at beseiged Osgiliath, Sam makes an impassioned speech to Faramir about how Boromir was driven mad by his desire for the Ring, and attacked Frodo whom he swore to protect, which seems to give Faramir some pause. A flying Nazgul nearly takes the Ring from Frodo, Sam saves him, then Frodo goes all psycho Sting-in-your-face on Sam for a minute. Faramir decides to let them go, despite this meaning his own life is forfeit, so I guess he kinda redeems his character a bit in that sense.

    The Helm's Deep battle itself is awesome. The overall progression of the battle is exactly what I remember from the book, and many details have made it in very well, including to my delight Gimli and Legolas's death count competition. I have read people smugly pointing out how it only takes up a dozen pages in the novel and gets more than a half hour of screen time here, but that's a silly comparison. The battle described in the book is epic in scope and takes all night long, they did a phenomenally perfect job of capturing this.

    The Entmoot concludes, and unlike the book, the Ents decide NOT to take any action, despite Merry's persistance. However, Merry convinces Treebeard to drop them off near Isengard, that wascally wittle hobbit. When Treebeard sees the devastation surrounding Isengard (he was already aware in the book), he lets out a piercing bellow, and the forest erupts instantly with angry Ents. So much for not being hasty, but I digress.

    The battle of Helm's Deep is going badly, the wall is breached, Haldir dies in Aragorn's arms. When they have been forced to retreat to their last holdout, the innermost keep of the Hornburg, surrounded by a sea of enemies, Theoden and Aragorn lead a final, thrilling, mounted charge down the exterior ramp. Then Gandalf arrives with the dawn, and several thousand horsemen. The White Rider leading the charge of Light down the slope into Saruman's army nearly topped the Balrog scene for me. I want a giant poster of that singular, breathtaking image, the two armies colliding with the battered remains of Helm's Deep in the background. Beautiful, extraordinary stuff. No army of Huorns show up to mop up the retreating Orcs, but I couldn't care less.. too much tree action gives a deus ex machina feeling anyway.

    Speaking of tree action, the Ents whack the crap out of everything still moving at Isengard, and flood the whole ring. We don't get to see Gandalf and co. confront Saruman and meet up with Merry and Pippin, but I'm glad.. a long march to Isengard after the spectacular triumph of Helm's Deep? I don't think so. However it does have the effect of severely weakening Merry and Pippin's roles in this movie... perhaps that's why Jackson had them more directly involved with the Ents decision.

    Meanwhile, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum approach Mordor, and we hear evil Cartman, er.. I mean Gollum, conspire to let "her" kill the other two... but the movie ends before they reach Shelob's Lair. Now that I have seen how powerful Helm's Deep is, I understand and am glad they have saved this for the start of the next movie, for an eager audience instead of a drained one.

    Well... closing thoughts... Another year? AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gnight.

We don't know who it was that discovered water, but we're pretty sure that it wasn't a fish. -- Marshall McLuhan

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