The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Director: Peter Jackson

So I mentioned my memories of seeing Fellowship on the big screen in my review of that film, which means I may as well do the same here… Circumstances were markedly different; the first film I saw as a media preview on a very big screen at Hoyts, but the second I saw just after its release on a markedly smaller screen (if I remember rightly, and I possibly don’t, it was at the late lamented Academy Twin in Paddington). And I didn’t like it as much as the first film. Possibly because it was a “lesser” experience, possibly because the CGi and other trickery seemed more noticeable in this film for some reason, and possibly because I went in assuming that, you know, “second part of a trilogy” syndrome would hold true because, you know, it just does. I actually kind of rediscovered the film on DVD, and realised it was better than I’d initially credited it with being. It’s still unavoidably the “middle film”, but it’s also the part of the story where it expands to encompass the wider world, and the war for Middle Earth begins in earnest. Rewatching tonight made me realise Gimli is rather more “light relief” in Two Towers (apart from the “…toss me” bit at Helm’s Deep) than I remembered him being, but it also reminded me that, other than the amazing Helm’s Deep set-piece battle, the film did two genuinely remarkable things; one, the realisation of the Ents (who always struck me as a bit preposterous in the book; Jackson makes them about as convincing as I suppose was possible), and two, the revelatory digital manifestation of Gollum. I remember talk at the time about Gollum being up for a best actor Oscar, cos there is, of course, much more to Andy Serkis’ performance than just him wearing the motion capture suit; obviously his own physicality translated into the CGI rendering, but he got the voice so right too, it was a fine match of physical and virtual… And yeah, I’m sure some still piss and moan about Jackson intercutting the two halves of the book, but I still reckon it works better for the film narrative, even if on tonight’s reviewing I found the attempt at telling the story chronologically didn’t feel like it quite stood up to scrutiny (and as I’ve said before, if I notice something wrong, etc.)… but on the whole, very pleasing to revisit this, a worthy successor to Fellowship.

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