Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
If you haven't seen the first Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring, you might want to pick it up at the video store before putting your money down at the box office, because The Two Towers wastes next to none of its three hour running time reiterating the past.
As things never go smoothly in adventure stories (especially ones that are to be continued), the faithful hobbits, Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Austin), find their journey to get rid of the burdensome Ring of Power impeded by greedy desires. In order to get to Mordor, the companions are forced to trust the wretched creature Gollum (Andy Serkis), who's mental anguish over losing his "Precious" manifests itself in a split personality disorder.
Meanwhile Aragorn (Viggo Mortersen) heir to the kingdom of Gondor, Legolas (Orlando Bloom) the elf, and Gimli (John Rhys-Davis) the dwarf, cease their attempt to rescue Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) from the slimy clutches of the fearsome Orcs, when they are caught in the fray of another battle. From his dark tower, the evil wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) is casting a shadow of destruction over Middle Earth, with the intention of exterminating all mankind.
Fans of Tolkien's classic novels will notice the artistic license taken in this retelling, although many small details have been painstakingly preserved. The visual depictions in the film are bound to be a lot more vivid than most readers' imaginations too. Plentiful epic medieval combat scenes show bodies hacked, kicked, speared, decapitated, dismembered, pierced with arrows, and blown apart (to name a few). Other disturbing images include bleeding wounds, half burned corpses, lifeless submerged faces, and animals killed then ripped apart by ravenous teeth.
This gratuitous carnage tarnishes some of the film's positive portrayals. Not losing faith or hope despite despair, and fighting against the darkness of evil are the story's central themes. The power of friendship is personified in loyal Sam, Frodo extends compassion towards Gollum, and the possibility of immortality is explored through the unfinished mission of Gandalf.
Unlike most action genre offerings, this tale provides heroes with human frailties, which make them less invincible and more believable. The true price of war is captured in a scene where mothers weep for their young sons called into military service. And, some characters' conscientious objections fail to recognize how the conflict affects everyone. However the realistic approach of this adaptation may push the magic that has held generations spellbound, into the realms of older audiences only.