‘THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Return To Middle-Earth – The Journey Continues
“That Peter Jackson and his remarkable team have done it again…!” – Newsweek, December 2002
After enjoying ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, it was little surprise that I would soon come round to watching the second film of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. I wanted to find out what happens next to Frodo and Sam on their journey to Mordor and what happens to Aragorn in his journey to be a king.
I remember speaking to my Dad about purchasing the DVD of ‘The Two Towers’ in 2003. In August that year on a family holiday in Scotland, the original ‘Two Towers’ DVD was released and I couldn’t wait to see it. My parents and I saw the movie at home when we came back and we really enjoyed it.
Here’s the story so far. Frodo Baggins the hobbit left his home, the Shire, on a quest to destroy the One Ring, forged by the Dark Lord Sauron. He was joined by his friends who formed a Fellowship to help him on his quest to Mordor. At the end, Frodo continued his long journey to Mordor with Sam.
The title of the movie refers to two specific towers belonging to the enemies of Middle-Earth. There’s Orthanc, the tower of Saruman in Isengard and Barad-dûr, the tower of Sauron in the land of Mordor. Saruman and Sauron seek to destroy the world of men as our heroes must overthrow them.
As I said, my family and I purchased the original 2-disc DVD of ‘The Two Towers’ in August 2003. I eventually had the four-disc Special Extended DVD Edition for Christmas 2003. The film is 3 hours long containing 44 minutes extra footage. There’s a helpful info booklet about the four-disc DVD set.
The film is divided into two parts with Part 1 on Disc 1 and Part 2 on Disc 2. The ‘Scene Index’ inside the booklet identifies which scene is new and which scene is extended with the following legend:
Disc 3 and Disc 4 contain ‘The Appendices’ which are the ‘making-of’ documentaries and extra material from the making of ‘The Two Towers’.
DISC 1 + DISC 2 – SPECIAL EXTENDED EDITION OF THE FILM
‘The Two Towers’ film is divided into three sub-plots. There’s the Ring Quest with Frodo and Sam; the journey with Merry and Pippin and there’s also the journey featuring Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli.
The journey for Elijah Wood as Frodo and Sean Astin as Sam has them journeying in the Emyn Muil – a maze of rocky hills. They meet Andy Serkis as Gollum, which is this brilliant CGI/actor performance.
Gollum becomes Frodo and Sam’s guide as he knows the way to Mordor. He leads them out of Emyn Muil and into the Dead Marshes. These marshlands are filled with ancient corpses of elves and men.
Pretty soon, Gollum takes Frodo and Sam to the Black Gate of Mordor. The gate is closed and Frodo and Sam have a job of trying to get in. Gollum stops them, as he suggests another way into Mordor.
Meanwhile, Dominic Monaghan as Merry and Billy Boyd as Pippin are captives of the Uruk-Hai after ‘Fellowship’. They soon escape from the Uruk-Hai, killed by Rohan riders, and enter Fangorn Forest.
Merry and Pippin find themselves in the twisted, dark, tangled forest and meet Treebeard, voiced by John Rhys-Davies. Treebeard is an Ent – a shepherd of the forest – who looks after Merry and Pippin.
Parts of the world are threatened by Christopher Lee as Saruman, the Master of Isengard. Saruman has joined forces with Sauron, since he builds armies of Uruk-Hai to terrorise the kingdom of Rohan.
With Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn; Orlando Bloom as Legolas and John Rhys Davies as Giml, they run on foot to rescue Merry and Pippin. They pursue the Uruk-Hai, but they don’t seem to get anywhere.
The three companions meet up with the Rohirrim, the Riders of Rohan. The Rohirrim are Viking-like warriors on horseback. They’re led by Karl Urban as Éomer, who is King Theoden’s nephew in Rohan.
Éomer tells Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli that they destroyed the Uruk-Hai with no sign of the hobbits. The trio find where they burned the Uruk-Hai and discover the hobbits have entered Fangorn Forest.
Inside the forest, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli soon discover they’re not alone and are visited by the ‘white wizard’. This turns out to be Ian MacKellen as Gandalf the White! Yes! Gandalf has returned!!!
Gandalf takes Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli to Edoras, the capital city of Rohan. Edoras is a rural Viking-like place that’s set on a hill. There are thatched-barn-like houses and the Golden Hall of Meduseld.
Bernard Hill stars as King Theoden of Rohan. He first appears as a frail, fragile old man under the influence of Saruman. Gandalf soon frees him from his poison and Theoden becomes youthful again.
Brad Dourif stars as Gríma Wormtongue, King Theoden’s advisor. He has been feeding whispering words to weaken the king, as he secretly works for Saruman. Gandalf soon exposes his true colours.
Miranda Otto stars as Éowyn, White Lady of Rohan. She’s Theoden’s niece and a ‘shieldmaiden of Rohan’. Éowyn is a strong woman who has learnt to fight and ride, but isn’t allowed to fight in battle.
Horses are very important in Rohan and there are two very important ones in this film. There’s Shadowfax, a white stallion that Gandalf rides. There’s also Brego, a brown horse that Aragorn rides.
Theoden orders Edoras to be evacuated, as they make for Helm’s Deep. Meanwhile with Frodo and Sam, they come to Ithilien as they get caught by Faramir and his group of rangers, which ends Disc 1.
Disc 2 continues with the people of Rohan making for Helm’s Deep. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli join Theodeon and Éowyn on the journey to Helm’s Deep. Éowyn also starts to fall in love with Aragorn.
The Rohan people are soon attacked by Warg-Riders on the way to Helm’s Deep. There’s an all-out battle between our heroes and the Warg-Riders, as Éowyn protects Rohan’s people to Helm’s Deep.
During the Warg battle, Aragorn gets caught in a fight with a Warg-Rider that sends him off a cliff. Aragorn manages to survive and rides on Brego the horse who finds and takes him for Helm’s Deep.
Liv Tyler returns as Arwen. She’s faced to choose with either staying with Aragorn or going to the undying lands with the Elves. There are some lovely flashback scenes with Aragorn and Arwen here.
Hugh Weaving returns as Elrond as he has scenes with his daughter Arwen. Elrond tries to persuade Arwen not to stay with Aragorn, but she’s determined. He tells her what will happen if she does stay.
There’s also this telepathic conversation between Elrond and Cate Blanchett as Galadriel. She talks to him about what will happen to Middle-Earth being attacked and to Frodo on his quest to Mordor.
With Frodo and Sam, they’re interrogated by David Wenham as Faramir, Captain of Gondor. Faramir is Boromir’s brother. There’s this lovely flashback scene between him and Sean Bean as his brother.
Faramir seeks to win favour with his father and is upset with losing Boromir. When Faramir discovers Frodo has the ring of power, he seeks a chance ‘to show his quality’ when he takes them to Gondor.
In Fangorn Forest, Merry and Pippin with Treebeard see Saruman’s massive army of Uruk-Hai marching from Isengard. The Entmoot – a gathering of Ents – meets to discuss whether to go to war.
Very soon, the Ents make a decision that doesn’t please Merry. Treebeard then sees what Saruman has done to the forest at Isengard and gets upset and angry. The Ents soon march to attack Isengard.
With Aragorn, he sees the massive army of Uruk-Hai and rides to Helm’s Deep to warn King Theoden. There are 10,000 Uruk-Hai coming. King Theoden has his men of Rohan to prepare for war.
Helm’s Deep is the fortress and refuge of Rohan where Theoden takes his people to be safe. Theoden orders the women and children to get into the caves of Helm’s Deep, whilst the men fight.
The men of Rohan prepare for battle. It’s pretty grisly and grim. It does seem like there’s no hope. But Aragorn is determined to fight and to die for his people as he declares that there is always hope.
Soon the men of Rohan aren’t alone. They’re joined by another small army of elves led by Craig Parker as Haldir of Lothlórien. This is to honour the alliance between Elves and Men against Sauron.
The Uruk-Hai army approaches and arrives. They are pretty ‘massive’. The Uruk-Hai are divided into four categories. They include the swordsmen; the pikes men; the crossbow-men and the Berserkers.
The Battle of Helm’s Deep is very impressive. It’s a battle of emotional and epic proportions lasting for 45 minutes. It’s pretty exciting as the battle starts with our heroes winning against the Uruk-Hai.
But very soon, it goes downhill with the Uruk-Hai winning and it seems pretty hopeless. Will our heroes be victorious and defeat the enemy? Can our heroes charge out of Helm’s Deep in the end?!
TO BE CONTINUED…
The DVD special features of ‘The Two Towers’ are as follows. On Discs 1 and 2 of the Special Extended DVD Edition, there are four commentaries by various contributors. The four commentaries are ‘The Director and Writers’; ‘The Design Team’; ‘The Production/Post Production Team’ and ‘The Cast’.
‘The Director and Writers’ commentary features director/writer/producer Peter Jackson with writer/producer Fran Walsh and writer Philippa Boyens.
‘The Design Team’ commentary features production designer Grant Major; Weta Workshop creative supervisor Richard Taylor; conceptual designers Alan Lee and John Howe; supervising art director Dan Hennah; art department manager Chris Hennah and Weta Workshop manager Tania Rodger.
‘The Production/Post Production Team’ commentary features producer Barrie Osborne; executive producer Mark Ordesky; director of photography Andrew Lesnie; editor Mike Horton; additional editor Jabez Olssen, co-producer Rick Porras; composer Howard Shore; visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel; visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri; supervising sound editors Ethan van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins; animation designer Randy Cook; visual effects art director Christian Rivers; visual effects director of photography Brian Vant Hul and miniatures director of photography Alex Funke.
‘The Cast’ commentary features Elijah Wood; Sean Astin; John Rhys-Davies; Bernard Hill; Billy Boyd; Dominic Monaghan; Orlando Bloom; Christopher Lee; Miranda Otto; David Wenham; Brad Dourif; Karl Urban; Sean Bean; John Noble; Criag Parker and Andy Serkis.
Are there any Easter Eggs to look out for on this Special Extended DVD Edition of ‘The Two Towers’? Well, I’ll let you find out for yourself. 😀
DISC 3 – THE APPENDICES PART THREE – THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
Discs 3 and 4 of the four-disc Special Extended DVD Edition of ‘The Two Towers’ are ‘The Appendices’. These continue the story of the making of the ‘LOTR’ films. This time, these Appendices cover the making of ‘Two Towers’ from book to screen, with its in-depth behind-the-scenes material.
The first disc of ‘The Appendices’ for ‘Two Towers’ cover how challenging the process was of adapting the middle chapter of the trilogy from book to screen and the continuing story of Middle-Earth’s design. It was interesting from director Peter Jackson that ‘Two Towers’ was difficult to make.
There’s an introduction given by director Peter Jackson who explains briefly the difficulties of making ‘The Two Towers’ and what happens on the first disc of ‘The Appendices’ as well as the second disc. There’s a ‘PLAY ALL’ option that allows you to watch all documentaries on Disc 1, lasting for 3 hours.
The sections on this DVD are as follows. There’s ‘J. R. R. Tolkien – Origins of Middle-Earth’ looking into what inspired Tolkien to create the people and places of Middle-Earth. There’s ‘From Book to Script – Finding the Story’, looking at how the writing team adapted ‘The Two Towers’ book into film.
There’s the ‘Designing and Building Middle-Earth’ section which contains two documentaries including ‘Designing Middle-Earth’ and ‘Weta Workshop’. There are also design galleries that contain many pictures and photographs of the People and Realms of Middle-Earth, which is exciting indeed.
There’s a ‘Gollum’ section, looking into how the character of Gollum was developed. It contains the documentary, ‘The Taming of Sméagol’, as well as two video featurettes including ‘Andy Serkis Animation Reference’ and ‘Gollum’s Stand-In’. There’s also the design gallery for Gollum on this disc.
There’s a ‘Middle-Earth Atlas’, which is an interactive map that looks into the three journeys of the Fellowship characters in ‘The Two Towers’, featuring film clips from the movie. There’s also ‘New Zealand as Middle-Earth’, which is an interactive map with featurettes on the ‘LOTR’ locations in NZ.
DISC 4 – THE APPENDICES PART FOUR – THE BATTLE FOR MIDDLE-EARTH BEGINS
The second disc of ‘The Appendices’ for ‘Two Towers’ cover the cast’s involvement in the filming of the movie to the troubled post-production process before its release at the cinemas. I found the second disc of ‘The Appendices’ very enjoyable and interesting, especially when it got pretty chaotic.
There’s an introduction given by Elijah Wood who plays Frodo in ‘LOTR’. Elijah explains what happens on this disc, just like what director Peter Jackson did on the first ‘Appendices’ disc. For this, there are 3½ hours of documentary material which can be played in full using the ‘PLAY ALL’ option.
The sections on this disc include ‘Filming “The Two Towers”‘ which contains two documentaries. This includes ‘Warriors of the Third Age’ and ‘Cameras in Middle-Earth’ which again I enjoyed watching following on from ‘Fellowship’. There are also production photos to view in a gallery for this section.
There’s a ‘Visual Effects’ section with the ‘Big-atures’ sub-section, containing the documentary ‘Minatures’; design galleries and ‘The Flooding of Isengard’ animation featurette. There’s also the ‘Weta Digital’ documentary on the movie’s CGI effects, with design galleries of abandoned concepts.
There’s the documentary ‘Editorial: Refining The Story’, which looks into the editing process of ‘The Two Towers’ with director Peter Jackson, editor Mike Horton and additional editor Jabez Olssen. This is where it begins with how troubled that post-production process for ‘The Two Towers’ movie was.
There’s the ‘Sound and Music’ section that contains the two documentaries, ‘Music for Middle-Earth’ and ‘The Soundscapes of Middle-Earth’. There’s also ‘The Battle of Helm’s Deep’ Sound Demonstration, which I found very awe-inspiring with how they put together so many sound effects.
And there’s the finale documentary, ‘The Battle for Helm’s Deep is Over…’, which looks into the film’s release at premieres and cinemas and how the making-of story of ‘LOTR’ is drawing towards its conclusion. I was certainly looking forward to seeing more of ‘LOTR’ in the final movie of the trilogy.
TO BE CONTINUED…
On the original 2-disc DVD of ‘The Two Towers’, it contains the theatrical version of the movie on Disc 1. On Disc 2, there are promotional special features including documentaries, featurettes and trailers. These extras are also found on the Blu-ray of the Special Extended Edition for ‘Two Towers’.
There are two in-depth documentaries including ‘On the Set – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ and ‘Return To Middle-Earth’. There’s also a very special short film by Sean Astin called ‘The Long and Short of It’. There’s also ‘The Making of The Long and Short of It’ documentary afterwards.
There are 8 short ‘lordoftherings.net’ featurettes that look into the people and places of Middle-Earth. There are two exciting trailers; sixteen TV spots and a music video of ‘Gollum’s Song’, performed by Emilliana Torrini. There’s a preview of ‘The Two Towers’ Special Extended DVD Edition.
There’s also a behind-the-scenes preview of ‘The Return of the King’ and a preview of the ‘The Return of the King’ video game from EA games. These original special features from ‘The Two Towers’ DVD give me fond memories. I’m very pleased they’re now included on the Blu-ray versions.
‘The Two Towers’ is a superb second film in the ‘LOTR’ trilogy. It turned out to be the hardest of the three films for Peter Jackson and his filmmaking team to make, including the Battle of Helm’s Deep and creating Gollum. But all the hard work by the team put into this movie has really paid off so well.
The themes of hope and overcoming temptation and corruption are strongly evident throughout this film as well as the entire trilogy. I enjoyed watching ‘The Two Towers’ and couldn’t wait to find out what happens next with Frodo, Sam, Aragorn and all the other characters in final movie of the trilogy.
‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ rating – 10/10
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