‘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, 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 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 release was released and I couldn’t wait to see it. We soon saw the film at home when we came back and I 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 form a Fellowship to help him on his quest to Mordor. At the end, Frodo continues his journey with just Sam to Mordor.
The title refers to two specific towers belonging to the enemies of Middle-Earth. There’s Orthanc, the tower of Saruman in Isengard and Barad-dur, the tower of Sauron in the land of Mordor. Saruman and Sauron seek to destroy the world of men and our heroes must overthrow them.
As I said, I bought the original 2-disc DVD of ‘Two Towers’ in August 2003. But I got the four-disc Special Extended DVD Edition for Christmas, 2003. The film is 3 hours long containing 44 minutes extra footage. There’s a really helpful booklet containing information 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 extended with the following legend:
- *new scene
- **extended scene
Disc 3 and Disc 4 contain ‘The Appendices’ which are `making-of’ documentaries and extra material from the making of the film.
DISC 1 + DISC 2 – SPECIAL EXTENDED EDITION OF THE FILM
The story of ‘The Two Towers’ is divided into three sub-plots. There’s the Ring Quest with Frodo and Sam; the journey with Merry and Pippin and there’s the journey with 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 come across Andy Serkis as Gollum, a 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.
Dominic Monaghan as Merry and Billy Boyd as Pippin are captives of the Uruk-Hai following ‘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 world and meet Treebeard (voiced by John Rhys-Davies). Treebeard is an Ent – a shepherd of the forest – and 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 and builds armies of Uruk-Hai to terrorise the lands of Rohan nearby.
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 don’t seem to get anywhere.
The three companions meet up the Rohirrim, the Riders of Rohan. The Rohirrim are like Viking warriors with horses. They are led by Karl Urban as Eomer, who is King Theoden’s nephew in Rohan.
Eomer tells Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli that they destroyed the Uruks with no sign of the hobbits. The trio find where they burned the Uruks to discover the hobbits have entered Fangorn Forest.
Inside the forest, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli soon discover they’re not alone and visited by the ‘white wizard’ who turns out to be Ian MacKellen as Gandalf the White! Yes! Gandalf has returned!
Gandalf takes Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli to Edoras, capital city of Rohan. Edoras, which is a rural-Viking-like place 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 of his poison, and Theoden becomes youthful again.
Brad Dourif stars as Grima Wormtongu, King Theoden’s advisor. He has been feeding whispering words to weaken the king, as he secretly works for Saruman. Gandalf soon reveals his true colours.
Miranda Otto stars as Eowyn, White Lady of Rohan. She’s Theoden’s niece and a ‘shieldmaiden of Rohan’. Eowyn 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. There’s Shadowfax, a white stallion that Gandalf rides and Brego, a dark brown horse that Aragorn rides.
Theoden orders Edoras to be evacuated, whilst Frodo and Sam in Ithilien get caught by Faramir, which ends Disc 1.
Disc 2 continues with the people of Rohan making for Helm’s Deep. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli join Theodeon and Eowyn on the way to Helm’s Deep and Eowyn 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 whilst Eowyn protect the people to Helm’s Deep.
During the Warg battle, Aragorn gets caught in a fight with a Warg-Riider that sends him off a cliff. Aragorn manages to survive and ride on Brego the horse who finds him and heads 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.
Hugh Weaving appears as Elrond and has scenes with his daughter Arwen. Elrond tries to persuade Arwen not to stay with Aragorn but she is determined. He tells her what will happen if she does stay.
There is also a 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 a lovely flashback scene between him and Sean Bean as his brother.
Faramir seeks to win favour with his father and is upset by losing Boromir. When Faramir discovers Frodo has the ring of power, he seeks a chance ‘to show his quality’ by taking 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 – meet to discuss whether to go to war.
Pretty soon, the Ents make a decision which doesn’t please Mery. But then Treebeard what Saruman has done to the forest at Isengard and is 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 and Theoden has his men of Rohan 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, and it seems like there’s no hope. But Aragorn is determined to fight and die for his people and declares that there is always hope.
Soon the men of Rohan are not alone, as they are joined by another small army of elves led by Haldir of Lothlorien (Craig Parker). This is in honour of the alliance between Elves and Men against Sauron.
The Uruk-Hai army approaches and arrives and it’s pretty ‘massive’. The Uruk-Hai are divided into four categories. There are 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 starts off pretty exciting with our heroes winning. But it goes downhill with the Uruk-Hai winning and it seems pretty hopeless. Will our heroes be victorious and defeat the enemy?
TO BE CONTINUED…
The DVD special features of ‘The Two Towers’ are as follows. On both discs of the film, there are four full-length commentaries by various contributors. The four commentaries are ‘The Director and Writers’; ‘The Design Team’; ‘The Production/Post Production Team’ and ‘The Cast’.
Are there any Easter Eggs to look out for on this special extended DVD of ‘Two Towers’? I’ll let you find out for yourself.
DISC 3 – THE APPENDICES PART THREE – THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
The third and fourth discs of the four-disc DVD set are ‘The Appendices’ which is the continuing story of the making of the ‘LOTR’ films covering the making of ‘The Two Towers’ from book to screen.
The first disc of ‘The Appendices’ covers 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.
There’s an introduction by director Peter Jackson explaining briefly the difficulties of making ‘The Two Towers’. There’s a ‘PLAY ALL’ option that allows you to watch documentaries 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 containing many pictures and photographs of the People and Realms of Middle-Earth.
There’s a ‘Gollum’ section looking into how the character of Gollum was developed. It contains the documentary ‘The Taming of Smeagol’ as well as two video featurettes including ‘Andy Serkis Animation Reference’ and ‘Gollum’s Stand-In’. There’s also a design gallery for Gollum on this disc.
There’s a ‘Middle-Earth Atlas’, an interactive map looking into the three journeys in ‘Two Towers’; and ‘New Zealand as Middle-Earth’, 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’ covers the cast’s involvement in the filming of ‘Two Towers’ to the troubled post-production process before the movie’s release at the cinemas.
There’s an introduction by Elijah Wood (Frodo) explaining what happens on this disc. This disc contains 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 including ‘Warriors of the Third Age’ and ‘Cameras in Middle-Earth’ which again I enjoyed watching following on from ‘Fellowship’. There’s also Production Photos to view in a gallery in this section.
There’s a ‘Visual Effects’ section with the ‘Big-atures’ sub-section containing the documentary ‘Minatures’ with design galleries and ‘The Flooding of Isengard’ animation featurette. There’s also the ‘Weta Digital’ documentary on the film’s CGI effects and design galleries of abandoned concepts.
There’s the documentary ‘Editorial: Refining The Story’ which looks into the editing process of ‘Two Towers’ with director Peter Jackson and editor Mike Horton and how troubled that process was.
There’s the ‘Sound and Music’ section that contains the documentaries, ‘Music for Middle-Earth’ and ‘The Soundscapes of Middle-Earth’. There’s also ‘The Battle of Helm’s Deep’ sound demonstration.
And there’s the finale documentary ‘The Battle for Helm’s Deep is Over…’, looking into the film’s release at premieres and cinemas and how the making-of story is drawing towards its conclusion.
TO BE CONTINUED…
On the original 2-disc DVD of ‘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.
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 ‘The Making of The Long and Short of It’ documentary afterwards.
There are 8 short ‘lordoftherings.net’ featurettes looking 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.
‘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 film-making 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 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 I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next with Frodo, Sam, Aragorn and all the other characters in final film of the trilogy.
‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ rating – 10/10
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