(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
One Sentence Plot Summary: The Fellowship, down two individuals, is split into three different stories, with the biggest one leading to a major battle that is the alpha and envy of all future battle sequences.
Why It’s on the List: Even though this is a continuation of the story, The Two Towers feels like a completely different film as the fellowship gets divided into three stories. New characters are introduced and feel as important to the trilogy as anyone else. I’ll talk about Andy Serkis later, but Bernard Hill really stuck out on a recent watch. The guy manages to play a helpless old man (assisted by CGI and make-up undoubtedly) before transitioning into playing a king who is somehow both too arrogant for his own good and ignorant of the real threat facing his people.
I also have to give a ton of credit to Elijah Wood who somehow manages to play varying degrees of tired incredibly well. He’s had a bit of a tough time in some ways, but I think this has always been the perfect role for him. He plays someone who is naïve to the ways of the world yet savvy enough to operate in it. On the one hand, he cannot fight, but he also has to be seen being tough. It’s a wonderful achievement and one that carries through into Return of the King as well.
Some of the hobbit stuff feels forced and drawn, which is why I think this is the weakest of the three films. Helm’s Deep really elevates and provides a natural conclusion. Even though there are two huge battles and a giant spider to come, we had to see the heroes get a small bit of redemption under tough circumstances.
*Same issues with the first film. Nothing new.
MVP: Peter Jackson again. He divides the movie into thirds and does his best to make each part feel significant. It does not always work, but this is a director who wants the audience to care about Mary and Pippin as much as Sam and Frodo. There are some major logistical challenges involved with this specific movie, those being Gollum and Helm’s Deep. Helm’s Deep is an incredible feat and Game of Thrones botching their biggest battle sequence almost makes this look even better in retrospect. Gollum was an incredible choice (more on him shortly), and he adds so much to the Sam/Frodo dynamic. Jackson again made all the right choices, and this could have easily all gone wrong
Best Performance: Andy Serkis and the animation team behind Gollum are the clear winners here. No doubt about it. Gollum was barely in the first film, and he feels like an essential aspect of the trilogy just after this movie alone. The scene where he has to act against himself is special filmmaking. Serkis has made a career out of playing these roles, but this still may be him at his best.
Best Quote: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something. -Sam
Is there a sequel? Again, duh.
Listen to Jerome’s podcast review of this movie.