Frodo, Sam, and Gollum lie on the ground together. image credit: New Line Cinema

Movie Review: The Two Towers (2002) *****

I have nothing but biased opinions about Lord of the Rings. I think of this as the greatest movie trilogy of all time, and I won’t listen to any opinions that say otherwise.

Of the three movies, whichever one I’m watching at the moment is my favorite. Today, The Two Towers was my favorite. It’s got some of my favorite parts of the trilogy, anyway: great speeches surrounding Helm’s Deep, the most amazing satisfying battle, gorgeous goth Arwen, a score that makes me cry evry tiem, the Dead Marshes, po-ta-toes, “What Do Your Elf Eyes See?”, Faramir proving himself stronger than Boromir, and on and on and on.

It’s difficult to review any individual part of the trilogy without the rest, since they’re a cohesive unit. Nine to twelve hours of flawless filmmaking, depending on what edition you’re watching. (I always watch the Extended Edition.)

You’d expect the middle movie to be the saggiest entry, since you’ll find saggy middles throughout most movies, series, books, and media in general. There’s definitely some parts that stretch out longer than they need to. I’m not exactly bolted to my chair with all the Ent stuff — even though I love the Ent stuff too! — and everything with freeing Rohan from Wormtongue’s sway feels a little bit like a side quest you don’t *really* want to do in the game. I also feel like things slow down a lot once Frodo is with Faramir. It’s more of a jarring moment of quiet than a moment of needed respite from the high energy of the fighting going on elsewhere.

But I’m really straining here to find something balanced to say, and also kind of lying, because I love every moment of this.

I mean, c’mon. This movie starts with Gandalf fighting the Balrog and ends with Gandalf bringing Eomer’s men to rescue Helm’s Deep from the brink of death. It’s incredible. Why don’t I have a fell beast? I deserve a fell beast.

It’s awesome to see the effects after more than twenty years too. Nothing looks as realistic as it felt at the time (I was 14), but it doesn’t matter. There’s a really cohesive artistic vision happening here. Everyone was given space to do their jobs right, and that means the bigatures, nascent mo-cap, photo composition, and other CG all come together to look *right* even as it ages.

Truly this is amazing cinema, amazing fantasy, and I think I could rewatch this trilogy every week for the rest of my life without losing the excitement. I get such chills throughout Helm’s Deep, it almost hurts. It’s that good.

(image credit: New Line Cinema)

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