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  Film Reviews: Still Questing Away: The Two Towers  

Sunday, December 29
Still Questing Away: The Two Towers
First, I must admit that I knew I was going to have some problems with this film from the get-go. See, we all have our childhood fears – the monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz,” clowns, large dogs, etc. My childhood fear centers squarely on Gollum. As children, we would watch the annual airing of cartoon version of “The Hobbit” on television, and every year, I would clutch onto my dad as Gollum howled “my precious” through eighteen gallons of saliva and row upon row of bad teeth.

The “Two Towers” has a lot to do with Gollum. Way too much, if you ask me, but he’s “a big part of the quest,” according to husband. Thank goodness that Tolkien saw fit to write in the character that most of my female friends have taken to calling “Hot Ranger Dude.” (This pronouncement is usually followed by husband rolling his eyes the futile correction, “his name is Aragorn.”)

Anyway, in order to prepare ourselves for “The Two Towers,” friend and I watched “Fellowship of the Ring,” the night before. This proved to be invaluable, as little time is wasted on rehashing the first film. I recommend this activity to anyone before seeing “The Two Towers.” It is not that the film will be incomprehensible, but key relationships may prove a bit confusing without the background material fresh.

We meet far more residents of Middle Earth in the “Two Towers.” Peter Jackson, proves an incredibly detail-oriented man, as he spares no details in making sure that these kingdoms, towers, living forests and armies be as authentic as possible.

In the “Two Towers,” Gollum’s presence is required, as he knows the back way into Modor. And, as much as I hate to admit it, there is a great deal of character development when it comes to Gollum. We do learn that the “we” he uses is not so much the royal “we” as it is due to the multiple personalities that the ring brought about in his crazed mind. We learn that he was once a Hobbit. Between moments of childhood fear, I may have had one or two moments of sympathy for this CGI character.

Of equal importance, the need for the destruction of the ring is further realized. This does much to move this series beyond the realm of uber-geek fandom and into the mainstream as epic tale. There are few that would benefit from the continued existence of the ring and far more that would suffer if it were to fall back into the hands of its original master.

Of note in this series is the use of digital effects. It would seem as if the whole concept of digital effects were invented solely for bringing Lord of the Rings to the big screen. Here, we find battle scenes that are made all the more better because of these effects. In an era of filmmaking where digital is used more often than not for bad (think Forrest Gump meeting JFK), or where it is used in lieu of good set design or character development (think Star Wars), Jackson seems to make digital an almost seamless part of the film.

The Usual:

What it’s Worth: Pay full-fare or matinee at a first-run theater with a great sound system. See it soon, before the film is relegated to the smaller screens.

Annoying Theater Goer: I’ve found that the more a film appeals to a certain hard-core fan-base, the more likely you’re to find that the audience is well-behaved. See, they’ve waited even longer than you to see the film, and want to take in the movie in the best environment possible.

Main Reason To See This Film: If the third film comes off as well as the first two, this will become the definitive “How To Do A Trilogy” for all filmmakers to come. Also, don’t tell husband, but this is a fantastic story in the reluctant-hero genre with something for everyone.

Main Reason Not To See This Film: If your childhood fear had anything to do with the talking trees in “The Wizard of Oz,” certain scenes may send you over the edge.

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Nudity: No.

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