The Two Towers (Extended Cut): From Book to Film, Still Underappreciated

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is the best Lord of the Rings story. Y’all are just too focused on Return of the King to admit it. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. But my point still stands.

The Two Towers movie has all the same advantages as Fellowship of the Ring. It trims all the fat from the book to deliver a much more accessible and engaging fantasy adventure for general audiences. Better yet, it brings all the phenomenal scenes from the book, from the Battle of Helm’s Deep to the attack on Isengard, to life with loving accuracy. It is a perfectly balanced, wildly enjoyable movie.

Even if it still has some of that rough late 90s/ early 2000s editing. Granted, the slow mo in this movie isn’t as choppy and strange as the first one. It at least doesn’t have those awkward zoom-ins. But still, it is strange.

Not as strange, however, as some of the visual effects. In that regard, this movie has aged a little worse than the other two. For example, in the scene where Frodo and Sam are interrogated by Faramir, it is super obvious that the former two are standing on a green screen. Not only do the two stand out like a sore thumb, but they also stand there and look around as if they have no idea what they’re supposed to be looking at. That scene is the worst of it, as no other scene is nearly that bad, but it still takes you right out of the story.

To be fair though: Gollum has aged pretty well. His model definitely still shows a little age, but in motion, next to Frodo and Sam, he looks pretty good! The model is of high quality and it’s animated well. Plus, it gives him an air of inhumanity, which aids itself super well to his character.

I’m also not super excited by how this movie started. The helicopter shots of the mountain with the distant shouts of Gandalf fighting the Balrog doesn’t add anything to the story for me. It feels more like a little ‘hey, remember the last movie?’ up until Frodo wakes up.

Which would be fine, if I hadn’t been marathoning every single one of these movies back-to-back.

In face of all this movie’s qualities, however, these issues are easy to forgive. All the practical effects have aged perfectly, all the actors are phenomenal, the action is incredible, and the music is just as amazing as before. It is still a rock solid movie, even if it isn’t much of an improvement over the first. Nor can it really compete with the third.

Although I’ll always argue that the Battle of Helm’s Deep is much better than the Battle of Minas Tirith in every conceivable way. But we’ll get to that.

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