With the fellowship broken, hobbits Frodo (Wood) and Sam (Astin) continue on to Mordor to destroy The One Ring, while Merry (Monaghan) and Pippin (Boyd) escape into the forbidden forest. Reborn as a white wizard, Gandalf (McKellen) reunites with heir-to-the-throne Aragorn (Mortensen) elf Legolas (Bloom) and dwarf Gimli (Rhys-Davies), before heading to Rohan to warn the King (Hill) that war is coming. Meanwhile, as The Ring weighs heavier on Frodo, the creature Gollum (Serkis) tags along…
With all three instalments filmed as one huge undertaking, The Two Towers is less a sequel to The Fellowship Of The Ring than it is a seamless continuation. The middle act of what is essentially a nine-hour film (or more, if you’re watching the extended versions) that has been split into three parts, it’s not a story in its own right – and nor was it intended to be. Opening with a breathtaking camera swoop over snowy mountains while Howard Shore’s stirring score sets the scene, it’s another skillfull marriage of immersive storytelling and thrilling spectacle.
In terms of the former, Peter Jackson and his writers do well to juggle new characters with existing ones. In terms of the latter, the movie’s highlight is undoubtedly the battle at Helm’s Deep which sees a few hundred men defend themselves against 10’000 creatures sent to obliterate them. It is, quite literally, the definition of epic filmmaking. Still, for all The Two Tower’s many qualities it belongs to Gollum, who’s brought to life by the combination of Andy Serkis’ performance and pioneering motion-caption technology. Okay, so the walking trees are a little silly, but Jackson gets so much right elsewhere that they’re easy to forgive.
Less a sequel to The Fellowship Of The Ring than it is a seamless continuation, The Two Towers is another immersive marriage of stirring storytelling and stunning spectacle.