Twitter Plot Summary: The journey to dispose of the ring continues, now featuring talking trees and a siege at Helm’s Deep.
Five Point Summary:
1. Gollum, being Gollum. Being Smeagol. Then being Gollum again.
2. The smell of manflesh.
3. The Black Gate. That didn’t take lo… oh, they need to go around it.
4. The siege of Helm’s Deep. Epic stuff.
5. Well that’s clearly leading into the final part…
The Two Towers begins where Fellowship of the Ring left off – the Fellowship is broken, the greed of Man has once more almost brought matters to a swift conclusion, and now Frodo and Sam are on their own as they get ever closer towards Mordor. Except they’re not on their own, as they are joined by Ring-obsessed former owner Gollum/Smeagol. Gollum is determined to get the Ring back from Frodo due to his previous dalliances with Bilbo and the obsession that has now taken over his soul. Gollum remains a marvel of computer generated imagery even to this day, the on-set motion capture work of Andy Serkis brings him to life in a way that simple CGI character design is currently incapable of doing.
In the other story strands, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas are on the trail of Merry and Pippin, who were taken by the Uruk-Hai at the end of Fellowship, but are soon distracted by matters in nearby Rohan that will have an impact on Frodo’s journey, and Merry and Pippin encounter the Ents, a race of tree beings, and enlist the help of Treebeard of the Ents in order to tackle the wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) who has joined forces with Sauron. All in all there’s a lot going on, the stakes grow ever larger and yet it still has plenty of character development interspersed throughout.
The Two Towers features many of the best lines of dialogue in the trilogy, with the main highlight being the Uruk-Hai smelling man-flesh. The humour content also switches from Merry and Pippin and flips to the fighting banter between Gimli and Legolas. Despite the odds standing against them and the possibility that they could be killed at any moment, their banter remains lighthearted and fresh whilst more dramatic moments are gradually dished out to Merry and Pippin.
The central set piece this time round is the siege of Helm’s Deep, as the fighting men of Rohan defend their positions against a massive army of Uruk-Hai and other orc-based creatures. Taking place at night in a downpour of rain, the battle is gorgeously shot and wonderfully choreographed. The vast swathes of Uruk-Hai look imposing and it’s clear that the odds are heavily stacked against those besieged in Helm’s Deep. The work by Weta, besides Gollum, is impressive enough although is starting to show its age these days as some of the CGI characters look slightly unrealistic as they run from A to B. There’s also minor issues in terms of character scaling, specifically between the hobbits and the larger characters and the use of genuine little people against the main actors, but this is a very minor gripe overall.
The Two Towers perfectly escalates the threat posed by Sauron and his minions, whilst maintaining a close eye on each of the characters we grew to love (or at least tolerate) in the opening instalment. It expands upon the quest narrative established in the first movie and sets up many threads for the third and final film. Each character has a purpose and a reason for being used in the narrative, and when you combine this level of deft storytelling with the amazing New Zealand scenery, you can’t go wrong.