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LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS

SYNOPSIS:
Ring-bearing hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood) and his loyal hobbit friend Sam (Sean Astin) discover they are being followed by Gollum (Andy Serkis), who promises to show them the way to the black Gates of Mordor. Meanwhile, across Middle-earth, warrior Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), the Elf archer Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli the Dwarf (John Rhys-Davies) find their way into the Rohan kingdom, whose once great King Theoden (Bernard Hill) has fallen under Sarumanís spell. Eowyn (Miranda Otto), the niece to the King, is drawn to Aragorn, but Aragorn canít forget his love for Elf Arwen (Liv Tyler). Gandalf (Ian McKellen) who survived his fall, has returned more powerful as Gandalf the White. But Saruman (Christopher Lee), the evil white wizard has raised a huge army intent on destroying human civilization.


Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It is a mark of considerable achievement that a contemporary adult audience can take in its stride the talking and walking Treebeard and his fellow trunks in the middle of a vast film about Middle-earth and the threat to its survival. It struck me while watching The Two Towers that our everyday unsatisfied yearning for real heroes, combined with our wishful thinking for a little magic in life, make us susceptible to the grand story of the Ring and the hobbits, the wizards and the courageous Aragorns, the lovely elves, the hideous Gollum and all. The Two Towers, like The Fellowship of the Ring, has been brought to the screen with a single mindset: it must have been like this, that period of history we are now rediscovering somewhere beforeÖ.back then in the past. In fact, the film reminded me of the daydreams I had when studying history at high school. It seemed than that the world has always been a deadly, vicious place, tribes and nations fighting frequent savage battles for the right to keep or take territory, or proclaim religious victory. Battles inspired poets, heroes lived on in tales of their exploits. Only by idolising those heroes could we come to terms with the anguish of wars, or accept that there are always destructive, evil forces that cannot be disarmed by reason and compassion. So Tolkienís fantasy world of Middle-earth was drawn from very real sources, and Peter Jacksonís fiercely loyal and dedicated team has created a complex and compelling cinematic version of Tolkienís imagination. This film details the confrontation between the forces of Saruman and our heroes, but it retains its human scale for all the grand set pieces Ė and grand and violent they are. Yet note the consumer advisory: medium level violence. Jackson has given us a very real sense of the battles and that vicious, deadly hand to hand combat, but avoids actual blood and guts. The editing, sound and music replace those shots. Andrew Lesnieís cinematography and Howard Shoreís music provide additional layers for subconscious and emotional colours that cement the filmís mood and tone into our psyche. The extraordinary production design which won last yearís Oscar for Grant Major and Richard Taylor is expanded with awesome results, and the fusion of live action with computer generated images is spectacularly successful. Jackson and co have brought back the value and respect for the term epic cinema.†

Review by Louise Keller:
Darker and on an even larger scale than the first instalment, The Two Towers is an awesome spectacle that seamlessly integrates breathtaking visual and computer generated effects with its central story that even the smallest person can change the course of the world. The mammoth task that Peter Jackson has undertaken with the screen adaptation of J.R. Tolkienís much loved novel continues with the challenge for this central section of the story being that we follow the separate progress of three sets of characters. I must admit it took me a little while to pick up where the first film left off, especially with the story strand of the two hobbits that have escaped into the Fangorn Forest, where they get caught up with an ancient Treebeard tree. The walking/talking tree with the gnarled trunks and soulful eyes is a wonderful computer-generated character, but itís the deformed, dual-personality creature Gollum that is absolutely mesmerising. Although Gollum is a completely digital character, he is bewitchingly real. Taking actor Andy Serkisís body and voice design through motion capture photography, computer generated imagery and digital sound mixing, this repulsive, yet poignantly compelling creature is an extraordinary accomplishment. The scale of the climactic battle sequence at Helmís Deep is epic, as thousands of Uruk-hai soldiers storm the fortress. Viggo Mortensenís heroic warrior Aragorn replaces Frodo as the central character, and Aragornís dream segments with the exquisite Liv Tyler as his elfish dreamgirl are breathtakingly beautiful. Mortensen is a superb hero exuding great charisma beyond his dark good looks. Also breathtaking and a total contrast to the dark and intense battle scenes are those with the splendid horses, whose majesty is unrivalled. How could you ever forget the scene when an ethereal white horse gallops across an empty vista to Gandalfís call, long mane flying in the wind. Miranda Otto and David Wenham make welcome additions to the cast, and the small cameos by Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett make us anticipate their return in the final instalment. The Two Towers is a worthy continuation to the first film, and while we are once again dazzled by the complexity of Jacksonís vision, we are never overwhelmed by the vastness of scale, which only complements its integral heart.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0


THE TWO TOWERS interviews by Andrew L. Urban (Photo courtesy David Morgan)

FEATURE by Nick Roddick

LORD OF THE RINGS - INDEX

LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (M)Medium Level Violence
(US/NZ)

CAST: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Bernard Hill, Christopher Lee, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Brad Dourif, Andy Serkis, Karl Urban, Craig Parker

PRODUCER: Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson

DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson

SCRIPT: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, Peter Jackson (Based on the book by J.R.R. Tokien)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Lesnie, ACS

EDITOR: Michael Horton with Jabez Olssen

MUSIC: Howard Shore (composed, orchestrated, conducted)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Grant Major

OTHER: Special Make-up, creatures, armour, miniatures: Richard Taylor RUNNING TIME: tba

RUNNING TIME: tbc

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2002







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