The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

I won't fill this review with autobiographical notes as I did in my review of Fellowship of the Ring. But I will reiterate that it's nearly pointless to review this film. If you liked Fellowship, you will surely see The Two Towers. If you didn't, you won't. Because although I enjoyed The Two Towers a bit more than its predecessor, it's hard to critique it as a separate work, as all three movies in the Lord of the Rings series were shot at once. This isn't a sequel as much as the second part of a single 10-hour film.

But yes, I did like it better. Maybe Tolkien's book is stronger than the first, maybe the film's epic sweep is more commanding, or maybe it's because Jackson and crew used that extra year of post production to perfect what they established with Fellowship.

The special effects are even more awe-inspiring, if such a thing is possible, but the real improvement is in the music. Howard Shore composed a great, Oscar-winning score for Fellowship, but he outdoes himself here, working in new sounds and elements and easing away from the bombastic main theme that featured too prominently in the first movie's soundtrack. Not only that, but he ditched the God-awful Enya; the vocalists in the Two Towers' score are from hipper names like Elizabeth Fraser, Sheila Chandra, and Emiliana Torrini. At this rate, Return of the King may have Björk performing the end credits song!

Anyway, while I admit that neither film struck a deep chord with me emotionally, I cannot deny that this entire series provides great entertainment, much adventure, and a fully-realized fantasy world. Even though George Lucas is sadly still at it, this trilogy is the real Star Wars of our times.

And I can't finish this review without mentioning the amazing achievement in creating Gollum, a miracle of computer animation (though Andy Serkis is well-lauded for his performance). Gollum was always the most fascinating character in the entire Rings saga, and he is easily the best thing in a very good film.