To many like myself, the 'Lord of the Rings' films are incredible works of cinematic art that broke new ground, and proved to an audience of skeptics to "never say never". However, it doesn't go unnoticed that these are a bit of an acquired taste for some. To put it another way, how many people do you know who complain about how insanely boring these movies are?
I have to admit, that for as much as I love these movies, they do hit these long drags. It's my personal opinion that 'Two Towers' part 1 is probably the most significant one. To me, the general point of 'Two Towers' Part 1 is about opposing sides getting their Chess pieces into the right position. Part 2 involves the epic final battle, but we'll get to that in the next review. I have to admit that with this one, I can see where the "bored" people are coming from. It is a lot of walking, talking, and largely represents a sort of "calm before the storm".
When we last left our Fellowship of Nine, they had ultimately been separated into three groups. Now, full spoilers for 'Fellowship' lie ahead, so fair warning. Frodo (Elijah Wood), in possession of the ring, decides to take the journey into his own hands, and head off on his own to destroy the ring. This isn't before Samwise (Sean Astin) chases after him, however, and joins him our of sheer loyalty for his best friend. Here, they run into the creature Gollum (Andy Serkis), who was once known as Sméagol, and was once corrupted by the very ring Frodo has with him. More on this when I get to 'Return of the King' Part 1.
Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippen (Billy Boyd) were taken by a group of orcs known as the Uruk-hai, on the order given by White Wizard, Saruman (Christopher Lee) to find and capture the halfling (or Hobbit) who bears the ring (so, mistaken identity). This prompts Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) to chase after them, so as not to leave their fates in the hands of a bunch of filthy orcs. They know in their hearts Frodo still has the ring, and he's well on his way to Mordor to destroy it.
The sad news is, the Fellowship, once consisting of 9 strong is now down to a scattered 7, with Gandalf (Ian McKellen) believed to have been killed by a Balrog in the Mines of Moria, and Boromir (Sean Bean) getting used as a pin cushion by Uruk-hai leader, Lurtz (Lawrence Makoare). But while Frodo, Sam and Gollum are all just headed to a volcano with a piece of jewellery, there's much more on the horizon for the other two parties of the film. Some of that involves the reveal that Galdalf is alive, but white now (that's as opposed to his former grey, not his skin tone). I'm not 100%, but I THINK that means he's pretty much as powerful as Saruman now, when before, he was a few steps below? Correct me if I'm wrong.
Aragorn's group soon enter the realm of Rohan, where they meet Éomer (Karl Urban), who leads a group of Rohirrim who have been exiled by Rohan's King, Théoden (Bernard Hill). The King is under the influence of Saruman and his servant, Gríma Wormtongue (Brad Dourif). To make matters worse, Saruman is planning to use his Uruk-hai army to destroy Rohan. More will be covered in Part 2 about that. It's also in Rohan that Aragorn meets the lovely Eowyn (Miranda Otto); the King's daughter who becomes infatuated with him, not knowing he's pledged loyalty to his favourite Elf, Arwen (Liv Tyler). But again, more on all that later.
As for Merry and Pippin; they do manage an escape into the horrifying Fangorn Forest, where they meet an Ent named Treebeard (John Rhys-Davies) and... well, as far as boredom goes, these are those scenes. You ever see an Ent council meeting? It's something to behold. All that really needs to happen here is that Merry and Pippin have to try to convince Treebeard and the Ents to be allies in the upcoming war. This whole matter is spread over both discs and the other parts of the film are far more intriguing. Anyway, I'm going on and on here, and need to get to an actual review. More exposition later.
So, as you can see just by reading everything I've laid out, there's not actually a whole hell of a lot that happens in this part. Again, it's all about getting things into position and the calm before the storm. At the time of its release, however, there's was so much more of a big deal being made about how good everything looked. Peter Jackson had already proven to us that he can assemble a killer team of CG experts, but it wasn't until Gollum was revealed that these movies and their computer animated components would become legendary. Just as the picture up top suggests - he really is the star of this show.
And sure, Gollum looks amazing, but Andy Serkis goes through the ringer in both this and 'Return of the King' to being this character to life. I can still remember reading a newspaper article put out a few days before the film's release that mentioned him being the greatest technical character to exist since Yoda was introduced in 'Empire'. I thought that might be a stretch, but then I saw him in action. Treebeard also looked pretty amazing, but it wasn't enough to save such a dull character. And that's no one's fault, he's sort of essential to the story and written that way originally. This isn't like cutting out Tom Bombadil in 'Fellowship'.
Other that the creation of Gollum and a few odds and ends here and there, however, I would probably go so far as to say that this chapter is probably my least favourite of the total six. It feels a bit more like something you have to get through in order to really enjoy what lies ahead - it's the movie equivalent of eating your vegetables before dessert. It's not exactly bad, but you really just wanna get to the action. And trust me when I say that the Battle of Helms Deep in Part 2 is all the action you could have asked for at the time. It totally makes up for this rather dull start.