#16: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

When and how did I watch this?

May 21st, 2017, on DVD.

Had I seen this film already?

Yes.  Have you ever purchased a gift for someone, and then bought a second one for yourself because you liked it so much and got envious?  That’s what happened with my LOTR trilogy.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Regarded as the weakest installment of the series (which is like saying graham crackers are the weakest ingredient in s’mores), it is also the most televised and obviously the one I’ve seen the most. The film tracks the two main hobbits through the mountains as they attempt to approach Mordor, and cuts to the three main heroes, a side story involving the two minor hobbits, and also tracks the perils surrounding the country of Rohan. Like the other two installments, The Two Towers features a memorable battle for the ages.

What do I know about it now?

Approaching the famed Lord of the Rings trilogy, I am encountered with the daunting task of examining the films as objectively as possible and as standalone works, as I have done with all of the others. For the first ten minutes of the movie, I intensely scrutinized the content and looked for a back story, playing the role of total ignorance.  It appears Peter Jackson and the production company certainly concerned themselves with making sure their audience knew what was going on, even if they hadn’t seen The Fellowship of the Ring. Names were dropped everywhere; each character’s intentions were made clear, and we knew who and what they were before diving too deep into the story. They even gave us a map at key moments.  Whew. This is precisely what Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 failed to do, and allows the viewer to see this installment as the fantastic movie it is.  Like RushSaving Private Ryan, and The Matrix (certainly along with some others), The Two Towers had me in a sweat by the conclusion, and this one is even longer than the others. What a thrilling film, a compelling story, full of perfect coloring and stunning cinematography and sound and effects, brilliant acting peformances out of pretty much everyone, but namely Elijah Wood and Viggo Mortenson — this is truly a cinematic feast. The battle for Helm’s Deep has about 50 moments that must be seen for yourself.

What are some themes in the film?

Pride, temptation, revenge, integrity, discrimination (often playfully), destiny, sacrifice/humility, gender and age roles, trust

Did this affect me personally?

In addition to the myriad of “moments” in the Helm’s Deep battle, the conversations between Frodo and Samwise — along with those that take place in the entire trilogy — are some of the greatest and most moving dialogues in movie history. It’s a beautiful reminder of the value of friendship and loyalty.

Why is this ranked #16?

This film isn’t ranked higher because it isn’t the conclusion, and it features less action and development than the other two.  Viewers have also seen it on TV, most likely, and are overly familiar with this installment. We’re splitting hairs, though, because the previous and subsequent film are ranked very closely with this one; it’s a brilliant standalone work, and it resonates with fans all the same.

Did my wife watch/like it?

Much like myself, she’s been looking to arrive at this part of the IMDb Top 250 for a long time.  It was a treat for her as well.

Would I watch it again?

It might be one of the first movies I watch when I’ve finished viewing the list. Naturally, it will be watched immediately after Fellowship.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

There are those that are fans, and those that aren’t interested in the fantasy genre.  There really isn’t an in between.  That said, you’re missing out on some very human and noble concepts introduced in film that you won’t find in others.  If you like effects, this will satisfy. Obviously, I would recommend the whole trilogy from start to finish, but strangely, I think this might be the one to start with — it’s a nice introduction to what these films are all about.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Yes indeed.  It stands up just fine by itself with the likes of modern films like Forrest Gump and Gladiator as one of those full-spectrum films: high quality acting, different levels of tension throughout, brilliant effects and sound, and a rock-solid story. It covers a lot of ground. Let me also add that this is the highest ranking “weak” film in a series of films (Return of the Jedi is at #73; A Fistful of Dollars is #226).  You won’t find the Indiana Jones or Toy Story middle films on this list.  The only comparable series is The Godfather, which is ranked #2 and #3. The Lord of the Rings trilogy might be the best ever made.

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