Directed By: Peter Jackson
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen
Tag line: "The Journey Continues December 18th"
Trivia: Elijah Wood's real-life sister, Hannah, plays one of the refugees in the Helm's Deep sequence
The follow-up to 2001’s Fellowship of the Ring and the middle chapter in the Lord of the Rings saga, Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers is every bit as awesome as its predecessor, and features a battle sequence that’s among the finest ever filmed.
The Fellowship has been broken; Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin), in an effort to destroy the ring and defeat the Dark Lord Sauron, have left their comrades behind, determined to make the rest of the long journey to Mount Doom on their own. Along the way, the two encounter Gollum (Andy Serkis), the creature who once owned the ring. Hoping he can guide them to Mordor, Frodo forms an alliance with Gollum. But can he truly be trusted, or will Gollum attempt to kill his new “master” to take back what used to be his?
Meanwhile, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) are pursuing the Orcs that captured Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd). During their travels, they’re reunited with Gandalf (Ian McKellen), who survived his fight with the Balrog and is, as a result, more powerful than ever. Together, the four make their way to Rohan, a land in turmoil ever since its king, Théoden (Bernard Hill), fell under the spell of Wormtongue (Brad Dourif), an agent of the evil wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee). With the help of Théoden's niece, Éowyn (Miranda Otto), Gandalf and Aragorn free Théoden from Wormtongue’s control. Following his recovery, Théoden decides to move the entire population of Rohan to the stronghold at Helm’s Deep, where preparations are made to defend it from the massive orc army that’s on its way.
Along with the return of all the main characters, The Two Towers gives us a few new faces as well, chief among them Gollum, perfectly portrayed by Andy Serkis, who, by way of motion capture technology, brought the CG-enhanced creature convincingly to life. After making a brief appearance in Fellowship of the Ring, the treacherous Gollum becomes a full-fledged character in The Two Towers, and will figure prominently in the saga from this point out. Another computer generated character is Treebeard, leader of the Ents, a race of tree creatures that ultimately band together to fight Saruman. Voiced by John Rhys-Davies (who also plays Gimli), Treebeard is a truly remarkable creation, and the Ents’ battle against Sarumon’s forces is one of the film’s most spectacular scenes.
The key battle in The Two Towers, however, is the one that occurs at Helm’s Deep. Taking up a huge portion of the movie’s overall running time, the Battle for Helm’s Deep is as exciting as it gets (at one point, Legolas, having placed a bet with Gimli over which of them can kill the most orcs, rides a shield down a flight of stairs as if it were a surfboard, taking out Orcs on both sides of him with his trusty bow). Jam packed with action and high drama, the Battle for Helm’s Deep is considered by many fans the single best sequence in the entire trilogy.
As middle chapters go, The Two Towers ranks right up there with The Empire Strikes Back, carrying the story forward in tremendous fashion while, at the same time, building up the audience's anticipation and leaving them wanting more. Yet, even as a stand-alone film, The Two Towers, providing thrills aplenty, delivers the goods.