2002 / Best Picture

Film #423: The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers (2002)

Moving swiftly on to the middle part of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy that being The Two Towers.

Of the three films, I definitely found The Two Towers the hardest to watch as it takes its sweet time getting to the majestic Battle for Helm’s Deep. There are several problems, most of them to do with the introduction of new characters; most of whom aren’t that interesting and seemingly are there to slow down the flow of the narrative. For example David Wenham’s Faramir briefly slows down Sam and Frodo’s journey to Mount Doom before letting them continue their journey. Merry and Pippin’s whole plot in the second film is possibly the dullest as they’re stuck travelling with the tiresome Treebeard. Meanwhile Aragon has trouble diverting the case of the pretty and assertive Eowyn; who is infinitely more interesting than his true love Arwen. However, thankfully there is one character that makes a difference and is to some the most memorable part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’m talking of course about Gollum; the slimy creature played with such relish by the fantastic Andy Serkis. Serkis’ debut as Gollum singled him out as the master of the motion capture suit; a legacy he has since cemented as Caesar in the Planet of The Apes films. The fact that Serkis has yet to be nominated for an Oscar for playing either character is a travesty and one that I hope will be rectified soon. Gollum’s inclusion in the Sam and Frodo plot also put some tension between the lifelong friends and gave this second film a bit of edge that the first one sorely lacked.

Aside from Serkis the only other new cast member who I’d single out is Bernard Hill as King Theoden who is initially possessed by Saruman. Hill was convincing as a worn out leader who’d let magic take over him and was equally at home when he was tasked with commanding armies in the film’s latter scenes. As I insinuated, The Two Towers was the toughest watch and was therefore the one film in the trilogy that I was surprised to see in the Best Picture category. Maybe the academy just wanted some sort of symmetry or they were just taken aback by the motion capture technology employed by Serkis. However, it’s clear that generally The Two Towers wasn’t as well-regarded as The Fellowship as it only received six nominations. Of those nods, most of which were in the technical categories, it only received two awards for sound effects editing and visual effects. While I understand that not every second instalment can be The Empire Strikes Back, I found The Two Towers dragged at times and I did honestly feel as if I’d never get through the Lord of The Rings. Thank God then for Serkis whose performance as Gollum saved the film for me and made genuinely excited to see the third and final film.


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