Ossus Library Index
Fantasy Movie Index


Directed by Peter Jackson
(2002, New Line Cinema)

The Lord of the Rings, part 2

Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler, and John Rhys-Davies

Gollum leads Frodo towards Mordor, as Aragorn prepares for an assault by Saruman's forces.



-- 17th viewing (Blu-Ray)
December 17th, 2021


I've said it before- I don't like many things about how they twisted the story in this movie, but the rest of it is magnificent. It only pales in comparison with the first and third movies. Otherwise, it's still a near masterpiece.


-- 16th viewing (Blu-Ray)
April 30th, 2021


The introduction of so many new characters can be confusing to the uninitiated, but knowing these stories so well, I loved the personalities that we see, from Eomer to Treebeard and especially Faramir and Theoden. It opens the world so much. I understand how people can see this as a very slow movie, and it is much slower than the first or third ones, but to me it's worth it. The extended edition adds so much depth that it improves many aspects. While I could have done without the ent poetry, I think the extra scenes with Merry and Pippin are essential.


-- 15th viewing (Theatre with live music)
February 28th, 2020


Live! An amazing event, seeing the instruments on stage, while watching the movie on the big screen. The orchestra must have been 200 pieces, with another 200 choir members in the back. Insane. I love the music from this movie, and it was so worth going to see this. We had the best view of the strings, which dominate the movie, but the horns were terrific. And then there was the choir, which was haunting. But it was the two soloists, who vocalized the elvish tunes that stole the show. Wow. But there were other soloists, of drums, or violin, and more, who were amazing. The whole thing was a surreal experience, immersed in the music. The movie was the theatrical cut, which was fine, because it's long enough for the performers, though I could have gone on forever listening to them.


-- 14th viewing (Blu-Ray)
November 10-11th, 2017


-- 13th viewing (Blu-Ray)
March 11-12th, 2016


There are moments in all three movies that make me feel all mushy, and can even bring a tear to my eye. I'm especially drawn to moments of extreme loyalty, and in this movie, it occurs at the end, when Sam talks about stories and the heroes, and why they are considered heroes. Having him talk about Samwise the Brave, and Frodo telling him that he was serious that his namesake wouldn't have gotten far without Sam, and hearing Sam repeating it under his breath, takes my breath away. Sam stays at Frodo's side at all costs, and that is heroic.


-- 12th viewing (Blu-Ray)
September 12-13th, 2015


I've grown used to the faults of this movie, and now just go along for the ride. There is so much to like about the movie that it's worth simply ignoring strange plot developments such as the Nazgul not noticing Frodo holding out the ring to him, or character changes, making Faramir so much weaker than in the book by not being tempted by the ring. The riders of Rohan are so well developed, the movie showing such a beautiful place, is worth watching for all by itself.


-- 11th viewing (DVD)
July 17th, 2011


Just on the heals of watching the theatrical edition, I get the Blu-Ray version of the extended Two Towers. The additional scenes make this movie even better. Strangely, as I've mentioned below, I don't find that the high-definition version makes this movie any better. Perhaps it's because, unlike the first movie, which had a lot of green in it, this one is mostly browns and muted hues. The story is getting darker, and the colors are following it. However, even Fanghorn forest and the grasslands didn't seem to shine out like The Shire did. Still, the extended scenes make the movie so much better than the theatrical edition, that I can almost forgive the transgressions listed below!


-- 10th viewing (Blu-Ray)
January 27th to 28th, 2011


I found that, unlike The Fellowship of the Ring, this movie didn't get any better on blu-ray. I think part of this was due to the lack of color in most of the scenes. Whereas the Shire had so many different shades of green, as well as a more positive outlook, this movie was mostly greys and browns, as the world descends into chaos and darkness -intentionally, I think. Even Fanghorn forest was a dark and dull green -contrast this with Lorien in the first movie, which was bright green and seemed graceful.

I guess the points mentioned below annoy me more and less depending on my mood or level of fatigue, because the illogical departures from the novel, such as going directly to Helm's Deep, allowing Faramir to take the ring as far as Osgiliath, having Frodo show the Nazgul the ring, and especially having Treebeard decide not to attack Saruman, followed by his rash change of mind, really grated on my nerves this time! Still, the movie was amazingly made, and the characters were, with the exceptions mentioned above, well-designed. And, even if I didn't find the upgrade to blu-ray really worth it in this theatrical edition, the movie is still absolutely stunning visually.


-- 9th viewing (DVD)
July 11th and 19th, 2010


As with the Fellowship of the Ring theatrical version, this one loses a lot of subtlety by missing the extended scenes, but in general, the movie is fulfilling enough. As mentioned below, it is truly beautiful -isn't that view of Fanghorn forest against the Misty Mountains great? My favorite scene, however, comes almost at the end, talking about Samwise the Brave and their role in stories. My least favorite would be Saruman looking impotent as the Ents attack.


-- 8th viewing (DVD)
December 14th and 16th, 2008


There is so much to like about this movie, especially in the way it was made, and how beautiful it is. I complain a lot about so many things, but it is really nitpicking, because the movie is great.


--7th viewing (DVD)
December 2nd and 3rd, 2007


I still have the typical complaints about this movie, most importantly Pippin tricking Treebeard into going south (having Treebeard say it doesn't make sense to him is like admitting the writers didn't have any better ideas, either). But the movie is so beautifully made, and I have seen it so often now, that it doesn't really matter at this point. The movie is enjoyable throughout, with incredible music and great characters.


-- 6th viewing (DVD)
October 11th to 12th, 2006


One of the aspects that I had not really approved of (among the many changes) in this movie was the idea of sending Arwen away to the Undying Lands. This, of course, never happens in the book. But listening to Elrond speak, I realize what he was doing, and I don't object nearly as much as I used to. They both know that he has the power of foresight. He uses that to greatest effect to convince her that she will despair after Aragorn dies. When she has a prophecy of her own in Return of the King, she finds that he only told her half of the story -that she can take joy in her son. The actions now make more sense, and although there is little reason to keep the sequence, there is no reason to object to it, either.

As I mentioned in my review of the novel, the world of Rohan is so much larger than depicted in the movie. It is not Eomer who saves the day at the end, but the other horsemen that Gandalf rounded up from the rest of Rohan. But it was necessary to keep the cast manageable, so this works fine, too.


-- 5th viewing (DVD)
July 4th and 5th, 2004


The commentary by director Peter Jackson and the two writers was much less inspired and enjoyable than the one that was included on the Fellowship of the Ring extended DVD.

I think they just didn't have enough to talk about, and I don't understand why. They would go on for long moments about frivolous stuff, or ramble about weird things like a fictitious TV spinoff, when other, more interesting, things were happening on screen.

More than half of the relevant commentary (possibly much more) was already discussed in the DVD extras, so I became impatient with their delivery, as anybody who has watched discs 3 and 4 would know all this information, like Viggo Mortensen breaking his toe, or the numerous anecdotes about Gollum.

The most interesting parts were where the movie diverged from the book, in all the places that I've mentioned in previous viewings. In nearly all cases, I disagreed with their reasoning. For example, Aragorn falling off the cliff after the warg scene. They ask what was the point of the attack, if nothing serious happens? To which I answer, what was the actual point to that scene, anyway? There seems to be a good reason that it wasn't part of the book. They say that Faramir's refusal of the Ring diminishes its power, that it is "death to the character of the Ring", but I disagree. The same could be said when Sam gives it back to Frodo in The Return of the King. So there are at least two people in the world who can refuse it -Sam and Faramir. Because of their ramblings on other topics (which we have heard before), we don't get to hear anything about why they had Faramir change his mind in Osgiliath, which I don't see as any different as changing his mind in the waterfall cave. Finally, by transplanting Frodo's offer of the Ring to the Witch King to an earlier portion of the book, rather than in The Return of the King, they have altered the dynamics of the war, though it doesn't have any repercussions. The Nazgul thought the Ring was with Aragorn, and now it has seen the Ring in Osgiliath, instead!

The only explanation that I agreed with fully was the addition of the elves to Helm's Deep, and the sacrifice paid by Haldir.

They go on to mention that nobody complained about the change to Eomer's character coming at the last moment to save the day. I think the reason for that is we would have needed yet another set of characters introduced into an already complicated movie to take his place. At least we knew Eomer from earlier in the film.

There were some interesting tidbits of information, but it really felt like they didn't come in with much preparation on what to say about the movie. Compared to the fascinating stuff we learned in The Fellowship of the Ring commentary, I was very disappointed with this one.

On the other hand, the visuals of the actual movie, and the music that came through in the pauses in conversation, were spectacular, as usual. Next time, I will watch the movie in its normal form.


-- 4th viewing (DVD)
January 9th and 10th, 2004


There is so much detail in these movies, that it's impossible to truly appreciate them on the first viewing. Seeing the extended cut for the second time, I noticed so many little things, whether it was orc flying off screen, or little looks that pass between people.

I have to rethink my ideas about Faramir, once again. As mentioned below, I thought the addition of his scene with Boromir in flashback added a huge amount to the depth of his character, but I still thought his turnaround was too quick at the end. However, I now think that his turnaround actually occurred earlier, when Sam told him that his brother was too weak to resist the ring. It is a very powerful look on Faramir's face at that moment, as he realizes that if his "stronger" brother couldn't bring the Ring to Gondor, then he shouldn't, either. Then things get out of control, so he can't turn the Hobbits loose until later.

I still love watching the last few chapters, especially the Huorns doing whatever they are doing to the orcs, Merry and Pippin finding the storehouse, the orc count, and Faramir's goodbye.

And once again, the music really moved me, especially in the last hour. I love the March of the Ents, and Forth Eorlingas.

Finally, Sam's discussion with Frodo at the very end, wondering if they would be put into song or story, actually brought tears to my eyes, because it was so full of emotion. Samwise the Brave, indeed!

Having watched all three movies, now, I can definitely say that this is the weakest one, but the extended cut is still awesome and amazing, for all that. Watching the armies meet after the Deeping Wall is breached was amazing, but nothing compared to what we see in Return of the King. Seeing Eomer and the horsemen riding into the sea of orcs was incredible, but it, too, is nothing compared to what comes later.

There are so many extras on the extended version of the DVDs that it is difficult to go into any depth on any particular item. Nor, I think, would I want to.

The third disc contains more information on the design of the movies, following up on what we learned about The Fellowship of the Ring in those appendices. Most interesting was the feature on Tolkien himself, especially the critique of the books, saying how he would never get published in this form today. The non-sequential separate books in the last two parts of the Trilogy have always bothered me, especially after seeing how much the two parts fit together in this movie.

Designing the story explains some of how the movie differs from the book, and is very interesting, but I still disagree with their motivation to make the change to Faramir (though no longer the change itself, as mentioned above), and Treebeard's sudden change of heart is not touched upon. I noticed (below) the homage to Old Man Willow, which was pretty cool.

Disc three showed how insane these people are, who made the movie. The scouting and building of the locations cannot be described by a lesser word! To scrape a hilltop bare, build an entire village, then break it down again and replace the foliage is just nuts! But it looked so great! It just shows how good a movie can look when the effort is put into it -real effort, not computer graphics.

However, the computer graphics team also outdid themselves on this movie, specifically with Gollum. I knew the actor put a lot of work into the performance of Gollum, but I didn't know how much of him was really in the movie: all of him. I was completely amazed to see how they actually used the actor in the shots, especially the split-personality scene, which was amazing when compared side-by-side with the actor.

Disc four, on the other hand, shows how insane the actors were in making this movie. I don't like the way the Aragorn actor mumbles his way through interviews, but he definitely gave an amazing performance, through all of the breaks and scrapes he got. He was like a real warrior, not an actor! The extras in the orc costumes were also amazing. I can't believe how uncomfortable they had to have been during weeks of forced rain.

I have been enjoying the sound and music features on several disks, as this is a recent effects realm to open up. It was insane (again) how they were parsing the music together at the last second. I especially like to see how these guys create various sounds. The multi-"angle" sound show for Helm's Deep was amazing, sometimes able to show just arrows swishing, or just bellows, and so on.

The interviews were very interesting, more so when they were interspersed with actual behind-the-scenes footage. I loved Merry and Pippin, who were hilarious both on-set and in the interviews, especially when they were stuck in Treebeard for so long! I can't believe how gorgeous Eowyn is, even off-screen. One of the most beautiful actresses I've ever seen.

I was happy to see that there were no spelling mistakes in the chapter booklet of this movie, unlike the numerous ones in Fellowship. The only grammatical mistake comes in the introduction. Unfortunately, this booklet is much more blurry than the previous one, and I don't understand why.


-- 3rd viewing (DVD)
November 18th, 2003


As I expected, this movie was completely different in its extended form. As with The Fellowship of the Ring, the extended scenes alter the movie, giving it a different tone than the original theatrical cut. I still didn't expect it to improve so much -at all.

This version of the movie makes it absolutely amazing. There is so much new stuff, which explains so much of what goes on. Where the extended cut of The Fellowship of the Ring felt like an expansion of the original movie, this one feels like the real version. It feels like the director made this movie first, then cut it down to the theatrical size, instead of the other way around. The theatrical cut now feels like I was watching it on network TV, where critical scenes were cut out to make room for commercials and a fixed time slot.

We get so much more time away from the war, with all of the hobbits. We see much more of the journey to Mordor, and much, much more time with the ents. The best scene in the extended version, however, has to be the return of Boromir, and his relationship with his brother and father. We finally get some dramatic motivation for Faramir to take the Ring to Gondor. We see how his father, Denethor, thinks he is weak, no matter what he does. Boromir is always defending Faramir, but that makes him look even weaker. No wonder he decides to take the Ring with him. We also see how the forces of Sauron take the city of Osgiliath again, when Faramir is in charge -again. Denethor will not be pleased in Return of the King.

There is also a lot more of Treebeard and Merry and Pippin. Most of this adds comedy to the story, especially the very funny Entdraught scene, where they actually grow taller because of the special water among the ents. That scene also has a tribute to the Tom Bombadil scene that was never seen in Fellowship: instead of Old Man Willow swallowing up Frodo and Sam, this time an old tree swallows the other hobbits, and Treebeard rescues them. Cool. Later, there is still no explanation for Treebeard's about-face on the issue of war, but I loved watching the trees march out towards Helm's Deep.

At the very end of the movie, there are four whole new scenes! One, the comedy, shows Merry and Pippin finding a storehouse of food and tobacco. Another shows a very chilling scene where the huorns destroy the retreating orc army from Helm's Deep.

There are new scenes showing Frodo and Sam using the elvish rope, additional scenes where we get to pity Gollum more, and where we learn more about Aragorn, in that he's very long-lived, like the Numenoreans, that Sauron is afraid of him, and that Eowyn is a terrible cook! Another new scene shows us that the horse that wakes Aragorn is not just any horse, but the one he had Eowyn set free earlier, because it belonged to her dead cousin. It is repaying him for his kindness, which is a wonderful addition.

This version of the movie is a feast for the eyes and ears. There is so much new material that it really makes for a better-paced movie. I didn't see the time go by. The battles take on less of an importance in this version, because very little was added to them, and so much was added to the other stories. The new music continues the tradition of holding onto the emotions.

As far as I am concerned, this is the movie of The Two Towers -the other one doesn't exist anymore.


-- 2nd viewing (Theatre)
March 23rd, 2003


I don't know if there is really much that I can add to my comprehensive review, below. It was certainly a joy to see this film for the second time, and I felt much the same this time as the first time I saw it.

Gollum still stole the show, especially during his split-personality talk. He seemed so happy after he lost the Gollum personality and became, for a while, Sméagol. His complaints about Sam ruining good food by cooking it was hilarious. I still can't wrap my brain around the scene in Osgiliath, however. I don't really mind Faramir's change of character, except that he seems to come "back to the light" too quickly, but I can't figure out Frodo and the Nazgul scene. It just doesn't make sense from a plot standpoint. It really makes Sauron look stupid for not going after the ring. However, I keep wondering how Sauron doesn't feel the ring nearby when Sam puts it on in Shelob's lair, which we will see at the beginning of Return of the King (or am I remembering it wrong?).

Merry and Pippin's role was still the most wanting, as whenever we returned to their plot, I kept thinking to myself, "oh, yeah- them". Fortunately, I liked Treebeard and the other Ents this time. I suppose my dislike was more in expectation, and after checking out the description in the books, I found they were quite representative, after all. However, my second complaint about the movie is Treebeard's about-face in the light of Isengard's destruction of the forest. How did he not know about this before? He also contradicts himself by acting rather hastily. I thought the end of Isengard was terrific, though. It was a real joy to watch the ents tear the place apart, even if they couldn't touch the actual indestructible tower.

The majority of the movie deals with Aragorn and the people of Rohan, and this was quite enjoyable, even the part where Aragorn gets thrown off a cliff. The music in that section was the best part of it.

I can't believe that I didn't mention Eowyn in my review, below. She was absolutely stunning -true beauty, and much more beautiful than Arwen. It's no wonder that Aragorn is tormented by her. The fact that she can lead her people, and is a true fighting woman makes her even more attractive!

The wargs were really neat and quite realistic to behold, especially as they charged directly into the horses of the Rohirrim, taking them down. The rest of the battles, while epic, were rather typical, except for some maneuvers that were reserved for the world of Middle-Earth. Enjoyable, but I hope the battle of the Pellenor Fields will be a little more personal.

I've listened to the soundtrack CD over and over since first watching the movie, and I think I like it even better than the music from The Fellowship of the Ring! The theme of Rohan is really beautiful, as are several of the other themes, as when Aragorn is rescued by Arwen's "Breath of Life". I also love the tune called "Gollum's Song", which is eerily reminiscent of the character, and has words that make us pity him as misunderstood, as we do in the film.

I really can't wait for the Extended DVD version of this movie. I'm sure it can only grow on me. The characters didn't get too much room to grow and change in this film, as it really only showed us how the world is deteriorating, falling under the spell of evil. Fortunately, there is hope, and we will see Sam, Aragorn and (hopefully) Pippin take charge in the next film.


-- First viewing (Theatre)
December 26th, 2002


Visually very appealing, with many strong characters. However, this movie was nowhere near as interesting or satisfying as The Fellowship of the Ring.

The first film brought everything together, introducing us to Hobbits and Middle-Earth. It didn't do a good job of introducing the Elves and Dwarves, as we find ourselves suddenly in the company of Legolas and Gimli. But it was emotionally satisfying, with several great themes, the most powerful being loyalty, especially among the Hobbits.

This film, by contrast, gives us plenty of time to get to know Gimli and Legolas, but doesn't have much more in the way of character growth. There is very little "goodness" to the world, as we miss out entirely on anything from the Shire, and the innocents who live there. Of course, most of this is a failing of the book, as well, which is much darker, and much more interested in warfare.

The major complaint that I have heard about this film is the severe divergence from the book that it is based on. I don't think that complaint would have been so forcefully put forward if Fellowship of the Ring hadn't been so faithful to its original source. Fortunately for me, I don't remember the book all that well, having last read it over ten years ago, now. Others have jogged my memory, however, requiring me to come to terms with the new scenes. Many are very interesting and welcome (though not necessary); others have me scratching my head, wondering why they were added. I suspect that the DVD will give us some of the answers to that.

This brings up another point, which is the spoiling we got with the Fellowship of the Ring extended DVD. After watching this film, we began wondering what extended scenes would be added to the Two Towers DVD next November! That's a terrible thing to think of when the movie is only a week old in theatres!

As with the book, this film has three storylines that do not mix, following from the breaking of the Fellowship at the end of the last movie. I liked (and expected) the continued use of a continuous timeline, as we get to see Frodo and Sam at the same time as Aragorn, and Merry and Pippin, instead of breaking it into the dramatically untenable two parts that force us to wait for Frodo's story.

Frodo and Sam make their way to Mordor. That single line sums up all of what happens in their part of the story. But it doesn't tell everything. This passage felt like it received very little screen time, but I think that is a function of how well it was made. I felt like I barely saw Frodo and Sam, but that is only because every scene they were in they were upstaged by the other character, Gollum. It is unfortunate that we know that Gollum was created by computers, because he is so very real! He also steals every single scene he is in, because he is a more emotional actor than either Frodo or Sam. Just watching him interact with those two, or (even better) with himself kept me completely fascinated. The best scene in the entire movie was Gollum talking with Sméagol, with complete emotion, both good and evil. Another was his fish-slapping song in the Forbidden Pool at Ithillien, which was truly hilarious! No wonder Frodo began to pity the creature.

Sméagol leads the two Hobbits through the Dead Marshes, to Mordor, where they cannot enter. He then professes knowledge of a secret entrance. This is where in the book he makes his decision to trade them to Shelob; which comes a lot later in the movie. Again, I am not entirely sure why that change was made, but in a dramatic sense, it was not a bad choice, since Gollum changes his mind here only after he is betrayed by Frodo.

One choice that I cannot figure out, however, is the whole chapter with Faramir. I don't like the look of the actor who played Faramir, but that is not up to me, anyway. Why go to Osgiliath, where nothing really happens? My only explanation is to convince Sauron that the Ring is now in Gondor, as Frodo nearly gives it to the Nazgul. When Faramir finally releases the Hobbits, it seems to be because he was swayed by Sam's wonderful speech at the end. I liked the speech, but don't see why it would have changed Faramir's mind. The movie ends in a chilling way after their release, however. It really was nice to see a smile on Frodo's face, after all this time, but we know that they are heading into Shelob's lair, which will undoubtedly open Return of the King.

Merry and Pippin's side of the story was rather dull.  I enjoyed their time with the Uruk-hai, especially the debate about whether they could eat the Hobbits' legs. The director used what I consider to be a very cheap film-making technique here, though, trying to make us think that Pippin (or Merry?) was killed by a horse stepping on him. I don't know how he could think this would lead to suspense, especially given the "payoff", where he simply rolls out of the way. Another "cheap" scene occurs when one of the Hobbits is about to be skewered by an orc, who turns over his shoulder to investigate Treebeard. Since orcs don't care for their lives, his nature would have been to kill the Hobbit, then look over his shoulder at the disturbance. This is really just more false tension.

I was extremely disappointed by Treebeard, both in his physical incarnation and in his personality. I felt he should have been bushier, with a larger trunk and legs. However, I loved the line "we have decided... that you are not orcs", after three days of discussion! Treebeard's sudden reversal of his decision upon seeing the forest massacre, however, was typical and almost clichéd, something he should have known about much earlier. It was not something to make him suddenly change his mind. The aftermath, however, with the Ents breaking Isengard and flooding the plain, was wonderfully done, even though I don't think there were enough of them. Seeing them stand against the flooding waters, seeing the caves be drowned and the forge fires quenched was incredible. The only thing that brought the scene down were the impotent looks that Saruman gave down at them as he saw all his plans falling apart. Christopher Lee did so much better in the first part.

The part that takes up most of the film comes from Aragorn's point of view. The Riders of Rohan were amazing, as was Wormtongue (but was anybody fooled that the only person with dark complexion and hair was the evil one in that room?), and the change that comes over Théoden after Gandalf exorcizes him. He is a cautious leader, however, and understandably so. He has been under Saruman's sway for so long that he no longer knows what really happened in his own realm for a long time. It's no wonder that he retreats to Helm's Deep.

A love triangle has been added into this movie, with Eowyn and Aragorn forming some sort of relationship, and with us learning that Aragorn released Arwen of her vow before they left Rivendell. Since when did Arwen decide to leave Middle-Earth? She will change her mind, of course, but is that really tension in the relationship? One more time, we find the cheap trick of trying to convince us that Aragorn is dead, after he falls off the cliff. While the Wargs and the battle with them was amazing, I don't see the point of having Aragorn separated from the group, except so that he can remember Arwen's love and see the enemy approaching.

The battle for Helm's Deep was impressive, but went on for far too long, with way too many close-ups. It was quite impersonal, very different from the climactic battle at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. That one had so much emotion to it, even though the enemies were nameless. Here, it was almost laughable that all of the heroes survived. I did enjoy the various stages of the battle, however. The elves, who were not in the book, were extremely impressive, and I am very glad that they were included. Saruman's bomb was amazing, as were the ladders of various lengths, which allowed the orcs to climb the walls of the different fortress heights. The way the orcs scattered after the riders went forth for a last stand was fun, falling like ants off the bridge access. Finally, the return of Gandalf with Eomer and his Riders was also impressive, though I was sure it wasn't that way in the book (actually, the Ents appeared there in the book).

The only character development that really occurred here was in the friendship of Gimli and Legolas. It appears right at the start, as Legolas pulls his bow on Eomer for insulting Gimli. The best part about it, however, was their orc-killing contest at Helm's Deep!

Although I thought the music in the first film was a little more inspiring, the music in The Two Towers is a little more balanced, not resorting to loud barrages that overwhelm and soft melodies that could barely be heard. I especially like the theme of Rohan, which had a Celtic feel to it. I was also happy to see that the other themes had not been abandoned, though they were used a lot less. The triumphant Fellowship theme was played whenever loyalty was shown, either between Legolas and Gimli, or Sam and Frodo.

This film was mainly about plot, which is why I think it suffered compared to Fellowship, which was about characters, about innocent people taking on terrible burdens. Here the Ring becomes a heavy burden on Frodo, but other than showing a wearying face, he doesn't get much more to do. Likewise, though Sam becomes Frodo's rock, and delivers a great speech at the end, he doesn't do much more. The two other Hobbits do virtually nothing.

Aragorn becomes a little more of a leader, and I think he begins to realize that the only way to win this war is to take command, as Théoden and Eomer both say he has no authority in Rohan.

Gandalf is nowhere near as powerful in this film as he was in the last one, which is ironic, since he has so much more power. Ian McKellen should have received Best Supporting actor at the Oscars last year, because he will not be nominated this year, for sure. It's not that he wasn't good, just that he didn't get much to do. I enjoyed his fight with the Balrog at the beginning, though I was also disappointed with it, as I expected a lot more. The scene of them falling from the hole out of Moria in slow motion was great and worth what we didn't see in the way of a big battle.

The director specifically said that he edited Fellowship of the Ring from Frodo's point of view every time he was in the scene. Perhaps something like that should have been done here, one perspective for each of the three plot-lines. The editing also seemed a little out of touch with what was happening, as the switch between plots was often rather abrupt.

I think the main drawback to this film was its emphasis on plot, though. If we could have shortened the battle at Helm's Deep and included more character moments (there are plenty to choose from in the book, especially on the from Frodo and Sam's point of view), it would have had more of an emotional impact. As it was, I felt that the movie was less powerful. People who prefer stories of plot will undoubtedly enjoy this one more than Fellowship of the Ring. For me, it fell short, mainly because it lacked much character growth. The only real exception is the character that we just met, Gollum, who showed an incredible range of character. I hope we see much more of him in Return of the King. For now, I await the cut scenes in the Two Towers DVD!


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