- The Two Towers

With Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellan, Sean Astin, Christopher Lee, Liv Tyler
Directed by Peter Jackson

With the yearly anticipation of these marvelous cinematic translations of Tolkien's magical three part tale mid stream, what are we to look forward to for year-end 2004? The producers said that if you thought the first one was something, wait for the second part! This is true in many senses. The story takes on a far more fragmented (yet unified) state.
Our multi-race fellowship assembled to take the ring for disposal in the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor was split up at the end of part one. Our heroic Hobbit Frodo and his mate Sam push ahead and encounter the (incredibly detailed, digitally mapped) creature Golom (he won best digital character at the MTV movie awards). Human Aragorn and his elf- and dwarf companion make up the trio searching for the two klutzes Pippin & Merry who enter their own forest adventure. In their search they hook up with the humans who seek refuge at Helm's Deep where the huge and extreme battle between them and the evil army assembled to wipe man off the face of Middle Earth ensues.
The film does take a darker tone and is far more aggressive due to the massively scaled battle sequences. Again there is so much narrative and visual detail to warrant several viewings - and here on DVD is your chance in full digital perfection. It does feel very much like an in-between chapter, fulfilling its purpose perfectly. But, like the first installment, after a few hours of mesmerizing visuals, genius storytelling and masterfully executed filmmaking, when it ends, your only disappointment is the year's wait for the next part. Let's just hope to god no TV series will get spawned from this. Even though the film has a computer game based on it, some things need to remain sacred - even some movies.

If you can't wait for the special 4 disc edition with extra stupendously detailed packaging (like the book and bookend statues from the first film), you'll have to settle for this double disc first release. The full 172 minute theatrical version of the film is presented on the first disc in the only logical format, glorious widescreen. Disc 2 contains many featurettes and in-depth programmes delving into the effort, sweat, creativity, skill and determination that was poured into the making of this incredible second episode in this milestone cinematic event. On set looks, explorations, explanations, interviews and more may take some of the magic away for viewers who don't want the fantasy spoiled by the mechanics of it all. But for those who love the technical details and exposing of the "how's & why's", the looks at the dark forces, sound design, creatures, arms & armour and the creation of Gollum will be well rewarded. In addition there is the music video to Gollum's Song by Emiliana Torrini, a look at the special extended version, the video game, a preview of
The Return Of the King and a short film and making of Sean Astin's (Sam), The Long And Short Of It. As usual a scintillating, probing and entertaining package (until you've saved up enough for the even more in depth collector's edition!).

6 / A
- PB

click here for the Two Towers soundtrack review
click here for the Fellowship Of The Ring soundtrack
click here for the Fellowship Of The Ring DVD review