Saturday, April 8, 2017

Chris' #88: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Peter Jackson, 2002)

Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett
Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, Peter Jackson
Release Date: December 18, 2002 (nationwide)

First Time
Finally, a theater experience I can actually remember! I saw this with my dad and brothers during opening weekend at the Regal on Front Street. The four of us watched two of the three LOTR movies together, and the trilogy will always represent some nice family moments for me, especially since my brothers and I have a bit of a strained relationship with our dad.

Why it's on the List
For those of us who actually care about these movies (have fun rewatching this, John), The Two Towers seems to be the least popular. It's actually my favorite of three, and this is only LOTR movie in my top 100.

I rewatched the theatrical version this past week. When I bought the trilogy on blu-ray, I opted for the theatrical releases because I couldn't see myself sitting through any of extended versions again. When the extended DVDs were first released, I watched them numerous times with friends and family. My older brother used to pop the extended DVDs in at night and fall asleep to them. I used to do that with Simpsons episodes; to each his own.

Maybe I attempted to read The Fellowship of the Ring in the early 2000s, but I've never actually finished any of J. R. R. Tolkien's work. I didn't grow reading The Hobbit like so many did and do. I am a movie poser and my interest in Middle Earth is limited to this trilogy and maybe the first Hobbit movie. Having said that, I definitely commiserate with the book readers. Many of the changes made in the film adaptations probably feel egregious and baffling. I can relate to this thanks to the Harry Potter film franchise; I've read the books a handful of times and I don't really enjoy any of the movies (The Prisoner of Azkaban and the final two are okay, but still...meh).

Even though I haven't seen The Two Towers in years, I still found myself saying the lines of different characters just before they were delivered. TT has many of my favorite lines, including many of the less notable ones. If I say, "We piled the carcasses and burned them" to Jeff, we'll laugh and go through our usual riff on Karl Urban's innocuous line.

Speaking of Urban, I really enjoy his performance in this, along with the other supporting actors: Brad Dourif, Bernard Hill, and Miranda Otto. Otto's performance is one that grew on me over time; it was tough to root for her initially because she was sniffing around Aragorn (which is a stupid reason). Dourif is great in everything I've seen him in: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The X-Files, Deadwood.

I also love this one the most because it's the first to feature a lot of screen time for Gollum. Andy Serkis' performance as Gollum is one of the most iconic in film history. The CGI doesn't always look great, but the motion capture and facial expressions of Gollum really breathe life into the character.

The last thing I'll say is that when I did rewatch this, I found myself easily distracted. The movie doesn't hold my attention like it used to. Because I've seen it too many times, it's mostly just something to have on in the background while I'm doing something else. Certain scenes still bring me joy, though.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention one of the best things about the entire trilogy - Howard Shore's beautiful score. Even if I'm not in the mood to watch the movies, I don't think I could ever get sick of the music. It packs a lot of emotion and power, and it's among my favorite movie scores ever.

Additional Notes/Stats
  • This is the only Peter Jackson film on my list.
  • Elijah Wood and Cate Blanchett will each make one more appearance.
  • Love Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortensen but this is the last time they'll appear on my list.
  • The Goonies is on my 200-101 list, so this is it for Sean Astin in my top 100.


  1. So which is your pick? Theatrical or Extended? I think theatrical, but I couldn't quite tell.