from Film Forum, 12/19/02

You cannot hide from the hype of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The commercials, toys, posters and more are all a part of the Christmas rush. Bookstores are seizing the opportunity to convert moviegoers into Tolkien-bookworms.

Meanwhile, critics are predicting that that the sequel will grab a Best Picture Oscar nomination like its predecessor. Regardless, many moviegoers have been nervous: Can director Peter Jackson deliver a second helping as spicy and fulfilling as the first?

The answer is, for the most part, yes. Two Towers is packed end-to-end with helter-skelter action, jaw-dropping New Zealand scenery, standard-setting animation, and a stirring score. But the film unfortunately falls short of Fellowship's emotional impact. Super-sized portions of violent conflict cost us precious periods of intimacy with the characters. Further, Jackson goes beyond the skilled abbreviation of the novels evident in Fellowship and begins revising plotlines to mixed results. Action fans won't mind much. Purists, however, will be disgruntled.

Nevertheless, Towers will have moviemakers striving to match its brilliance for years to come. They will only succeed if they recognize that the saga's greatest strength is the profound spiritual foundation on which this mythology is constructed.

My review for Christianity Today can be read in its entirety here, and a lengthier treatment of the film is posted at Looking Closer.

Steven Greydanus (Decent Films) writes, "Along with Fellowship, this film delivers much of what is great about the book, and remains an order of magnitude above all previous cinematic efforts at "fantasy" or epic fairy-tale mythopoeia … [but] this film is also destined to be more controversial ...

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Directed By
Peter Jackson
Run Time
2 hours 59 minutes
Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen
Theatre Release
December 18, 2002
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