Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a 2002 fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson based on the second volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is the second film in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, preceded by The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and concluding with The Return of the King (2003).

Continuing the plot of The Fellowship of the Ring, the film intercuts three storylines. Frodo and Sam continue their journey towards Mordor to destroy the One Ring, meeting and joined by Gollum, the ring's former owner. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli come to the war-torn nation of Rohan and are reunited with the resurrected Gandalf, before fighting at the Battle of Helm's Deep. Merry and Pippin escape capture, meet Treebeard the Ent, and help to plan an attack on Isengard.

Meeting high critical acclaim, the film was an enormous box-office success, earning over $900 million worldwide and is currently the 18th highest-grossing film of all time (inflation-adjusted, it is the 60th most successful film in North America). The film won two Academy Awards.

The Plot

Gandalf the Grey gives his life in battle against the Balrog, giving the Fellowship of the Ring time to escape from the Mines of Moria. Weeks later, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee continue their journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring and, with it, the Dark Lord Sauron. One night, they are attacked by Gollum, who bore the Ring for centuries before losing it to Frodo's uncle Bilbo, and who now seeks to get it back. Frodo and Sam capture Gollum, but Frodo takes pity on him, understanding the burden of the Ring. Requiring a guide, Frodo persuades Gollum to lead them to Mordor. Sam, however, despises Gollum on sight and warns Frodo that the wily creature will betray them. In Rohan, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli pursue the Uruk-hai, who have taken Merry and Pippin prisoner. Meanwhile, King Théoden of Rohan has been entranced by Gríma Wormtongue, who is secretly in the service of Saruman the White. Incited by Saruman, Orcs and Wild Men of Dunland lay siege to the lands. Théoden's nephew Éomer accuses Gríma of being a spy; Gríma has him banished for undermining him. Éomer sets forth to the countryside to gather the remaining loyal men of the Rohirrim. Éomer's army later ambush and kill the Uruk-hai holding Merry and Pippin. Merry and Pippin flee into Fangorn forest and meet Treebeard, the oldest of the Ents.

Frodo, Sam, and Gollum traverse the Dead Marshes, evading a Nazgûl. Upon reaching the Black Gate, they find it closed and guarded by Orcs. Gollum convinces the pair that attempting to enter the gate will lead to their capture, offering instead to lead them to an unguarded entrance. After being informed by Éomer of his ambush against the Uruk-hai, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli find Merry and Pippin's trail. The trio are confronted by Gandalf, reborn as Gandalf the White after dying in battle. Gandalf joins with the trio as they journey to Edoras. After arriving, they free Théoden from Gríma's spell. Théoden decides to move his people to the stronghold Helm's Deep for safety. Fearing Helm's Deep will not survive, Gandalf leaves to find Éomer and his forces. Gríma flees to Orthanc and informs Saruman of a weakness in the outer wall of Helm's Deep. Saruman dispatches his army to the stronghold.

Meanwhile, Gollum struggles with his loyalty to Frodo and his consuming need for the Ring. When Sam and Frodo are captured by Rangers of Ithilien, Frodo reveals Gollum's presence to spare his life; Gollum nevertheless feels betrayed, and begins plotting against his new "master". As Théoden's forces travel to Helm's Deep, they are attacked by Saruman's Warg riders and Aragorn is thrown from a cliff and believed to be dead. In Rivendell, Elrond convinces his daughter Arwen to abandon her love for Aragorn and leave Middle-earth with her fellow Elves. Learning of Frodo's Ring, the Rangers' captain, Faramir, orders that it be sent to Gondor. In Rohan, Aragorn washes up on a river bank and makes his way to Helm's deep. In Fangorn Forest, Merry, Pippin, Treebeard and other Ents hold a council to decide on the role of the Ents in the war with Saruman.

The battle of Helm's Deep begins between the Uruk-Hai and Rohirrim with Aragorn and his companions. Explosives are used against the weakness in the wall, allowing the Orcs to breach the fortress. In Fangorn, Treebeard and the other Ents initially refuse to get involved in the war until Pippin shows them that Saruman has decimated the forest; enraged, Treebeard commands the Ents to seek vengeance. Aragorn leads Théoden, Legolas and the remaining Rohirrim to attack the Uruk-hai army, allowing the Rohirrim's women and children to escape into the mountains. Gandalf appears, accompanied by Éomer and his men. The combined forces cause the Uruk-hai to flee into Fangorn, where the Ents and their Huorn allies attack them. At Isengard, the Ents destroy the Uruk-hai and release the river dam, drowning the surviving Orc defenders, flooding Isengard, and stranding Saruman in his tower.

In the East, Faramir has the Hobbits taken to Osgiliath. Faramir's forces are attacked by Orcs led by a Nazgûl. With the aid of Sam and Faramir, Frodo escapes the Nazgûl's attempt to capture him and the Ring. Frodo momentarily succumbs to the Ring's influence and attacks Sam, but comes to his senses when Sam tearfully reminds him of their friendship. The Nazgûl is defeated and flees. Faramir frees the Hobbits and sends them on their journey, joined by Gollum. Gandalf remarks that Sauron will seek retribution for Saruman's defeat, stating that hope now rests with Frodo and Sam. At that same moment, Gollum vows to reclaim the Ring, and plans to have "her" kill Frodo and Sam.

Reviews and Awards

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers received universal acclaim from fans and critics alike. On the reviewer aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 221 reviews, the film has a 96% rating, along with an average score of 8.4/10. It also has a 100% rating when narrowed to only professional critics. The Battle of Helm's Deep has been named as one of the greatest screen battles of all time, while Gollum was named as the third favorite computer generated film character by Entertainment Weekly in 2007.

Academy Awards
Winner: Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing.
Nominee: Best Picture, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Mixing (Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek).
British Academy Film Awards: Best Costume Design, Best Special Visual Effects, Orange Film of the Year
Empire Awards: Best Picture
Grammy Award: Best Score (Howard Shore)
Hugo Award (World Science Fiction Society): Best Dramatic Presentation — Long Form
2003 MTV Movie Awards: Best virtual performance (Gollum)
Saturn Awards: Best Fantasy Film, Best Costume (Ngila Dickson), Best Supporting Actor (Andy Serkis)
American Film Institute Lists
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:  "My precious." – #85
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – Nominated

The Cast

Bruce Allpress as Aldor
 Sean Astin as Samwise 'Sam' Gamgee
 John Bach as Madril
 Sala Baker as Man Flesh Uruk
 Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
 Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf
 Billy Boyd as Peregrin 'Pippin' Took
 Jed Brophy as Sharku / Snaga
 Sam Comery as Éothain
 Brad Dourif as Grima Wormtongue
Calum Gittins as Haleth
Bernard Hill as Theoden
Bruce Hopkins as Gamling
Paris Howe Strewe as Théodred
Christopher Lee as Saruman the White
Nathaniel Lees as Uglúk
John Leigh as Háma
Robbie Magasiva as Mauhur
Robyn Malcolm as Morwen
Ian McKellen as Gandalf
Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc 'Merry' Brandybuck
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn
Miranda Otto as Eowyn
Craig Parker as Haldir
John Rhys-Davies as Gimli / Voice of Treebeard
Andy Serkis as Gollum
Olivia Tennet as Freda
Ray Trickett as Bereg
Liv Tyler as Arwen
Karl Urban as Eomer
Stephen Ure as Grishnákh
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
David Wenham as Faramir
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins

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