of films rarely live up to their initial offering. As with many blockbuster films, the amour of the beginning of any trilogy, the magic of any follow up usually wanes. But the Two Towers does not fail to whet the appetite as the allure of the Lord of the Rings looks set to continue.
Following from the Fellowship of the ring and twelve agonizing months of anticipation, Two Towers resumes the cliffhanger to J.R.R Tolkien's first part of the masterpiece with a superb clash between Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) and the titan Balrog.
The seem less flow of the story and its intrepid adventure to the destruction of the 'one ring' with the unlikely alliance of Golem to aid Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) to Mount Doom in Mordor. This illustrates the great depths of Two Towers' darkness and history of tale of middle Earth.
There is no doubt about the frantic pace at which the film stamps it's authority. Indeed the many twists and turns of Two Towers and it's intertwining tales blend without notice despite the fact that this film has no finite beginning or end.
But in this, the film loses its magic in some parts. The quest of the one ring undoubtedly takes a back seat and the onus lies on the undoing of Rohan by the warmongering manouvres of Sauron and Saruman (Christopher Lee), and the most gigantic of all orchestrated battles, unlikely to see directors dare surpass such an effort in future film history - at Two Towers' most crucial stage - Helm's deep.
For purists of the book, there is a desire left wanting for its original format. Director Peter Jackson has not remained true to Lord of the rings. Those with good knowledge of it would notice omissions of key elements of the story. And complaints from last year's offering remain consistent to the now cliché of Tolkien's work that it could never fully be transpired to film.
But Jackson's work does remain true to the spirit of Lord of the Rings with the majority of this three-hour epic. And with it ensures a spellbinding delivery that leaves the viewer irritated by the annoyance of the intermission and indeed the film's end.
Two Towers has much akin to the early Star Wars trilogy of last century in that respect. It has a masterful delivery with a superb range of special effects - particularly with the Helm's deep battle scene and the unlikely and rather caricatured arrival in the film of the Ents.
The casting once again holds true to such a compelling and superbly crafted piece of film direction, which sparks childhood emotions for those of us that read Tolkien's work in our early teens and seduces its new audience into a longing romance with it.
Indeed the performances of Christopher Lee and Sir Ian McKellen are outstanding and consistent with other protagonists of the films. But in all this, it is Frodo and his rather fleeting episodes in Two Towers, which are left in the shade by the predominance of the elf Aragorn. Viggo Mortensen stamps his authority all over Two Towers, with the majestic elf carrying almost every second of this adventure with the radiance of steel and utmost purpose.
Yet every measure that Peter Jackson has painstakingly sought, right down to the extras, remains true as possibly could be to this film leaves an obvious mark its viewer. Giving his every piece of direction his absolute, it leaves very little to question where this second submission falters.
Which ironically begs a question - Why is it that we must wait another twelve months for an obviously superb piece of film mastery? Yet again, we are sadly feeding upon the troublesome cliffhanger ending.
The final episode of this saga 'Return of the King' is to be completed and in the can for cinemas by November 2003. Is it likely to be worth the wait? Certainly, but equally most would prefer to see this epic now than wait agonizingly for the conclusion of yet another superb piece of film mastery from Peter Jackson. Without doubt, again it is certainly this year's must see film for 2002. And looks set to break all box office records once again across the globe.
Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn/Strider/The Heir of Gondor, Sean Astin as Samwise 'Sam' Gamgee, Billy Boyd as Peregrin 'Pippin' Took, Liv Tyler as Arwen Undómiel, John Rhys-Davies as Gimli, Dominic Monaghan as Meriadoc 'Merry' Brandybuck, Christopher Lee as Saruman, Miranda Otto as Éowyn and as Shieldmaiden of Rohan, Brad Dourif as Gríma Wormtongue, Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Karl Urban as Éomér and Bernard Hill
Time:- 179 mins
Review by Dominic Bonner