22. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

I saw this movie four times in theaters. I think it was the movie I most anticipated seeing up that point in my life. I even distinctly remember getting back a less-then-stellar report card from school, and then hiding that from my parents until after the movie came out, fearing that they wouldn’t let me go if they saw I got bad grades. That ultimately worked, although I was barred from seeing it again until a few weeks later when my grades improved.

The Two Towers delivers on everything that we would want from a Fellowship of the Ring sequel. A wildly impressive battle sequence, more emphasis on Aragorn and the return of Gandalf, and sweeping New Zealand landscapes. Storytelling wise, it isn’t as strong as its predecessor, but that’s like saying a Big Mac isn’t as good as a Double Double from In-n-Out. It’s still delicious, but when compared with perfection, it’s not as satisfying.

The film has two main weak points: the king of Rohan and Smeagol, or Gollum. The king is really just written in a way to be an obstacle of Aragon. It’s understandable that he’s lost hope for the cause, he was possessed by Saruman for quite some time after all. But his entire character is written just to negate whatever idea comes to Aragon’s mind. Smeagol too is obnoxious and painful to watch. This is probably the point though, as he’s supposed to be a wretched, unforgiving character who’s life was corrupted by the ring. But his scenes with Frodo and Sam are not enjoyable.

What really sings true is the friendship shared between Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. We can tell they are truly comrades who care for each other, and their friendship extends beyond the screen into the audiences’ own hearts. Out of the three movies, this is definitely the “dark” one, whose purpose is literally just to connect the beginning to the end. It’s a middle movie, and only so much enjoyment can be derived from that, even with all of its action. Possibly the greatest middle movie in history, but one that’s still a road we must cross before we find ourselves at our long-awaited destination.

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