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"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"

Directed by Peter Jackson.
Written by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Stephen Sinclair.  Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. 
Starring Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortenson and Ian McKellan.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  12/18/02 


I checked out a midnight showing of the sequel to “The Fellowship of the Ring” on Tuesday night with Andy, Brett and Laurel—aka, the Sorta Fantastiks—and, I promise to keep this review short because the movie sure ain’t!!

Wow.  Wow, Wow, Wow.  I wasn’t sure right away if this was the best, or second-best movie I have seen this year, but after sleeping on it, “Y Tu Mama Tambien” still holds something special in my heart.  But, “The Two Towers” comes damned close.

Why?  Because, and I really can’t believe this but it is true, “The Two Towers” actually improves upon the Best Picture nominee “The Fellowship of the Ring” from last year in almost every way.  The scenery is beautiful, all of the characters are impressive, there is a ton of great action, it’s a crowd pleaser, it’s a big-budget art film, and it stays (reasonably) close to the text from the second book.  This is the first film I have ever seen where the main CGI character (Golem) made me think that one day, these creations will have their own Oscar category.  Golem is almost another review unto himself; his creators have made him scary-looking, charming, funny, witty and schizophrenic all in about 20 minutes of screen time.  The special effects are incredible, the lighting, the countrysides, the costumes, the bad all works.

As I sit here right now, and think to how I felt after getting out of the film at 3:10 in the morning, here is what I know—even though I didn’t take a nap, I was never near falling asleep, and I was wired after I got out of the theater because the film was so good.  We were all helped by the rowdiest, most enthusiastic crowd I have ever seen a movie with—hell, six of the people in our theater had a fake swordfight inside the front area of the theater to entertain us while we sat inside and waited for the thing to start.  One guy stood up and pumped his fist at the screen as crowd favorite Legolas (Orlando Bloom, about 45 seconds from Tom Cruise-dom with the ladies) was skating down a stairway, taking out Orcs with swords and that magical bow of his.  Cheers abounded every time Gandalf (Ian McKellan) showed up on-screen, and never—NEVER—again will I have the chance to witness people cheering to the sight of ten trees fighting mutant warriors.  It was crazy!

(Back to Bloom for a second—I can’t think of the last time I was in a theater and heard women panting at another character onscreen.  Seriously, not to give anything away, but he doesn’t die in “The Two Towers”...but, I kept thinking, if he did, women would STILL be sobbing 24 hours later.  “Not Legolas!!”, they would say.  So sad.)

All of this is just to say get off your toukas and check out “The Two Towers.”  If this thing gets nominated for an Oscar—an outside shot—this series has already got the chance to take “Star Wars”, “The Godfather” and “The Substitute” as the best trilogy of all time, at least artistically speaking.  (In terms of Kids Gettin’ Shot by their High School History Teacher / Undercover Cop”, “The Substitute” has still get ‘em all beat.)

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09