News Articles

REVIEW: The Two Towers paints a picture of Christ

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Thousands of fans lined up dressed as their favorite characters, anxiously awaiting the stroke of midnight, while others sought out ticket scalpers for a chance to be a part of the big moment.

A championship football game? Hardly. They were in line to see a hobbit. This wasn’t just any hobbit, though. It was Frodo Baggins, the three-foot tall hero of The Two Towers, the second film installment in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Two Towers picks up right where The Fellowship of the Ring left off, with a new rendition and continuation of Gandalf’s fight with the Balrog and the rise of Gandalf the White. For newcomers, there is no summary of The Fellowship, which will presumably leave them lost for the rest of the nearly three-hour movie.

The fellowship of nine has broken. Boramir has died, Merry and Pippen have been captured by a band of Urak-Hai, pursued by Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn, and Sam and Frodo have secretly broken away from the group to face the daunting task of heading to Mount Doom to destroy the one ring of power by themselves.

The name of the film itself is referencing to the union of the two towers of the growing evil powers: Orthanc, Saruman’s stronghold at Isengard, and Barad-dur, with Sauron’s ever watching eye in the heart of Mordor.

While The Fellowship of the Ring was driven more by fantasy, The Two Towers has an earthy feel, similar to that of Braveheart. In this film, there is no wonders that the travelers encounter such as the forest of Lorien or the city of Rivendell, but instead they are faced with the grim reality of open war.

In The Two Towers director Peter Jackson faced a difficult task of creating two interactive completely computer-generated (CG) characters, Gollum and Treebeard, as well as armies of ten thousand fierce orcs and archery elves.

I have to admit that I had doubts about how well the visual arts team could put together these elements and still maintain a believable presence that did not distract viewers from the main story.

First, let’s focus on Gollum. The audience was first introduced to this creature ruined by lust for the ring, or as he calls it ‘my precious,’ in the opening film, but has a much extended role in Towers, gaining as much or even more film time as that of Frodo himself. He is the best CG character I have ever seen on the big screen, with a pair of eyes that no one could claim artificial. During no point in the movie did the character seem to be out of place.

Treebeard, on the other hand, did not come together as well as I had hoped. Treebeard is an Ent, Middle-Earth’s oldest beings who take the shape of talking and walking trees. J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the original trilogy, described these beings as the mightiest in the forest, but on screen they look rather weak and timid. Even though the creatures were well crafted visually, they were not a part of actual environment. It was obvious in a few areas that a blue screen was used for shots of Merry and Pippin riding Treebeard.

The battle at Helm’s Deep is the biggest eye-pleaser and technical feat. Taking up the final one third of the movie, much is riding on its success. The combination of actual actors, CG armies, and miniature sets into one continual camera sweep does not remain unexplored by Jackson, but one would never know it by the perfect blend of these to force the eye to believe the unimaginable.

Along with the computer enhanced characters, viewers are introduced to even more actors this time around: the people of the country of Rohan, including King Theoden, Eowyn, and Eomer, Saruman’s spy Wormtongue, and the captain of Gondor, Faramir.

With such a massive cast list, it is hard for characters to develop their personalities, which ultimately takes a back seat to special effects and action. Nonetheless, the all-star lineup could not have worked better together, bringing their role’s attributes from paper to the camera.

The hero of the film is undoubtedly Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortensen. Backed by his two followers, Gimli and Legolas, he fearlessly leads his followers into battle, fighting with the tenacity of William Wallace. He constantly wrestles with the ideas of rising as the king of the human race and with his love of Arwen, the elf daughter of Elrond. Mortensen plays his part perfectly, leaving no small detail unattended to.

Jackson’s team has taken quite a number of liberties while making this film, a number more than he did in The Fellowship. He added fights, took away much of the emphasis on Ents, and left out several chapters of the book.

The biggest problem I had with Jackson’s changes comes in the form of Faramir, Boromir’s brother. He is depicted on the film reel to be corrupted by the power of the ring, and in turn is cruel to Frodo. Tolkien never intended for Faramir to try to take the ring from its bearer, and was understanding of his burden.

Christian themes are screaming to the audience throughout the entire movie. The main idea reiterated numerous times through different forms and different characters is the idea of hope. Even though the current situation looks dark and gloomy, there is always a ray of hope we can look to. In one of the most powerful times of the movie, when Frodo seems to be at all sense of lows, Sam delivers a passionate speech, crying, “There’s some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”

The more I look at the entire epic series, the more I see a complete picture of Jesus spread out among each character. Frodo bears the source of all suffering in the world on, facing a long and grueling path before him to destroy it. Sam is always there right beside Frodo, even to the darkest place in Middle Earth, to lend a helping hand and to carry his cross. Arwen joyfully sacrifices her immortality for the love of a mortal human. Gandalf, after fighting with Balrog, a fiery demon, in the depths of the mines, resurrects to take on the form of Gandalf the White, the head and most powerful of his council. Aragorn, heir to the throne of humans, has lived as a ranger in the past, the lowest of the human race, traveling through the wilderness, but he is now nearly ready to claim the throne and unite his race under his lordship.

As in the Fellowship, there is a considerable amount of violence in the film. There are many fight scenes including the previously mentioned Helm’s Deep. Despite the violence, Jackson includes as little gore and blood as possible, but he must inevitably include some to make it convincing on screen. The mood is very tense and suspenseful, and many demonic and scary creatures appear. Parents should be wary about taking small children to see The Two Towers.

Overall, Jackson has created a masterpiece worthy of the praise and the enthusiastic mayhem it’s receiving from fans. There are just a few areas that prevent the film from soaring over the top, but the blemishes hardly make a scratch in the vivid painting laid out before viewers.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: THE TWO TOWERS and MERRY AND PIPPEN.

    About the Author

  • Timothy Harms