Aya was lucky enough to see the NYC press screening last night. Read on to get your fill of spoilers …

The Two Towers – ‘phenomenal’

I saw the press screening of the movie last night in NYC (I guess hanging out with radio folk has its perks!) – Before I go any further I have to say this : I thought it was a phenomenal movie!! If I dwell too much on criticisms in my review, it is not because I thought it was a bad movie or didn’t like it in the slightest – it is because I am sure that these are the sorts of things that people probably want to hear about (Goodness!! I can’t imagine any hardcore fan out there is saying to themself “I wonder if it’s any good?”).

I think that there are already several good summaries of the movie out there already, so I won’t bore you with talking about how huge the battle of Helm’s deep was, how cool the cleansing of Isengard was, or how absolutely hilarious Gimli’s lines were!

Andy Serkis is “perfect” as Gollum

The one thing that DOES bear repeating (over and over and over) is Gollum! How perfect is Andy Serkis? It was the best acting I have seen in a long time – and he was never even physically on screen!! The voice was AMAZING!

It was so reminiscent of JRR Tolkien’s voicing of Gollum – I cannot fathom how he produced such delightful coraking, gurgling, choking, rasping noises! The distinction between Smeagol and Gollum was so clear, as well – to me, the animation of the character (which was flawless), was a far second to his voice. As an aside, I was quite worried from the few clips of Gollum we had seen thusfar – between his appearances in FotR and in the trailer, I was afraid he’d be animated far to spiderlike and fake – but he is actually quite believable; you can see that he could have once been a hobbit.

What was utterly frustrating to me is that for those who have been following the various reports of the movies for the past year, it is very obvious that they cut out so many scenes from the movie! Once again, scenes from the trailers and commercials have not made the movie. There is no scene with Arwen running out to Elrond, there is no scene in Aglarond with Eowyn fighting an Uruk-hai (They even made a DOLL based on that scene!), Frodo and sam go through no sewers in Osgiliath, there is no scene with Deagol and Smeagol in a boat… alas!

Helm’s Deep over too quickly

The end of the Helm’s deep battle also seems a bit too quickly over. From the Visual companion (that had the pull out map/guide to the battle), we know that at least conceptually, the ents showed up to cut off the orcs retreat, just as they did in the book. This is not even hinted at in the movie. Gandalf shows up with some men on horseback, and suddenly the battle is over. Yay and hurrah – but where are the ents??

Busy in Isengard, I suppose – I love the ent with the burning hair that quenched it in the flooding river!!

Interestingly, in the way this movie was edited, it did not deviate from the books so much as rumored. The elves leave rivendell, but they do not seem to leave for Lorien – it is implied that they leave for the grey havens (and perhaps they indeed are doing so?). Still, when Haldir shows up at Helm’s deep with his force of elves, he says that he comes on behalf of Elrond. Not exactly explained, but no matter.

Ithilien rangers too fearless?

One minor gripe I had was that the Rangers did not seem appropriately afraid of the Nagul and fellbeast in Osgiliath!

The rumors that Aragorn must tame Brego (why did they choose to name his horse Brego in this movie?) by speaking to him in Sindarin appear false; there is a touching scene when Brego comes to get Aragorn after he takes a bit of a swim.

One theme that was pounded over and over and over in this movie was that of hope; the dialogue seems to consist largely of “We have no hope” “You must not give up on hope” “Where is our hope?” “We must trust in hope!” – by the end, Sam has a little monologue where he says essentially “There is one thing left worth fighting for in this world” (I look at my friend – HOPE?) – ah, but I will let you find out what that is when you see the movie!

Two Towers is bigger and darker

This definitely had a different feel from FotR, not only in the sense that it was much BIGGER and much darker, but I think because of the necessity of cutting from subplot to subplot. In the FotR, you got a real feeling that you were on a journey along with the fellowship; you were moving through middle earth and fighting baddies along the way.

In TTT there is not that same feeling. Although Frodo and Sam do progress through the Emyn Muil, through the Dead Marshes, through Ithilien and up to Osgiliath, since that journey visually takes such a back seat to the massive (no pun intended) battle, one does not feel as swept up with them as in FotR.

More accesible to non-fans

I think that this film is much more accessible to non-fans than the first installment; whereas in FotR it was rather important to understand the characters and their motives for doing what they did, in TTT it is pretty clear: there are good guys, bad guys, and a huge battle.

If you don’t know who the Rohirrim are and how they relate to the Gondorians, if you don’t know who the Haradrim and the Easterlings are, if you don’t know what ents are, it doesn’t really matter. I think the one character where it really DOES matter is in Gollum; and as in the book, the conversations he has with himself serve to let the viewers know why he is doing what he is doing.

One minor mistake I caught: in the scene in Fangorn, watch Legolas. They clearly flipped a shot or two (“these woods are old”) – easily noticed if you watch his leaf-pin and the buckle on his quiver!