Barliman’s chat regular, IRHobbitish, was lucky enough to win tickets from a local radio station to the press preview of TTT in Salt Lake City.

So, here goes for another review of The Two Towers …

IR writes:

First and foremost, it is definitely worth the price of admission. I don’t care if you have to pay $20.00 per ticket and the same for the goodies to go with it. Second – don’t get too many of those goodies, as this is also a large popcorn, small drink movie. This installment is so action packed that you won’t want to miss a thing.

As you may have read in Time Magazine, this movie does not offer any segue between FOTR and TTT. Peter Jackson assumes that most, if not all, people who are going to shell out money to see this film will most likely go and rent FOTR before they go to see this. There will be no prelude such as “Previously – in Fellowship of the Ring, . . . . .” However, they do open with a short dream sequence in which Frodo is having a nightmare of when Gandalf fell. People will be well served to follow that advice. I had the advantage of seeing this film with a relatively small crowd. I can’t say that there were more than 30 people present. It was strictly “cut to the chase”; No 30 minutes of trailers of other movies and the such. As this movie is 250 long – just until the credits start rolling, it was a nice touch.

This movie sure begins with a BANG. If you like the way James Bond movies start – you will like this. If you are going to this movie as a Tolkien Purist, then there will be several things that you will have objections to. In some cases – things are downright backward. The movies starts off with Frodo and Sam in the broken peaks of the Emyn Muil. This part seemed to jump right out of the pages of the book for me. Then you get the switch to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. I don’t believe that the movie pays enough attention to the companionship building between Legolas and Gimli. However, there were a lot of humorous lines given to Gimli to lighten the load.

I would like to point out that I will always admire the cinematography of these films. Who knew that New Zealand was so BIG and that it was also so diverse. The settings that they picked for Edoras was RIGHT ON (something else that jumped from the pages of the book). I am glad that they have “beefed” up Aragorn’s part from the last movie. I had been under the impression that he was too unsure of himself in the first film. I also believe that the character, Grima Wormtongue, was played to perfection.

One of the scenes that my husband had objections to was the “awakening” of Theoden. This scene seemed to much like “The Exorcist” to him. He thought that it was turned into another wizard fight – much like in FOTR. On the other hand, I liked it just fine.

The movies moves quite well through scenes with Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin and back to the rest of the remaining Fellowship. It seemed to have a good flow that I wasn’t sure could be made to make sense (in the beginning). There seems to be a fairly even tempering between all three factions.

Gollum was a delight to see. He really embodies the old cliché, “You’re never alone with a Schizophrenic.” I feel that the scenes with Gollum debating with himself were terrific. I thought that some of the scenes where Frodo is defending Gollum from Sam’s jibes were a little overdone. But Mr. Hobbitish was quick to point out to me that this may have been done to further the notion that Frodo empathizes with Gollum for being a former Ringbearer.

I was sorry that more time wasn’t spent in Ithilien with the Herbs and Stewed Rabbit. I was also sorry that A LOT of artistic license was taken with the Faramir character from the books. However, if one hadn’t read the books – they would not catch these changes. I thought that the whole idea of taking Frodo and the Ring to Osgiliath was to be completely superfluous. They could have left the whole scenes as they were at Henneth Annun and have been better served. I also worry that Frodo seems to be falling apart a bit prematurely. One would hope that he will be able to make it to the Cracks of Doom without having to be dragged every step of the way by Sam. It’s one thing to be constantly pummeled emotionally by the ring and fighting it silently. It is quite another to be a wilting violet every time a Ringwraith is within 10 miles of him.

As this review is going to reach its own book stage soon – I will sum up the rest of my own observations quickly.

I was glad to see that Arwen did not make some She-Elf, warrior princess entrance at Helm’s Deep (as was previously rumored). However, Aragorn is still running around without Narsil(or Andruil). I was surprised to see Haldir at Helm’s Deep. I did not think that the gratuitous scenes between Aragorn and Arwen were particularly necessary – but they did serve to give the paying public and eyeful of why Aragorn is fighting so hard.

I was glad that Aragorn had come out of his self imposed shell. However, I was not happy that Theoden was portrayed as being stand-offish. Aragorn seems to be bending Theoden’s arms back in order to make him fight. I’m sure that he will come out of his shell by the next movie. He has a large part to play in ROTK.

I was disappointed about the Entmoot. I thought that Treebeard should have been able to move the Ents into a greater frenzy – before they had to go and see the desolation of Isengard. In the books – Merry and Pippin were able to persuade Treebeard on their own – then he held the moot to persuade the
other Ents.

Finally – I was disappointed that the movie was so short (even though it is just about the same length as the theatrical release as FOTR). Now – I don’t think I can wait until next year to see ROTK. Now, I’m right back where I was a year ago. Biting my nails waiting for the next one.

There seems to be a lot of footage that was filmed but has not made it into the final cut. This leaves the possibilities WIDE open for the next Extended Version DVD.