The Two Towers
December 18, 2002 9:35 AM   Subscribe

At the time of posting, Rotten Tomatoes has 1 'rotten' review and 76 'fresh' reviews for Peter Jackson's The Two Towers. I thought it was a superb film, but I hardly thought it would unite the critics like this. This has got to be one of the most universally praised films of all time!
posted by Pretty_Generic (62 comments total)
Maybe that's over the top. "The most universally praised blockbuster of all time" perhaps.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:37 AM on December 18, 2002

Spirited Away has 116 positive reviews, and only 1 negative. Not really a "blockbuster", though....
posted by emptybowl at 9:51 AM on December 18, 2002

when will "opening weekend" begin sunday night of the weekend before?
posted by asparagus_berlin at 9:52 AM on December 18, 2002

But the question is, did Harry Knowles have a heartattack from multiple geek orgasms? Only by awaiting his slobbering ejaculate soaked review will we truly know if the movie is any good.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:56 AM on December 18, 2002

Metacritic (no relation) currently has it at 88 out of 100. They've got about 35 other films that have rated higher. (Lawrence of Arabia, another fine epic with huge battles is currently rated #1)
posted by gwint at 9:56 AM on December 18, 2002

The lone dissenter, Victoria Alexander, certainly has an unconventional taste in movies. Can't please everyone, I guess. I'm still going, right after work...
posted by mkultra at 9:59 AM on December 18, 2002

Well Stan Chin, if it's anything like his Blade 2 review, I think I may have to poke my eyes out. God, I need a shower just for looking that link up....
posted by emptybowl at 10:01 AM on December 18, 2002

Make it a cold shower with lots of bleach. Jesus!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:06 AM on December 18, 2002

On the opposite side of the coin, you have to wonder about the one guy who liked that Dana Carvey movie. (The only recent picture I've noticed garnering a lower level of critical acclaim is Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever.)

By the way, is anyone else perpetually confused by the fact that Metacritic uses red for "bad" and green for "good," while Rotten Tomatoes does exactly the opposite?
posted by staggernation at 10:13 AM on December 18, 2002

Hypothesis: Film critics tend to be tolkein fanboys and former D&D geeks, skewing reviews. Film at 11.
posted by mathowie at 10:13 AM on December 18, 2002

in general, matt, generalizations are not pretty....

(i know, mine is a generalization too.)

but for my $8, i was soundly entertained. and this trilogy is so much better than maybe 90% of what hollywood greenlights as quality filmmaking these days.
posted by grabbingsand at 10:40 AM on December 18, 2002

i am one of those tolkein fanboy/former d&d geeks and most definitely chomping at the bit right now, waiting for the bell to ring so i can go see this movie. the first one was way beyond my expectations and from what i've heard, i shouldn't expect to be dissapointed by this one either.

Now i'm just waiting for a movie to be made from one of gene wolfe's novels. that would so rock.
posted by poopy at 10:55 AM on December 18, 2002

It's so very, very good. I left only wanting to have seen just a few more scenes ... and those should all be in the Extended DVD. Faultless, in other words.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:00 AM on December 18, 2002

I CAN'T WAIT!! I can't go tonight cuz I'm going to a Paul Oakenfold concert, but tomorrow is the day! (I don't think I'm a D&D geek, but I am a tolkein fan-girl.)

No, it's not the most universally praised movie out there. But I'm suprised that there isn't more outcry about how there is no "What happened in the last movie" in the beginning of this one.

How are the Ents?
posted by aacheson at 11:10 AM on December 18, 2002

The ents are pretty damn excellent. Treebeard gets Tolkien's point across perfectly. Though I don't understand why Saruman doesn't get off his arse and cast some bloody magic on them... perhaps he will do on the DVD.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:26 AM on December 18, 2002

Dug it. Worth 8 bucks. And the completely CGI Gollum/Smeagol didn't even get on my nerves. The Ents were swell in the CGI department as well. And Gandalf the White...oh baby.
posted by sklero at 11:27 AM on December 18, 2002

All you fanboys and gals really should learn to spell "Tolkien".
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:29 AM on December 18, 2002

The film's terrific. As with the first installment, the slight tweaks and changes are all for the better. Great, great stuff.
posted by muckster at 11:32 AM on December 18, 2002

posted by tolkhan at 11:37 AM on December 18, 2002

This one definitely requires multiple viewings. There's just no way you can absorb it all in one sitting (particularly when you're watching it at midnight, already somewhat sleep deprived).
posted by MsVader at 11:40 AM on December 18, 2002

incidentally, Peter Jackson is a hero here in New Zealand. Seemed like all of Wellington was there to congratulate him yesterday at the Australasian premier.
posted by mhjb at 11:47 AM on December 18, 2002

argh... that was last year's Australasian premier. meh. this will have to do.
posted by mhjb at 11:50 AM on December 18, 2002

Check out the Wellington premiere photos of our very own holloway (the later ones have the celebreteees)
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:52 AM on December 18, 2002

did you see how legolas frikkin' flipped onto that horse?!?!

8 dollars well spent... yay for tuesday night 12:01 viewings.
posted by lotsofno at 11:52 AM on December 18, 2002

And the completely CGI Gollum/Smeagol didn't even get on my nerves.

Actually, Gollum/Smeagol is the best dang thing about the movie, which is saying a lot. As some clever reviewer said, "Jar Jar is not worthy to suck the shit out of Gollum's arse."
posted by norm at 11:59 AM on December 18, 2002

Yes, Andy Serkis should get the best supporting actor Oscar. He won't. The understated way that Legolas is shown mounting the moving horse is amongst the coolest moments in recent cinema.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:03 PM on December 18, 2002

According to Orson Scott Card's review of the movie in the Rhinocerous Times:

"And the creation of Gollum looks like a true masterpiece of CGI. Just remember that when you see the computer-generated Gollum splashing around and doing hideously difficult stunts, most of them were actually done by a real actor. The computer made him look different, but all the movements were done by a living man ... who nearly froze to death in the icy stream where he had to dive, slither, and catch a fish ..."

Which might explain why Gollum wasn't as annoying as so many other CGI critters.
posted by jennyb at 12:08 PM on December 18, 2002

TTT blew me away.

lotsofno: yes! yes! yes!
posted by azazello at 12:11 PM on December 18, 2002

I haven't seen it yet, though I plan to...eventually....I haven't even seen LOTR in it's entirety yet - borrowed the DVD, ran out of time. I did like what I saw, though.

The thing is....I'm perplexed by my own lack of excitement. I've read all the tolkein books - even the simarillion. Heck, I used to play Middle Earth - the pen and paper D&D style game ( I have to say the system used by middle earth was far superior to 2nd edition D&D). And I still play 3rd edition D&D. Even so - if I didn't ever see either movie, I don't think I'd care, which I think is odd.

posted by jaded at 12:12 PM on December 18, 2002

/em directs torrents of dispair and disgust at the small town I live in that prevented me from seeing it last night, and the show I'm working on that prevents me from seeing it the next two days.
posted by Be'lal at 12:17 PM on December 18, 2002

Two Towers differs from the books more than Fellowship did... and while I may have some slight problems with that, I still thought Two Towers was an awesome continuation of the trilogy.

Though, I've gotta say that PJ ending where he did leaves a LOT of material to be covered in the Return of the King. He hasn't dropped the ball yet, though, so I don't doubt he'll deliver the goods again.

I think my favorite part of Two Towers was the very beginning... Gandalf's fight with the Balrog. Incredible.

That's what I love about these movies so far... PJ is showing us stuff that may not have been given much attention in the books, but definitely happened in that world.
posted by BobFrapples at 12:29 PM on December 18, 2002


Happy to see it, but disappointed.

Stick with the source, Pete. You can't go wrong.
posted by RakDaddy at 12:50 PM on December 18, 2002

Orson Scott Card's review

hmmm...The Onion made fun of Orson Scott Card fans today...*coincidence*?! watch out for those huge dudes in cloaks...
posted by serafinapekkala at 1:50 PM on December 18, 2002

Tolkien better than Taken, by far.

Jackson trumps Spielberg, Lucas, Zemeckis, Howard, and anyone else who thinks they know how to make a compelling effects-laden piece of filmed entertainment. Obviously, they don't.

I want to pinch that furry little Kiwi's cheeks and just go "woowoowoo, you're so good and cute" and stuff.

I give this my personal Best. Trilogy. Ever. award without even having to see next year's installment (and yes, I'm putting LOTR above anything with "Matrix" in it).
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:31 PM on December 18, 2002

Why does nobody speak about the fact that the first film, at least, was an absurd travesty of LOTR? Dueling wizards with fisticuffs straight from a Bruce Willis disposable action movie! Saruman explicitly joins Sauron's side! They give away every important piece of hidden information at the beginning of the film (e.g., the fact the Bilbo's ring is the one ring; the fact that Aragorn and Arwen are trothplighted, etc.)!

As soon as Saruman and Gandalf started duking it out with their laser beams and explosions, my wife and I lost all interest. I now regret having seen the first one, for putting images of specific actors in my head in association with those lovely characters.

FWIW, my wife isn't a LOTR fan, and she still thought the first movie was risible.
posted by e.e. coli at 3:02 PM on December 18, 2002

with their laser beams and explosions

Are you sure we're talking about the same movie? They were just pointing with their staffs to throw each other around! You can't accuse that of being too high-tech, surely.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:08 PM on December 18, 2002

e.e. coli, a couple of points.

- An absurd travesty? Really? Where do you rank the Bakshi version? Or if Russ Meyer had directed it?

- The exposition in FOTR, a daunting task of summary if ever there was one, was beautifully handled. In the book, Arwen is not an important character by any stretch of the imagination. In general, the changes improved pacing, character, and drama. In their most successful moments, the films tease out emotional complexities that are at best implied by Tolkien.

- In fact, the Gandalf-Saruman fight is explicitly designed to avoid all movie wizard conventions.I defy you to find laser beams and explosions in it. To my eye, it was astoundingly physical and convincing.

- Die Hard is a timeless action classic.

- Any post with the word "trothplighted" in it is a good post.
posted by muckster at 3:22 PM on December 18, 2002

battle battle battle, 'smore battle. and then the best actor is an animation. but yes, very watchingworthy.
posted by dabitch at 3:29 PM on December 18, 2002

Why does nobody speak about the fact that the first film, at least, was an absurd travesty of LOTR?

Because most of us understand the difference between fact and opinion?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:15 PM on December 18, 2002

Don't believe the hype. It's a good movie, but certainly a lot more scattershot than the first. CGI was as close to bleeding-edge as we've seen in film, but still very obviously fake -- those Ents were looking pretty shaky, especially when they were shown in distant shots. Look to Spike Jonze films for CGI direction that doesn't point itself out.

Speaking of which, Adaptation is another case of "critics united" where little dissent was heard, and everyone was falling all over each other trying to praise it, even though the film wasn't as amazing as it was cracked up to be. I think we're starved for really mind-blowing films these days, we'll take what we can get and love it large.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 5:15 PM on December 18, 2002

For me it's a tough call. It has the same flaws as the first one, only they are amplified. But there was even more amazing stuff to look at. It wore me out watching it.
posted by wobh at 5:25 PM on December 18, 2002

Word to that wobh, I just saw it and I'm mentally exausted.
posted by cyphill at 5:43 PM on December 18, 2002

Tycoon: I actually think Adaptation got unjustly criticized in the reviews. Most of the critics disliked the ending, which was in fact the most brilliant part of the film. It's certainly the most "mind-blowing" film I've seen in a long time--much better than Being John Malkovich, (which was also very inspired).
posted by boltman at 6:53 PM on December 18, 2002

It was a good film (I liked the first better). My biggest gripe is the conversion of Gimli from a stalwart companion to a slapstick sidekick. One, two bits of funny would be ok, but it seemed like he existed solely to bring levity to the film. I prefer my dwarves a bit more curmudgeonly.
posted by bhorling at 7:07 PM on December 18, 2002

It's always hard to transfer any book to the screen, I think there were problems (for me the major one was the Michael Flatley type music for Hobbiton) but what amazes me is how many people I know who have loved both films who would never have read the books. That's got to be a real triumph for Jackson, to get most of the people who have read the books and those who don't care about them to go see it is a hell of an achievement.

I mean, just look what De Pamlma did to Bonfire of the Vanities. We got a good deal compared to that, I am trothplighted to say.
posted by ciderwoman at 7:21 PM on December 18, 2002

Everyone who ever read the trilogy more than once has created a movie version of it in their own mind. Thus, no movie version will please everyone (this is true of a lot of books, but LOTR probably even more so). I nit-picked right along with everybody else at the first one, but I loved it and I'm sure I'll love the second, and the third one as well. Sure, it's not my version of "The Lord of the Rings Movie", but it's damn good and it beats mine hands-down in one very important aspect - it actually got made.
posted by yhbc at 7:33 PM on December 18, 2002

just got back from seeing it. thought it was great but verdict is still out on comparing it to FOTR. i was going to say something else but i'm too tired.

posted by poopy at 7:52 PM on December 18, 2002

Pretty_Generic - cheers for the photos. FWIW in pic 21 you can see me. I'm a tiny blue smudge in the top right, 4mm to the left of the yellow traffic light pole. wow.
posted by mhjb at 9:35 PM on December 18, 2002

I would like to point out that any version of LOTR that leaves out Tom Bombadil is automatically excellent - even if Russ Meyer has directed it and Kitten Nativad was featured as both Merry and Pippin (if you know what I mean).
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:21 AM on December 19, 2002

1.9999 cents....

Excellent. Merrie and Pippin finally get some character development, great CGI (of course); but for Valinor's sake, all Elijah Wood is sulk! I didn't convince my g/f to wait in line just so we could see the guy pout for at least eight minutes of screen time.
posted by notsnot at 1:07 AM on December 19, 2002

I just had another realization about why the first film outstripped the second, at least at a story level (as an action movie, the second one was obviously a lot better because, well, there was more action):

The calibre of acting in the first was light-years beyond the acting in the second. Ian Holm, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving were all allowed to act to a degree that they weren't in the second; the fact that Gollum, a computer generated creature, was considered the best actor in the second by a whole lot of people says something. Although I'm sure the lack of Gandalf was from the books (I haven't read them), it was disappointing to have the main stories in this be focused on Aragorn and Theodin, who I have to say are played by some of the weaker actors in the trilogy. Compare Bernard Hill's performance to say, Sean Bean, who was amazing in the first, and it's pretty obvious the second lacks in that department. That's not to say Viggo Mortensen is a bad actor, though -- his constantly slipping British accent is pretty hard to take though. He was awesome as Lalin in Carlito's Way, though, if you want to see Aragorn really act.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 3:40 AM on December 19, 2002

I'm going to go crazy here. I can't wait to see it, and reading this almost has me to the point of salivation. But alas, here I am, in a small town with only one second-run theatre. I'm scheduled to bus back home in 2 hours from now, but the bus might be cancelled because of snow.

posted by dgt at 7:51 AM on December 19, 2002

"In a nutshell, I'm practically speechless."

Wow. Thank-you, Rotten Tomatoes, for providing me with such a wonderful review.

I think if I was in a nutshell, I'd be speechless too.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:54 PM on December 19, 2002

Strangely enough, the hard core crowd at is furious.
posted by muckster at 4:42 PM on December 19, 2002

I haven't seen it yet, but I was wondering, is Shelob is in the movie? Or did they leave it out like Tom Bombadil?
posted by homunculus at 6:30 PM on December 19, 2002

*minor spoilers*

Funny how opinions differ on this one; I didn't see much character development in Merry and Pippin at all, e.g. But the film is absolutely fantastic, from the opening mountaintop shot to the closing scenes with Frodo and Sam (I cried). A few moments are too silly (Legolas briefly surfboarding down the stairs of Helm's Deep - ugh), and it feels rushed in a couple of spots, but balanced against the beautiful realization of Theoden's castle at Edoras, the brilliantly sympathetic characterization of Gollum (now my favorite character) and the stunning battle scenes, those are really nothing. I loved the scene where Elrond reminds Arwen that whether Aragorn wins or loses, she's still going to watch him die and be left heartbreakingly alone. It captures the sadness of the elves perfectly (although it's not clear why Elrond ignores the possibility of staying with him and leaving for the West after he dies, as Legolas does in the book).

The lone dissenter, Victoria Alexander, certainly has an unconventional taste in movies.

I loved this line in her review: "THE TWO TOWERS must stand alone in its own right." Good lord, how clueless can you get? Unlike, say, The Godfather 2, there's NO WAY this film can stand alone and feel complete. And Gimli "has more screen time and close-ups then The Ring, Frodo, and Aragorn combined"? She's loony.

Oh, and homunculus, Jackson leaves Shelob for the third installment, but she'll be there. Gollum's already planning it.
posted by mediareport at 6:51 PM on December 19, 2002

Thanks mediareport.
posted by homunculus at 7:23 PM on December 19, 2002

I was particularly fond of the dream sequence between Arwen and Aragorn, and I have come to love Liv Tyler in that part, but I still can't get the image of Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith ("Sit down, Mr. Anderson!") out of my mind, even with his long looping elflocks! Geez, there were even more liberties taken with the book than in the first movie - Faramir and Co. never took Frodo and Sam to Osgiliath! And what about the Paths of the Dead? I wish PJ would have worked that into the Helms Deep sequence because it would have resolved better - rather than making it seem as if Gandalf bringing Eomer and the Riders back saved the battle. I loved the part between Frodo and Sam near the end, when they talk about having a song made about them, that part makes me tear up when I read it, and did during the film.
(I am a certifiable Tolkien fan-girl; I've read the trilogy 22 times.)
posted by Lynsey at 8:23 PM on December 19, 2002

wait I thought Paths of the Dead was in the third book? Helms Deep was saved by the ents sending the hourns (sp?) over, and the defenders sallying forth...?

I saw it yesterday, and I think the movie version of Fellowship was better...seemed to stay truer to the spirit of the book. A lot of the things they changed I really thought was better in the book, especially the ents (thinking the hobbits were orcs!??!), I mean I can understand if CGI doesn't make treebeard as majestic as he deserved to be, but the personality....hoom, hm, ah well...
posted by sip at 9:21 PM on December 19, 2002

yeah, Paths of the Dead are in third book
posted by poopy at 12:19 PM on December 20, 2002

What pissed me off was that Peter Jackson totally changed one of the main themes of the books. In the movie, the elves come and save the defenders at Helm's Deep, but in the books it's Aragorn's people, the Dunedain. The Elves never come to the rescue, because the whole story is about them leaving Middle Earth to the humans, and Aragorn uniting the scattered tribes together. Can't forgive that part, but I liked the movie.

Just had to chime in, even though nobody will ever read this.
posted by Hildago at 7:42 PM on January 6, 2003

I did.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:34 PM on January 7, 2003

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