- "The battle for Helm's Deep is over, and the battle
for Middle-earth is about to begin"
Peter Jackson is a genius. His Lord of the Ring movies
don't just show you the classic tale of a humble hobbit and his
quest to destroy the ring to rule them all; they drench you in
their lush visuals and encompass you into the story as if you
were a participant, not an observer. His eye for each intricate
detail, and his passion and dedication of remaining true to the
original story is unbelievable. When The
Return of the King is released later this year, I believe his trilogy
will reign as the most grand and artistically expressive epic to
ever grace the silver screen.
After seeing The Fellowship of the Ring last year, I had
a hard time believing the follow-up could possibly deliver the
same level of wonder and fantastic enchantment as the first, but
to my delight it did. I won't go
so far as to say it was better, because the first was so
incredible in its own way, however I will say it was just as
good. Whereas TFOTR started our
great adventure and set the stage for the following two movies, The
Two Towers slows the pace a little bit to prepare for the
great climactic standoff between evil and whomever else deems
courageous enough to fight side by side with Man to defend Middle-earth.
I won't go into detail about the plot, because most likely those
interested in this DVD will have already seen the movie. And
likewise, those who didn't see it in theaters will not want any
spoilers to ruin the overall effect. For those who fall into
latter group, I can assure you that TTT is just as good
as the first, and is a must see.
Computer animation makes a more lasting impression on TTT
than it did in TFOTR. The greatest example of this is in
the expanded character of Gollum, who now plays a much more
intricate part in the story. The CG used to create Gollum is the
absolute best example of computer-enhanced effects I've ever seen
in a movie - period. It was so realistic that my wife actually
asked me whom they had managed to find to play his part. Gollum
is just about perfect, and his character comes to life in a way I
never thought would be possible in a movie. Again, another credit
to Jackson's uncanny vision for remaining true to J.R.R.
Tolkien's original novels.
As in the TFOTR, the sweeping visuals are awe-inspiring.
This movie looks just as big as it feels. When Jackson's
beautiful matte paintings and miniature models are coupled with
the stunning mountains and valleys of New Zealand, the effect is
breathtaking. From the opening scene you feel as though you've
been transported into another world; a world larger than the
escalating evil trying to destroy it, and larger than the good
brotherhood fighting to save it.
There were some scenes where the blue screen effects come off
looking a little fake, but it never took me out of the movie.
Instead, TTT faults end up giving it a magical feel
that almost reassures you; telling you that you are indeed seeing
a truly magical story unfolding in front of your eyes. But even
the TTT downfalls aren't really downfalls. The trilogy
is still riddled with some of the best special effects to ever be
implemented into a motion picture, and in my opinion, far exceeds
the efforts put forth in George Lucas' Attack of the Clones,
both in realistic presentation, and emotional effectiveness.
There are only two aspects to this DVD that bothered me. The
first is the presence of edge enhancement. In fact, I'd say the
video quality is worse than TFOTR in terms of edge
enhancement halos. But it is better than TFOTR in terms
of clarity, graininess, and pixelation. The other problem is the
very noticeable layer change halfway through the movie. The
transition is very abrupt, and occurs at a pivotal point in the
story. Better care should have been taken as to the proper timing
of the layer change. But other than these two gripes, I'd say the
DVD is nearly perfect. The audio is without question reference
quality, and the movie itself is worthy of even the stingiest of
So the question arises; do you buy this two-disc set, or hold out
for the forthcoming Extended Edition? Well, if the Two
Tower's Extended Edition is half as good as the TFOTR
Extended Edition, I'd recommend holding out. But there is something to be said about having the entire
movie on one disc. However, if you are a hardcore fan of the
trilogy, the addition of extra scenes along with the dizzying
amount of special features, makes the burden easily forgettable.
Then again, I love these movies so much; I'm actually crazy
enough to go buy both. There are so few (morally right) guilty
pleasures that exist in this world, so why not indulge in them
when you have the chance?
The Two Towers is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic
widescreen. Each time I've plopped in a Lord of the Rings
DVD in my player, I've crossed my fingers hoping for a reference
quality disc, however my wishes have never been answered. Yes the
picture looks fantastic, but it falls clearly short of being
reference grade. With TFOTR it was the presence of
graininess and pixelation that did it in, and with TTT
it's edge enhancement. The edge enhancement halos aren't visible
all the time, but when they are, they're easily noticed. It's
apparent most often on the mountain ranges in the background, and
the subtitles at the bottom of the screen. Thankfully it's not
very noticeable during close-ups of the characters.
As in the first movie, colors are purposely dingy, giving it that
made-in-1970 look. Black levels are superb, and overall clarity
is much improved over the TFOTR. Although the cleanness
of the picture doesn't approach the same level of that of
Starship Troopers - Superbit Collection, which has one of the
cleanest transfers I've ever seen. The TTT is an
excellent looking DVD, just not as good as it rightly deserves.
The Two Towers comes with a Dolby Digital EX 5.1
Surround audio track. The sound in this movie just plain rocks!
The lows will rumble your living room when the raging battles
begin, and the screeching of flying dragons will piece your ears
from all directions. The soundtrack seems almost perfectly
separated, with most of the sound coming from the front three
speakers. However the rear channels are always active giving the
appropriate ambiance to the scene at hand, while speaking up when
the action escalates and all hell breaks loose. This is a
fantastic sounding DVD, and will probably only get better with
the DTS-ES audio track that will be included on the
Extended Edition. If the audio sounds this good on this disc, the
Extended Edition will most likely please to no end.
This may not be the Extended Edition, but it's no slouch in the
special features department. So lets get started.
On the Set of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers -
Stars Encore Special: This feature appeared on the Stars
network. It dives a little bit into the characters of the Lord
of the Rings trilogy. We learn a little about the special
effects used in The Two Towers, and more specifically
about Gollum and the Fanghorn Forest. Some of the information is
new, but a majority of it appeared in TFOTR Extended Edition.
So if you own that set much of this will old news. (14:00)
Return to Middle-earth: WB Special: This
originally aired on the WB network and was really quite
interesting. Here we get a brief recap of all the main characters
again, but we also get to see several behind the scenes clips
from The Two Towers. This was a highly entertaining
feature as it offered excellent information about set locations.
If you didn't catch this special on TV, this is definitely worth
A short film by Sean Astin: "The Long and Short of
it.": This is a cute short film that was written,
produced and directed by Sean Astin. It's about comradery, and
was filmed on location in New Zealand between the shooting
schedules for The Two Towers. Astin managed to finagle
tons of workers from the main movie, so it really was a group
effort that exemplified the true theme of the short film. (6:00)
Making of "The Long and Short of it.":
This is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Sean Astin's
short film. (7:00)
Featurettes created for lordoftherings.net: This
is a series of eight featurettes that take a closer look at
certain subjects of The Two Towers. All of them are
informative and entertaining, and are worth a look. The features
are, Forces of Darkness, Designing the Sounds of
Middle-earth, Edoras: The Rohan Capital, Creatures of
Middle-earth, Gandalf the White, Arms and Armor, The Battle of
Helm's Deep, and Bringing Gollum to Life.
Behind-the-scenes preview for the Return of the King:
Here we get a small glimpse of what we have to look forward to
come December. And I have to admit, after seeing this it looks
like Return of the King will be the best of the three. I
can't wait! (10:00)
Inside look at the Extended Edition for The Two Towers:
This was a fantastic sneak peak at what we have to look forward
to come November 18th. There will be an additional 200 new shots
included in the Extended Edition. That's right, 200 new shots!
The added scenes will add more background information to the
storyline, better explanations for the plot, more depth to the
characters, and important sequences that stay true to the
original book. In short, the Extended Edition is going to make
the movie longer, but much better.
Music video by Emiliana Torrini: "Gollum's Song":
This is a hauntingly beautiful song that really hits a chord in
the main theme of this movie. I'm very glad it was included in
Rounding out the rest of the features include the original
theatrical movie trailers, TV spots, and a preview of Electronic
Art's video game, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
I was quite satisfied with this array of special features. If I
had no desire to purchase the Extended Edition, I would feel
quite content with this two-disc DVD set. However, those in the
know will not be able to resist our precious Extended Edition
coming out in November.
The Two Towers may be a sequel, but it aint no Caddy
Shack 2. This movie is just as good as the first, plain and
simple. The action is intense, the visuals are stunning, the
characters are moving, and Jackson's direction is exquisite. This
is one of the greatest sequel movies of all time, and should be
in every movie lover's collection. Die-hard fans will want to
wait for the Extended Edition, but if you simply can't wait till
November 18th, you should feel no guilt in buying this set to
hold you off.
If it weren't for the impending Extended Edition, this would be a
DVD Talk Collectors disc for sure, but I'll reserve that title
for that set, as it looks to be every bit as good as TFOTR
Extended Edition. Highly Recommended