The Two Towers, Extended Edition

The battle of Helm's Deep is over. The battle for Middle Earth is about to begin.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * * )

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Any true fan of the Lord of the Rings films knows that the real version of the movies comes out about a year after it hits the theater. The Two Towers Extended Edition includes 45 more minutes of story-building footage and builds a far more detailed and complete version of the movie. It is a movie that lets us escape from the horrors of "real life" and a DVD everyone should own.

The Two Towers is a movie that makes you both happy and sad. You are sad that few movies will ever reach this level of entertainment but happy that at least you got to see this one. It is a movie full of great characters, excellent detail, a wonderful story, powerful action, and simple escapism. The amount of blood and sweat that the filmmakers put into this movie is staggering. They are the biggest fans of the original work. When you watch the background footage you see hundreds of the worlds greatest nerds doing what they love. From the two original Tolkien artists who used their decades of background on Rings artwork towards all of the design work of the film to the guy who stripped all of his fingerprints off twisting chainmail together, all of them love this movie.

The movie isn't perfect. I can sum up its problems in two words: Wacky Gimly. I don't know why they made this choice, but instead of a stubborn but hearty warrior, we see Gimly roll down hills, put on chainmail suits forty sizes too big, get stuck under a warg, fall off of a horse, hop up to see over the ramparts of Helms Deep, and lastly get "tossed" into a pile of orcs. "Don't tell the elf!". There was a little comic relief put into Fellowship but it was spread about a lot better than this. Now the characters all seem to have only a single role. Legolas says bold things and stands on hilltops, the swooning fantasy of every 14 year old girl. Aragorn just looks solomly at things. Eowyn exists to fall for Aragorn. It just seems a bit too simple sometimes.

I am being overly harsh. There are some moments of such power that they dwarf any nitpicking, no pun intended. Gandalf's epic battle with the Baelrog is the most powerful introduction I can think of. Golem's acting is perfect. He is easily the most detailed animated character ever done. The human actor of Golem, Andy Serkis, is amazing and seeing how they use his acting to animate golem on the five hour bonus discs is worth the price alone.

Like Fellowship, The Two Towers Extended Edition is one of the best DVDs ever made. It has four discs, two for the four hour film and two filled with extra features. There are multiple commentary tracks and the most well produced background material I have ever seen. It is a DVD to explore and enjoy for weeks. The picture is an excellent 16x9 enhanced 2.35 to 1 cut with a great Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS soundtrack. I listened to the Dolby Digital cut and was quite impressed. Don't even worry about DTS anymore.

I live for movies like The Two Towers and I cannot wait for Return of the King. These are the movies us nerds have been waiting for. It makes abortions like Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones bearable. They will be epic movies we will show our grand kids on their fancy holographic displays or embedded in their brain-implant home theater systems. It is a wonderful cut of a wonderful movie on the best DVD release ever.