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Now for the second in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the one I probably enjoyed the most at the cinema. The Two Towers carries on the story, catching up with the remaining and separated fellowship as they continue their journey and it’s dark times for Middle-Earth. Saruman (Christopher Lee) is working hard to raise his armies, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are hanging out with entranced kings in Rohan and of course Frodo and Sam are making frenemies with previous ring holder Gollum, as he helps them/tries to kill them for the sake of his precious.

 Lord of the Rings, The: The Two Towers
Two Towers is an odd one for me. It’s the second instalment in the trilogy and on first viewing I remember enjoying the experience much more than I did The Fellowship of the Ring but even saying that, I really do struggle remembering what happens in this flick every time I think about it. Once it gets going it all comes flooding back. It’s the Brad Dourif one isn't it. Love that guy. The one with the crusty old king and the walking trees with the awkward looking special effects. Oh and it’s the one with the battle at the end when the Orcs armour with a bomb to blow open the wall while looking a lot like the armoured up goblins in Labyrinth that run into one another a lot.

That of course is making light of what is a very well plotted, if not very over long fantasy movie. Of course the big draw here is Gollum with all his much hyped wonderfulness, even if the CGI effects never quite held up to everyone’s admiration of them in my opinion. With that said, none of that really matters because it’s Andy Serkis’s performance or capture of it that makes Gollum so compelling. Every time the skinny little weirdo is on screen, Two Towers becomes a better film. Even when Sam is at his most annoying or Frodo’s teary eyes have had a few minutes too much screentime, Gollum makes the core of this film and the importance of The One Ring work and is enough to make me want to get back to him rather than watch the other characters tracking it across Middle-Earth.

 Lord of the Rings, The: The Two Towers
I do really enjoy this middle part of the trilogy. Treebeard still sounds too much like Unicron from the Transformers Animated Movie for me to really get involved with the walking tree's segments of the film and the easy to rib extended periods of travelling across Middle-Earth really took their roots from this movie but it all pays off in the right places, especially when we get to the battle of Helm’s Deep at the end. There’s a whole lot of fun to be had with this battle and Peter Jackson manages the multiple elements of it wonderfully.

Legolas (Orlando Bloom) really steps up and becomes the first of the Fellowship I actually like seeing do cool stuff and Aragorn solidifies what I liked about him in the first film, which made me more interested in where his story had to go back in 2002. Also, even though Gandalf’s return feels inevitable, Ian McKellen really gets some of his finest moments in this movie, keeping the heart of the story alive all while kicking ass along the way.

 Lord of the Rings, The: The Two Towers

Video


The Two Towers takes the colouring down a notch from Fellowship and in comparison to some of the over popping colours on the Fellowship Extended Blu-ray, Two Towers feels much more natural and in tune with the theatrical presentation of the film. There’s a grey, colder feel to most of the exterior scenes to represent the darker routes the story is taking and generally speaking, this is another good transfer.

Sure it suffers the same issues as Fellowship, in that the wider shots are softer than the crisp, detailed close ups but there certainly seems to be an improvement here. Skin textures are much more apparent, the lighting allows for richer detail, such as the hobbit’s felt capes, that this HD presentation shows off every bobble and stray strand of. Darker scenes seems to hold up better as well, we actually see a lot more deep blacks within the night scenes, even though there are much more in the way of dark blues as per Jackson’s choices but shadows are much deeper none the less.

This is a transfer that feels much more in tune with how the film should look in HD. I wouldn’t say that there isn’t room for improvement though,  as many a scene doesn’t offer up that HD pop you’d expect them to but when The Two Towers shines, it really does take advantage of the upgrade here.

 Lord of the Rings, The: The Two Towers

Audio


Once again the real HD improvement comes in the audio presentation. The DTS-HD Master Audio track kicks a whole lot of ass. Dialogue is constantly crisp and well places within the mix and the score sits behind it perfectly. When the score becomes the focus is absolutely fills the surrounds with some real power but it’s the battle scenes once again that own this track.

Every element within the Battle of Helm’s Deep is impressive. The layers of Men, Elfs and Orcs are felt with some great use of bass. Smashing swords and armour ring out with great effect and the scale of this event is felt entirely as the track immerses you in its scope. Other elements like the creaking and moaning of Treebeard and his buddies work wonderfully. Every crack of wood feels like it’s in the room and the depth to his voice is bassy and ups the scale of the rather badly animated CGI character very well.
I can’t really knock anything about this very impressive audio presentation, it’s a fantastic sounding mix and one that takes full use of any good home theatre set up.

 Lord of the Rings, The: The Two Towers

Extras


Once again there’s nothing but the commentaries;

•Commentary with Director & Writers
•Commentary with Design Team
•Commentary with Production and Post Production
•Commentary with Cast

There’s also an Easter Egg on  Disc 1 - another MTV snippet with Gollum winning best digital performance.

 Lord of the Rings, The: The Two Towers

Overall


Two Towers is both a middle chapter I felt improved on previous LOTR installment while also being the LOTR movie that really highlighted what I didn't like about the trilogy. Peter Jackson really stretches out every little bit of the story, especially in these extended editions and his filmmaking techniques began to grate a little bit on me by this point. With that said I still come out of Two Towers on a high rather than with the sense of indifference I have at the end of Fellowship, so that’s always a good thing as we head into Return of the King.

Once again the dsic is great to look at but not quite there in regard to showing off but the audio more than makes up for it,with it's powerhouse of a presentation. Sadly though, the lack of extra here makes the Extended Editions boxset a much more tempting propsect.


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