|Star:||Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Christopher Lee|
|Cert / Year:||12A - PG13 / 2002|
Following on from the events in Lord of the Rings the Fellowship of the Ring our heroes are spilt into three groups. Frodo and Sam are off to Mount Doom in Mordor to dispose of the ring. Meanwhile Merry and Pippin have been captured by orcs and are being taken to Saruman in Isengard. Hot on their heels are Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli who are trying to rescue them. However their plans may have to wait as Saruman is about to unleash his orcish army with the mission to destroy the kingdoms of man.
This is the middle section of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and after such a flawlessly brilliant start with the first film this movie had a lot to live up to, and I am happy to say for the most part it has. Once again we are immersed in lands created by Tolkien, superbly bought to life by Peter Jackson and some cutting edge effects. Once again we can be impressed by some excellent performances from the main cast, and once again we can be drawn into an adventure of an epic scale. So if it's very much business as usual lets concentrate on the differences in this film.
The first is the totally CGI central characters, foremost of which is Smeagol. Technology has moved on since that most unfortunate of creations Jar Jar Binks, and with Smeagol we can see the current state of the art. Ok so he's not quite perfect but here we have a CG character delivering a top draw performance, and it works because you believe in him as a person. Apart form Smeagol we have the excellent Ents. Part man, part tree, but totally cool. Their attack on Isengard is the highlight of the film.
Hold on though things aren't quite as perfect as the last film. The biggest problem stems from the unsatisfactory handling of the battle of Helm's Deep. The battle starts well but then things become confused the stated number of combatants don't seem to tally with the action. Then unnecessary humor between Legolas and Gimli somewhat ruins the serious and dark tone of the battle. Finally Gandalf appears and doesn't do anything very impressive as he decides that hitting orcs on the head is better than using magic. Lastly the end of the battle is shown in flashback during a speech by Sam. For a battle that describes the humans last stand it isn't very satisfactory. To see how a last stand battle should have been handled see Zulu.
Ok so the battle of Helm's Deep was a let down, the elf scenes mostly pointless, Frodo is becoming majorly annoying, Gandalf's return was less than spectacular as he didn't do much magic, and sometimes the CGI isn't so hot (the Wargs). However these points aren't enough to ruin what is essentially an excellent movie. The new CGI characters and the Ent battles are outstanding. The acting and direction of the character based scenes (Smeagol arguing with himself) is perfect. It may not be the classic the first one was, but it is a strong continuation of the trilogy. I'm sure that final part will be mind blowing.
The Battle for Middle-earth Begins!
Frodo: I am Frodo Baggins, and this is Samwise Gamgee.
Faramir: Your bodyguard?
Sam: His gardener.
Gollum: Master hurts us, Master betrays us. We should strangle him in his sleep. No, no, too risky... unless... we let 'her' do it... yes... Yes, she could do it for us, right precious?
Treebeard: We have decided...
Treebeard: We have decided that you are not orcs.
Pippin: Well that's good.
|2.35:1 Anamorphic||Great picture although the whole palette is a little grey|
|Dolby Digital 5.1 THX or 6.1||Amazing a real workout for the sound system|
|DISCS 1 + 2|
|The Main Feature|
|Four Commentary tracks from director crew and cast|
|DISC 3 + 4|
|Tons of documentaries detailing every aspect of the production|
|Map of the journey|
|Map of locations|
|Loads and Loads more||Ok so the extra 42 mins makes this a cumbersome film to watch, but trust me its worth it. The disc change isn't a draw back, but a welcome respite. The extras a fantastic and plentiful. This is about a good as it gets, forget the two disc version this is the definitive one.|