I'll precede this with: DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT take children under 10 to this movie. We were lucky...we decided to go see it first ourselves to determine whether the kids would enjoy it. That was a smart move that saved us a few months of night terrors.
Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Two Towers is that Gollum (the slimiest, slitheriest, most hideous and repugnant book creature ever to invade my childhood nightmares repeatedly) had me literally squirming in my seat. I guess it's to their credit I reacted just as strongly as an adult, now faced with a 40-foot wide Gollum in front of me.
Viggo Mortensen simply irritates me. He looks weaselly and greasy and gross, and when I saw lilywhite, beautiful (Liv Tyler elf name here, something-o-wyn...) kiss him, my stomach turned. She needs to listen to her father ("It's the smell!"), get on the boat with the other elves, sail away, and leave Aragorn to his new object of lust, the sword-totin' human mama over in Helms Deep.
They obviously hired the real-life neo-nazi skinhead who plays Legolas because of his uncanny ability to furrow his eyebrows at exactly the right time. Some of the dwarf's lines were completely out of character, for comedic effect. There were two places in the final battle scene where I groaned because director Peter Jackson resorted to utter cop-outs. Other places seemed stolen outright from Braveheart. That said, it was a pretty epic battle scene, worth the three-hour wait. Over in Eisengard, the thing with the water is doubtless the coolest part of the movie. Breathtaking NZ landscapes made me whimper and pine to go back and stay.
Isn't it sad that a cool young actor like Elijah Wood will forever be best remembered as the guy who spent his entire 9 hours as Frodo Baggins rolling his eyes, crying, or looking like he's about to puke. And speaking of grossly underused actors in this movie, poor Cate Blanchett! And where the heck was Bilbo?
The first movie was truer to the book, made you care about the characters in the fellowship, and had something in it for everyone. This one is a straight action-adventure movie, with little to nothing in it for women and everything in Middle Earth to appeal to 14-year-old boys (or men who want to spend three hours pretending they are).
My feminist streak was COMPLETELY OUTRAGED when the king of Rohan refused to let his daughter, one of the best fighters, fight...but insisted on sending in boys too young to wield a weapon. What about all the women hiding in the caves? How lame is it that all they could do was cry and rock back and forth??? Seriously!!! If you're that badly outnumbered, dammit, leave the children with the old men and women, and let the women fight alongside the men (I'd have been fighting!!!). They could have kicked ass in half the time, and I definitely don't remember women being as utterly weak and unempowered in Tolkein's original work.
JRR Tolkein left nothing unexplained and no plot point undone. This movie, however, had a couple of simple plot holes big enough to drive a truck through...I won't blow it, but after you've seen the swamp scenes, note how unrealistic (even in Middle Earth) and scientifically impossible some of that stuff is. Even in a magic-ridden land, there have to be some allowances for the basic laws of physics and nature.
This one may in fact walk away with Oscars for video and sound effects, art direction, make-up and costumes, possibly nominations for editing and screenplay adaptation. But I didn't see any performances this time that should result in actor/actress nominations of any kind (they were too busy introducing new characters), because a digitized Gollum might not really count as an actor. Ian McKellen was less likeable; Viggo Mortensen and Sean Astin, more annoying; and Elijah Wood...well...too bad the director forgot it was supposed to be FRODO's story.
What did you guys think, and remember this is a NON-SPOILER ONLY thread....thanks.