Hmm. Ebert was less than 100% enthusiastic about The Two Towers. So now I’m in the awkward position of being let down, either by the movie or my favorite critic. What a dilemma.


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  1. Does it bother anyone else that Ebert refers to Gollum as “THE Gollum”? I’m pretty surprised (if I’m inferring correctly) that he hasn’t read the books.

    Anyway, I was actually discussing this with some students yesterday, and we came up with three reasons why people might be feeling a tad let down after TTT:

    1. It’s a second movie of a trilogy and thus will only gain true significance in its full context, which means after RETURN OF THE KING comes out. I only realized the genius of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK after all of the original SW trilogy had been released.

    2. The novelty of “Holy crap, Peter Jackson really pulled it off!” is gone, so we won’t have the same degree of amazement as we did watching FELLOWSHIP.

    3. Even at 3 hours, there’s a lot of story packed in and a lot of shifting back and forth among members of the broken fellowship, so it might lose a little overall momentum.

    Still, I haven’t talked to anyone who hasn’t been thrilled by the whole thing. I’m going today at noon (hooray for Christmas holidays!), so maybe I’ll have more to add later…

  2. I saw it last night and don’t think that you’ll be let down by either the film or by Ebert. I think it’s true that the film is more about the action than the character development (with the exception of Gollum, who was wonderfully performed). The hobbits could have been better developed (the actors were certainly up to the task), but that doesn’t take away from the film or the story telling.

    To Max and his class’ points, I would respond:

    1. For those who have not read the books, perhaps this one isn’t as meaningful right now, but for those of us who have, we get it (and don’t care about those who couldn’t be bothered to read the books).

    2. Yeah, I think this came into play. I went into the first one with low expectations, and my expectations were much higher this time.

    3. The 3 hours bit did get a little long in the middle, but I think that the shifting amongst story lines enhanced, rather than took away, from the momemtum building. I’m rereading the Two Towers now, and have finished all but the Frodo and Sam piece and am wishing that the book had gone back and forth between the story lines, too.

    I was a little let down by some minor departures from the book (wrote about it on my site).

    Enjoy the film!

  3. I also felt a bit let down, but it’s mostly the day-after-Christmas feeling: you’ve been looking forward to it for a year and now it’s suddenly over. My expectations were much higher than the first, which I was afraid would suck (Episode I syndrome.) I think any fan will enjoy it overall. (My review is here.)

  4. Well, I won’t be able to respond until next week. It doesn’t come out here til Boxing Day (the 26th).

    I was talking about it at dinner with the Snook last night though. He mentioned that The Two Towers (book) is deliberately broken down into two halves. So you get the whole hobbit journey and the whole Helms Deep thing. Since Frodo and Sam’s “journey” is mostly psychological, it would probably lessen the impact if you were intercutting it with non-stop battle action. At least, that’s what I gathered from Ebert’s review. We’ll see.

  5. Just got back. Long story short: Definitely a great movie, definitely worth seeing (probably twice), and Gollum is a groundbreaking character in film history.

    I don’t think the quality of the film (in any aspect) suffers in comparison to the first, but perhaps what it boils down to is that the moviegoing experience is not quite as thrilling. I need to think about it a little more, but it deserves at least another half-star from Ebert. My gosh, he even cut SW Ep. II some slack!

  6. I’m also surprised that Ebert (apparently) hasn’t read the books. He seems upset that “…the hobbits spend much of the movie away from the action…” but they have more active roles than they do in the book! Maybe it’s just been a long time?
    I agree that the overall experience wasn’t quite as thrilling; I think it’s in part due to the fact that we’ve already been introduced to Jackson’s Middle Earth. Fellowship is my favorite of the books, largely because of the wonder & excitement Tolkien introduces with the lands & creatures.

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