While Frodo and Sam continue their dangerous mission to destroy the One Ring, the divided Fellowship strive to stop the forces of Saruman and Sauron. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli meet the Rohirrim, a proud race of men led by King Theoden but all is not as it seems as the King refuses to help the travellers’ plight.

 

The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (2002) – Director: Peter Jackson

Movie poster for The Two Towers

Running Length: 179 mins

Rating: 12

Starring: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen

Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy

Due to important plot points, we would recommend that you watch the following movie before The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers:

  • The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

 

REVIEW

Jackson successfully builds on the formula he established in ‘The Fellowship Of The Ring’ but the question was always going to be if ‘The Two Towers’ would suffer due to being the awkward middle of the story. It would no longer have the introductory majesty that its predecessor revelled in but also would not be able to rely on a satisfactory conclusion to give it weight. What to do? Battles. That’s what. Tons of them. Not only that but make the last one take up the entire last third of the movie. Then cut the ‘non battle’ conclusion of the book and shift it to the last movie. In retrospect, these were probably wise choices.

What ‘The Two Towers’ does so well is pace. What was once a Fellowship of nine characters has now splintered into three separate groups. That’s three storylines that need to be cut between. With Frodo and Sam, we have the introduction of Gollum, the twisted and schizophrenic creature that is pathetic one moment and vicious the next. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli focus on raising allies to their cause and the Rohirrim plot is the one that introduces the most new elements. The remaining hobbits, Merry and Pippin, have a rather scattergun contribution as they are carried from one crisis to the next. It could have been a disjointed mess, but by skilfully weaving back and forth between the three elements, we not only gain a better sense of the increasingly ravaged world of Middle Earth, but each character is given more space to breathe and flourish. Well, until the huge scale fight at Helm’s Deep of course, but then there’s nothing like a hopelessly outnumbered struggle to get the blood pumping, is there?

 

IS ‘THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

Much like we said in our review of ‘The Fellowship Of The Ring’, there are many violent elements to the numerous fight scenes. In particular, the battle at Helm’s Deep includes, as you might expect, humans and orcs suffering sword impalements, limb slicing, decapitations and multiple arrows thudding bloodily into fighters. These parts aren’t overly graphic per se, and are usually quick snapshots that occur in the midst of battle. The fight for Helm’s Deep in particular is huge and lengthy. Although the battle sequence is interspersed with scenes of what is happening with other characters, the conflict itself is rather relentless and could be distressing for younger children. Similarly there are smatterings of gore in ‘The Two Towers’, such as an earlier moment when Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas come across the aftermath of a battle wherein the head of an uruk-hai (a large aggressive breed of orc) has been impaled on a stick. This is graphic. The eyes are open, the tongue is lolling out and the shot lasts for several seconds.

Not long into the start of ‘The Two Towers’ a band of orcs are quick-marching towards the evil Sauron’s lair; the dead jagged lands of Mordor. These orcs are the same as from the closing moments of ‘The Fellowship Of The Ring’ where Merry and Pippin were hauled away with the troupe. There is a prolonged argument between the orcs loyal to Sauron and the larger, more regimented, ‘uruk-hai’ (loyal to the corrupt wizard, Saruman) where the debate is whether or not to eat the captive hobbits. Although the uruk-hai demand that Merry and Pippin be kept alive for their master, the Sauron orcs attempt to negotiate, suggesting that instead they just eat the hobbits’ legs. The dispute turns violent and, as an orc is killed, others pounce on his body and start ripping it apart. This isn’t too graphic (although the dialogue itself is) but you do see intestines flying about! A surprise attack force arrives and amongst the hack and slash carnage, Merry and Pippin attempt to flee. However, the last shot we see of Pippin is him crying out in fear as a horse is about to crush him under its hooves. It is quite a long time before we learn more of what happened to Pippin, and the potential distress this delay causes is worsened by a scene when Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas learn of this attack and are informed that the attackers “left none alive”. This leads to a scene shortly after with some emotional weight as Aragorn is shown to drop to his knees and cry out in anguish. It is an altogether short moment though and other matters soon take precedence.

Meanwhile Frodo and Sam are being guided to Mordor by Gollum and come across a treacherous swamp. Just under the water’s surface there are many dead and rotting corpses. This scene peaks when Frodo stops and stares at one such body, only for the ‘dead’ thing to suddenly open its white opaque eyes. Frodo falls into the water and before he is pulled out, frightening ghostly figures surround him and try to pull him in further. This is also the first scene were we are introduced to the Nazgul which are huge dragon like creatures ridden by ring wraiths (for more detail on ring wraiths, read our review of ‘The Fellowship Of The Ring’). Whilst not overly scary in appearance, their presence is usually preceded by a piercing shriek which is so painful to hear that the hobbits and Gollum have to cover their ears. This is a sound that may scare children who react badly to loud, unexpected noises.

Gollum himself is also likely to upset some children due to his split personality. He has an innocent, friendly side but it is often overtaken by an aggressive and bullying persona. The effects and camera angles used to show the different personalities are expertly done so children may find themselves confused by the complexities of his character. The innocent side is often funny and provides appealing light relief but seconds later the corrupted side snarls violent and calculating dialogue. We suspect older children will love this strange creature, but younger children may either be afraid or perplexed.

There is a very minor and indirect sexual reference in ‘The Two Towers’. While King Theoden is under the influence of Saruman and Wormtongue, Wormtongue implies that he has been promised Eowin, the beautiful maiden of Rohan, as payment for his services. This is extremely mild and we mention it purely for the sake of completeness as younger children are unlikely to pick up on this implication.

Lastly, there are several emotional moments in ‘The Two Towers’ which Jackson usually emphasises with swelling music and / or close ups of the actors in grief. One deeply moving moment involves a key character having to deal with the death of his son. While the son is barely introduced as a character, his father’s grief is shown prominently during a burial scene and is likely to upset children who are sensitive to such things.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

This movie is a great example of a balanced, character driven plot which is broken up with plenty of exciting action sequences to keep anyone’s interest piqued. Although there are quite a few scary and violent moments, there are also many aspects that will appeal to children. We haven’t even yet mentioned the Ents. These are slow, bumbling trees who never do anything in a hurry and provide plenty of silly comic relief. Also, Gimli’s friendly rivalry with Legolas is endlessly entertaining. The 12A certificate of this movie is appropriate (compared to the previous movie being a PG) as the violence is taken to the next step and is aimed towards a more mature audience. We believe that this movie is likely to be enjoyed by children aged 10 and over.

  • Violence: 5/5 (whilst the violence isn’t as bad as what may be featured in, say, a 15 rated movie, we score ‘The Two Towers’ the maximum of 5 because we feel that it is the strongest kind of violence that would be acceptable to an under 12 viewer)
  • Emotional Distress: 3/5 (there is also a moment when Gollum is holding a dead rabbit and proceeds to break its bones which is seen by the audience and there is a realistic ‘crack’ to accompany it)
  • Fear Factor: 4/5
  • Sexual Content: 1/5 (Wormtongue’s lust of Eowin is mild but is referenced a couple of times)
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 4/5 (the orcs and Gollum are known to say many unpleasant things!)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of friendship, loyalty, courage, betrayal, greed and evil.

Words by Laura Record

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