I saw The Two Towers last night with onlyjanica and madamimadam. It's a very lush movie, and I think it helps to have read the books, because trying to follow everything can be very difficult. Unlike a lot of other people, I am not a big fan of Tolkien's work. The movies are fun though, if you can keep up.
I can pretty much watch it only for the adventure story, and not for any of the more subtle interplay between characters. When it is subtle. Peter Jackson, the director, bashes his viewers upside the head with the two by four of Samwise and Frodo's relationship. Platitudes and aphorisms galore out of the mouths of those two hobbits. I liked the other two hobbits better, they act more hobbit like. I don't expect Frodo to be too hobbit like, as the Bagginses are known to be very non-hobbit like, and adventuresome. I was looking for more hobbit-like characteristics from Sam though.
Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas was a good time though. Except for the fact that I kept wondering about all the running they were doing at the beginning. The movie never shows Gimli catching up to them. Either he is going to be further and further behind, or they might as well show Legolas and Aragorn right with him. And I didn't like that his character was made into comic relief. He is fierce in the wrong way. He should have been scary fierce, not comic fierce.
And the last major thing I didn't like was the ents. There was something just wrong about how they moved. They moved too quickly. And talked too quickly. And I hated how their faces showed up. Wished they almost had no faces. I realize ents probably cannot live up to my expectations in a visual medium like film. So Peter Jackson is forgiven on that count. I just imagined them as extremely slow moving without being lumbering, and yet somehow still being extremely fearsome. But it's hard to make them as slow as I imagined in a movie.
The things I did like. Obviously, the battle scenes. Loved the battle for Isengard, although it was shorter than the fight for Helm's Deep. Wished they had shown more boulder throwing. Dismantling Isengard. The water and dam bursting was pretty well done. On the battle of Helm's Deep, I loved the fortress. Other than the too rhythmic cadence of the orcs, they were extremely fearsome.
Smeagol I think is the best part of the whole movie. Other than the close-ups, which made his face just too CGI-like, he moved a most believable and creepy fashion. And the inner psychosis was well done. Jackson gave his two personalities just slightly different voices so I could follow them pretty well. In many ways, Smeagol is the most real character in the movie. There are not many conflicted characters in the story. When they do show up in the movie, I was never transfixed by their conflict. I never felt like the King of Rohan was truly evil; I was just waiting for the spell to free him. Faramir as well gave me the feeling like he was good at heart and not really a fierce warrior who really would steal the ring. But Smeagol, I bought that Smeagol was truly going into Frodo's service, and I truly bought his conflict and eventual decision to betray Frodo.
Oh, and if you go see it at the Cinerama, go to the bathroom during the previews. The camera shots change so quickly during the previews that your eyes never adjust and you will feel sick, much akin to strobe lights. THe movie itself doesn't flash so much. With the huge screen during the previews, I was quite nauseous.