Peter Jacksons magnificent second film of J R R Tolkiens classic trilogy immediately draws the audience back into the adventure - and what an adventure it is! If The Fellowship of the Ring astonished you, you will be overwhelmed by The Two Towers.
When the first film ended, the Fellowship had been split into three. Hobbits, Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin), continued their journey to Mordor, ruled by the Dark Lord, Sauron. As keeper of the all-powerful One Ring, Frodo had been entrusted to take it to the Crack of Doom to destroy it and prevent Sauron from enslaving the people of Middle-Earth. Frodo and Sams Hobbit friends, Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) were captured by Orcs, while the other members of the small band of heroes, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) searched for them. As it alternates between the adventures of each of these groups, the film widens its already-epic scale and introduces more characters - both good and evil - into the narrative.
Frodo and Sam capture Gollum (voiced superbly by Andy Serkis), a creature of equally repellent and pitiable appearance. Warped in both mind and body by the Ring, which he once owned, Gollum, also known as Smeagol, promises to guide Frodo and Sam to Mordor if they set him free. Sam is suspicious, Frodo prefers to give Gollum his trust and, it seems, is rewarded by his actions when Gollum carries out his side of the bargain and accepts Frodo as his master. Gollum is one of the films most astonishing creations - a completely computer generated character that blends in seamlessly with the real actors. A later revelation about Gollums much-tormented soul evokes fear and pity. As their journey progresses the Ring also begins to takes its powerful hold on Frodo.
Escaping from the Orcs while they are under attack, Pippin and Merry venture into the mysterious Fangorn Forest where they encounter Treebeard (voiced by John Rhys-Davies), a talking, moving, tree-like creature known as an Ent. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are reunited with a resurrected Gandalf (Ian McKellen), the wizard. Their quest now sends them to Rohan, where Gandalf releases its king, Theoden (Bernard Hill) from the evil hold of the treacherous wizard, Saruman (Christopher Lee). Wormtongue (Brad Dourif), Sarumans malevolent ally, has also helped poison Theodens mind while keeping a lustful eye on the beautiful Eowyn (Miranda Otto), whose brother, Eomer (Karl Urban) has been banished by the king while still under Sarumans power.
The spectacular climax of The Two Towers comes when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli join Theodens loyal, but seemingly doomed force in the earth-shaking Battle of Helms Deep in which they stand against Sarumans 10,000-strong army of creatures known as Uruk-hai. Almost as jaw-dropping is an assault on Sarumans stronghold by Treebeard and his Ent brothers, urged on by Pippin and Merry.
Many more characters, much, much more to astound you and an ending that will have you wishing away the year to get to the third and final instalment make The Two Towers one of the years must-see movie. With his exceptional cast and crew, Jackson more than lives up to the standard that he set for himself with the first film. This one truly does tower!