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"The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers"

THERE IS just one word to describe this film — spectacular! In terms of its visuals, grandeur, the effects and the sheer size of the production.

The battle between good and evil is hugely potent for story telling, and in this film, the abundance of it fills the frames for close to three hours. And the breathtaking landscapes and awesome creatures created out of a fertile mind are spectacles to behold.

Director Peter Jackson takes up the second part of the trilogy where there is much uncertainty in Middle Earth.

Joining the Fellowship Of The Rings, protagonists dwarf Gimli (John Rhys Davies), the elf, Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and human Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), the narration follows their run into the rolling hills of Rohan, a kingdom of noble cavalrymen.

The king, Theoden (Bernard Hill), has fallen under Saruman's (Christopher Lee) deadly spell through the manipulations of his spy Wormtongue (Brad Dourif).

Eowyn (Mirinda Otto) is the king's niece, who recognises a leader in the human Aragorn. And is also drawn to him as he is to her.

Gandalf (Ian McKellen) has been reborn as Gandalf, The White, following his fight with the Balrog. He reminds Aragorn of his destiny to unite the Rohan people with the last remaining stronghold of human resistance — Gondor. If all this were not enough, the three of them are also hot on the heels of a group of fearsome Uruk Hai Orcs, who have kidnapped two hobbits, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd).

The malevolent Saruman, creator of the Uruk Hai, has openly allied with the dark lord Sauron, the once omnipotent forger of the Ring Of Power. While the latter is still massing armies, in the wasteland of Mordor, the former is on the move, dispatching a group of wild barbarians to burn Rohan's villages.

Meanwhile a 10,000-strong army is marching towards Edoras, where Aragorn and his companions find themselves.

The hobbits, Sam (Sean Astin) and Frodo (Elijah Wood), are marching towards Mordor for completion of the mission of destroying The Ring in the volcano of Mount Doom — the journey is slow and treacherous.

The Ring is beginning to drain Frodo of all his energies and he is getting increasingly obsessed with it. Enter Gollum, the computer-generated, twisted creature, who becomes their companion through sheer compulsion. This creature delivers a full-fledged dramatic performance — on the one hand, he is a withered creature poisoned by centuries long contact with the Ring, and on the other, he is devious and full of awful plans to divest the Ring from Frodo. These two sides of this character clash rather brilliantly as the good and the bad collide and argue. In the close-ups, this oddity is almost mesmerising.

The film moves on till the time Aragorn convinces King Theoden to fight with him at helms deep and destroy the hordes that will be in the kingdom before sundown. Forty-five minutes of action follows where the battle is of epic proportions — and also shows what really is at stake — hundreds of cowering refugees, and a few hundred brave men against a snarling horde of bloodthirsty monsters. Thankfully, the crafty wizard Gandlalf who returns to help saves them. Astride a magnificent white horse, he is a sight with his long white hair and flowing white robe as his steed gallops into the battle.

Though filmed with awesome detailing, the battle is long drawn out — and no matter how grand the spectacle, one gets tired of so much action.

With snow-capped mountains, sparkling lakes and monstrous forests, the film abounds in visual beauty. The places look like paradise till the weird creatures start making their appearances. Enormous flying dragons, hyena-like creatures, animals with sharp teeth and talking tress are part of the wild fantasies of the writer. In fact, Treebeard, who looks a bit weird and comical as the talking tree and who refuses to take sides initially but later agrees to fight, is symbolic of the destruction of trees and vegetation.

CHITRA MAHESH

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