Jonny is a big nerd |

As my friend Phil said as we walked out of the theater, “I can’t believe other people watch this and then go off and make The Wedding Planner“. Indeed. What Peter Jackson has done is nothing short of miraculous. Any shortcomings the movies have are Tolkein’s fault, not Jackson’s. Sacrilege you say? Hopefully, but two midgets riding around on top of a talking tree for an hour? Jackson did the best he could. I read all three books when I was about eleven. I thought the talking trees were a little gay then, too.

Whatever my review might be, it just pales in comparison to visual masterpiece that Jackson and Co. have turned in for the second installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. First thing is first; Gollum just totally and completely rules. I’ve seen many movies and many video games and many computer-animated characters, and Gollum trumps them all. Why? Principally because he can actually emote, a trait that George Lucas seemed not to care about when unleashed Jar-Jar upon us all. Remember when Lucas was saying that fully CG characters are the future of film? I was his harshest critic. Well, I’m eating my words, because Gollum is fully digital, and fully believable. Just an outstanding job by that chubby New Zealander and all the geeks in his employ.


Secondly, the big, seemingly never ending battle at Helms Deep is mind-boggling. You know that everything you are looking at is digital, but after about three seconds you forget that and instead all you can do is look at the slaughter and the carnage. There is a part where this big wall gets blown up and huge chunks of brick are flying out all over the place and squashing the Uruk-Hai (Had to look that one up) and you can feel the weight of the bricks as they land and flatten. Double wows. The battle probably takes a good forty-five minutes to unfold and I wasn’t bored for a second. Even though it was practically chaos, Jackson kept the whole event churning along right up until Gandalf comes riding down the hill with the horse-dudes to save the day.

That Orlando Bloom kid who plays Legolas, the arrow-shooting elf, is turning into a major bad ass. While I am normally against the trends of our day influencing tales that are supposed to take place in the past or whenever, the part where Legolas rides a shield down the stairs (skate-boarding in Middle Earth?) didn’t upset me as much as I thought it would. Especially because at the end of the sequence, as he is shooting Uruk-Hai as fast as he possibly can, he runs out of time to properly set his arrow on the bow, so he just stabs a dude through the eye with it. Awesome. There is another scene that anyone who has seen the movie will immediately know, where Legolas is in front of a horse and he somehow reaches around the thing’s neck and jumps on its back, that is not only breath taking, but is the definitive moment where not only Legolas’s character emerges from Aragorn’s (Mortensen) shadow as the chief ass-kicker, but where Jackson divorces himself from Tolkein’s looming presence – nice books old man, but you’re dead and I’m in charge. Phenomenal.

Plot? Not that it matters all too much because the visual feast we were treated to satiated almost all of my movie appetites from the get go, but basically, Frodo and Sam hook up with Gollum and are still trying to break into Mordor to destroy the Ring of Power. Frodo is on downers. Gollum has a split personality and sometimes wants to hurt but more often than not wants to help the two hobbits. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are trying to track down Merry and Pippin, who were kidnapped at the end of the last one. The three heroes bump into Gandalf and he tells them that what they have to do is help out this king guy and save all the humans from being slaughtered – which they do. Oh, and Merry and Pippen ride around in a tree for an hour. But, so what? Before Jackson got involved, the only people who cared about this crap were dudes who could speak Klingon. Now, my ophthalmologist is just as into it as any Romulan sub-commander.

One of our site’s most hated adversaries, the Filthy Critic, employs this cute technique of pretending he is a twelve year old boy when he revues Sci-Fi movies. Well, I felt like a twelve year old boy for almost the whole of this movie. Yeah, the talking tree parts were boring. Of course I thought it was cheap that Jackson used Rhys-Davies voice for the Tree Beard character [Ed Note: John Rhys-Davies also played Gimli the Dwarf] instead of finding someone else. Sure, there were a few times when I thought Elijah Woods and Sean Astin were going to start making out with each other. Indeed, I thought Gandalf seemed a little weird this time out. And yes, that middle sequence with the love story/dream where Aragorn and Arwen (Liv Tyler) were breaking up or something was long, slow and dull. However, in context with the rest of The Two Towers I was ready, willing and able to suspend my disbelief (as well as my critical faculties) and let my jaw drop to my lap and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy this masterful work of movie making. I’ve seen this second Lord of the Rings in theaters twice already, plan on seeing at least once more and will be purchasing the DVD. And of course next Christmas, I’ll be lining up with the rest of you to see The Return of the King. Because I like my inner child.

Good job, Mr. Jackson. The Two Towers is what fantasy movies are all about.

Ruthless Ratings

  • Overall: 8
  • Direction: 10
  • Acting: 9
  • Story: 6
  • Re-watchability: Endless

Special Ruthless Ratings

  • Number of times you were amazed that Viggo Mortensen’s most famous performance before Rings was as the drill instructor in G.I. Jane: 12
  • Number of times you were shocked to learn that Viggo Mortensen was born in 1958: 20
  • Number of times you were shocked to learn that Viggo Mortensen was married to Exene Cervenka and that the two of them have a 13 year old son: 21
  • Number of times you thought the walking tree dudes were dumb: 6
  • Number of times Gollum blew your fucking mind: 79
  • Number of times you wished those giant elephants were in the movie more: 13
  • Number of times you had no idea what purpose Liv Tyler served in the movie: 4
  • Number of times you wished Aragorn would have boned down on Miranda Otto (Eowyn): 30
  • Number of times you realized that Christopher Lee is acting’s greatest ham: 11
  • Number of times you couldn’t believe what you were looking at: 99

Schultz’s The Two Towers Rebuttal:

I don’t think that Jonny has COMPLETELY LOST HIS MIND. The TWO TOWERS is a good movie compared to most of the crap that gets reviewed and eviscerated on this website. BUT It’s just not good COMPARED TO PART ONE!!

I’m not denying that Gollum was amazing or that Ents are the shit. OF COURSE ents are the shit. And Gollum should be cast instead of Tom Hanks or Meg Ryan in every romantic comedy from now on. BUT I don’t see how Jonny’s razor-sharp mind could overlook the following . . .


  1. THE MOVIE IS DIFFERENT THAN THE BOOK. I’m not such a nerd that I think this is NECCESAIRLY bad. But, the riders of Rohann sucked in the book, and they suck in the movie too. They’re not magic, they don’t fly, they don’t have cool ears like Elves or kick-ass warpaint like the urik-hai. If you’re going to be all blasphemous and make the movie different than the book, at least cut out most of the Rohann melodrama about Wormtounge and that old king, and the suffering peasants that no one really cares about anyway. Did anyone walk out of this movie thinking, ‘Wow, who cares about Ents or Gollum, I’m just glad they finally saved the peasants. Plus I learned so much about Rohannian culture.’ ?????
  2. But instead of cutting out the boring parts, they make the movie different than the book by ADDING MORE BORING PARTS. Jesus! As if a movie trilogy weren’t enough, they have to add extra scenes where Frodo gets kidnapped to some random city by the Green Berets, and Aragorn falls off a cliff.
  3. Didn’t Aragorn fall off a cliff -apparently to his death-halfway through the movie EXACTLY THE SAME WAY THAT GNADALF FELL OFF A CLIFF , APPARENTLY TO HIS DEATH, HALFWAY THROUGH THE LAST MOVIE? If you’re going to add new material, at least make it fucking NEW MATERIAL, kid!
  4. I liked the part where Aaragorn falls in love with this female Rider of Rohann. The director initially shows her to be the exact opposite of Aaragorn’s Elvish hoochie. The elf is totally gorgeous, stuck up and new-agey and romantic. The Rider lady is kind of dumpy looking but kicks ass with a sword. So that would have been an awesome love triangle. But then the director totally drops her character. She should have been in the siege of Helms’ Deep or (Helms’ Keep) or whatever, cutting heads and burping and farting and really REALLY being the opposite of the Elf hoochie. Then, following the siege, she should have taken Arragorn by force. But the director didn’t follow through with this promising concept so he’s a little tease. [Ed Note: Eowyn was hot. Schultz is not sexually attracted to white women. He has no idea]
  5. The movie makes ABSOULTELY NO MENTION of which was so integral to the plot of the original books.
  6. The battle scenes- are just as insanely detailed and over the top as one could expect. But I WASN’T expecting both battles to be colored black, brown, and gray. It’s like, why buy a $5,000,000 computer and spend a year doing this incredibly elaborate 3D animation, and then FUCKING RENDER THE SCENES IN THIS DISMAL PALLETE WHERE EVERYTHING IS VARIATIONS ON THE SAME 3 COLORS, AND THEY’RE NOT EVEN COOL COLORS TO BEGIN WITH???? You can’t really see what’s going on in either of the 2 main battles because there is virtually no contrast between the ‘bright colors’ and the ‘dark colors’ OK, I’m just talking about the overhead battle shots here, not the close-ups. But still, THE TWO TOWERS is all ABOUT fucking overhead battle shots.
  7. I don’t mind that the battles go on for so long, but when the good guys finally start to win, the CLIMACTIC MOMENT of triumph, it cuts away to Frodo and Pippin having this totally sappy, heartwarming conversation about heroism and flowers and what makes a good story and bullshit. Like, even if the conversation wasn’t total schmaltz, it’s still not a good idea to cut away from the FUCKING CLIMAX of the movie to a conversation, and then, like go back to the FUCKING CLIMAX with sappy, schmaltzy music and a voice over, as if the FUCKING CLIMAX were by this time a foregone conclusion. I mean, imagine if the death star were about to explode and it cut to Yoda looking romantically into Luke’s eyes, and pan pipes were playing. What kind of bullshit is this???
  8. I don’t mind the implied homosexuality between the hobbits. But -really- if you wanted to cut back and forth between the FUCKING CLIMAX of the battle scenes and the hobbits, the only way to make it work is to have some ANAL ACTION going on so that the hobbits also have A FUCKING CLIMAX at the same time. THEN you’d have a worthwhile montage.
  9. Dwarf-baiting. What is it with New Zealanders and dwarf-baiting???
  10. And what the HELL was up with the rapping Nazgul? I’m sick of all this commercialization. As if every fucking movie has to have some rapping in it to be trendy. It’s like , why didn’t they throw Poochie The Rockin’ Dog in there too?? Plus his beats were wack.

I can see how Jonny would like the movie IN SPITE OF this bullshit, but to not even NOTICE the bullshit is odd. Hopefully part 3 will be better, but I’m more looking forward to Gollum starring in GLITTER 2.

About Jonny Lieberman

Jonny was the site’s co-founder and helped carry the place in the early years. There was a falling out with Erich and he left the site for good, but a lot of his reviews live on. He has moved on to a successful career writing about cars. Look him up.