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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that violence in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers includes countless battle casualties in death by arrows, spears, swords, monster-stomping, fatal plunges, and explosions. For all the monster gore, pet-loving kids may be most disturbed when a hungry creature tears up fresh-killed rabbits to eat. There is nightmarish imagery of ghoulish things, dead and alive, that may be too much for some. Once-heroic character smokes. The story starts right where the previous Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring left off. Viewers not familiar with the first film (or J.R.R. Tolkien's novels) will be very confused.
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What's the story?
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS follows the members of the remaining fellowship and cuts back and forth between their adventures. Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) find a twisted creature called Gollum who embodies the story's struggle between good and evil. Once utterly corrupted by his attempts to steal the ring, the remaining good within him begins to awaken under Frodo's kindness, but that may not be reliable enough for him to become the faithful guide they need. Meanwhile, Frodo's Hobbit friends Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) are caught up with Treebeard and the Ents (tree creatures of enormous size). Also meanwhile, the human warrior Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) try to get help from King Theoden (Bernard Hill), who has been enchanted into befuddlement so that they can fight the vicious Uruk-hai throng of White Wizard villain Saruman (Christopher Lee).
Is it any good?
The second film in the Lord of the Rings series will satisfy Tolkien devotees and those who are new to the stories looking for an epic with a heroic quest and a lot of action (and a little romance). The first movie had a lot of thundering hoofs and meaningful looks and introduction of characters and portents of doom. The Two Towers flings us from cliffhanger to (literal) cliffhanger, with mighty legions hurtling into battle. Every moment on screen is filled with masterfully handled detail.
The vast New Zealand landscapes are a perfect realization of Tolkien's Middle Earth. The vast armies of hulking monsters stretch back for miles, and Gollum, computer animated but based on the movements of actor Andy Serkis (who also provided the voice), is as real as any of the humans. The human actors hold their own, giving gravity and heart to the effects and panoramas. The only drag on the proceedings is Aragon's love triangle, which feels like something between a distraction and a placeholder.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the many representations of the war between good and evil in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. King Theoden comes back. Gollum may be coming back. Where else do you see the dualities expressed?
At several points, characters have to decide when to fight and when to give up or retreat. What do they consider in making that decision? What should they consider?
Why is it important to Gollum that Frodo calls him by his old name?
Why do Sam and Frodo wonder if they will ever be included in songs or tales?
- In theaters: December 18, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: August 26, 2003
- Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen
- Director: Peter Jackson
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 179 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: epic battle sequences and scary images
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