Well, another year, another Peter Jackson installment. Again, I haven't read Tolkien's tale. Again, I felt like I may have understood the movie better had there been an interpreter near by.

Epic? Yes. Large, beautifully shot landscapes? Yes. Pacing? Yes, like a two speed car - either on or off. Battle scenes? Too many to count.

I won't even begin to tell you the plot because it involves many lands that sound the same, many elves that look the same, and many men that look the same. Oh yeah, there's a good wizard and a bad wizard. And good versus evil.

So, we've arrived at the second installment. The dreaded Empire Strikes Back of the Tolkien trilogy. My two biggest problems with this movie are: there's no narrative voice outside of the visual images and I have yet to be drawn to the characters.

There's a magical CGI character who is very well done, but outstays his welcome. He's annoying and needs less time on screen. Yes, we understand he is conflicted and his constant references to himself in third person reinforce that. I don't need 20 minutes of it. Froddo spends most of his time looking like he's on the edge of passing out or spends a lot of time watching life pass around him. I still don't have any more insight into the ring, and quite frankly, the ring seems less of a focus in this installment. Gandolf, the good wizard, is back, but we learn no more of him than he still hates his mentor and likes his staff. The other three hobbits are 'cute', but uninteresting.

There have been successful commentaries on war that involve countless battle scenes and you understand the sameness of it, the lack of inspiration, and the cyclical nature of it. The Two Towers has just as many scenes in it, but there's no commentary. In fact, these battles are to be heroic. OK. The only thing that keeps them apart in my mind is how much time they took to get over with. Our characters fight the 'enemy' on screen. The enemy has many names but seems to be defeated easily. I think they actually try to introduce maps and a short, out-of-place elf voiceover in the middleish part of this picture to see if they can help people get caught up.

Not as good as the first.

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Review: The battle for middle Earth has begun... star8/10 SillyconJester

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