Not that we expected anything less, but I’m pleased to report that Jackson didn’t drop the ball on this one–absolutely fantastic, better than the first one, emotionally draining, and possessing of the best siege scenes ever filmed. (It makes me wonder what Kurosawa could’ve done with a huge budget and today’s tech, actually.)
Actually, some of the best parts I think were ones that weren’t in the book–the scenes where Elrond tells Arwen what awaits her if she stays in Middle-Earth with a mortal were, for me, absolutely wrenching–the cinematography was beautiful, looked like a Pre-Raphaelite painting, all flowing black veils and marble. (And I managed to get through almost all of it without thinking “You can’t…marry my daughter…Mister…Aragorn…”) Much as I respect Tolkien, I think this is the first time I actually understood what happened in the Two Towers so clearly–previously it was just a blur of fight, fight, Ents, fight, Gollum, fight, fight, Wormtongue, fight. Now it actually made sense, even if they cropped it a bit early to avoid cliff-hanging as badly as the book. Jackson did a profoundly good job all around.
Legolas did a one-handed swing-around-the-horse’s-neck mounting scene that left James and I going “WHOAA! Go, elfboy!” Gimli was fantastic–the joke is that James is really a dwarf at heart, (at least, he always plays one in RPGs) and this reinforced that completely–he’d’ve been right there hacking up orcs. (A friend suggests that Gimli’s comic relief-ness might’ve been annoying otherwise, but knowing our personal dwarf as we do, it fit so well!) I realize that being female, I am obligated to pass judgement on who was the cutest male in a primarily all male line-up (at least, it seems to be traditional) and I’m going to vote Faramir. I liked Boromir, I like his brother, and while Aragorn is ungodly cool, some people are too noble to live with comfortably. Emer and poor Glorfindel were also fantastic–I’m wondering where the hell Jackson found dozens of long-haired guys who are all handsome in completely different ways. Actually, while I’m on the subject, all the actors were superb–Theodan was amazing, and I actually felt bad for Wormtongue when he realized that he sold out humanity to the enemy.
But absolutely, and positively, the most impressive part?
They got Ian McKellan to ride a bloody horse bareback at a gallop for at least twenty scenes. My nether regions ache with sympathy, and I’m less than half his age and the wrong gender.
It was worth the wait.