Visually breathtaking and dramatically moving, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a skilful marriage of special effects and computer animation, with sequences of breathtaking beauty. For a movie that that's just under three hours long, it never lags or feels laboured. Director Peter Jackson manages to keep the story's multiple narratives moving without losing sight of the many characters. The special effects are astonishing: Gollum is the first truly convincing CG character, and the battle of Helm's Deep is one of the finest, most expansive combat sequences ever captured on film.
The movie, the second in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, begins in the hills of Emyn Muil, where lost Hobbits Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) discover they are being followed by the mysterious Gollum (Andy Serkis, pictured). A mercurial creature who has been warped by the Ring, Gollum promises to guide the Hobbits to the Black Gates of Mordor if they will release him. Sam does not trust their new companion, but Frodo takes pity on Gollum, who, like him, was once a Ringbearer.
Across Middle-earth Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), the Elf archer Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli the Dwarf (John Rhys-Davies) encounter the besieged Rohan kingdom, whose once great King Theoden (Bernard Hill) has fallen under Saruman's deadly spell through the manipulations of his spy, the sinister Wormtongue (Brad Dourif). Eowyn (Miranda Otto), the King's niece, recognises a leader in the Human warrior Aragorn. And though he finds himself drawn to her, Aragorn is constantly reminded of his enduring love for the Elf Arwen (Liv Tyler) and the pact they made together.
Gandalf (Ian McKellen) has been reborn as Gandalf the White following his cataclysmic fight with the Balrog, and reminds Aragorn of his destiny to unite the Rohan people with the last remaining stronghold of Human resistance: Gondor.