You didn't think I'd stop at just a third of one of the most beloved trilogies of all time, did you? Of course not! Even Sauron would be like, "nah, that's too evil for me." With epic battles, magical relics, and compelling characters, it's no wonder J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy has continued to enchant readers and moviegoers for decades. Without further ado, I give you the Crispy Chicken Wing Review of The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers.
Warning: Spoilers ahead. Reader discretion is advised. In addition, if you need a recap of the previous installment, you can find it here .
The film picks up right where its predecessor, The Fellowship of the Ring , left off. The Fellowship has split off, and the fate of Middle Earth hangs on a knife's edge. Boromir, a knight of Gondor, was slain in an ambush by orcs, who kidnapped the hobbits Merry and Pippin back to their encampment (mistakenly thinking they have The Ring). Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli head to the kingdom of Rohan to seek help finding Merry and Pippin. Frodo and Samwise set off alone on a journey to the gates of Mordor to destroy The One Ring.
Frodo and Samwise get lost in the swamps on the way to Mordor, and are chased by Gollum, a strange creature who is obsessed with The One Ring. Sixty Years before the events of the film trilogy, Frodo's uncle, Bilbo, encountered Gollum on a quest and took The One Ring from his hidden fortress in the mountains. Frodo and Samwise capture Gollum, allowing him to live if he agrees to guide them to Mount Doom, the volcanic fortress where The One Ring was made.
Gollum (left), Samwise, and Frodo on their journey to Mordor.
Meanwhile, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas chase the Orc band that kidnapped Merry and Pippin, ending up being ambushed by the Rohirim, an elite force of horsemen from the Kingdom of Rohan. Their leader, Eomer, is the nephew of Theoden, the King of Rohan, and he agrees to take them to speak with the king. Eomer explains that his band of riders have been banished by the king, who is under the influence of a vizier named Wormtongue (who is himself a spy of Saruman). Theoden learns the truth of Wormtongue's treachery and banishes him from Rohan. The king, Theoden, then evacuates his people to the fortress of Helm's Deep in an attempt to get to safety from Saruman's approaching army.
In Rivendell, Elrond tells Arwen that Aragorn will not return from his quest and that there is nothing left for the elves in Middle Earth. Arwen refuses to believe this, insisting that she would rather give up her immortality to spend a lifetime with Aragorn than live forever apart from him. Elrond is visited by Galadriel, who reminds him that the elves have an old alliance with the kingdoms of men that should be honored.
Elrond and Arwen discuss leaving Rivendell forever.
At the orc encampment, Merry and Pippin escape to the Forest of Fangorn and meets Treebeard, who is the leader of a clan of walking trees (called ents) that rule over the forest. Merry and Pippin are taken to the heart of the forest, where the ents, decide that it's better to stay out of the coming war. They lament that there has already been enough destruction in the world. Merry and Pippin convince Treebeard to take them to the edge of the forest, which borders right on Saruman's territory, so they can see the destruction for themselves. Though the ents believe they have no business meddling in the affairs of the world around them, seeing Saruman destroy the forest surrounding Isengard to build his army quickly changes their minds. The ents decide that, to protect their forest, they must take up arms against Saruman's army.
Pippin leads Treebeard to the edge of the forest. In Helm's Deep, the armies of Rohan are led by Aragorn and Theoden. The odds are against them, with orcs outnumbering the soldiers a thousand to one. With surprise reinforcements from the Elves and the Rohirim at the very last second, the battle is won, and the people of Rohan start to regroup before the final battle with the armies of Mordor.
Frodo, Samwise, and Gollum are captured by a ranger from Gondor named Faramir, who is the brother of Boromir. Faramir is convinced that the three of them are trying to return The One Ring to Sauron, spelling the end of Gondor and Middle Earth as a whole. Frodo and Faramir bond over their mutual feelings of being unsure of their place in the world, and Faramir lets them continue on. At the edge of the border to Mordor, the film ends with Frodo and Samwise looking upon Mount Doom, whilst Gollum leads them on towards a perilous path. Gollum exhibits hints that he has ulterior motives, having a "conversation" with himself about the path to lead the hobbits on, as the film cuts to black.
I think the overall theme of this movie is "rising to the occasion," We see it with Frodo and Samwise continuing the quest to destroy The Ring alone, with only a half-mad creature to guide them. We see it in Theoden learning to forgive himself for all the wrongs he committed while under Wormtongue's influence so that he can lead his people to safety. We see it when the ents take up arms to defend their home, even though their home is but a larger part in the war against Mordor . All of these characters could have chosen to wallow in their personal woes, but they made the conscious decision to put those aside for something greater than themselves.
I noticed this theme in Merry and Pippin. The two of them are goofy, fun-loving hobbits with a taste for ale and practical jokes. They're definitely not the first thing you think of when you think of epic heroes. It was so interesting to see them grow from the village troublemakers of The Shire to leading a literal army (even if the army was made of trees). In a very real sense, the two of them grew up in a very short amount of time. This not only illustrates growth for the pair, but also shows that people can be surprising.
I also want to mention Gimli and Legolas. It's implied that there is a long-standing bigotry between elves and dwarves. They spend much of The Fellowship of the Ring arguing over the best course of action for the party, but come together against the army of orcs in The Two Towers. They even have a friendly competition as to who can slay the most orcs. It's a great illustration of finding common ground and a common cause. They are using their rivalry/ competitiveness for good.
King Theoden waits for the approaching orc army at Helms Deep.
The third character I wanted to highlight is Theoden. Theoden was under the influence of Wormtongue, making poor decisions for the people of Rohan. With the mental clarity that came with banishing Wormtongue from Rohan, he struggles with the consequences of his actions. He ultimately acted as a king should, leading his people to the safety of Helm's Deep, but struggled with forgiving himself. We all have done things we regret, particularly under the influence/control of something (whether it be mental health issues or a spy for an evil wizard). The lesson here is two-fold: that it's okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them, and that, at the time of a struggle, doing your best with what you have at the time is still doing your best.
While this review by no means covers everything, the film sees a lot of growth for all the characters, and brings the converging storylines closer together, setting up an epic conclusion. My only real critique is that a lot of background information (alliances, political issues) are kind of glossed over. I give it 4.5/5 Crispy Chicken Wings.
Stay Crispy. - Reba
*Make sure to tune into The Crispy Soul Podcast, where we go more into depth on this topic, available on all major streaming apps.