xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
With "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," it's clear that director Peter Jackson has tilted the balance decisively against the hobbits and in favor of the traditional action heroes of the Tolkien trilogy. The star is now clearly Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), and the hobbits spend much of the movie away from the action. The last third of the movie is dominated by an epic battle scene that would no doubt startle the gentle medievalist J.R.R. Tolkien.
The task of the critic is to decide whether this shift damages the movie. It does not. "The Two Towers" is one of the most spectacular swashbucklers ever made, and, given current audience tastes in violence, may well be more popular than the first installment, "The Fellowship of the Ring." It is not faithful to the spirit of Tolkien and misplaces much of the charm and whimsy of the books, but it stands on its own as a visionary thriller. I complained in my review of the first film that the hobbits had been short-changed, but with this second film I must accept that as a given, and go on from there.
"The Two Towers" is a rousing adventure, a skillful marriage of special effects and computer animation, and it contains sequences of breathtaking beauty. It also gives us, in a character named the Gollum, one of the most engaging and convincing CGI creatures I've seen. The Gollum was long in possession of the Ring, now entrusted to Frodo, and misses it ("my precious") most painfully; but he has a split personality and (in between spells when his dark side takes over) serves as a guide and companion for Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin). His body language is a choreography of ingratiation and distortion.
The film introduces another computer-generated character, Treebeard, a member of the most ancient race in Middle-Earth, a tree that walks and talks and takes a very long time to make up its mind, explaining to Merry and Pippin that slowness is a virtue. I would have guessed that a walking, talking tree would look silly and break the spell of the movie, but no, there is a certain majesty in this mossy old creature.