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Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers

Posted by Player under Sci-Fi & Fantasy

The Lord of The Rings: The Two TowersNew Line Cinema released The Two Towers, Theatrical Version this week and I picked it up last night and adjusted my sound system and prepared for the 3 hour plus marathon of Peter Jackson’s second film in the epic trilogy Lord of The Rings.

I’d have to say that unlike in the theatre, at home the film is a much better watch. I guess the two times I saw it in the theatre, I was a little more critical of the film. There are just a few things in the story that just fall a little off for me and which keeps The Two Towers from being a great film like dare I say, The Empire Strikes Back. But at home, in a more relaxed setting, the awe of the special effects take more of a back seat and the story while being a little sentimental at times, does appear to work a little better than on the big screen.

Story wise you can say a lot of things about LOTR, like that it is a classic story of evil versus good, of man’s reason over his darker temptations, of God versus chaos, or of love versus hate. The whole racism issue of the bad guys being Asian and less than human is a little discomforting, but not as bad as say the new Star Wars trilogy, because after all this is a fantasy world with elves and such, so some of that while still applicable, our very sense of fantasy land is a little more less applicable to the real world. I could see that the two towers could relate to the war machine of WWI and WWII, in much the same metaphor that Hemingway uses in A FAREWELL TO ARMS, where he depicts black oil and grease of tanks on snow, namely man’s war machine is dirty and a black stain on the natural world. All this is in the film, and even more in the main story of Arogan, who must use his strength and courage to inspire men to stand against the tide of evil, something which most men are reluctant to do.

The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers (Special Edition)New Line has released a special extended edition which includes a DTS-ES soundtrack and splits the film into two DVD discs. The extended edition features more scenes and extends the movie into the 4 hour range! In general the Theatrical Edition is a bit disappointing. The first mistake are the layer changes, they are done in such a way that it ruins the mood of the film, and the second problem I had with the DVD, was the last chapter skipped for me for some reason. This totally made me think this release was not done with as much care as The Fellowship of the Ring. New Line includes a Dolby Digital EX soundtrack but it pales in comparison to the DTS-ES soundtrack.

In concluding, while I still think The Two Towers is not a great film, it comes close enough for most viewers. Technically, it is a film that takes special effects into the next generation and will probably be remembered most for its battle scene in Helm’s Deep.


More on the Special Edition…

Peter Jackson’s second film, The Two Towers, in the epic trilogy: Lord Of The Rings, left some of us a bit disappointed. The Theatre release was grand and the epic battle of Helm’s Deep was probably the greatest battle scene ever depicted on film, but the storyline fell apart in some places, and the overall film felt rushed in places. Almost a whole year after it’s release, Jackson has thrown together with much dedication and time, a Special Extended Edition of The Two Towers which not only adds more footage to an already long film, but which for many will be a definitive collector’s DVD set.

For this review I viewed the two discs of the four disc set that contain the film. First of all it is important to mention that the film is split up into two discs for a reason. The DTS 6.1 and Dolbly Digital EX 5.1 audio tracks take a lot of space, and with the film being so long in duration, having two discs allows for better quality. And it is a good thing because audio wise this edition of the film is flawless!

The Special Extended edition of the film adds some very important footage and unlike the extra footage in The Fellowship Of The Ring (Ext Ed) which was mostly some cool looking scenes, the extra footage in this film is actually more about the storyline. First off is the story of the two brothers, and how one was favored and one was not. All of this changes the entire perspective for me. I’m sure if you read the book, you already knew this, but for those of us who did not, it is pretty important to see it. Next is the expanded scene of how the King’s niece actually saids the word “love” to Arogan, which is suppose to be even more impacting, because of the expanded scene that comes earlier in the film. All of the added footage with her and Arogan leads up to this moment, as there are at least four different scenes that develop over the course of the film between them. From what I could tell none of the battle or action scenes were changed, the added footage is more about the characters and the different storylines. And it does make a difference, cause the story seems richer and the film more enjoyable and less rushed than before.

In fact most of my criticisms of the theatre release are actually resolved.

There is even a scene where the faceless Asian enemy is given respect and character!

Technically, this edition is great. The layer changes that were a common annoyance of the theatre DVD are not an issue here at all. Even the color changes which I complained about seem to have been fixed, and the color is accurate throughout now. New Line also went with simple menus instead of fancy ones, which just means, the space of the disc was used entirely for the film and not much else.

5 out 5 stars


The Hulk (Ang Lee)

Posted by Player under Sci-Fi & Fantasy

The Hulk by Ang LeeLike most fans of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I think I expected too much from Ang Lee, this time around. The Hulk, this time around is a drama with some action, but for the most part the film is a lot slower than most fans of say X-Men2 would expect. This is not to say that Lee did not do some really inventive and cool things in this film, it is just that overall the film never quite makes the same category of films that it could be associated with.

The storyline is pretty basic, but also very Greek Tragedy. Father wants to remake the world, has son, loses everything in the process. Son grows up, comes full circle with father, must over come father’s weaknesses. There’s a love story there too, but it is not as developed as one would have thought.

The look of The Hulk is interesting, Lee portrays a natural world and a human world. The natural world is colorful and absorbing, the human world is divided, less colorful and did I say dimly litted. The action scene with the hybrid dogs is just one dark fight scene. By far the best action sequences that Lee shows the audience, are when The Hulk is jumping and running by himself. Probably the best thing the Lee does overall is his capturing of how The Hulk jumps to travel large distances. This is done even better than in the many cartoons that The Hulk has had over the years. As for CGI Hulk, it just is not that realistic, this Hulk looks more like shiny green clay than a real creature. The tank scene is pretty much the best action scene in which a CGI Hulk battles human looking objects.

What I really did not like about the film was the Sam Elliot character of General Ross. It was too over the top and I really did not think the acting was that good overall in the picture. Average drama like in the film Space Cowboys, is really hard to come by, and The Hulk lacks it in a few places.

In conclusion, if you are absolute Hulk fan, see this film. If you have seen A Beautiful Mind, well then you have seen a better Jennifer Connelly film than this.

2 out 5 stars



Posted by Player under Sci-Fi & Fantasy

UnderworldThe trailer to Underworld promised a lot, it showed a hot looking Kate Beckinsale in a tight dominatrix like cat suit jumping from an incredible height and also blasting sub-machine gun like weapons, while having an element of vampires and werewolves, so it would lead you to believe that Hollywood was going to deliver a breathtaking film, but alas the actual film did not really inspire any such visions.

First let me say that some actresses have very unique voices, like say the opening dialogue to The Fellowship of the Ring, comes to mind, or even Carry-Anne Moss in Matrix, but Kate Beckinsale is not one of them. First off I could not even hear what she was saying in the beginning of the film, then pretty much most of her lines came off as nothing more than cold and lifeless. Sure she looks good in the black suit, but after a while you start thinking, when is she going to show some skin? Are not vampires sexy and alluring? In Underworld they are just cold and white pale looking!

As for the plot, well there really is not much. Basically the vampires and the werewolves have been fighting a war for over a thousand years, all leading back to love of course. A big jawed blond boy plays the poor innocent human who is tied to the war by birth, and Kate Beckinsale’s character takes a liking to him and his predicament. Along the way, there are a lot of gun fights, battles, and werewolves, but by half way through the film you realize this is not a horror film, it is an action movie! Meaning gore is nowhere to be found in this film!

The entire film steals very obviously from the Blade films and also the Matrix, but neither excels Matrix’s effects. nor shows any cool new changes to the vampire book of tricks like Blade II. However, the end of the film pretty much raps it up nicely for an Underworld II, which I am hoping they seriously rethink, or at least let Beckinsale out of the suit once!

Like Blade II, Underworld is pretty dim looking visually, but if the DVD release is as good as Blade II, then the film should be more visually appealing at home, since home viewing can highlight more the visuals and make the film appear cleaner looking in general.

Lastly the coolest action shots are all in the trailer!

3 out 5 stars


Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Posted by Player under Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Resident Evil: ApocalypseThe 2004 Summer season nose dived for movies. Other than Spider-man 2, there really were not spectacular films this year. Not that Hollywood did not try, it is just that films like I, Robot failed to really deliver. I guess you can still count Resident Evil: Apocalypse as the last summer movie, even though it came out in the first days of Fall. REA, has everything that a summer movie is suppose to have, namely action, a famous star, and a plot that makes very little sense.

For REA, Milla is back as Alice. This time we learn that the Umbrella corporation took Alice to Racoon City, where they did all sorts of experiments on her to mutate her even more into a super weapon. Too bad the T-virus was too powerful to contain, and so the city gets quickly infected, making Umbrella close off the entire city and using it as a big lab rat experiment. Those left inside, team up with Alice in order to get out.

In between Alice battles dogs, mutated monsters, and the nemesis project, who looks like a big Toxic Avenger.

Half way through the film you notice something though, REA is not a zombie film like the first Resident Evil. It’s an action movie where guns and fighting scenes take center stage. In fact the last half of the movie is not really zombie driven at all. The action scenes in REA suffer from the whole too-fast to see editing which is reminiscent of Gladiator. I also wished that REA had not taken place almost entirely at night, because I would like to have seen more detail of the various locations. However, REA does feature a lot of jump from your seat scenes, so if you expected to be scared, there are plenty of surprises for you.

I should also mention there are a couple of nipple shots of Milla. For some reason, Milla Jovovich is always having to be naked in her sci-fi roles, so REA is no different.

If you liked the first Resident Evil movie, you probably will like REA. It features great sound effects, interesting action scenes, and throws realism out the window, which is why you go to the movies in the first place.

As the last real action movie, I’m glad I went to go see REA, cause Aliens Versus Predator sucked big time, and I needed something to get over that film.

3 out 5 stars