Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Shakesperian overdialogue

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
(New Line Cinema, 2002)

Mr. Filthy (2/5)
Lord of the Rings 2 settles into its rut early and doesn't get out. It's battle, speech, battle, speech, battle, heroic death, mournful speech, battle, oh-wait-the-guy's-not-dead-rejoicing, battle. Rinse, repeat. Twice the movie uses the death of a main character to arouse sympathy, only to reveal that there was no death, we were just tricked. The first is a cheap-feeling device, the second a good reason to laugh at the screen. But it's the monologues that drove me f---ing nuts. Every non-Hobbit in the movie thinks any time is right for a speechy speech about saving the world. A s---load more time is spent with people staring off into the distance and talking to nobody in particular than in conversation, and none of it is particularly revelatory or interesting, just formal. At least the dwarf doesn't testify. He's too busy providing Three Stooges quality comic relief by falling down, gruffly commenting on his physical shortcomings, or "hilariously" being unable to see over tall objects.

Only one male in the movie appears to have the capacity to get laid, and that's hunky Viggo Mortensen. He has the attention of two females who get a combined five or six minutes of screen time: Elfen Liv Tyler (I hear elves are trained from birth in the art of pleasuring men), and a doe-eyed Gondorian. Neither has much personality or many lines to speak because director Peter Jackson is too interested in rushing back to battle than romance. That's the way of asexual fantasies, though: they are more about guys impressing guys with big swords and how far they can piss than with love.

Lord of the Rings 2 is about as reliant on your pre-existing knowledge of the characters and plot as Mrs. Filthy's desserts are on Cool Whip. Without it, there's not much to enjoy. I was confused by locations and characters on multiple occasions. I think the assumption of the director is that we just watched our Lord of the Rings 1 DVD Super Limited Special Edition With Trading Cards and a Holographic Seal right before heading for the theater. I didn't, and I was f---ing confused by a lot of things. Yeah, I know, I ain't so quick and I used to get confused by my own shoelaces until I found a brand that made Velcro for adults. But this s--- isn't my fault. For example, I no longer remember which of the two evil guys is the head honcho and the movie didn't bother helping me. I have no remembrance of where anyone but Frodo and Samweiss are supposed to be headed and no clues are given. Similarly, Mortensen and Tyler's relationship is so thinly sketched in the first movie, that when they speak here it has the emotional impact of a dumpster dive.

As in Lord of the Rings 1, the characters are plainly black or white to the point that they might as well be chess pieces. And the bad guys know they are bad. That's pretty f---ing lame. In real life and in good fiction, bad guys usually don't even recognize they are evil. They rationalize what they do. Plus, it's sort of laughable when characters on screen can be easily identified as good or evil purely based on the greasiness of their hair, and yet the people in the movie can't tell. "What! You mean that guy dressed all in black with the ashen skin and greasy hair was a bad guy? Damn!"

It's some pretty silly s---, all these dragons and elves. Yes it's gorgeous, yes it's violent and epic. It's also uninteresting and repetitive. I'd rather see a s---ty looking movie about interesting people than a great looking one about corny Hobbits, though. Two Fingers for Lord of the Rings 2. And for once it's nice to feel the same way about something as 260 million other Americans.

Note: Score ratings in bold are Select Reviews, and "( )" the authors cited.