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The continuing quest of Frodo and the Fellowship to destroy the One Ring. Frodo and Sam discover they are being followed by the mysterious Gollum. Aragorn, the Elf archer Legolas and Gimli the Dwarf encounter the besieged Rohan kingdom, whose once great King Theoden has fallen under Saruman's deadly spell.Written by
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In November 2003, an extended edition was released on DVD with over 40 minutes of new footage. The EE is a complete re-cut of the movie and almost every scene includes small changes in framing, pacing, dialogue or camera angle. Major changes are listed (spoiler warning):
After Frodo wakes up, there is a scene of Frodo and Sam descending a cliff with the help of the elvish rope. The title now appears over a panoramic shot of the hills.
There is a brief shot of Frodo and Sam huddled under their cloaks during a rain storm, with Gollum following.
After his taming, Gollum debates whether to take the hobbits to Mordor or not
The first scene with Merry and Pippin is expanded. It is made clear that there are two groups of orcs, one from Mordor and one from Isengard. They also force Merry to drink a vile orc draught.
In Saruman's first scene, he orders his orcs to cut down Fangorn forest to feed the fires of Isengard and the wildmen swear allegiance to him.
An extended sequence in which Eomer finds Theodred at the Fords of Isen and brings him back to Edoras.
When Eomer is banished, he is presented with a banishment order signed by King Theoden.
In the camp outside of Fangorn, extra dialogue makes it clear that the orcs think Merry or Pippin has the Ring. An orc sneaks up behind the hobbits and is about to attack them when he is beheaded (correcting a goof in the theatrical version). There is also a little more action when the Rohirrim massacre the orcs.
During the passage of the marshes, Gollum refuses to eat the elvish bread. There is additional dialogue between Frodo, Sam and Gollum.
Lots of extra dialogue in the scene where Gandalf reappears, including Legolas noting the the elves taught the trees to talk and Gandalf predicting that Merry and Pippin will rouse the Ents.
While taking the Hobbits to his home, Treebeard recites poetry that puts the hobbits to sleep. He then leaves them there, going off to summon the Ents.
During the ride to Edoras, Gandalf and the others camp for the night. Gandalf and Aragorn discuss the coming war and Frodo's quest.
After the Black Gate sequence is a new scene. Merry and Pippin drink from a stream near Treebeard's home and grow taller. They are then attacked by a tree before being rescued by Treebeard. Treebeard then tells them about the Entwives.
After Aragorn stops Theoden from killing Wormtongue, he extends his hand to Grima. Grima spits on it and then runs off.
A brief funeral scene for Theodred which includes Eowyn singing.
A new scene in which Aragorn calms Theodred's horse Brego and sets him loose. (This is the horse that later picks up Aragorn beside the stream).
A new scene in which Grima describes Aragorn to Saruman, who scoffs at the "Heir of Isildur".
Before leaving Edoras, Theoden assures his squire that they will return.
Extra dialogue when Sam and Frodo are captured by Faramir, emphasizing Faramir's dislike of war.
During the march to Helm's deep, Theoden tells Aragorn about Eowyn. Eowyn serves Aragorn a vile-looking stew during the trip and he tells her his remarkable age after she realizes he is one of the Dunedin.
Additional dialogue in Arwen and Aragorn's parting.
When Frodo and Sam are brought to the cave, they are told that Boromir's cloven horn was found. Faramir then remembers a dream of Boromir's funeral boat passing him on the river. This leads to an extended flashback of Boromir and Farmair reclaiming Osgiliath from Mordor. Denethor (their father) expresses his disappointment with Faramir and then sends Boromir to Rivendell to claim the Ring.
Faramir's men beat Gollum after catching him.
Right before the women and children are sent into the caves, Eowyn asks Aragorn to let her fight beside him.
During the preparation at Helm's Deep, there is a cut to the Entmoot. Treebeard tells the Hobbits the Ents have just finished saying "Good morning".
A little more fighting during the battle at Helm's Deep.
After Treebeard discovers the destroyed part of the forest and sounds the alarm, thousands of trees, the Huorns, depart to join the battle at Helm's Deep.
When the orcs retreat from Helm's Deep, they find a forest, made up of the Huorns, waiting to destroy them.
We find out who won the orc-killing contest between Gimli and Legolas.
After the destruction of Isengard, Merry and Pippen discover a rich larder of food, including a supply of pipe-weed from the Shire.
Faramir shows Frodo and Sam a way out of the city. He realized that Gollum's secret route is Cirith Ungol and advises Frodo not to take it, then threatens Gollum.
Really, I should probably let this film soak in a bit; I am, after all, on something of a "post-viewing" high right now. However, at this moment, my feeling remains the same from the first installment - this is the movie experience I've been waiting my whole life for. In case you haven't gathered, this movie is visually stunning, literally breathtaking. I mean that, some of the scenes in this film simply stopped my lungs in their tracks, shocked at the pure, enveloping beauty of the shot. Peter Jackson has a profound grasp of visual manipulation like few directors have ever had.
The acting is, as always, superb. Kudos for hiring "actors" not "stars"; "Oscar-worthy" over-acting could have threatened the realistic touch the film's remarkable cast supply. Specific mention goes to both John Rhys-Davies in his well enjoyed comic turn, and very largely to Andy Serkis, who was a major role in creating the most realistic and brilliantly well-performed CGI character I've ever seen (Gollum).
For the most part, and as a fan of the books, I take no offense to the slight plot modifications. My understanding is that Tolkien himself realized that visual adaptation of LotR would require a somewhat different take on his work, and was apparently open to such minute changes. There are also a few tiny bits and pieces I was disappointed to see not make the final cut, however, I'm sure a future inevitable extended DVD will take care of those.
In short, if you found the continual enjoyment I did with the first movie of LotR, this movie will in no way let you down. Not even for a minute.
Highly recommended, 10/10.
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