Good on Netflix - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Plot Summary:
With the breaking of The Fellowship of the Ring, the heroes of Middle-earth are scattered. While Frodo and Sam continue their journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring, Aragorn and those with him become embroiled in the first major battles of the War of the Ring.
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Why It Makes My List:
This is easily one of the finest films I have ever seen, bar none. I have watched it countless times since my youth and continue to be excited, inspired and moved by the timeless themes, memorable characters, and stupendous musical score! 

Other Reasons to Watch:
1. Character Dynamics: You can select almost any main character and identify a wealth of dynamic and fascinating relationships between him or her and at least two to three other characters. This strong and interrelated series of character relationships helps to provide the film's emotional weight and encourages us to care about what happens to each of them. For example:
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  • Frodo & Sam: trust, reliance and friendship. Frodo needs Sam, like a British officer needs his backman, to survive emotionally and physically. At the same time, Sam's identity and heroic nature is entirely built around his sense of duty and responsibility for Frodo, and by extension, the destruction of the Ring. 
  • Frodo & Gollum (a.k.a. Smeagol): Frodo feels sorry for Smeagol and wants to help him, perhaps in part because he worries that Smeagol's will be his fate if he continues to bear the Ring. Smeagol first wants to kill Frodo for the Ring, then wants to serve him and be his friend, then wants to kill him again. This relationship is complicated by the fact that Gollum has a separate personality or consciousness fighting against his gentler nature. 
  • Sam & Gollum: Distrust and fear of each other and mutual desire to serve Frodo put them at odds with one another. At times, it almost seems like a competition between them to get Frodo on their side, which friction increases into the next film. 
2. Terrific Story: While some Tolkien purists would argue that the film adaptions deviate too much from the original books, I feel that Peter Jackson & his writing team did a nearly perfect job adapting this story to the big screen. There is a reason that The Lord of the Rings series continues to be in the top 3 best-selling books of all time (even ahead of Harry Potter!). It is a story that resonates with something deep inside - striking a chord that inspires us to resist temptation, fight against evil, and seek for the good in the world.
Reasons to Pass:
1. You Don't like Long Films: The theatrical runtime is just under three hours. That is a long film by almost any standard, though I feel it is incredibly well-paced and moves right along.  If you're feeling really ambitious, I'd recommend the extended edition as I think it's an even better version of the film. 

2. Let's Talk about the Violence

  • Though the violence is certainly not gratuitous, The Two Towers revolves around a great war between various factions.  While I feel that this film, in particular, does a great job demonstrating the terrible price of warfare in terms of lost lives, peace, tears, terror, and civilization, there are several skirmishes as well as lengthy, large scale, armed conflicts. 

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  • I've wondered for years if that means that this film is inappropriate because of the violence. I'll leave that up to you but for me, personally, I feel that this film (unlike a gore-streaked horror film or thoughtless action movie) is not promoting war, violence or cruelty; on the contrary, while the protagonists are mostly capable warriors, they consistently seek for peace, defend their lands and loved ones, and frequently rush to the aid and defense of the helpless. 
  • Their ultimate goal is to overcome evil with good, which often requires conflict.  I believe that Samwise Gamgee puts it best when he says, "There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for." So, in short, is it violent at times? Yes. Is the conflict purposeful and led by courageous figures whose motives are just? In my opinion, yes. 
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is Good on Netflix.  

As always, I recommend checking out the Parents Guide just so that you are aware of any potentially objectionable material before deciding whether to watch it.