The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Sunday, January 26, 2003
FROM FRODO TO HOICHI: Turns out I like The Two Towers better than The Fellowship of the Ring. (I'm referring to the movies, of course, not the
books.) Like its predecessor, it is uneven, overlong, and filled with high-fantasy speechifying of a sort I lost patience with before I'd even hit my teens; but, on the plus side, there are fewer shots of Elijah Wood's wide-eyed stare, much less sub-vaudeville slapstick from Merry and Pippin, and (praise the Lord!) absolutely no New Age yodeling from Enya. Meanwhile, the large-scale battle scenes are shot with far more art and care than the equivalent portions of most other Hollywood spectacles. And while there is less of Christopher Lee's enjoyably campy performance as Saruman to relish, Andy Serkis more than picks up the slack as Gollum.

Bias alert: I'm not usually impressed by "epic" films. My favorite exception is the "Hoichi the Earless" sequence in Kwaidan, a mostly brilliant quartet of Japanese ghost stories. "Hoichi" begins with the legend of a samurai battle, relating it in a way that actually feels like one of those epic medieval poems -- and bears no resemblance to a Hollywood epic at all. I recommend it highly.

Actually, I recommend almost all of Kwaidan. Its first sequence is mediocre and skippable, but the other three actually fulfill the promise offered and broken by so many movie trailers: "Unlike anything you've ever seen before."


posted by Jesse 5:53 PM
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