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Aphrodite
Dec 19th, 2002, 07:46 PM
'Two Towers' Stands Tall in Satellites
Wed Dec 18, 3:44 AM ET Add Movies - Reuters to My Yahoo!


By Geoffrey Berkshire

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" was standing tall when nominations were announced for the Intl. Foreign Press Assn.'s (IFPA) seventh annual Golden Satellites on Tuesday.


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New Line's fantasy epic picked up eight nominations, followed by "Far From Heaven," "Gangs of New York" and "Road to Perdition" with seven nominations a piece. IFPA is a breakaway group from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the group behind the Golden Globes.


"Heaven," "Rings" and "Road" received nominations for drama along with "Antwone Fisher," "The Hours" and "The Quiet American." Nominees for comedy or musical were "About a Boy," "Adaptation," "Chicago," "Igby Goes Down," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and "Punch-Drunk Love."


Foreign film nominees were the U.K.'s "All or Nothing," Ireland/U.K.'s "Bloody Sunday," Sweden's "Everyone Loves Alice," India's "Monsoon Wedding," New Zealand's "Rain," France/Spain's "Sex and Lucia" and Spain's "Talk to Her."


Nominees in the animated or mixed-media feature category were "Ice Age," "Lilo & Stitch," "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron," "Spirited Away" and "The Wild Thornberrys Movie."


In the TV race, NBC was on top with 15 nominations, followed closely by HBO's 14. Fox picked up 10, trailed by CBS with nine and ABC's eight nominations.


Drama series nominees were "24," "Alias," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer (news - Y! TV)," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (news - Y! TV)" and "Without a Trace." Comedy contenders are "The Bernie Mac (news) Show," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Friends," "Gilmore Girls (news - Y! TV)" and "Scrubs."




Claudia Puig USA TODAY

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers ( * * * out of four) is unquestionably a towering achievement.


Though darker, more violent and even more of a cliffhanger than its predecessor, The Fellowship of the Ring, Towers also is more visually dazzling -- which might seem unlikely, given the mastery of the first.


Not a sequel in the purest sense but a second act in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Towers literally takes up where Fellowship left off, with no Star Wars-style scroll or catch-up narration. Presumably when the three films are watched back-to-back, they will look like one masterwork. So a note to those whose memories need jogging: For maximum enjoyment, it wouldn't hurt to watch the first movie on video or DVD before catching this second installment.


When last we left our hero, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood (news)), the fellowship of hobbits, men, elf and dwarf had been divided by perilous circumstance, and the wizardly Gandalf (Ian McKellen (news)) had plunged into a pit. Towers opens with Frodo and his most trusted companion, Sam (Sean Astin (news)), lost in the hills. There they encounter the mysterious Gollum (a computer-generated character voiced by Andy Serkis), who had first found the magic ring that Frodo now possesses.


The reason for the epic journey that Frodo and his gang have undertaken is to destroy the ring and its evil powers. (Gollum himself was altered by his craving for the ring into an odd, deformed creature.) Frodo and Sam are compelled to follow the crafty Gollum -- though his trustworthiness is uncertain -- through unknown lands to reach Mordor, where they will dispose of the ring.


Meanwhile, in another corner of Middle-earth, the movie's heartthrobs, the human Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen (news)) and elf archer Legolas (Orlando Bloom (news)), have joined forces with Gimli the dwarf (John Rhys-Davies (news)) to help the besieged kingdom of Rohan. The king (Bernard Hill) has fallen under the spell of the dark wizard, Saruman (Christopher Lee (news)), and Aragorn seeks to unite the kingdom.


The king's niece (Miranda Otto (news)) is drawn to the handsome Aragorn for his strength and leadership. Remember from the first movie that Aragorn has pledged his love to Arwen (Liv Tyler (news)), so their attraction is troubled.


But this is no love story. It's closer to a war flick, and the extended battle at Helms Deep is an amazing feat under the direction of Peter Jackson (news).


Coming in at one minute under three hours, the length is the movie's only drawback. Many consider the three-part saga to be the best adventure story ever told. That could be debated, but certainly the Ring movies are among the most breathtaking achievements in recent cinematic history. (Opens midnight tonight in many cities; nationwide Wednesday. PG-13 for battles and scary images.)