The second installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy doesn’t feel like a middle movie, perhaps because J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t really mean for LOTR to be a trilogy. He wrote the saga as one long book, but it was his publisher who divided it into three volumes. Peter Jackson’s films seem to recognize the arbitrariness of this division, which is why his The Fellowship of the Ring ends fairly abruptly, and The Two Towers picks up where Fellowship left off, on the way to its own irresolute ending.
Still, Two Towers is full of important, plot-advancing developments, including the defeat of Saruman by the ents (call it Revenge of the Trees), the epic battle of Helms Deep (the model for the even bigger battles to follow in The Return of the King), and perhaps most important, the introduction of Gollum into the narrative as Frodo and Sam’s guide toward Mordor and Mount Doom, where the hobbits plan to destroy the ring of power that Gollum so desperately wants back. In Andy Serkis’ brilliant and poignant performance, both parts of Gollum’s own divided soul have their say, forcing an inner struggle that mirrors the entire battle for good and evil that’s about to engulf Middle-earth.