Peter Jackson’s epic adaptation of The Lord of the Rings continues with this dark tale of warfare between men and monsters, more graphic in its violence and more fantastic in its imaginings than the first film. The Fellowship of the Ring, charged with returning a powerful ring to its supernatural source, has splintered: Frodo (Elijah Wood) engages a nasty little creature called Gollum (a digital creation guided by the movements of actor Andy Serkis); Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) wander through an enchanted forest, where they’re adopted by the curmudgeonly tree creature Treebeard (John Rhys-Davies); and hunky Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) leads the kingdom of Rohan against impossible odds as 10,000 monstrous warriors plunge toward the fortress at Helm’s Deep. The battle scenes, which owe a debt to Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness, were animated with an AI program that gave each body autonomous movement.