OK. I promised it. Here it is.
The first time I wrote, I only listed the things I liked, with no spoilers. Let's review them, this time with a few spoilers included:
- Miranda Otto/Eowyn - loved most everything about her. Whenever she's on screen I call out 'Choose her!'
- Aragorn was more regal, and Christine said she felt Viggo's performance was better.
- Sir Ian McKellen continues his star turn
- a lot of the Pippin stuff, including Billy Boyd's singing
- really, all the Hobbits do a good job. Christine called this 'The Movie of the Brave Hobbits'
- Minas Tirith
- Frodo's and Sam's relationship (with one objection, below)
- the lighting of the signal beacons
- Grond, the hammer of the Underworld
- the ride of the Rohirrim at The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
- Minas Morgul
- The Straight and Winding Stairs to Cirith Ungol
- Shelob (though I think it would have been scarier if they hadn't shown so much, if it had been darker)
- the Phial of Galadriel
- Sam in the Tower of Cirith Ungol
- Galadriel is chill at the end
- an addition: that they didn't hook up Faramir and Eowyn, since he didn't deserve her.
- the ending
Let's talk more about the ending. I've seen more than one review that dissed the ending for being drawn out. The critics speculated that Peter Jackson didn't know where to end it. That's patently not true. These people must not be familiar with the books. The aftermath of the War of the Ring and the destruction of the Ring takes up all of book 6 in TLotR. I felt Jackson did a very good job of including enough when there was so much material. I missed the Scouring of the Shire, but I'm ok with that choice.
I liked, too, how he brings the end back to family. Frodo has made the world safe for humble people, but he is ruined for it. Sam is not, and he returns home to his growing family (though in the appendices of the books we find that Sam later joins Frodo across the sea).
Indeed, I wondered if the ending wasn't personal for Jackson. It's often been remarked that he looks like a hobbit. His children appeared in all of the movies. His wife collaborated with him. This has been a massive personal undertaking for Jackson. That's really the number one reason why I cut him a lot of slack: he had to make the movie he wanted to give his life to for 5+ years. At the end, his family remains, and he returns to them.
Ok, on to the stuff I didn't like.
Right now, though the distinction is a moving target, I'd say my favorite LotR movie is The Two Towers' (all of the pre-Helm's Deep Rohan stuff is so good and Eowyn is so awesome). I know RotK has taken over number one for most people, but I don't think that's me. Maybe after I see it more. Jackson didn't screw up and I'm hoping he gets a couples Oscars at least (basically for the whole body of work, at its end). I agree with Matthew at Defective Yeti that this movie could not top the last two, or, rather, it didn't. It could have topped them for me, of course, by being truer to the books, but that wasn't going to happen.
My biggest complaint is: Jackson went too far in insinuating Gollum in between Frodo and Sam. And for Sam to actually order Frodo away...that's asinine. Hated it.
#2: They should have left the Cracks of Doom alone: Gollum bites off the ring, dances insanely, and falls to his death. No need to draw it out with more scuffling and a literal 'cliff hanger'.
#3: I agree with the commenter on Defective Yeti who objected to the series-wide 'Buffooning of Gimli'.
#4: Denethor was totally miswritten and misdirected. He despaired because Sauron twisted him through the Palantir. He ended in madness, but it was the madness of despair and depression, not psychosis. And his leap off the pinnacle was silly.
#5: Legolas taking out the mumakil, similar to him taking out the cave troll in FotR, was unnecessary and looked like CGI.
#6: Eowyn wasn't quite strong and grim enough in defeating the Witch King. I actually like the cartoon's treatment better here. I wanted more.
#7: the reforging of Narsil into Anduril should have been left in the first movie.
#8: I wish they'd left Faramir's return to the fight as the defense of the Rammas Echor (far outer wall) and not a return to Osgiliath, from which he returns dragged by a horse. One more denigration of Faramir.
#9: Of course, I object to all things Liv Tyler/Arwen, but you know that. The surprise appearance at Aragorn's coronation and impulsive, open-mouthed kiss were not appreciated by me.
Well, that's all for now. Comment some and I'll tell you more.