A great experience - ... but with some incomprehensible flaws
1) The scene with Shadowfax running was pure kitsch. I cannot believe they actually did that.
2) I would also have preferred a prouder and colder Eowyn - I think she was crying to much; in the book she cries once, and it is made perfectly clear that she very rarely does so. However, I greatly enjoyed the way they brought the physical chemistry between Aragorn and Eowyn to life; for example through the far too short sword fight and the way he physically hindered her from reaching her uncle. I also thought Miranda Otto did a fine job, but she could have been given better material to work with. All in all, she comes across as a little too soft.
3) Sadly, Arwen is again the passive, uninteresting character she is in the books, after she showed some guts in FotR. The Evenstar was so tacky, it looked like something a ten-year old could have bought for £2 at the local toys shop. The romantic scenes between Arwen and Aragorn were awful; their lines were over-sentimental and full of clichées. Very obviously not taken from the novel.
4) The humans look very much human - they are dirty and unshaven, and their clothes are grey and worn. This is such a nice touch, and gives a realistic feel. The film makers could easily have been tempted to make them look like illustrations of the Grimm Brothers, or, even worse, some Disney production, but, happily, chose to do it the other way. Somehow this naturalistic look make the people look stronger and more real.
5) The battle sequence was terrific. I think it worked very nicely with fewer cutting-off-bodily-parts-closeups and more big shots of the two armies and the development of the battle. Although I knew all the time how it was going to end, I was thrilled and excited. Also, I think it was a good choice to make the battle the climax of the film, and put most of the effort into it's build-up, and, subsequently, use the Frodo/Sam and Pippin/Merry-threads more as reliefs. The way the book is build up, with two big blocks of action; one following Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, and the other following Sam and Frodo, I fear would have been less succesful visualised.
6) I am, too, quite disappointed in Faramir. He is too pale and passive, and seems sour rather than determined. But he may improve in RotK.
7) As far as I can see, having Aragorn fall off that cliff was utterly pointless. Especially since the Ents and the excellent Brad Dourif should have been given much more screentime to give a proper image of their characters. To me, this looked like a cheap attempt to use their superstar Liv Tyler for all she is worth by again spreading her over the entire screen saying some banal lines. I felt nearly sorry for her; she (too) deserved better material.
These are, however, minor objections. All in all, I enjoyed the film greatly.