I was invited to the early showing by a friend, on the condition that I dress up for the occasion. So, in the best elvish garments that I could pull together, I seated myself in the company of another elf, a wizard, and a hobbit (complete with wig) for the 6:45 showing. Security was high: our wizard was relieved of his staff upon entrance.
The lights dimmed, and producer Barrie Osborne stepped forward to thank us for coming and to say his bit on the making of the movie and the amazing effort on the part of everyone involved that made it all possible.
The spotlight went off, and the screen went from gray to black.
I wish that I could give details without a qualm (because there is so much to tell!), but I feel that it would lessen the effect that this movie would have on anyone who reads it. I say this instead: go see it.
I consider myself to be a purist. Actually, I am a very extreme purist. I do recognize, though, that it would be impossible for Peter Jackson to please me on all points. Even with my sharp eye for deviations. I was impressed by his handling of the finer points of the story.
More than impressed, I was astounded.
Peter Jackson not only stayed true to the vast majority of the characters in an acceptable way, but I would even go so far as to say the unthinkable. Some of the character relations were addressed in a clearer way than the book. In particular, everything concerning Gollum. I could not ask more of any director.
On the other hand, I have mixed feelings towards the few characters that were significantly changed. The only reason that I can see for the changes would be to add conflict, but they could very well be resolved in Return of the King. I am going to withhold judgment on all except one (who I am not going to name here).
Music was beautiful. Cinematography was stunning. Detail was incredible. Wow.
This is a solid movie, better than the first, and a perfect set-up for the final installment. The problems that I have with it are outweighed a hundred times by the good. I am going to see it again the first chance I get.