I really liked the movie.
After watching something for three hours which is as intense as this movie is, I generally only come away with a “feeling” of the movie as a whole.
This movie was much darker than the previous, as was expected. There also were some serious divergences from the original story line; some of which worked and some of which did not. In some cases certain parts of the story have been heightened to a good effect.
Purists will be pleased to note that this movie has much more of Tolkien’s original dialogue in it. While JRRT did have a tendency to occasionally be somewhat verbose, some of his best writing was in TTT, and it really comes through on the screen. As I sat watching the interplay of the dialogue, I was struck at how Shakespearean much of it seemed to be; almost like I was sitting through a very well done production of Lear or Macbeth.
I liked the fact that Gimli, who we heard little from in the prior movie, got much more dialogue in this film. And I liked the humour which was injected in his role. This seemed to play upon some of the lighter banter exhibited in the book between Gimli and Legolas and their “competition,” as one example. And it gave a much needed break from the continuous barrage of action, gloom and doom.
I was also extremely pleased with how the Ents turned out. this was one area where PJ could have really messed up, by making them seem too cartoonish or too much like a caricature. While they did not have a huge amount of screen time (us hasty folk being unable to stand more than 30 seconds of an Entmoot anyhow), I think they were portrayed in such a manner which reflected their anchient, thoughtful and slow nature very well.
Helm’s Deep was awesome as every report has said. So too was Gollum, and the “performance” put in by Serkis. And Astin’s Sam steals just about every scene he is in.
It was overall a really, really great movie. Aside from a few changes which were either unnecessary or just didn’t seem to mesh well, this movie was excellent and I highly recommend it.