Because of the Solstice frenzy, and the decision to watch the extras first, I have only watched the EE through once. I want to do a more organized post, but maybe the things that keep floating to the surface have a reason, so I'm going to go ahead and post these quick surfacing impressions.
I'm mostly going to complain tonight, but don't let that fool you - its because the movies mean so much to me that I pick at them. There is much, much I loved and I will get there. And I have been transformed forever by the fact of these movies being made, and what it released in me.
Favorite New Moment, beyond any shadow of a doubt: I burst into tears during the EE for the first time when Theoden says to Saruman " for those whose bodies were hewn at the wall even after their death at Helm's Deep." Ah, Hama! There you are. (but oh, how easy would it have been to give poor neglected Eomer a moment there, warning his beloved Uncle?)
Houses: I know what you're thinking, but I wanted to like whatever new material we got with the boy, even if it meant I had to watch him with pony girl. I was disappointed. I especially dislike the first addition, when Eowyn is healed, and later looks out the window and sees Faramir. here's why -
first, if only one of the Eowyn-Faramir-Merry group was going to be healed, it really has to be Faramir. Not because I long for the scene (though I do) but because it's important for the story. Denethor made it clear he would never accept Aragorn. We need to see that Faramir does.
If they don't choose Faramir, we should at least see Merry be healed since they are going to let him ride to the Morannon. And what we *should* be establishing is Aragorn as healer/renewer/king. Instead, we see Aragorn healing only Eowyn, and since there is nothing to explain the healing bit it's just playing back into the idea that there is something between them. I think that's ill played if they are going to try and make her turning to Faramir not look abrupt.
And that's my other problem. There has been time compression all over the place in the films, but it hurts here. Because Aragorn heals Eowyn, then she looks out the window. Ok, she looks better, and seems healed - surely some time has passed? But then, *after* that, they show Pippin looking for Merry on the field, making it look like it happens in the midst of that same day. I was really disappointed in this. It would have worked better for me if this scene moved back to where the hand holding scene is, and that moved to a cut during the Morannon, tying things to the times where they belong.
I did love Eomer at her bedside, though. That boy has a terribly expressive face, doesn't he?
Palantir: I hate Aragorn dropping the palantir, just hate it. And especially over the scene of Arwen - something he already knows and has been dealing with.
Saruman: I didn't mind the Saruman death, though I thought I would. Dying by technology seemed mythically proper to me.
Eowyn dreaming of Numenor: no. Morwen Steelsheen notwithstanding, nothing will ever make me believe in that. I understand there being no good place timewise to give the dream to Faramir, but that they wanted to include it. But I am also not fooled by their habit of taking the things that are mythically aligned with one character and making them over repeatedly for the few they have decided to showcase. Eowyn has enough of her own, (and why the hell does Legolas know about the paths of the dead?) And for the half dozen of you who understand - that's *not* who Faramir shares his dreaming with, and I felt much aggrieved.
More No: Gimli, what the hell is wrong with you? (I especially hate the spoiling of the aim and the death of the Corsair. It's not meant to be funny.) Aragorn crumpling when he see the ships. Beheading the mouth of Sauron. Extending the stuff with the dead - my most hated effect in all the movies, the scrubbing bubbles of Gondor. Gimli sitting in the steward's chair. (eeeee!)
Yes: Pippin, in almost every scene he gets. When he stopped dancing and locked eyes with Gandalf, I felt my heart clench. Pip and Faramir = ++good.
Beacons, you know. Grond you know (Grond! Grond! Grond!)
The fallen king has a crown again
Faramir telling Dad he would not take the ring. I was afraid they would make him look angsty, but bless David forever, he looks angry. I'm so there. And his simple strength ("I do not believe the darkness will endure." Fanon had made me afraid they would miss the fact that *he* is the strong one there.)
And I can't deny it - best screen kiss ever.
Both good and bad: Denethor. Wormtongue. The Morannon. And Eowyn's delivery of "I am no man" and her collapse. It should be stronger, damn it. Merry pledging to Theoden - I was glad to see it, but could it have been any more stirpped of meaning? And why, why did they not let him say "Are you going to bury me?" to Pippin?
I think that if my own love for the story didn't carry me through some places, I would say I like each a little less than the one before. That's not to say I don't love every single moment and that I still crave more. I just feel that they rushed as they went, and found they didn't have the time they were imagining. In the first one, there is the feeling of taking their time. I get the feeling it was a sort of denial of their own - they could not face that it was winding down and they put off believing to the very last second that it *was* the very last second. That comes clearly through, as well, and is one of the things I best love. It was real to them, that's why it's so real to me.
I also miss progression. One of the things I *love* about book!LoTR is that there are really no minor characters. Like the world's biggest maxi-drabble, everything is placed with precision. everyone who is mentiond is real, has a discernible life and breath, has a reason to be where they are. (Takes a small moment to howl for my triumvirate of "overlooked" heroes - Halbarad, Hirgon, and Hama - knowing there are others howling different names) The fellowship in particular grows with every passing day. PJ's habit of letting them show real growth and then doing something foolish the next moment doesn't bother me while I am immersed in the movie, but I miss it very much when I get to the musing stage.
well, you know that was the tip of the iceberg. But I'm gasping to be discussing it. I'll do better next time.
oh, must mention that my *favorite* bit of commentary is that every single time Minas Tirith comes on screen, Billy says, "I love Minas Tirith!" I'm so glad I'm not the only one who does that. It completely endeared Billy to me.
We will, over the next week, have company drop in that will mean kids in the house. I'm generally easy with that, though we are not child proof by any means. A few of them pull down my *stuff* and play with it, and except for the swords, I'm cool with that too - it it didn't need playing with, I would not have bought it. They make a pile of devil duckies, we've seen Thrakazog and Brak attack Aragorn and The Flaming Carrot, and I expect this year I will see Lavie's mountain goat and Kirara frolick with stuffie Inuyasha and the Harryhausen dragon. But nobody - man, woman, neuter or child is going to paw Minas Tirith and live.