I went and saw it yesterday, at a 4pm matinee showing.
It was good. It was very good. I was amazed at how well Gollum/Smeagol was done. There were very few instances where I thought “Oh right, it is a CG-character” – very lifelike.
Heck, the Ents were well done too. Only a few of the “close up on hobbits being carried” did I “notice” that it wasn’t real.
But enough with the CG comments…well, maybe a couple more. The AI used to make the battle scenes is called “Massive”, and Ars Technica has a good article about it. The battle scenes were parts where I definitely couldn’t tell the difference between actors and CG. First there were close-ups, orcs roaring and showing their teeth, and the next minute a couple dozen orcs are falling off a ladder and landing with a sickening squish/crunch sound on hundreds of others.
Was a little disappointed that they shortened the battle of Helmsdeep – i.e. it doesn’t last 5 days. But, it was a very intense battle scene. There were some humourous interludes put in just to lighten the mood from the pure intensity of the fighting. My favourite is probably “dwarf tossing”. Only movie other than “Jackass” where I have actually seen dwarf tossing…
So, go see it. Definitely a worth sequel. My friend Trevor is already rejoicing over the fact that, in approximately 2 years from now, he will be able to get the Uber-Special-Extra Edition with all three movies in one box, and then watch all of them, in a row.
Of course, Trevor had a few other things to say as well, like “as major, archetypical characters, first comes Frodo, second comes Jesus”. From his wife (actually, commenting on the first movie) comes the comment “Too much sword-fighting, not enough talking”. If that was your view on the first movie, you probably won’t like the second…