This movie actually held my interest for about a half hour longer than I expected. The whole first disc is pretty solid, a few of the scenes are even Oscar worthy. To be fair I did take a 7 hour break between the two halves so maybe it does start to drag earlier than my most recent experience with it. The tonal difference between the book and the movie is fairly staggering though, Denethor is more or less wholly vilified in the film but he's a nice guy to Pippin in the book. I'm pretty sure the Faramir relationship is quite a bit better in the book as well, though he does still go nuts eventually. The siege of Minas Tirith had possibly the most impressive sets to go along with the CGI in film history, the design is quite respectable as a result. However as I've said before the Nazgul simply aren't as impressive in flight as they are on horseback, even the Witch King who sort of flies around and says fuck you to everyone present at Pelennor Fields. The same thing is true of Trolls, which greatly deteriorate after the first film's experience with the most long lived Troll in the universe.
As impressive as the Oliphaunts first look they all die with relative ease even before the green goo of doom gets there, Eowyn, Eomer, and Legolas each handily taking one down almost single handed. This is a fairly large problem with the series, everything which is a great struggle to defeat in the first film becomes trivial in the second and especially the third. Aragorn is invincible throughout and Gandalf is close, but in this film everyone else becomes invincible as well save poor Theoden. While the whole battle looks pretty impressive the more orcs are mercilessly slaughtered the more you feel that they're hopelessly outmatched.
Denethor sending Faramir to his death is one of the best scenes in any of the three films, seen here. Another good scene is Sam's fight with Shelob and his later rescue of Frodo, he actually does show off some badassery in this film! The second best scene in the film is the Mouth of Sauron taunting Aragorn and co. in front of the black gate, though it's only in the extended cut. Unfortunately that scene is the only interesting scene in the last hour of the film, the rest is just a really long dragged out procession of blah that could've been shown in a tenth the running time.
Alright, on to the shittiness. The first huge flaw with this film is the depiction of the "dead" warriors that assist Aragorn, they didn't have to be magical green goo but could have been fairly invincible skeleton warriors instead, at least to make Pelennor Fields look more like a struggle and less of a rout. After that battle is over the rest of the film is utterly terrible, tedious, and disinteresting. I tried to watch about 15 minutes of it but eventually realized that nothing was happening at all in that timespan and quickly turned it into background music for the rest of the film. The first 2-2.5 hours of this movie are very strong, easily up to par with the other films and perhaps slightly superior to the Two Towers, but the ending being God awful is impossible to ignore. While Fellowship's ending was somewhat abrupt I would much prefer that here to what a boring slog it became.
Fortunately the Hobbit is actually a much better story than the Lord of the Rings and has a Fellowship of the Ring feel to it throughout. Once that film actually comes out some time in the next century we'll have another fantasy epic to entertain us at last! This series as a whole is excellent but pretty gruesome if you watch it all at once. Fellowship is infinitely rewatchable but the other two films get a bit tiring after a while (though the Two Towers is still fine throughout it doesn't have any particularly joyous moments) but it's certainly nice to see a bit of New Zealand countryside now and then.
Final Score: 7.5/10