We have recently completed the first of what we hope will become an annual New Year's ritual: watching the Lord of the Rings: extended version, all three films:
LoTR a lot to relish 16 hours of it - and we do.
I'm not going to bother to review this series - I don't think I can. When I watch them, I fall into a sort of trance, just sink beneath the screen, and into the Shire, then Middle Earth. Maybe I'm just susceptible, but I think they've done an amazing job making this fantasy world come alive.
All of the actors are amazing. I'm not sure, but weren't many of these actors kind of obscure before LoTR? Were Viggo Mortenson, Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom household names before this came out? Because they are now and well-deservedly. Furthermore, they seem to perfectly fit my image of the characters (except maybe EW as Frodo, who is a little too big, soulful eyed and wounded for me.
The scenery of Middle Earth (or New Zealand) is lovely, and the art direction for the various towers, keeps, elflands and hobbit holes works for me 100%.
The acting ... well, the acting. It's like this - you couldn't get away with this kind of over-the-top in a few rare movies, and this is one of them. Just like the elves and dwarves and ultimate evil stuff - it's a cliche everywhere else, but not here. When Tolkien does it, it is fresh from the well.
I've only read the Ring trilogy 3 times (grade school, high school and college), and that was a long time ago. So I have no idea how closely the movie follows the book. (Except that they left out my favorite part - Tom Bombadil!) I can't even say how the extended version is different from the theater version.
But we are going to be watching this every year for as long as we can stand it, and I'm looking forward to memorizing every minute.