I just saw it at a 3 to 6 showing and I will start my review with this as I
did with the Fellowship.
This is a movie BASED on a book by J.R.R Tolkien it is not THE book by J.R.R Tolkien. If you do not like it then read the book. Its a great book but it isn't a movie.
I treat the movies and book as two separate entities there by not flipping out, as some do, over any changes. And having read the book again after seeing the first movie I found it didn't cheapen my reading.
There is my premise going into this movie and that in mind I loved it. Visually it was stunning and middle-earth never looked so good in my mind. I went in expecting changes and also heard some peoples complaints over the changes and I found those complaints for the most part over exaggerated.
Faramir: Yes he is different. But is he really different? I don't think it is Faramir being different but PJ placing more emphasis than Tolkien did on the corruptive power of the ring on men. It tempted Aragorn in the first movie so would it not be out of place to have it not tempt Faramir at all? That would make him more noble than the Noble King of Gondor would it not? And in the end Faramir proved to be better than his brother by letting Frodo go. Alls well Frodo, Sam and Gollum head to Mordor Faramir goes to aid in the defense of Minas Tirith.
Elves at Helms Deep: Of all changes this is the most questionable. Having thought through some kind of reasoning I have thought of only one thing. If it is PJ's intent to not show the other battles with the elves in the war of the ring, then this is a way to show that the Elves do take a role in this war. It is very heart breaking to see elves die though because you know that had they not fought they would never die. Its not enough to ruin this movie because the good far out weighs the bad.
The whole sequence with Elrond, Arwen, and Galadriel seemed forced. It was more like LOOK AT US we are still in the movie!! It will be interesting to see how these scenes play out in the extended version. Id guess a lot will be changed.
Those are the only things that really were obvious. The rest is details that could have happened or were probably interpreted differently.
I liked a lot. The Ents and the Entmoot. The storming of Isengard was awesome. The battle of helms deep was unreal. I liked the competition between Legolas and Gimli. Gollum was GREAT!!! Absolutely the best part of the film. I liked the Shakespearian debates he had with himself. The Eowyn Aragorn interaction was much better than I expected it to be. Gandalf and the Balrog was too short!!! I need more!!! Please extended DVD have more!! Not enough Gandalf in general but there will be a lot more of The White Wizard in Return of the King. Generally I can't say there was not enough of this character or that character because over the course of 3 movies and one story the screen time will vary. I think most people aren't thinking in the terms of the whole story but just in the terms of one part. I loved when the Ent that was on fire bent down to put itself out in the oncoming water. That was so logical it was funny, and I laughed out loud.
Ok in conclusion this movie cannot, and isn't meant to stand on its own. It must be taken into account with the Fellowship and it stands on that base great. Both have changes but still hit the mark on feel and theme. They also find there way to the expected point for Return of the King. Frodo and Sam are on their way to Mordor, Aragorn is preparing for his trek to the Paths of the Dead, and Gandalf is ready to take Saruman down and rush to Minas Tirith's defense. Two Towers accomplishes its part in the story and is a lot of fun. I have to see it again soon.