Ok, well, I know you've all been wondering, so to cut to the chase: yes, Frodo and Sam get it on. They cut a lot of it to keep a PG-13 rating, of course, but you do see them making out and such, and the camera fades out to their sweaty groping and moaning, so that's pretty much a go.
The movie starts with Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas tracking the uruk-hai who caught Merry and Pippin, and eventually they find a campsite with the burnt, eaten remains of the pair. Ouch. The three apparently never quite recover from the shock, as Gimli starts drinking heavily and about halfway through the movie, Legolas commits suicide by hanging himself with his bowstring from the boughs of an ent. Aragorn just broods a lot, but it's hard to tell if he's actually upset or not, since he seems to brood even when he's happy.
I have to say, the ents were really great - it sounded like John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) did the voice for Treebeard, which I didn't like (simply because it made me think of Gimli every time he spoke), but the animation on them was good, and the ents were wonderfully expressive and quirky. Each one had its own distinct look and visual personality. Of course, the scene where Saruman captures them and has his minions chop them to pieces and burn them to ashes and then scatters them to the wind was hard to watch. You get attached to them after a while, but Peter Jackson made the right decision in sticking to the events as portrayed in the books.
Gollum was much improved from FotR, but still wasn't quite how I pictured him. My image of him will forever be shaped by the Rankin & Bass version of the Hobbit. Still, they did a pretty good job of him overall, managing to insert him fairly convincingly into most of the scenes and conveying an impressive amount of emotions in his features. He had several amusing scenes that reminded me of the Norman Osborne/Green Goblin scenes from Spider-Man.
I really liked Miranda Otto as Eowyn - she has the potential to make quite a splash in The Return of the King. I hope she does. She's potentially quite crush-worthy, and interestingly I found her much more appealing in the movie than in her publicity photos. Odd, that. Maybe I've just got a thing for medieval dress. Every woman on the planet has a crush on Aragorn and/or Legolas, so I guess I'm not the only one.
Finally, the movie had way too much singing and dancing. I know JRR originally pictured it being done as a musical, but Jesus. Since when do Uruk-hai do ballroom dancing in their spare time?!
Anyways, the movie was a lot of fun. It started off a bit slow, I thought, but picked up and soon had my complete, rapt attention.
After the movie most of us went to Grand Sichuan to eat. The food was much better than the other GS we went to last year.
In other news, I saw the new proposals for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. I have to say, overall, I'm appalled. They've improved from the last round, but they're still mostly terrible.
Does anyone actually want to see curvy, twisted, acid-trip, knock-down-drunk versions of the towers reaching up to claw at the sky like Gollum reaching for his precioussss? Not only does it just look weird, but it's very disconcerting, and even worse not particularly confidence-inspiring. In all seriousness, whatever they build should look and feel solid, after all of the bad memories associated with the former buildings.
The only one I (mostly) liked was this one: http://lowermanhattan.info/rebuild/new_design_plans/firm_b/slides/slide3.asp
In the Peterson/Littenberg design, they build some towers around the perimeter but then reserve the majority of the site for a memorial, ampitheater, and large set of open-air gardens and mini-parks. It's the prettiest of the designs, and the most conventional - the towers aren't garish, warped affairs, they're simple and direct - and they fit in with the rest of the skyline.
The P/L design has a real cozy, comforting feel to it, and breathes some life into the area, which is a pretty barren and lifeless stretch of Manhattan currently. It's also an efficient use of space - the garden is on the top level (actually below street level) and the museum and entrance to public transportation are underneath the various sections. Also, while not really important in design terms, their presentation was much better than the rest - their illustrations were really nice, where some of the other ones were just ugly or unprofessional looking. They used some well-rendered, tastefully done watercolors of the proposal, plus some computer-rendered diagrams and the like.
Anyways, on that note, I'm going to bed. G'nite.