Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Sep 9, 6:42pm
I agree on most points, save that I've always loved Elijah Wood's portrayal of Frodo probably just as much as book Frodo. But the other points on the list are definite: Beorn, Faramir, Gandalf vs The Witch King, Shelob's Lair - all better in the books: which is not to say that in the movies, they were handled poorly, just differently.
I myself would have included two things, though: firstly, Jackson's treatment of the Ents, especially their motivation for joining the war against Saruman. Being deceived by Pippin may have seemed like a good way for the hobbits to be involved in the action, but the books handled it perfectly: in the book, Merry & Pippin are still the chief motivation for Treebeard's decision, but, at least in my opinion, for a very different reason - they restore Treebeard's hope in the outside world, and show him that there are still people in Middle-earth who care for nature: people who are worth fighting and dying for. That's how I've always read it, and that's why, I think, Tolkien spends so much time explaining Treebeard's wonder and amazement at never having heard of hobbits before - Treebeard believed that "nobody was altogether on his side" because he had watched the Elves abandon the fate of the world to others, to Men, who care little for nature: he had been betrayed by the Istari. In Hobbits he found a kindred spirit and a reason to defend the world. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how I see it, and I believe portraying it that way could have helped to reinforce the themes that Jackson was already going for in Two Towers.
Also, Merry. This one is less for a philosophical reason, and more because I've always been infuriated at the way Jackson chose to combine Merry and Pippin into one personality - Merry's leadership qualities are lost, as are most of his defining character traits from the book: his curious nature, the way he acts like an older brother to Pippin - I enjoy that in the extended edition, some mention was made of his knowledge of the history of pipe-weed, but besides that, very little of Meriadoc Brandybuck from Tolkien's novel shines through in the movie.
"It is my duty to fight" - Mulan