Lethyos and I got to see LOTR yesterday afternoon..
Being a very long time fan of the books, I was expecting them to diverge from the story in some places (Tom Bombadil), but not in others (Merry and Pippin).
Overall, it was an awesome movie and well done. Much, Much better than the cartoons, but that's not saying much. I have bruise marks on my hands and arms from where Lethyos was holding on to me so tight during some of the tense spots. The scenery was fantastic... Hobbiton, Rivendell, Moria (Lorien strayed a lot from the description in the book, but it was still cool).
Now, some of my complaints.... these really don't matter, but they really bothered me:
1) Aragorn not wanting to take up his destiny? Where in the hell did they get that? In the books, he's been just waiting until the right time to come out of hiding. Hiding among his people in the north. There's no mention in the book about him not wanting to take up his kingship.
2) Merry and Pippin just "stumbling" on Frodo and Sam. The movie makes them seem like stupid hobbits that are always getting into trouble. Pippin was (in the books), but Merry wasn't.
3) Frodo leaving the shire immediately.. He waited around for Gandalf to return from Isengard, but left anyway when he didn't come. foreshadowing his capture by Saruman.
4) Arwen. Enough said... She has only the briefest mention in the books (and even th3en, only in the appendix) I can see why they put her in Glorfindel's place, but it still bothers me.
5) Tolkien can be accused of speeding up or slowing the story down in places (ie.. 50 years just go by, when he spends almost two chapters on one party). The movie tends to lengthen things out where Tolkien doesn't. Like the battle with the Troll. They don't kill the troll, Sam just hacks him once, then they all run... And that falling stair? when is that ever mentioned in the book, and the movie takes forever to show what's going on. I think the time should have been spent on more "important" things... (read: things that were actually in the book)
I won't argue with anyone that it was a fantastic movie, and that I did enter it with a very critical eye on how well it followed the story. I would definately go see it again (I think we are tommorrow actually), and maybe this time I won't feel so uncomfortable with it.