And to all you nay-sayers out there:
Awesome, truly awesome.
Yes, I have read the books, and yes there were a few minor differences to the story with certain parts condensed and certain (I'll admit, annoying) Hollywood style changes (for no reason other than to add unnecessary human drama), but to dwell on that would be needless nit-picking. To say that the movie was ruined because of the unfathomable crap about Arwen dying because of the ring or that the whole experience came to nought because of the absolute blasphemy of the fight between Sam and Frodo that sees the ever-faithful Sam abandon Frodo (if only for a brief time) would be missing the point. It's the same kind of nit-picking that had a lot of people complaining that Star Wars Episode Two was ruined because of "all the mushy romance crap", when there was about 5-10 minutes of romance in a 150 minute film.
So, nit-picking aside, the action was incredible and all the parts that I had been looking forward to seeing were portrayed either as well or better than I had expected. Especially the oath-breakers (the part I had been most excited to see on film since they announced these movies) who looked so incredibly different to what I expected - and so much better. And as if Orlando Bloom hadn't gained enough popularity from his portrayal of Legolas in the first two films, after the elephant scene, he's been raised to super-hero status (come on, tell me that wasn't awesome).
In summary - awesome action, a relatively faithful adaptation (unless you want to be overly anal, which I suspect many of you do), awesome action,amazing sets/scenery and awesome action.
I guess nobody told the guy that brought his 6 yr old daughter along to the screening that:
a) it was a war movie, and thus it was extremely violent
b) it was a long movie, and thus wasn't due to finish until around 11:30
So, she talked a little at the beginning (but no more so than the 20-something couple behind me who looked at me like I had just pissed on them when I shushed them (but at least they shut the-fuck up, and, surprisingly, so did the girl (but probably only because she was scared shitless))) and the guy ended up having to take her home around 3/4 of the way through the movie (although I'm not sure why, maybe because she was still trembling from the sight of decaptitated heads being flung over a wall with catapults). What a fuck-wit.
Did I mention the film was awesome?