As with so many trilogies, I found this installment to be better than the first. I think that, if well constructed, the format of a story arc extended over the course of three sections lends itself to a tight inner middle. Part of this rests with the fact that, typically, the protagonists have been split apart into separate groups and are all racing towards their own individual goals. Which means that the plotting of the piece can involves swift cuts--if at any point the pace is in danger of faltering--quick! To the other group, Batman!
Star Wars follows this classic format, too, and that's part of the reason that "The Empire Strikes Back" is the best film in the series, as Luke parts from Princess Leia and Hans Solo and both groups embark upon their own journeys of discovery. The latest "Star Wars" trilogy adheres to this format, too, and again, "Attack of the Clones" (which is a nonsensical title) is a vast improvement over Star Wars I (how could it not help but be?). Not in the same league as its predecessor trilogy, however...
A few random thoughts:
1) Liv Tyler is absolutely lovely.
2) For some reason, I kept finding parallels with other classic movies. For example, when Gandalf describes his apparent death and resurrection, all I could think of was the journey taken at the end of "2001: A Space Odyssey." And then, when he called Shadowfax in, I wondered if he had retrieved the horsie from Leland Palmer's bedroom in "Fire Walk With Me." And just before the penultimate battle, when Aragorn has a conversation with a young soldier, I half expected him to knight the boy and tell him to run far from the scene of the battle, all the while muttering that the boy is "One of what we all are, Pelly...less than a drop in the great blue sea. But some of the drops SPARKLE, Pelly! Some of them...do...sparkle..."
3) Stick around for the song that plays over the closing credits. It's incredible.
4) Does Christopher Lee utter a word in this movie? I can't recall.
5) Finally, for some reason I thought Frodo and Sam were going to lock lips at the end of the movie, as they're in the woods and Frodo talks about wanting to hear more about the bravery of Sam... Now wouldn't THAT have been something?
Is there any question as to why I'm not a film critic? ;)