My sister emailed the person organizing the trip, and found out there were a few tickets left from people who had canceled, and she set me up with one of those. They told me they were going to get there about 4:30 or 5, and then take a break between 6 and 7:30 for dinner with the rest of the alums from their time.
I left about 4:15 and got to the mall about 4:30, but i spent way too much time trying to find the local In-n-Out so i could get some breakfast/lunch/dinner, and then spent awhile finding parking, and actually got to the theatre about 5. There was no sign of my sister, so after eating the food i got in the line that i _thought_ was for the theatre we were supposed to be in.
No one else got in that line till about 5:30, when Seema showed up and confirmed that i had the right theatre number. I think the people who showed up next may have been mudders as well, though i didn't know them. One of them was working on a take home final and complaining about Abstract :) I played some Advance Wars 2 and read Winds of Fury while Seema was trying to finish up the last hundred pages of Return of the King. I did find out from her that the theatre had about 330 seats, and Mudd had bought 270 of those tickets :)
Caithris called me on my cell about 7:30 or 7:45, and we talked for awhile, during which time my sister showed up and gave me my ticket. After Caithris and i finished talking (earlier than we would have liked cause my cell phone batter was dieing) i went back in the line and found them again. I told them i'd been saving a spot for them, but they said they'd rather stay where they were, so i decided to come back and join them. (Seema couldn't get anyone to join her up in line either)
Apparently my sister and her fiancee hadn't gotten to Mudd till 5, so they just went straight to the dinner from there, which is why i hadn't found them earlier. Sat around with them talking and reading for a bit, and then a small group of us decided to go into the mall to get a snack. We wandered back and forth between places for a bit, because my sister and one of her friends wanted to get hot chocolate. We ended up going to cinnabon, but after i got my cinnabon and a drink, my sister discovered that they were out of hot chocolate, so we went back across the food court to the coffee place and got hot choclate there. All told we spent about three or four times getting the hot chocolate and snacks as we should have, especially if you count the time spent when the group of geeks got distracted by a Legos kiosk :)
When we got back, one of my sister's friends ripped her pants while sitting down. We had a few hours to go before the movie, so she and my sister decided to go back into the mall and get a new pair of pants. Apparently they ended up stuck in a really long and slow line at whichever store they went to, but all the rest of us knew was that they were gone for quite awhile, and not too long after they left the movie people started telling us that we were going to have to pack up our stuff soon. It was 9 or 9:30 at this point, and were were kind of annoyed cause last year they hadn't let us actually go inside the theatre until 10:30 or 11, and even then it was so we could stand in line inside instead of outside. We were kind of expecting them to make us pack everything up and put it back in the car, and then make us stand in line outside for another hour. However we packed everything up and took it back to our respective cars in shifts. Well, some of us did. They claimed that they weren't going to let us have any bags inside, and especially no electronics, but i saw lots of people in the line after that who still had backpacks, and i didn't notice any of them getting hassled for it.
Another friend of theirs called my sister's friend's cell phone and let them know they needed to get back soon. They finally got back and the two friends ran off to my sister's car to put their stuff away, and we promised them we'd save them a spot if the line moved inside. Which about five minutes after they left it did, and we were surprised that not only did they let us inside the building, they actually had us go inside the theatre and wait there.
I told my sister and her fiance to pick out the seats, since she'd been complaining about them having gotten crappy seats last time, so i let them go in front. And then they dithered. The went up to one of the rows that had some seats free near the middle, but then started coutning seats to make sure there was enough for all five in our little group, and looked around to see if there were any better spots, and while they were doing that people started moving over into the middle seats. At this point the same thing was happening to the other rows, and we ended up with seats on the very edge, two in one row and three in the row in front of it. My sister was really bitter about this. She'd been expecting the other alums to save spots for her, and felt kind of betrayed. It certainly didn't help the annoyance level that there were lots of blankets and coats and such spread across empty seats, which is far as we could tell had been put there by the first people in to save spots for friends farther back in line. There was one blanket that was spread across five seats right in the middle of one of the rows we were on.
So we spent about an hour hanging out in the theatre, the first fifteen or thirty minutes of which my sister spent griping =P I didn't care too much about the seats we ended up in, i just wanted to make sure i was sitting near/next to people i knew, which we had managed.
Finally they started diming the lights and everyone went back to their seats and they started up the previews. (They'd been running the "pre-show entertainment" crap or whatever it is for quite awhile, but no one had been paying any attention to that) Got to see Spider-Man 2 preview, which looked mediocre. The actor they got to play Dr. Octopus doesn't look anything like what i expected. The amusing thing about that preview was that they didn't say the name of the movie, they just said "2: July 2004" (or some such date) which got a few jokes made. Saw a preview for Punisher, which looked kind of dull. Saw a preview for the Mask 2, which was booed by most of the audience. I've only seen bits of the Mask, and this looked orders of magnitude more atrocious. The trailer consisted mostly of a CG dancing baby =P Saw a few other things which i'm forgeting now, they had a fairly cool "please be quiet and turn off your cell phones" message, and as usually happens in these circumstances, the movie started.
AND I DO MEAN SPOILERS!
I don't think i really liked the Smeagol/Deagol bit (and no! i don't mean it _that_ way) at the begining. Not an in theory objection, just the handling. I don't remember the books very well, speaking of which...
DISCLAIMER: I don't remember the book very well, and my memory has been seriously influenced by the Rankin/Bass animated version, which i saw before reading the books and have seen many more times than i have read the books (which is two or three times for the trilogy)
But in any case, was Smeagol that evil looking before he got the ring? And he didn't actually _talk_ like that before did he? It was like they were afraid we would have forgotton the Smeagol/Golum link, and they wanted to BANG it INTO our HEADS that this was GOLUM! It all just seemed way too blatant.
Why can't they ever have a siege last more than a single day? Why? I could have sworn the siege of Minas Tirith lasted at least a few days in the book. And i missed the little history lesson about the battering ram that ended up breaking down the gates. And when Eowyn fought the Nazgul in the book, was it just her and Merry and the king out there on their own with no one else paying attention? I seem to remember the rest of the fighting stopping (at least in that vicinity) when the Nazgul lands to challenge them in the cartoon, was it the same way in the book?
Sam didn't get to seem to do as much cool stuff. He didn't get to challenge the gate guardian things with the Phial of Galadrial, and he didn't get to use the Ring against the orcs.
Oh, and didn't Frodo and Sam get co-opted into one of the orc battalions at one point while crossing Mordor? I know they did in the cartoon. (Where there's a whip... :)
They skipped the white tree almost entirely. It gets mentioned when they show up at Gondor, but i don't think they mention it dying. Aragorn doesn't find the new white tree seedling, and after they defeat Sauron, the tree seems to be mysteriously better and flowering (although i'm not sure on that since we never get a close shot of it again) for no explained reason.
It was interesting how they handled Frodo's missing finger. I don't know if they spexify in the book or not, but it looks like in the movie he loses just the first joint of the index finger on his left hand. They're very carefull to only clearly show Frodo using his right hand after they're rescued, except for one scene where he has his left hand resting on the blank page of a book. I'm guessing the CGed it out in that scenen when they had a convenient white background to work with. (Unless they just have a very lifelike model of his hand for that scene.) It's kind of strange though, it's not that hard to bend the first two joints of a finger under, and with a little makeup and seen from a distance it would be hard to tell that it wasn't amputated.
Speaking of makeup, Frodo had a very prominent cut on one side of his face. I'm not 100% sure, but i'm fairly certain that for 90% of the time it was on the right side of his face, but for one or two scenes in the middle it switched to the left side of his face.
I'm really not sure that the Eagles could have swooped down that close to the lava without having all their feathers self-immolate from the heat. For that matter Frodo and Sam probably should have been dead given how close it was. Golum sure as hell shouldn't have lasted for five or ten seconds actually _in_ the freakin lava! I've heard claims that maybe the ring was granting him supernatural resistance in the same way in which it extended his lifespan, i don't care, it still looked friggin stupid.
And speaking of the eagles, yeah, it was a little cheesey when enough eagles showed up to carry off every single person from the disaster (did it happen that way in the books? Or was that an embelishment?) But although i can forgive them for not going that route... FIVE? Five bloody eagles? I was excited when i saw the butterfly, and spectacularly disapointed at the bare scattering of eagles that actually materialized.
I also noticed that Merry and Pippin didn't seem very tall compared to Frodo and Sam. How are they going to handle that in the extended edition? Did they film two different versions of every scene where the four of them are together? Or are they just going to sweep the issue under the rug?
They seemed to be intent to provide as many false endings as possible. The fade to black after Frodo and Sam first get on the rock, the scene at Rivendel, the crowning, returning to the Shire, then the bit with the boat, then back to the Shire again.
And yes, there was no Scouring of the Shire, and never will be.
At least there weren't anywhere near as many dwarf jokes.
That's all i can remember at the moment, may come up with more comments later.