The extended edition particularly sags in the middle. Most of the additional scenes are character moments. You can see why the film still works without them. Towers tells three tales, which wind around each other. With extra scenes added to these stories, one character scene can cut into another, and another, until you realise that little has happened for half an hour.
Somehow, the scenes involving saving King Theoden from Saruman’s spell feel strangely unnecessary. This storyline features in the theatrical cut, and is vital to the overall plot of the film, but somehow lacks drama and a sense of importance.
I also had forgotten that the orks were cockney.
The Frodo/Sam storyline is the high point of the film, as it involves your favourite junkie, and mine: Gollum. I was dubious of how well the Gollum special effects would hold up, nine years after release. But Gollum is incredible, somehow seeming even better now. How much of the overall effect is due to Andy Serkis’ physical acting skills, and how much is the CGI, I’m not sure. Regardless, it’s brilliantly done. Gollum is so well-realised, he’s somehow the most watchable character in the film. His freakishly big eyes convey his range of emotions. Every moment of guilt, of self-loathing, of anger, is clearly visible from his appearance. Just a wonderful creation, and perhaps the best non-human character in film history.
And that’s about all I have to say.