We sat through all three movies in one go on Boxing Day and it turned out to be less of an ordeal than anticipated. Plenty of pit stops made the nine hours very bearable, but I wish the story line had been too.
Unfortunately, and I may be repeating some criticism from elsewhere on the myriad of LOTR fansites, if only the writer had paid less attention to linguistics and more to economics I would have enjoyed the epic more. As it was, it's fairly standard fantasy fare - I always disliked the books for their over-acting characters, apart from the Ents, the only ones with a sense of humour.
How did those Gondor and Rohan people actually survive in a landscape like that (glorious central Otago and the McKenzie Country) since there were no crops, nor flocks of sheep and other livestock. How did they manage to feed so many people in their cities on the hill - let alone so many horses? Their defence budgets must have been about 100% of taxation looking at the number of knights and fighters they managed to field at short notice, but where did the economic muscle come from?
On the 'other' side, the baddies were all stereotype, not an attractive character among them, except Gollum, who is about the only individual in the whole story who manages to survive on his own wits - almost an archetypal queer character in the endless sea of conformity in Middle Earth.
And Sauron (or the nature of Evil) was far too sketchy, I wanted more about what drove him to wanting to rule the world and how he would have dealt with inevitable social change and evolution - Orcs and other bad characters will need management, social manipulation and motivation if he wanted to stave off future rebellions. It is intriguing to think about what such a society would be like. I mean, there'd only be ugly orc boys without girlfriends, cloning themselves as far as I could figure out the way they reproduced.
The epic story was actually quite small in its scale: a little tussle over who will become the dominant species for another short time in history. And it was quite claustrophobic in atmosphere despite the vast landscapes, I suspect any medieval society with strict social structures and magicians must have been like that.
If the age of man dawned as the age of Elves came to an end, why have another king and not a republic? It was definitely not the age of reason that had come into being. JRR Tolkien was obviously a conservative.