Wow. I remember every time I've read the Lord of the Rings, I've ended up skipping pages during the war scenes. The translation to the movie didn't hep... I wish I had a fast-forward during some parts. Wow, was that a long movie. Lots of war. Tolkien didn't like to write transitions I guess... So it's they're starting the war, they're losing, they're losing, they're losing. Like 150 pages of the good guys getting their ass kicked then suddenly, inside 3 pages, the reiforcments arrive and they win.
Obviously the movie isn't going to do much about that. I think some of Steve's choices in the movie were a bit odd. But hey, he's the guy in charge of the flick, so all power to them. But my wife - who's never read the book - was completely lost that there was two cities under siege. When Frodo showed up in Gondor, she was like "Where are they? Who's that guy? What's the guy on the dragon doing?" It wasn't particularly clear what was going on and I had to fill in the blanks from the best of my Tolkien knowledge - which isn't really that in depth (like I said, I skipped pages).
The thing I never really understood in the book and the movie didn't help, was why they were bothering with Helm in the first place? Why not send the zillions of Uruk-hai directly to Gondor? It's not like there was any threat to Saruman or Saurun from a bunch of villagers held up in a mountain...
Woof. I will admit that I had to go pee about 15 minutes in too and we were stuck over in the corner so I never got up... That's the worst. Probably made the movie seem a bit longer. ;-)