the theatrical cuts i would say are objectively better films in terms of pacing, narrative flow, and general story-telling, particularly for people who aren't already fans.
However, given the nature of the series, and that it is a saga that is episodic, for someone like myself who is a fan, i almost always watch the extended edition because of the added richness of place and character. The sacrifice of narrative pull in exchange for narrative richness is one i would make for LOTR that i wouldn't for a different franchise like Indiana Jones or Batman or James Bond.
so short answer: they both have their merits and i love them both.
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I disagree, there were some things in the theatrical cuts that didn't make sense, but when you watch the extended it does. Like how Galdalf didn't have is staff in the final battle. and (if i get the names wrong im sorry) eowin and Farimir coming together. and seeing Saraman die.
The extended films are way better. it is still very well paced and when they go through moria it show more so it takes longer, and you get they felling they are down there for days. not just what seems a couple of hours in the regular cut.
Since i bought the Extended editions i choose the extended. It feels much more complete. I now have a clear consience i have no more questions. I now know where they all get there cloaks, daggers and weapons from. I knew they got it from Galadriel, but now they included every introduction of every cloak/daggers/weapons.
I haven't seen the original version except for a few times in theatres (looong ago). One of the most important scenes they lack is Faramir plagiarising Sam's thoughts (from the book) about the dead Southron.
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