And that's where we disagree. Peter Jackson's portrayal of Faramir was, at first, totally different from the books.
I think it's unfair to make a comparision to the books and the movies.I think it's fair, since the movies are supposedly based on the books. For those who love Tolkien's work, it's fair to talk about how faithful the movies are to what he envisioned in his trilogy and/or complain about some of the artistic liberties Jackson took with the story. To us, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is the Gold Standard by which Peter Jackson's big screen adaptation is to be judged. It's not like the movies are based on The Phantom Tollbooth or something like that.
And yet the Professor himself was quite aware and okay with filmmakers changing details as long as they were consistent. The only times he complained in his letters about prospective screenplays were when they REALLY took liberties with his story. The things that Jackson added/removed are entirely consistent with the films as a whole and, I think, the Professor would have been quite fine with them.
I will definitely agree with you there that Jackson changed Faramir's intial portrayal, but I think he did it the right way, even, dare I say it, in a way that Tolkien would have approved. I would even go so far to say that Jackson/Boyens/Walsh bettered the story with what they did with Faramir.
For if Faramir would have simply walked away from the ring like he did in the books, especially after the relationship between Denethor and Faramir was portrayed in later flashback scenes (esp. in the Extended Cuts), it would have been simply unbelievable. What worked in the book simply does not work on the screen. Faramir was shown to desperately want his father's approval and, in keeping with this characterization, initially wanted to bring the Ring back to Denethor. The scenes between the discovery of the hobbits and their release at Osgiliath are some of the most gut wrenching pieces in the film. You can see the conflict within Faramir as he slowly realizes what the Ring is, what it can do, and how it must be destroyed. The literary Faramir is practically a footnote, but the cinematic one is a hero who overcomes temptation for the greater good, sacrificing his own happiness (by doing what his father would have) and, in effect, further exposing the Ring as the succubus it is, which is entirely consistent with Jackson's vision of the Ring being an active
participant in the story as opposed to the rather passive
one in the books.
The only thing I took umbrage with was the appearance of the Elves at Helms' Deep. I understand why Jackson did it, but, at the same time, felt it unnecessary for the action. Part of the whole point of LOTR is that the time of the Elves has passed and it is time for Man to grow up and, well, "man up" and take care of Sauron once and for all, to redeem their kind for the weakness of Isildur.