Imagine, a Hollywood producer got his hands on the game. The result would be similar to what the Cinematic Mod is: a graphics blockbuster, redesigned to the typical game to movie adaption with an orchestral soundtrack and beautiful people everywhere.
I feel as if Cinematic mod has garnered very vocal critics and quite a devoted group of fans. Both of whom have a very intense love it/hate mentality that initially made Cinematic Mod in general feel unapproachable, another thing that kept me away was the initially cumbersome installation that turned me away, not to mention the ungodly size of the files.
However, after finally caving in to downloading a torrent when I watched a playthrough on youtube, I wasn't necesarilly disapointed, and I found myself having fun playing through a new version of Half-Life 2 with general ease.
The new graphical effects can be tuned to ones liking, and the new level details really bring a new level of realism to the levels that I particuarly enjoyed, heck, I even liked the optional orchestra music that has drawn some ire from critics.
As a big fan of Half-Life, I understand some finding many of the options to be rather blasphemous regarding the skins and design choices in the game (some of which I happen to agree with, I didn't like the additional crude graffiti that had nothing to do with City-17 or the combine) and playing through some levels left a sour taste in my mouth after finding some routes changed for the worse rather then for the better.
For the most part, it is still Half-Life, just with plenty of changes that may be rather divisive. While I liked the attention to detail (Highway-17 featured some of my favorite changes, with old Latvian military bunkers dotting the countryside) there are some blemishes here and there regarding design and I can't help but feel turned off the the perverted skin-choices for Alyx (I do like how FakeFactory finally caved in and made a more lore-friendly Alyx in the end of his long run). In the end, this mod started as a personal pack and ended up as a 52Gigabyte mod file that pushed Source to it's limits, and it was something I was finally glad to play from start to finish.
Some may be turned away from the changes (many of whom are optional), but others may find another excuse to play Half-life once more like I did :)