Archives for posts with tag: Peter Jackson

Grade B +

Manny’s Movie Musings: Part 2 of “The Hobbit” trilogy leaves part 1 in the dust with faster pacing, more interesting characters (Legolas, Galadriel, and Tauriel — played by Evangeline Lilly), more character development, better action sequences, and what we’ve all been waiting for…the dragon Smaug in all his evil and crazed glory.   Whereas “An Unexpected Journey” was like an old man wheezing his last breaths, “The Desolation Of Smaug” felt like a youngster getting his second wind during a race.  My most memorable, movie moment of “The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug” is the scene when Smaug is awakened and his gigantic, fearsome body is fully revealed.   This movie suffers from the usual shenanigan found in the previous four Tolkien movie adaptations: characters who can kill dozens of enemies per battle and never seem to get harmed; they fall from great heights, get hit very hard by giant creatures, and they dust themselves off and keep fighting as if they were made of steel.  Yes, these movies are fantasy, but there is a limit of how much b.s. people are willing to put up with.

— M

Grade B –

Manny’s Movie Musings: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” has a young, Bilbo (Martin Freeman) reluctantly going off on a great adventure with Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and a bunch of dwarves to reclaim the home and treasure of said dwarves.  The problems: a giant, bodybuilder orc is after the leader of the dwarves, and he isn’t alone; the trek is a long way off and filled with enemies big and small; and the dwarves’ home/treasure are guarded by a dragon that can incinerate armies.  My most memorable, movie moment of this first part of the trilogy: the riddle challenge scene between Bilbo and Gollum.  “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” unexpectedly did not live up to the standards “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy had established.  The music is good, the special effects are amazing, the scenery is incredible…but the characters are…eh.  Freeman, McKellen…no problems there.  But the majority of the dwarves are forgettable and irritating.  Except for the king dwarf and the old dude dwarf, they were filthy and disgusting creatures, like teeny Klingons.  I really didn’t give a damn whether they lived or died or got their home and treasure back.  To make things worse, most of the dwarves were introduced so fast it’s hard to tell many of them apart, and virtually no time was given to get to know most of them.  If it wasn’t for Freeman and McKellen being part of the group, I would’ve rooted for the dragon to incinerate them all.

— M

Peter Jackson does a very good job directing and co-writing this 3rd remake of “King Kong,” which has a huge advantage over the 2nd remake because of the special effects, and the performance of Andy Serkis who plays Kong (Serkis also plays another character in this movie, by the way).   No longer is Kong a man in a suit (2nd remake), or a stop motion puppet (original movie).  Jackson’s Kong is CGI and he moves like a gorilla that we see in nature shows.  Not only that, but Kong’s facial expressions gives him a depth that allows the audience to connect with this powerful beast.  It would seem like Kong is the main character of “King Kong” — after all, it’s his name in the title.  But I think there is a case to be made that Jack Black’s character is as important as Kong.

“King Kong” is about a washed up director (Jack Black) during the depression years in America whose movie is shut down by the studio executives due to increasing expenses and a lack of promise for the movie.  Not wanting to see his movie — and his last opportunity to make his fortune — die, Black lies, cheats, and steals to get his cast and crew to the legendary Skull Island that contains ferocious beasts thought long dead.  He is the stereotypical director who only cares about his movie, and is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone for it.

Once Skull Island is found, Black quickly sends some of his actors and crew to the island so he can get high production value shots for his movie.  Unfortunately for Black and his group, the natives there don’t like visitors.  Violence quickly erupts, and Naomi Watts, the only white woman in the voyage, is kidnapped by the natives and turned over to Kong as a sacrifice.  What follows is a creature fest that alternates between silly and horrifying as an armed group of actors and film crew and seamen look for Watts.

Back to Black being as important as Kong: the Extended Cut is over 3 hours long, and in the first hour, Black is the main focus of the movie.  And Black, as I stated earlier, is focused on one thing, just as Kong is focused on Watts, and will do anything in his power to hold on to what he loves the most.  SPOILER ALERT coming up for those of you living on another planet and not knowing how “King Kong” ends.  Both Black and Kong ultimately get destroyed by going after what they need regardless of the cost: Black loses his soul, and Kong loses his life.

“King Kong” has amazing thrills and touching moments, and the 3 plus hours do go fast, which is proof of how good this movie is.  Yes, it does start off slow, and we don’t see Kong until the second act; but I like the old school way that this action/adventure/romance/horror movie starts, giving us a solid foundation for who the characters are and making the audience care for what happens to them.   Now, for the insults.  The sequence of the brontosaurs (brontosauruses, brontosauri, fat ass dinosaurs?) chasing the rescue group did not…look…realistic.  The CGI looked like the studio didn’t have enough money to do it right.   What the hell?   Did the studio spend the money on coke parties, did it have to pay off some teenaged boy or girl who got molested by a studio head during one of these parties; or did it really think that sequence looked good enough?  As I was watching that sequence, I got flashbacks of the special effects from that “Hercules” series starring Kevin Sorbo.  That’s not good.

Another insult: Jackson’s overuse of slow motion near the end of the 1st act and the beginning of the 2nd act.  I expected a lot more finesse from the director of the “Lord of The Rings” trilogy.  I equate “King Kong” to a new, Dodge Charger with one broken headlight — sure, it has a glaring flaw, but it’s still a hell of a ride.

One of my most memorable, movie moment of “King Kong” is the sequence when Kong saves Watts from three dinosaurs (Allosaurus, maybe?) that are desperate to eat her (then again, who isn’t?).   This is the moment when I started rooting for the big ape.  No longer was Kong a threat to Watts, instead he was now her protector.  Plus it was 3 against 1, and we Americans love an underdog.

Second most memorable, movie moment of this title is the scene when some of the rescue party is stuck in a ravine or gorge, and hundreds of giant insects come out to feed on the humans.  This is the most skin crawling and horrifying moment of “King Kong.”  Hey, I like white women just as much as the next guy, but no way in hell I’d go through that nightmare for her.

One last thought about “King Kong”: some think this is a metaphor for the fear of a black man being with a white woman and running loose in white society.  Keep in mind that the first movie came out in the early 1900s.  Also, in this version of “King Kong,” when Kong was running amok in NYC, there was a scene (my most memorable, movie moment of “King Kong”) where soldiers were in a truck being given a pep talk by their Commanding Officer.  He says something like, “This is NYC, built for humans by humans, not for stinking apes.  We find it, we kill it.”  Read between the lines, people.


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