When The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is good, it’s really good. Throughout Peter Jackson‘s first film in the Hobbit trilogy, his camera sweeps through an epic battle, and Howard Shore’s score crescendos through the speakers as thirteen dwarves, one wizard and a hobbit fight for their lives. That’s what most audiences are paying to see, and the film provides that on a grand scale, again and again.
“Again and again” is also the film’s biggest issue. On a consistent basis, it’s almost as if Jackson forgets he has two more films to release and is forced to pump the brakes. Tangents pop out of nowhere, dialogue scenes are stretched into infinity, and a familiar structure of capture followed by rousing escape, is consistently repeated. Much of the film feels like it’s purposely attempting to stall the dwarves’ quest from progressing.
What we’re left with is a huge, beautiful piece of entertainment, the lows of which are slightly outweighed by its adrenaline pumping highs. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey works, but feels bloated, derived from the fact that it’s based on a child’s book, only stuffed and stretched beyond the bounds of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s original narrative. Still, its flaws and fun work hand in hand to provide a suitably rousing first act to the Hobbit trilogy. Read More »
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The Lord of the Rings saved the West Memphis Three. It sounds like a crazy statement but one of the many things a viewer takes from Amy Berg‘s breathtakingly detailed and effective documentary West of Memphis is that co-producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh spent a lot of time, and even more money, to assist in the legal defense, new investigations and expert testimony which eventually lead to the 2011 release of the West Memphis Three, three men accused of murdering three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993. Jackson and Walsh got a lot of their money from The Lord of the Rings so, put two and two together, and the statement seems less crazy.
Jumping off where Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky took off with their Paradise Lost documentary trilogy, Berg’s film makes Purgatory, the latest of Berlinger and Sinofsky’s movies, feel elementary. It expands greatly on all of the revelations on that film, and provides new ones of its own that were filmed as recently as January 12, 2012. Whereas the first Paradise Lost was the definitive documentary on the beginning of this massive, controversial case, West of Memphis is the definitive documentary on its conclusion. Read More »
When we started to hear about West of Memphis, the new documentary about the West Memphis Three (Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley) produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, and directed by Amy Berg, the big question was: what will this movie offer?
The movie was born out of an investigation funded by Jackson and Walsh that seeks to find the real identity of the killer who ended the lives of three young boys in 1993. And it turns out the film might have an ace up its sleeve. While the first press screening is going on right now in Sundance, a press release has been sent out announcing that the movie reveals testimony from three witnesses who bolster accusations that the murders were really committed by a man named Terry Hobbs.
Hobbs was the stepfather of one of the murder victims, and has long been linked to the case via DNA evidence. His ex-wife Pamela Hobbs, the birth mother of one of the victims, has called for the case to be re-opened, and has proclaimed her belief that the West Memphis Three are innocent.
The info is after the break. Read More »
Yesterday we showed you the poster for West of Memphis, the West Memphis Three documentary produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh and directed by Amy Berg. At the time I wondered what new ground this doc would find when the story has been so thoroughly covered by Joel Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost films.
Now there is a lively trailer for West of Memphis, which will premiere at Sundance. The trailer shows a bit of the specific approach the film takes to telling the story of the West Memphis Three and the murder trial that swirled around them. The movie is part of an effort to exonerate the trio and find the real killer of three young boys who were murdered in 1993. Read More »
When the West Memphis Three (Jason Baldwin, Jesse Misskelley Jr., and Damien Echols) were freed last year, we learned that Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh had been paying for investigations into the case for which the three were convicted. The murders for which the WM3 went to prison are widely believed to have been committed by other parties, and Jackson and Walsh bankrolled DNA tests and other efforts to find the real perpetrators.
Around the same time, in 2008, they started producing a documentary called West of Memphis, directed by Amy Berg, about their investigation and its findings. That film was announced in December, and will premiere soon at Sundance. Jackson has now shared the first poster for the film, designed by the artist Jock. Read More »
The West Memphis Three — Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley Jr., and Damien Echols — may be free, but their story isn’t over. Driven to enter guilty pleas and accept ‘time served’ sentences in order to return to the free world, the men are saddled with felony records for crimes that very few believe were ever proved to be their responsibility. Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, who brought the Three to global attention with the documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, are prepping their third movie about the WM3, which will premiere soon at TIFF before hitting the New York Film Festival and finally playing on HBO.
HBO now thinks there could be a fourth film to be made about the case, based on the manner in which the WM3 had to plead guilty in order to become free. And, in a related note, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh continue to support the WM3 by further bankrolling an investigation into the people truly responsible for the murders of three 8-year old boys in 1993. Read More »
So, you thought that after SAG and AFTRA called off the labor union boycott of The Hobbit that things would be all smooth sailing for the production? Nope. Despite an end to the union dispute that started with a pairing of a small New Zealand actors’ organization and an Australian outfit and grew to encompass some of the largest motion picture unions, The Hobbit may still leave New Zealand.
Where would the production go? Eastern Europe has been one possible destination, as mentioned by Peter Jackson. But his wife, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings co-writer and co-producer Fran Walsh, says Warner Bros. is keen on using the Leavesden Studios where Harry Potter was shot. Read More »
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This is a surprising turn of events for The Hobbit. When a small coalition of actors’ unions in New Zealand and Australia pushed actors’ guilds across the world to boycott work on the films, citing an unfair residuals arrangement, Peter Jackson responded by threatening to move the production to Eastern Europe.
But that would never happen, right? The organizations wouldn’t push away a huge chunk of work like the two Hobbit films by holding firm to a set of demands for which the production and backers at Warner Bros. have sought appropriate solutions — that would be crazy.
And yet Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh are now saying that Warner Bros. will move the films out of New Zealand to a yet to be disclosed new shooting location. So is this a done deal, or just an escalated threat by the studio? Read More »