Peter Jackson

What does one do after spending years in Middle-Earth? If you’re Peter Jackson, you remake King Kong, adapt The Lovely Bones, and then go back to Middle-Earth. (Even if the return trip was unplanned.)

The Fellowship of the Ring began early pre-productiin in 1997 and really kicked into gear in 1999, which means that by the time the third and final Hobbit movie is released in 2014, Peter Jackson will have spent a healthy chunk of the last seventeen years in or thinking about Middle-Earth. Time to move on? Yeah, more than likely. So what’s next? Small films, the director says, specifically focused on New Zealand stories. Read More »

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The Hobbit

One of the few complains fans didn’t have with Peter Jackson‘s first Hobbit film, An Unexpected Journey, was “it’s too short.” Clocking in at about 2 hours and 50 minutes, it felt like the story of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) joining a group of dwarves on a journey to the Lonely Mountain barely even began by the time the credits rolled. To be fair though, fans probably said the same thing after Jackson’s first Middle-Earth film, The Fellowship of the Ring. Yet when Jackson revealed the Extended Edition of that film on DVD, the added time enhanced the drama and character in many ways.

Jackson and his team are currently finishing the second film, The Desolation of Smaug, as well as the Extended Edition of An Unexpected Journey. Empire Magazine has some quotes about what exactly has been added to the first film. Will it enhance the film or just make it feel longer? Read More »

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 »

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 ThreeJason 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 »

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