The Evolution of Peter Jackson Part 2

(This is part two of a two-part series. You can read part one right here.)

In the wake of The Lord of the Rings and King Kong, Peter Jackson suddenly found himself in the position of being an in-demand effects-studio head for cutting-edge Hollywood productions. Weta’s Oscar-winning work on those films brought heaping attention on the company, which was forced to rapidly expand to accommodate the demand of multiple studios. Everything from Avatar to Planet of the Apes to the Marvel and DC Universes have had at least some work done by Weta Digital, whether as lead studio or as support for others. The effects house has routinely turned out groundbreaking and astonishing work, building on the foundations built for Rings, and justifiably won accolades for it. Among the films Weta helped to reality, too, was Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, which Jackson produced after his and Blomkamp’s Halo adaptation fell through.

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The Evolution of Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson has two new movies out this December, and each represents a vastly different side of the New Zealand cinema titan. Mortal Engines, which Jackson produced and co-wrote, is the kind of giant fantasy blockbuster he has become known for, while They Shall Not Grow Old, his (non-faux) documentary debut, stems from an entirely different part of his sensibilities.

Thus, it’s worth taking a look at how we got here – and how Jackson’s career has changed him as a filmmaker.

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The Making of Mary Poppins Returns

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, go behind the scenes of the making of Mary Poppins Returns. Plus, find out how Peter Jackson pieced together his World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, and Modern Family star Ariel Winter recaps the ninth and tenth season (so far) of the ABC sitcom so you can catch up. Read More »

Mortal Engines Featurette Shrike

Mortal Engines comes rumbling into theaters next weekend, bringing with it a cast of futuristic, post-apocalyptic characters. One of those characters is Shrike, a kind of mummy-zombie-assassin played (via mo-cap) by Stephen Lang. A new Mortal Engines featurette introduces you to Shrike – a character writer/producer Peter Jackson calls an “unstoppable force.” Watch the featurette below to learn all about this mummy-zombie-assassin.

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Mortal Engines Featurette

Peter Jackson and producing partner Philipa Boyens accomplished quite the task by bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy world of Middle-earth to life in the incredible Lord of the Rings trilogy, and to a lesser extent, The Hobbit trilogy. Now the producing team is trying to kickstart another literary saga in the form of Mortal Engines, based on the book series of the same name by author Philip Reeve.

Mortal Engines doesn’t seem to have a lot of buzz right now, which is a shame, because the world in which the story takes place looks cool as hell, and it has flares of the films of the Wachowskis. But a new featurette brings Peter Jackson and Philipa Boyens in to help push the project to Lord of the Rings fans, not to mention bringing in the full support and satisfaction of Philip Reeve. Read More »

they shall not grow old trailer

Peter Jackson has put his cutting-edge visual technology to good use with They Shall Not Grow Old, a World War I documentary unlike any other. The documentary takes BBC archival footage shot during the war 100 years ago, and brings it to life via a state-of-the-art restoration and colorization process — and in 3D for good measure. The documentary has already aired in the U.K. on BBC Two, but now the stunning film comes to U.S. theaters for a limited time next month. Watch the They Shall Not Grow Old trailer below.

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mortal engines extended trailer

Can Peter Jackson recapture the epic magic of his Lord of the Rings adaptations with Mortal Engines? That’s the plan, at least. But ahead of the film’s fast-approaching release date, enthusiasm for the film is a tad underwhelming. Perhaps this new trailer, billed as an extended look, will change that. Watch the latest Mortal Engines extended trailer below.

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dead alive 4k

Peter Jackson may be more well-known now for his epic Lord of the Rings films, but he started his career creating ultra-gory schlock horror. Films like Dead Alive and Bad Taste, loaded with bloody practical effects and a wicked sense of humor. As of now, the only versions of these films available to the general public are not exactly what you’d call “high definition.” The quality is spotty, degrading all the bright red blood Jackson worked so hard to splash up on the screen. But there’s hope in sight. Jackson himself has revealed he’s working on new Bad Taste and Dead Alive 4K restorations, hinting that new Blu-rays might be on the way.

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anything you can imagine

It might sound hyperbolic, but Peter Jackson‘s Lord of the Rings trilogy is something of a minor miracle. Jackson and company were able to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy series into three massive, all-encompassing, emotionally-driven and wholly exciting movies. The original film trilogy would end in massive box office returns, Oscar glory, and an ever-lasting legacy.

Ian Nathan‘s wonderful new book Anything You Can Imagine: Peter Jackson and the Making of Middle-earth takes readers on a journey through the films – from inception, to creation, and beyond (even the less-than-fantastic Hobbit movies are covered). We take a look at the book below, and include an exclusive excerpt.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

mortal engines scar

One of the reasons the Mortal Engines books stand out from the rest of their YA cohorts is because of its heroine’s grotesque facial disfigurement. For every Twilight or Hunger Games whose beautiful brunette saved the world while being at the center of an agonizing love triangle, there was Hester Shaw, who was described as “portrait that had been furiously crossed out,” with her stump of a nose and missing eye.

So how did all that turn into a dainty facial scar? Because it’s gross, director Christian Rivers essentially says in a defense against fan pushback over Hester’s Mortal Engines scar. Well, he doesn’t say exactly that, but his excuse is just as weak.

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