Films featuring
Andy Serkis

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I thought I had Peter Jackson figured. He took three novels volumes of the Lord of the Rings and pared them down to three completely coherent movies. Two years later, however, his King Kong took what Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Shoadstack did in an economical 100 minutes and ballooned it up to three hours. The Peter Jackson who made Lord of the Rings was, to be as polite as possible, a man of generous girth. The King Kong Jackson was skinny. It was as if he took all those excess pounds and poured them into the Kong screenplay.

The Hobbit was made by a once-again rotund Jackson, which gave me hope that it would be a story more leanly and efficiently told, but early signs were not good. As a novel, The Hobbit is barely long enough to qualify as a footnote in Lord of the Rings. Yet, Jackson found a way to turn the story first into two movies and then, as it turned out, another trilogy. I was afraid we would be treated to such DVD chapter names as “Bilbo Ties His Shoes.”

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King Kong

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After 29 years, Peter Jackson has finally delivered on Dino De Laurentiis‘ promise. Before the release of his 1976 remake, De Laurentiis famously said, “When Jaws die, nobody cry. When my Kong die, everybody gonna cry.” Well, nobody cried in 1976, except maybe the film’s financial backers.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

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There’s little to say about Return of the King that I haven’t already said about the first two installments in Peter Jackson’s trilogy of Lord of the Rings movies. To my mind, it inherits the same virtues of the previous two movies while bringing the cycle to an epic and satisfying conclusion.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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The middle entry in a trilogy often has the hardest job, picking up where the first story left off and leaving enough for the final part to build on. In other words, it has to hit the ground running, assuming you remember what you saw a year ago and then leave you hanging two or three hours later. I don’t count faux trilogies like the Indiana Jones movies, which are only called a “trilogy” because there just happened to be three movies. There was, however, no common narrative thread tying the films together, like there is for Lord of the Rings.

Like The Empire Strikes Back, The Two Towers successfully avoids the “middle movie” trap. Continue reading