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.”
In your typical American spoof of an over-amped, testosterone-pegged action film, the standing cliché seems to be to cast the hero as an incompetent bore, an anti-intellectual simpleton who bumbles his way through a handful of elaborately staged but unimaginative stunt scenes. Also, someone usually gets kicked in the crotch; often more than one someone.
Hot Fuzz, from the British creative team that brought us Shaun of the Dead, takes the exact opposite approach. Namely, they made a smart movie with a noticeable dearth of foot to testicle contact. Continue reading
Douglas Adams’ “The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy” has seen so many iterations that I’m only waiting for the cave painting and haiku versions to cover the last remaining possibilities. I’m aware of a radio show, books and then a BBC TV mini-series, a computer game and even more books. The movie version, however, has been a long time in coming. I first became aware of the books and TV series as a college student in the mid-1980s and even back then, they were already talking about a film version. It wasn’t until this year that it finally came to fruition. The tortured path to the big screen is evident in that, four years after Adams’ death, he still gets a screenplay credit. Now that is being stuck in development hell.