I did it. I survived. I watched the longest possible cut of every Peter Jackson movie in one weekend. If you haven’t been following my progress from the beginning, start here. So, what have I learned? Well, before we get to pretending like this had any educational value, here is my video diary from the whole frightening ordeal.
Alright, so let’s talk about the guy just by looking at his films. I recommend you watch all the ones you have any interest in before I let this rip, but you live your life however you want.
PETER JACKSON’S STRENGTHS:
Since the beginning of his career, cinematography. Even when he was running all over New Zealand chopping up mannequin parts as a youth, the guy knew where to put the camera and how to move it to keep everything visually interesting.
Also, while it wears off a bit post-King Kong, he’s a genius when it comes to practical special effects and finding ways to pull them off.
Plus, Peter Jackson rarely lets logic get in the way of a great gag or stunt. Your mileage may vary on whether this is a strength or a weakness (hell, my mileage varies on it), but from the splattering zaniness of Bad Taste and Braindead to the off-the-wall impossibly perfect Orc slay-a-thon during the barrel ride in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Jackson is a director that takes chances in the name of fun.
PETER JACKSON’S WEAKNESSES:
Length. Oh my god, length. I sort of understand why The Lord of the Rings needed more time, but by King Kong and The Hobbit, holy shit, dude, what’s the point?
Also, it seems almost insane that a filmmaker could succeed while being weak in this area, but story? Jackson’s films often feel like a series of sequences or emotions, and there’s an unusual lack of story flow to much of his work. There are many occasions when this simply doesn’t matter because the film is so entertaining or engaging, but there’s also King Kong.
More characters with no discernible arc standing around talking, please.
Many of his stories are just “we’ve got to stop the bad guy” plots that aren’t terribly interesting, and this is when his gags and action sequences begin to morph into a weakness; if the jokes don’t make us laugh or the stunts aren’t exciting, we start noticing that they’re only there to distract from a weak script.
Hmm, that ghost has no jaw–wait, has anything actually happened in this scene?
And, like I’ve mentioned above, Jackson’s use of CGI seems to only increase as his career progresses, and it doesn’t look great.
There’s no excuse for not actually throwing Stanley Tucci off a cliff.
PETER JACKSON’S DARLINGS:
What tropes are irresistible to Peter Jackson? First up, rebirth imagery, specifically killing an enemy by entering their body and then reemerging.
Also, women are angelic, heavenly creatures that oftentimes literally glow.
And, it probably goes without saying… shots of New Zealand being gorgeous.
Meet the Feebles.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
A shot from King Kong that was reportedly shot in New Zealand but looks fake.
The Lovely Bones.
A shot from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey that looks suspiciously composited.
Maybe actual outdoor New Zealand in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug?
Ooh, and death. Someone dies in every single Peter Jackson film, even if it’s just a bunch of nameless side characters. That probably isn’t too uncommon, but several Jackson movies are either sparked by a death or center around the idea of life after death in various forms. Zombies, ghosts, Sauron, weird stupid heaven… this guy’s got a death thing.
Oh, come on, I’m not going to list his movies from best to worst. I’ll section them off into categories of personal enjoyment, though.
Legitimately Great on a Dramatic, Emotional Level
Okay. Back to my viewings now.
Hey, guess what? Peter Jackson had to go and ruin a nice ending by coming out with another movie. Click here for my review of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.