Thursday, January 29, 2009

Peter Jackson rules.

I guess this would be a "Part II" to "George Lucas Sucks."

On the first weekend of the New Year, I got together over at this guy's place for a 3-night "Lord of the Rings" marathon. This was the first time seeing them consecutively since the Special Edition version of "Return of the King" came out, and the first time seeing them on the big-ass TeeVee at his pad. Yeah, there are plenty of issues, especially from a book purist's point of view, but I'm not going to get into a geek-fight about that.

No. Instead, I wanted to follow up on last night's rant about Lucas. Jackson's trilogy used plenty of the same cinematography concepts, specifically motion-capture of actors for controlling computer-generated characters and eye-popping, lavish computer-generated sets. But where Lucas seems to put the CGI art ahead of both the actor's and the storyteller's crafts, Jackson is there to tell the story first, and then make it pretty. You cannot fix bad direction or sub-par acting "in post," on the editing table.

Sure, there's a lot of stupid, silly, or pointless crap in "Rings," the equivalent to Lucas' fart jokes and bodily noises. Jackson's kids show up in all three films as the obligatory adorable kids. Gimli seems to be wandering around the second film with little more to do than be a caricature. Some good, funny moments, but I hurt my eyes rolling them with Gimli's standing behind the battlement of Helm's Deep, too short to see over it. Then there's the Elf's little skateboard-down-the-stairs bit. *cringe*

I can get around all that, because there's SUBSTANCE to the story. Jackson gets actual performances from his people. I cry when Boromir dies. I fucking bawl when Eomer finds his sister on the battlefield--what a hell of a scream! Hell, I'm choking up right now writing about it. How about the bit where Gandalf has fallen down the pit and the rest of the Fellowship runs out of Moria, standing on the rocks and crying. The music under this--a single voice lamenting the loss--is powerful. The Nazgul theme still scares me.

What did we get from Lucas? "I hate you!" */whine* For all his trying, Ewan McGregor couldn't hold the movie together. Look what he had to work with.

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