Peter Jackson, the once underrated cult director of low-budget, ultra-gory horror comedies such as Bad Taste and Braindead, has now become synonymous with big-budget adaptations. He has now become an unofficial member to an ever-increasing clique of overrated blockbuster-bullshitters whose inability to enthral audiences or display directorial individuality, are glazed over by their profitability. Mr. Jackson, who is responsible for King Kong and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy (which have netted Universal and New Line half a billion and almost three billion dollars respectively) is now allowed to destroy any piece of optioned literature he sees fit.
The piece of literature currently being forced into hollow digital entertainment is the three hundred-ish page novel The Hobbit which Peter is trying to turn into yet another trilogy. By bolting on elements mentioned in the appendices from The Lord Of The Rings, this comparatively short book is being stretched to the point of becoming translucent in an effort to string out the profits. Even though the character Gandalf says in the film “All good tales deserve embellishment”, I don’t think even he would approve the extent to which the New Line/Wingnut team are going to. A money hungry studio and a trilogy-loving director does not make for an enjoyable movie-going experience. The end result is an overly long, un-focussed vanity project for Jackson who thinks he is some way intrinsically connected to Tolkien.
What may have fooled swarms of nerds a decade ago, now just looks tired and familiar. A mythological, motion-captured, makeup-filled, green screen mish-mash is no longer a fresh concept. And in a post Harry Potter, Avatar, and Lord Of The Rings world, an effect-laden fantasy film is slowly becoming commonplace and contrived. So in an attempt to increase ticket sales, a tech-savvy Hollywood constantly looking for the next illegal download killer, has added “High Frame Rate” (or HFR) to the mix.
Anybody who has seen a High Frame Rate movie knows that the finished product, which in an attempt to add realism to cinema, ends up resembling a mini-DV movie similar to Spike Lee’s Bamboozled. High Frame Rate, which although could be a great aesthetic if the subject or plot concerned real-life events, just makes an already hammy yet cheesy film look more amateur. And in the case of The Hobbit which is teeming with British TV actors suffering from delusions of grandeur, is not a welcome addition. The Hobbit in HFR ends up feeling like a TV Special, with the sped up “real-life” feel just adding to the weird amalgamation of expensive effects and cheap actors.
Martin Freeman who always acts like he does in The Office but with the addition of a wig and novelty feet prosthetics, is joined by James Nesbitt who’s masked face is nullified by his instantly recognisable voice from Ballykissangel and Cold Feet. Richard Armitage also of Cold Feet-fame features as a Fabio-esque, soft-porn dwarf along with the “most handsome dwarf in the village” played by Aidan Turner. Added to this TV-mix is Ken Stott with his perpetual Rebus expressions resulting in a $200,000,000 film with a heavy television aesthetic. The whole movie looks too familiar to anyone who is a couch potato (especially if you’re British).
Criticisms of Peter Jackson and his films seem to fall on deaf elf ears however, and he has now become an untouchable and incontrovertible force in both Hollywood and in nerdy fantasy circles. For some reason he is portrayed by the media as a faultless and God-like director, even though he has not made a true “Peter Jackson” film since The Frighteners. A self-styled invincible, self-absorbed sci-fi director and a cast of second-rate television bit players in an almost masturbatory make-believe movie, makes for the most obvious exercise in fishing for geek’s hard earned money in recent years. But until the gross gets low, Mr. Jackson’s decimation of British literature and trawling of British actors will not be criticised, and The Hobbit seems to be yet another one of his unstoppable juggernauts. Nobody seems to care about the clichéd aesthetics, the drawn-out films, the lifeless 3D, the mistreated and dead animals, and the bored audience.
Compared to his earlier work; Mr. Jackson is all Petered out.