Peter Jackson

Hobbit from New Zealand starts his career making cheap, gross movies, then makes one of the most magical ever with Heavenly Creatures and then makes Lord of the Rings.  Nothing can stop him now.

Bad Taste (1987) -- Maybe not as gross as everyone says it is (or maybe I'm desensitized to a gross degree), and not really as great either. It looks surprisingly the same as any other low-budget movie from a first-time director. It's not horrible, and worth seeing if you're a Peter Jackson fan, but don't get your hopes up. C

Meet the Feebles (1989) -- Just because something is traditionally made for children (in this case, puppets), making it "adult" (meaning drinking, sex, drugs, etc.) doesn't necessarily make it funny. See Death to Smoochy or almost any Ralph Bakshi cartoon for proof. This movies relies entirely on the idea that we'll laugh at puppets not doing puppet-like things, but instead it's just a pretty retarded movie. You watch this movie and wonder where Heavenly Creatures and The Lord of the Rings came from. D

Dead Alive (1992) -- Even more gory than Bad Taste, and -- though I can't say I liked it -- I was interested in a lot of it. It's basically a gross retelling of the Oedipus complex (the zombie mother eventually becoming a huge breast-and-butt monster who tries to kill her son by eating him with her womb, meanwhile a umbilical-chord-type thing trying to choke him), and the story itself is oddly captivating. In other words, I was more interested in the boring stuff than the stuff I was supposed to like. C

Heavenly Creatures (1994) -- See the three above and then see this and be confused. One of the most imaginative movies I've seen, not to mention the movie that made me believe (at least for a little) that Kate Winslet is the prettiest girl that ever was. The more I think about this movie, the more I love and realize how much energy and life it has in it. See it, please. A

The Frighteners (1996) -- It doesn't follow any real self-made logic and it's mostly just goofy (often not in a good way), but it's fun enough to watch, and Michael J. Fox is almost always good. It's worth seeing. B

Forgotten Silver (1996) -- Directed with Costa Botes.  This is one of the best mockumentaries ever made. And if it weren't for several broad comedic touches here and there (not to mention the unbelievability of it all), it might even have convinced me that it was real if I hadn't known better (indeed, at one point I got so caught up in the movie that I fleetingly though that I needed to research the fake director in question). Of course, it did convince many people, who got mad when they found out it was a fake documentary (proving that people will believe anything: see Blair Witch). All this aside, it's a really good, really funny movie, especially for fans of early 20th century movies and documentaries in general. B

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) -- The first thing I noted was that everything looked almost exactly like how I pictured it when I read it in junior high. They did everything right: three movies, casting regular-sized actors instead of little people ("oh yeah--I guess movie technology has allowed us to do that for several decades!"), all the surface stuff. But then the best thing is that everything felt so serious--it really felt like end-of-the-world situations they were in, and I cared enough about the characters to worry for them individually as well. A really heavy movie, but with the right sorts of humor too (the classic kind, as opposed to the catch-phrase kind). Loved it. A

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) -- Oddly (since this was filmed at the same time as the first one, and also since this is really just a continuation of one story), this feels like a sequel: the return of Gandalf, Boromir's brother, some other things... And, like most sequels (even some good ones--and this is a great one), it's not quite as good as the first. However, to me, this is less like saying "this isn't as good a movie" as much as I'm saying "this part of the story isn't as interesting"--the middle part. First of all, it's not as Frodo-centric (Frodo disappears from the screen for large chunks at a time), and Frodo is the heart of the story; the fellowship is separated and makes for some unusual cuts, like Pippin and Merry being with Treebeard almost the entire movie; and finally the screen time devoted to fighting and most everything else this part is devoted to just isn't as gripping as the emotion behind the first one. Does it sound like I'm complaining? I'm not. I think this is one of the best movies ever made. A

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) -- Almost too much to take there's so much in this movie. Sort of a combo of the first two, with all the fighting of The Two Towers and all the regular heart-and-soul of The Fellowship of the Ring. Peter Jackson has made the best adaptation possible of these books (reading the books again, you realize how smart he, Fran, and Phillipa are in being able to navigate the monster) and has made the best movie trilogy of all time. A

King Kong (2005) -- If almost anyone but Peter Jackson had made this movie, I would have thought it was a pointless thing to do.  But he did it, and did it more or less right.  Casting Jack Black was great.  Not only is one of the most evil characters (if you think about it) in movie history funny and loveable because of him, but he looks a lot like Orson Welles in this movie, which is appropriate in more than a few ways.  Naomi Watts was another good choice, since her acting style and beauty is more or less in line with 1930s Hollywood anyway.  Some bits could have been trimmed from the movie to make it better, notably the mysterious subplot involving Colin Hanks that went nowhere, but for the most part the excess is what makes the movie work.  It truly is a harrowing experience to watch this movie for the first time, since it's one narrow escape from a monster after another, climaxing (for me) in the gross and gooey vagina dentate creatures that swallow some of the characters whole.  The only thing I might have wanted more of was what seemed to be promised as they were approaching the island with the discussion of Heart of Darkness and the line "This isn't an adventure story, is it?"  But even though it did eventually become an adventure story after all, there were some great and scary Conradian moments with the natives (thank goodness they didn't concern themselves with political correctness and instead tapped into those European fears we used to exploit in fiction all the time).  My major complaint with the movie is that Naomi Watts seemed to fall romantically in love with Kong, which I just can't buy.  In the original movie, Kong loved Fay Wray but she didn't return the love, was just terrified by him, which is what really would have happened.  Peter, Fran, and Phillipa must have been influenced by the Dino De Laurentis version and other bestiality stories like Beauty and the Beast.  Finally, the New York scenes at the end is appropriate and exciting, and in these scenes alone you can see how remakes are supposed to be done. A

Copyright (c) Dec 2001 - Jan 2006 by Rusty Likes Movies