Peter Jackson with Cam

The final installment of the Hobbit trilogyThe Battle of the Five Armies, has finally hit the U.S. theaters, and Peter Jackson has been doing the rounds to promote the movie, however, that’s not all he’s been talking about. It’s no secret that The Hobbit movies have received their fair share of criticism for myriad reasons; but one of the most ubiquitous critiques, has been Jackson‘s heavy reliance on CGI effects, as opposed to the practical effects that he used in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, coming off the back of these criticisms, Jackson has been ruffling feathers in the contemporary movie-making world with his critique on the state of the industry today; the Hollywood zeitgeist if you like, and it’s all rather dumbfounding indeed.

As it turns out, Jackson has accused modern movie makers of using too much technology… Huh?! …That can’t be right? I can hear you all rhetorically asking yourselves with jaw-dropping bemusement. But it’s true. Jackson has been calling out other film-makers out for using too much technology. In a recent interview with Movie Fone, Jackson had this to say:

“I don’t really like the Hollywood blockbuster bandwagon that exists right now. The industry and the advent of all the technology, has kind of lost its way. It’s become very franchise driven and superhero driven.”


Mmmmm, this tomato soup is awesome sauce…

I’ll give Peter Jackson his due, as he has worked hard to get where he is today, producing such gems as; Bad Taste and Dead Alive (a.k.a. Braindead), working on shoestring budgets, managing to make great horror-comedy, gore-fests, which got his career moving in the right direction. However, Jackson has spent the better part of two decades making his living (…and a comfortable one at that),working on major multi-million dollar franchises based on ‘already-popular-novels’ – so to say that Hollywood has become “very franchise driven,” just stinks of complete ignorance and downright hypocrisy.


Moreover, Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy is jam-packed with new technological advancements, including his decision to film at 48fps (frames per second) – Jackson actually filmed The Hobbit in three different formats: 3D HFR (higher frame rate), Standard 3D, and in 2D. Also, the fact that The Hobbit cost more to make than Jackson’s previous Lord of the Rings trilogy (it doesn’t really show to be honest) reeks of self-indulgence. Lastly, stretching out three long movies based on one of Tolkien’s shortest novels seemed more like a marketing ploy. Maybe that wasn’t Jackson’s intentions, but there was a price to be paid; culling material from the appendices of The Lord of the Rings (the main antagonist being the White Orc anyone?), was Jackson’s only way of acquiring more material to produce three adequately lengthy movies, which involved straying away from Tolkien’s original narrative, to the point where very little of the focus remained true to the source material. Overall, my point is, Jackson stretched what could have been one three-hour film, into a trilogy, and by proxy (or more likely by choice), created another overblown franchise. Case in point, Peter Jackson likes effects driven, overblown franchises.

As Jackson is working with fantasy novels, obviously he has to rely on technology to facilitate the film-making process; as amassing hundreds of thousands of extras, kitted out in full Orc apparel and packed in realistic looking make-up just wouldn’t be an ideal scenario (see photo below). Furthermore, Smaug the dragon isn’t a real fire-breathing-behemoth that sounds uncannily like Benedict Cumberbatch, and although the hobbits look like they are having fun water-rafting, it’s probably safe to say that if the actors were to do these stunts for real, they would no doubt have problems with their insurers.

Lord of the Rings Practical Effects

So yeah, that point I was making about amassing thousands of extras kitted out in full Orc apparel, packed in realistic looking make-up being hard to pull off… well yeah, here is an image of the Orcs from The Lord of the Rings era. Real people, in realistic make-up which looks fantastic even to this day.


Above are the CGI orcs that are featured in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Consequently, it doesn’t matter how much money was thrown towards the rendering of the CGI Orcs – they still look like CGI Orcs; the lighting, the movements and overall look; they just don’t match up to the authenticity of the Orcs in The Lord of the Rings – and there is also the valid point that the actors had no interaction with real people on the set, which is clearly a disadvantage. Furthermore, the realism of every individual Orc, their make-up and apparel, led to the first film bagging an Academy Award. Which left a lot of people stumped as to the precedent for change; with the main question being, why the change?

Well, when Jackson was asked why he opted to render the Orcs using only CGI, he said that it wasn’t a revolutionary idea, and that had the technology been readily available during the filming of the Orcs on The Lord of the Rings, he would have created them digitally just like The Hobbit. How depressing is that?!!

Just because technology is readily available, doesn’t mean it should be the first port of call – just  look back to the magnificent Blade Runner which used nothing but practical effects. The success of The Lord of the Rings was based on the authenticity of Jackson’s interpretations – so he is kind of forgetting what bagged him that Academy Award when stating that, if he could have, he would have used CGI on the The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Case in point, Peter Jackson likes effects driven, overblown franchises. He is a sucker for new technology.

In contrast, there are some who will make the argument that, through the use of their Black Speech, the Orcs in An Unexpected Journey are further testament towards Jackson’s commitment to authenticity. Whilst there is an element of truth to this, it doesn’t make up for their unsatisfactory appearance. Why not mix it up: the practical and the digital…


Alas, many of the cast members from The Lord of the Rings have been pretty vocal about the over-use of digital effects in The Hobbit, with Aragorn (a.k.a. Viggo Mortensen) offering a harsh critique on the approach Jackson has taken with the Hobbit franchise. All this speculative talk makes you wonder how the movies would have looked, had Guillermo del Toro taken on directorial duties, as was originally planned, as Guillermo’s knack for synergizing practical effects with CGI can be seen in all its glory in The Troll Market taken from Hellboy: The Golden Army (just to play devils advocate, fiscally, Guillermo has a reputation to produce the goods on reasonable budgets; and with the budget estimated at roughly $85 million to produce the second Hellboy installment – it certainly looks fantastic).

This particular scene shot by Guillermo del Toro, which was featured in Hellboy: The Golden Army, is almost like an homage to the “Cantina Scene” from Star Wars IV: A New Hope. Check it out below:

Peter Jackson is a special effects advocate through and through, no doubt about it. So, his comments reek of pure arrogance, and are quite baffling to be quite frank. Is it a bad thing that the movie industry is getting too cozy with franchise films and special effects? Well, that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case for Mr Jackson. Furthermore, does Jackson have any right on calling out other film-makers who rely far too heavily on special effects and franchise driven movies? The most obvious answer to that question is “no way punk.”

Case in point, Peter Jackson likes effects driven, overblown franchises (..apologies if this has become slightly annoying).

Are you a Lord of the Rings fan? …a Hobbit fan? Do you like both? Lastly, what do you think of Peter Jackson’s comments?

Via – CinemaBlend

Category: Books, Film

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