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time to geek the hell out

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i've been following the productions of peter jackson's 'king kong' and periodically, episode 3. let me say that i have the highest expectations for 'king kong,' and every indication that those expectations will be fulfilled. i mean, the man fulfilled my every expectation for 'return of the king,' it's really not expecting too much for this film to be fantastic. the on-set diaries at are amazing. the work he's doing, the care and attention, but also the freedom and fun he has while working is so inspiring.

i hate when people blame the failure of something on 'expectations being too high' (see: final episode of seinfeld). it's a bullshit excuse for mediocrity (see: episode 1). now, there are some rare cases where expectations can affect how a film is received - i think alien 3 is a good example. on it's own, it's not a bad film. it's not great either, but taken out of the context of the trilogy it stands much better as its own entity. 'alien' is one of the best horror films of all time, and 'aliens' is one of the best action films of all time. there really was no place to go other than in a new direction, rather than try to outdo the previous films. but there are instances where expectations can inflate an only mediocre film to the perception of greatness, and it's only in hindsight that we see how wrong we were (see: indy 3, which looked like a masterpiece after indy 2, but now seems a bit bland. i'll even confess to having liked ep. 2 while still in the opening night rush of it).

but now episode 3. sigh. the prequel trilogy might as well be directed by chris columbus. 1 and 2 both have chris' trademark, squeaky clean sheen peppered with stock emotion. like columbus' harry potter films, both sets of movies are about magic and wonder while containing virtually none of it.

george's team managed to cut together a fun trailer that uses no moments of acting, two lines of dialogue, and mostly footage from the previous films. sad, but this is what it takes now to squeeze out a moment of true star wars joy.

'return of the king' has been on rotation on cable and i find myself compelled to watch sequences of it again and again. the film, like 'empire strikes back,' which i just wathced again recently, has genuine emotional resonance.

remember those days in high school when lucas and speilberg held like 8 of the top grossing films of all time? it was like all 3 star wars, all 3 indy films, back to the future, and et. it was awesome.

here's the domestic list now:

1 Titanic
2 Star Wars
3 Shrek 2
4 E.T.
5 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
6 Spider-Man
7 The Return of the King
8 Spider-Man 2
9 The Passion of the Christ
10 Jurassic Park

shrek 2 is number three? of all time? are you kidding me? and episode 1 and the jesus movie are scars on that list. but check out the adjusted for inflation list - which is really a much better barometer of a film's popularity:

1 Gone with the Wind
2 Star Wars
3 The Sound of Music
4 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
5 The Ten Commandments
6 Titanic
7 Jaws
8 Doctor Zhivago
9 The Exorcist
10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

this is more like it. shrek 2 is way down at #30, and empire and raiders rest comfortably within the top 20.

it's interesting, i was talking about 'king kong' with neal and he said that the original is pretty boring. i countered that in 1933, when it came out, it must have looked photo-realistic, and was certainly entertaining on a whole different level than how we view it today.. and i think the same is true of the original 'jurassic park.' it's really not that great a movie, but visually, my god, it was the first time that we had ever seen an effects shot seamlessly composited into steadycam movement. we went into the film thinking we knew all the visual rules for special effects and then saw them shattered. that was what was so amazing about jurassic park. it's almost impossible to sit through anymore.

1 responses to “time to geek the hell out”

  1. Anonymous Anonymous 

    sorry for the ANON status, a factor of "too lazy to even check to see if I'm registered." I call myself Randy (so did my folks when I was born)

    Joe - I must agree with your take on the original 'King Kong' and its breakthrough, considering the era. Just as we inflate the list of 'greatest movies' we have to deflate our current stigmatism of technology as a substitution for imagination. Look at METROPOLIS for what it is. Breathtaking. It is an opera.

    There's a great amount of romanticism involved in watching old films gimp their way through ersatz effects. It's like Backyard Film School 101 ... but it played the big movie houses in the waybackwhen and gave birth to George and Steven.

    BUT -- in reading your last entry, I find I'm stil an odd-man-out when it comes to your affection for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. I still can't like that movie. I feel like I'm in the "cheese stands alone" corner with my "Roger Moore is a Better Bond" badge. Of the original trilogy, I still prefer the first and third. Ewoks and all (those fuzzies are fine, JarJar ... blech). Maybe it's too much snow and a downer in the landscape. I'll keep trying to like it -- and if I do ... I'll never, ever, ever love GODFATHER III. Leave the III, take the Canoli.

    I'd choose the canoli even if I was a low-carber.

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