The Lord Of The Rings – The Two Towers: Extended Edition Blu-ray Directed by Peter Jackson Written by Peter Jackson, Phillipa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair, and Fran Walsh; based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien Starring Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, and Sean Astin New Line Home Video Release Date: August 28, 2012
You can read Dr. Geek, Ph.D’s review of The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition from July 2011 here.
When you take a look back at some of the greatest second chapters in motion picture trilogies of all time like The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part II, and (my personal favorite) Evil Dead II it is easy to understand why so many turn out vastly superior to their originals. Since most trilogies use their first story to act as set-up for almost everything that happens next the second is where things really start to take off. In successful film franchises it is also in the second installment where events begin to take darker turns, characters are forced to traverse a metaphorical – and sometimes literal – Hell to reach their personal Heaven, and the endings are very rarely happy or even conclusive.
Because the creators of the series – from the screenwriters to the studio executives with control over the green light to the bravura director and producer(s) who must assemble a crack team of actors and technicians to bring their mutual vision roaring to life – believe that the audiences who made the first movie a smashing success are invested in the ongoing narrative to the point where they will follow it wherever the filmmakers desire. Thus they are granted license to put their beloved characters through a series of traumatizing physical and psychological journeys where the only optimistic outcome is to survive to fight another day, nothing more.
The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition Blu-ray Directed by Peter Jackson Written by Peter Jackson, Phillipa Boyens, and Fran Walsh; based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien Starring Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, and Sean Astin New Line Home Video Release Date: August 28, 2012
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring accomplished a feat that few films have ever been able to do: it made a believer out of me. When the movie was first released in December 2001 it proved that epic fantasy features that were not set in a galaxy far, far away could still break box office records. I didn’t see the movie during its blockbuster theatrical run because….I really thought it was going to be terrible. There, I confess. It took me until Fellowship‘s first DVD release in August 2002 to realize that my harsh pre-judging of the movie, mostly based on the simmering anger I felt towards the past few years of bloated Hollywood FX spectacles that offered fantastic visuals but little in the way of memorable stories and characters, was in haste and a huge mistake.
I remember the sweltering summer evening when I rented a copy of Fellowship from my local now-defunct Hollywood Video on the way home from work. Knowing in advance that it was a three-hour flick my initial plan was to watch the first half at the least before hitting the sack so I could get up the next morning for an early shift at the Tower Records I had been working at back then for more than three years. Twenty minutes following the start of my first viewing of Fellowship of the Ring and I was hooked; there would be no “To Be Continued” that night. Even though I risked getting barely enough sleep to pass for a member of the living the next day I watched the movie until its very end, and by the time Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee walked off into the sunset to more adventures I was a full-fledged Rings fan.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans Warner Bros. Pictures
Rated PG-13 | 161 Minutes
Release Date: December 13, 2013
Director Peter Jackson returns to J.R.R. Tokien“˜s Middle-Earth with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second entry in a new series of films that serve as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), along with Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), and his twelve companions, continue on their quest: to reach the Lonely Mountain and reclaim the kingdom of Ererbor (and its golden treasure) from the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch), the “Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities.”
Bilbo and his companions venture into the black forest of Mirkwood, where they are attacked by giant spiders and captured by Wood-elves. Enter Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) in a storyline created by Jackson to expand The Hobbit narrative and give the story a female character, which it desperately needs.
West of Memphis Directed by Amy Berg
Featuring: Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, Lorri Davis, Terry Branch, Eddie Vedder, Peter Jackson Sony Pictures Classics
Rated R | 147 Minutes
Release Date: March 8, 2013
Directed by Amy Berg, West of Memphis is a documentary about the West Memphis Three – Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols, and Jason Baldwin – three teenagers who were arrested in 1994 for the murders of three 8-year old children: Christopher Byers, Steven Branch, and Michael Moore.
The West Memphis Three were tried and convicted and remained in prison for more than 18 years. Berg’s film (produced by Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson) focuses on Terry Hobbs, stepfather of Stevie Branch, one of the victims of the 1993 crime, as a potential suspect due to newfound DNA evidence linking him to the crime.
West of Memphis is another miscarriage-of-justice documentary, similar to The Central Park Five by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon. The film chronicles the history of the imprisoned men all the way up to their eventual release through interviews conducted with lawyers, judges, journalists, family members, witnesses, and the West Memphis Three themselves. There are also interviews with Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and other WM3 supporters like Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder who have been following the case for two decades.
Back in 2011 it was revealed that Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, and the upcoming Hobbit trilogy, was helping to finance investigations and forensic testing to prove the innocence of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, three men who were convicted of the murders of three young boys and came to be known as the West Memphis Three.
The trio spent nearly twenty years in prison for the crime before finally being released after DNA tests that couldn’t be performed back then showed without a doubt that their conviction was very wrong, and that the real killer could still be out there walking around right now.
Now comes a new trailer for the documentary produced by Jackson, his partner Fran Walsh, and director Amy Berg, titled West of Memphis. It’s the second trailer released; the first came back in January.