Jackson’s WWII flick

Peter Jackson, the reigning enfant terrible and anti-Christ of overbaked, overcranked CG movies, is threatening to produce a remake of a well-regarded British World War II flick called The Dam Busters (1954). Jackson’s King Kong animator Christian Rivers will direct…an animator! Obviously there’s a determination to play heavily with the visual element, or Rivers wouldn’t have the gig.
The original film told the true story of how Britain developed “bouncing bombs” that destroyed German dams during that conflict. “There’s that wonderful mentality of the British during the war,” Jackson told Screen Daily. “That heads-down, persevering, keep-on-plugging-away mentality which is the spirit of Dam Busters.”
Trust me — the spirit of the Jackson-Rivers film will be a war against history. What you will see on the film will be CG’ed within an inch of its life and will in some ways resemble the true reality of wartime England in the 1940s, but it will create an alternate reality as well. It’ll be primarily about Peter Jackson’s pumped-up ego and imagination (i.e., his determination to re-imagine whatever he feels like re-imagining and to piss on accurate historical detail whenever the whim strikes), and dollars to donuts it’ll run well over two hours.
The ’54 film, based on Paul Brickhill‘s book, costarred Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd.

17 thoughts on “Jackson’s WWII flick

  1. Noah on said:

    Wow, so you just hate every movie that Peter Jackson’s name is attached to? Jeff, have you ever seen Heavenly Creatures? The guy is fully capable of producing a movie full of nuance and poetry. I’m not the biggest fan of LOTR and was very unimpressed by King Kong, but Jesus Christ Jeff, did you loan him some money that he never paid back? How about going into the movie with some optimism based on some of his previous work? This is the man that discovered Kate Winslet and created one hell of a movie in Heavenly Creatures. Even if you dislike all of his other movies, you have to give him credit for that.

  2. Heavenly Creatures is absolutely Jackson’s best film…but it was also twelve years ago.
    His last five pictures have caused a lot of us to approach every new PJ film with a certain level of skepticism.

  3. Ah yes, Peter Jackson – the Ron Howard of fantasy trilogies. What I’d like to know is what’s so wrong with the original that it needs remaking 50 years on? It’s not like The Dam Busters was a bad pic and even the model effects were quite well done for their time. And it’s a much loved movie besides – especially for UK viewers. I can’t see a remake being welcomed with open arms and how exactly will this new movie be made palatable for American audiences given all those British pilots who participated in the real life raid? Or are we suddenly going to discover that the dam busters raid was only a success due to the derring do of a couple of hitherto unknown American pilots? And what are they going to do about Guy Gibson’s beloved black labrador Nigger? No doubt poor old Nigger’ll be airbrushed out of history as well.
    You know, Jackson’s got a lot of power and a lot of money at his disposal. If he wants to get involved in a WW2 pic about the British why doesn’t he start with something original? It’s not as if there’s a shortage of stories out there.

  4. I agree with Jeff that King Kong was bloated, and as much as I love the LOTR films, Jeff was right to a certain degree when he suspected Jackson of a tendency to overblow things.
    I agree with D.Z. that WWII movies are overdone…enough already.
    What I don’t agree with is how sure Jeff is that this will create an alternate, overpumped, “war against history”. I think we should give Jackson the benefit of the doubt that the films he’s CG-ed to death have been fantasy films, fantastical by their very nature. We don’t know that he’ll necessarily take that over to a historical film.

  5. Does anyone remember that scene from The Office (the British version) where David Brent brings up the “spirit of the Dam Busters”, and Gareth his employee (probably racist) brings up the dog’s name?
    Funny stuff.

  6. The movie’s good (when was Michael Redgrave ever not good), the book is even better– no literary work but a perfect slice of the wartime mentality (including a lot of practical joking). Not sure how you can recapture that today without destroying it by making it mawkish and sentimental, exactly the things it wasn’t then.
    You know The Dam Busters’ other claim to fame– all that “red leader to gold leader” attack on the Death Star stuff in the original Star Wars is straight from the movie. That’s probably the real reason Jackson has it on the brain.

  7. This just in: Peter Jackson walks on water and cures a couple of lepers – Jeffrey Wells irritated. Claims water was CGI and complains the ‘curing thing’ took 3 1/2 hours. Details at 11.

  8. “Peter Jackson, the reigning enfant terrible and anti-Christ of overbaked, overcranked CG movies”
    I thought that Bryan Singer had taken that crown away from Jackson.

  9. Complaining about Jackson’s CGI sensibility and current tendency towards cinematic bloat is one thing, but I don’t see where the ‘war on history’ thing comes from, which is a much more serious charge to level at a filmmaker, especially when Jackson specifically says the movie will be “as authentic as possible”.
    Wells is flailing to find any anti-Jackson straw that he can.
    PS: Bart Smith, Singer is the king of _under_-cranked CG movies.

  10. Wouldn’t the antichrist of overbaked, overcranked CG movies be a positive thing to be?
    I mean, if you take it that the Christ of overbaked overcranked CG movies would be devoutly into them, the antichrist (being His opposite) would be anti-them and, thus, make really really good movies with prevalent and/or incidental CG (depending on your grammatical take on it).
    Which is what I think Peter Jackson does do, but I don’t think it’s what you meant.
    “Heavenly Creatures is absolutely Jackson’s best film…but it was also twelve years ago.”
    That’s fair, but it’s the only time he’s made a historical movie and, thus, it’s fair to point out that there is little or no significant historical deviation in there.
    The only other thing he did close to a historical piece (although it could be pointed out that ‘Braindead’ was a period piece) was ‘Forgotten Silver’, and pretty much *everybody* who sees that praises the accurate historic feel to all the fake historic footage Jackson shot.

  11. I haven’t read the book or seen the original, but there was a special about the dam-busters on The History Channel a few months back (probably a rerun) — it’s a smashing good story and has a lot of elements for a fun, exciting adventure movie: the rag-tag bunch of flyers brought together as a team (including an American!), the test flights over England (flying a couple dozen feet off the ground!), the efforts by a maverick inventor to convince the British military that his unorthodox design would work, the testing of said design… and then the actual missions themselves.
    I have no idea why you’d want Christian Rivers to direct it though — I’m always really dubious of VFX guys turning director (although admittedly Joe Johnson turned out OK).

  12. The movie’s good (when was Michael Redgrave ever not good), the book is even better– no literary work but a perfect slice of the wartime mentality (including a lot of practical joking). Not sure how you can recapture that today without destroying it by making it mawkish and sentimental, exactly the things it wasn’t then.

    You know The Dam Busters’ other claim to fame– all that “red leader to gold leader” attack on the Death Star stuff in the original Star Wars is straight from the movie. That’s probably the real reason Jackson has it on the brain.

  13. This just in: Peter Jackson walks on water and cures a couple of lepers – Jeffrey Wells irritated. Claims water was CGI and complains the ‘curing thing’ took 3 1/2 hours. Details at 11.

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