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Face-Off: Peter Jackson vs. Guillermo Del Toro

3 years agoby: Paul Huffman
For last weeks Face-Off, we dedicate match to the Christopher Reeve era of Superman in a match between Richard Donner's first classic and its sequel. Though the sequel took the verdict, our readers stayed loyal to the original film. As I stated I loved both films and they'll always hold their special place.

This week, we're shining the spotlight on two legendary directors who are attached to some projects getting a whole hell of a lot of coverage these days. The fact that the trailer for Pacific Rim has officially hit the scene is just icing on the cake. Jackson and Del Toro have created their own distinct styles in the films they choose to make, and have even had their names attached to the same projects. Both these gentlemen have an impressive resume, but which is more impressive? Let's talk!
Early Years
I'm gonna focus on two classics that came from Jackson in his early career, as well as for Del Toro. The Jackson classics I speak of are so named Braindead otherwise known as Dead Alive, and Heavenly Creatures. It's hard not to love the bizarre, vulgar, gory, over-the-top comedic horror that Braindead presented us with. I saw the film for the first time a year ago and there are scenes in that bad boy that are unlikely to leave me anytime soon. Then came the stylish Heavenly Creatures featuring the always lovely Kate Winslet and an actress I've always adored in Melanie Lynskey. Loved the performances in the latter film the relationship between the girls was captivating and I loved the fantasy scenes. Two great outings for Peter Jackson's early days.
The two films I'd like to show some love too on Del Toro's side of things are two of his early horror films. The classic and well received Cronos and a film that Del Toro was unsatisfied with but I loved in Mimic. Cronos marked Guillermo's first collaboration with Ron Perlman and Federico Luppi. Long story short, if more vampire films were presented in such a way these days cinema would be in better shape. Guillermo continued his fetish for creatures that rule the night with Mimic, and it's one of the pleasures for me and a few family members and we watch it every October. So thanks for the memories Del Toro, you have a knack for your own vibe of horror and we love you for it.
2000s
In 2001, Peter Jackson took his first journey into middle earth with the first film in the Lord of The Rings Trilogy. The trilogy was completed in 2003 with the final installment Return of The King sweeping three Academy awards including Best Picture. This series of films, while not appreciated by all, are cherished by many...whether you like the films or not, it's hard to ignore the level of ace filmmaking that went into these bad boys. The other big contenders in this decade for Jackson was a remake of King Kong, which I have to say was magical and often touching. In 2009 came the somber adaption of the novel The Lovely Bones, a win in my eyes for the films visual style and the performances from its cast, especially Stanley Tucci. When it comes down to it, Jackson has to get some love in this particular category for the LOTR trilogy alone.
The Devil's Backbone. Blade II. Hellboy & Hellboy II. Pan's Labyrinth. The Orphanage.

Guillermo has no Lord of The Rings trilogy to his name, but all the aforementioned films are classics in their own rights in my opinion. Hellboy and its sequel are well liked comic book adaptions and many fans believe a third film is warranted, get on it man! The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth, and the Orphanage are works of art...especially Pan's Labyrinth. Del Toro has a wonderful talent for creature design, and it shined in a few of these films. As I said previously, Del Toro held his own against the resume Jackson made for himself throughout the decade.
Pick Your Genre
As mentioned earlier, Jackson's first few films were gems of the slapstick humor horror variety. From there Jackson has dabbled in straight up drama and has since dedicated a shitload of his career to fantasy/action. I cherish Jackson's loyalty to the fantasy genre because apart from the Rings and now Hobbit trilogy and a few select other films, it is sort of a dying drama like that of the western. All the elements and tones that makes a great fantasy is what made the Rings trilogy so loved by many.
Early in his career, Guillermo was going the route of a classic horror director...the man was producing some good horror flicks throughout the years. From then on Del Toro became the king of fantasy, with even more material to work with then the Rings trilogy. He has dabbled in the comic book film with the awesome Hellboy films, and strictly action with the upcoming Pacific Rim. As far as variety and the tone of the work these guys have put out, I have to give the edge to Guillermo here. The man feels like he has a distinct style.
Overall
Peter Jackson has evolved throughout his career, he has done what a lot can't say they've accomplished in churning out several classics without sticking within a distinct genre. I love his early films and will be as quick to re watch them as I would any of the Lord of the Rings films. People have their opinions on him stretching one book into another trilogy, but its a testament to Peter Jackson's talent and body of work that I have complete faith that when all is said and done we will not be let down. He puts passion into everything he does and it shows, whether you appreciate the material or not. Now that the Hobbit films are churned out, I can't wait to see what else he can turn into gold.
Aside from Blade II and the Hellboy films, to the casual moviegoer a lot of Del Toro's films have flew under the radar. I've loved about every film of Guillermo's that I've seen. Pan's Labyrinth is among my favorite films, and his horror films are some of the best out there. I love the dark worlds he created and the practical creature designs he's come to be known for. Not only does he have an impressive as hell resume, but he's co-written films for a franchise I've been praising Peter Jackson so much for. You trust Del Toro to make a quality film, you know that passion I attributed to Jackson? Yeah, Del Toro is another one who has that fire in his belly. I love the man for loving his art.
Peter Jackson
So there it is folks, Peter Jackson has not only given us one of the most legendary trilogies in the history of film, but his earlier resume is just as impressive for different reasons. When Peter tackles something, no matter what the material is, he shoots for the moon. Del Toro is an amazing director who I can't remember ever disappointing me...but if either of these men are going to come close to being immortal...it's Peter Jackson. But where do you stand? If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

Which director is your favourite?
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1:59PM on 01/03/2013
I LOVE Peter Jackson.
I LOVE Peter Jackson.
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+0
12:12AM on 12/14/2012
Sorry, never liked any of Jackson's movies. Then again, I was never a fan of Tolkien either, so I find his (Jackson's) movies based on them just loud and boring. Frighteners while interesting, never made it beyond rental for me.

Del Toro, on the other hand, while having more detail in his movies also tends to have a lighter hand. While Jackson throws everything at the wall to see what sticks (ie. loud and messy scenes), Del Toro tends to have better crafted scenes that tell a story easily
Sorry, never liked any of Jackson's movies. Then again, I was never a fan of Tolkien either, so I find his (Jackson's) movies based on them just loud and boring. Frighteners while interesting, never made it beyond rental for me.

Del Toro, on the other hand, while having more detail in his movies also tends to have a lighter hand. While Jackson throws everything at the wall to see what sticks (ie. loud and messy scenes), Del Toro tends to have better crafted scenes that tell a story easily with a single image. I'll probably get flamed to death by the Jackson fanboys here, but honestly, I don't care. Jackson is severely over rated and didn't deserve the Oscar, but then again the competition that year wasn't that great anyway. Flame on, fanboys, flame on.

Oh, and Kong sucked giant monkey dick. The animation was so horrendous that it looked like a cartoon. Supposedly giant creatures looked like they had no weight, and never really followed the laws of physics. Add to that, Jack Black chewing scenery like a donkey that accidentally ate 20 kilos of coke mixed with another 5 kilos of crank, and you've got a severely bad movie.
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+0
12:02AM on 12/14/2012
Jackson did LOTR and The Frighteners, so I pick him for now. However I reserve the right to change my mind once Pacific Rim gets released.
Jackson did LOTR and The Frighteners, so I pick him for now. However I reserve the right to change my mind once Pacific Rim gets released.
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1:04PM on 12/14/2012
I totally forgot about The Frighteners! Decent little horror comedy that one.
I totally forgot about The Frighteners! Decent little horror comedy that one.
2:58PM on 12/13/2012

I have only one thing to say...

you said the phrase "Bad Boy(s)" one too many times......haha
you said the phrase "Bad Boy(s)" one too many times......haha
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2:27PM on 12/13/2012

Which of their films would I rather see right now...

GdT for sure. I respect PJ for LOTR and Kong - I am just not that excited to see The Hobbit & IDK why...
GdT for sure. I respect PJ for LOTR and Kong - I am just not that excited to see The Hobbit & IDK why...
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2:02PM on 12/13/2012
Okay, the only Jackson movie from before I've seen is Heavenly Creatures, a brilliant movie. Having not yet seen Bad Taste or any of his other genre outings, I can't speak. Del Toro, I like mainly for The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth (also Cronos and Hellboy are good). It's not so much that Guillermo turns everything he touches to gold or anything, but he does have a pretty good track record in delivering the goods.

I can't judge fairly without seeing more of Jackson's work, but LOTR
Okay, the only Jackson movie from before I've seen is Heavenly Creatures, a brilliant movie. Having not yet seen Bad Taste or any of his other genre outings, I can't speak. Del Toro, I like mainly for The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth (also Cronos and Hellboy are good). It's not so much that Guillermo turns everything he touches to gold or anything, but he does have a pretty good track record in delivering the goods.

I can't judge fairly without seeing more of Jackson's work, but LOTR aside (and since it is really one big story in and of itself) his latter-day movies haven't ben the greatest. King Kong had some fun bits to it, but it is ultimately an inferior product to the original (though I do prefer Naomi Watts over cry-baby Faye Wray). And according to others, The Lovely Bones was perhaps indicative of a problem Jackson has in his desire to be loyal to his source material to a fault. Based solely on the aughts, I'd side with Guillermo del Toro, but including entire careers, I'm unsure.
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+1
1:05PM on 12/13/2012
Lovely Bones, anyone?
Lovely Bones, anyone?
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1:04PM on 12/13/2012
Peter Jackson has made some of my favorite films of all time, and he makes them in an EPIC and unforgettable way. While I love the LOTR trilogy, I was blown away by his King Kong remake. I loved every frame of that film. Del Toro is a visionary, he is great. Pan's Labyrinth is amazing. But Jackson is one of my favorite directors of all time. He knows how to tell an amazing story.
Peter Jackson has made some of my favorite films of all time, and he makes them in an EPIC and unforgettable way. While I love the LOTR trilogy, I was blown away by his King Kong remake. I loved every frame of that film. Del Toro is a visionary, he is great. Pan's Labyrinth is amazing. But Jackson is one of my favorite directors of all time. He knows how to tell an amazing story.
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12:53PM on 12/13/2012

Might be nitpicking but...

The Orphanage is a brilliant film but it wasn't a Del Toro film, he just used his status as a producer to help his friend get it made.
The Orphanage is a brilliant film but it wasn't a Del Toro film, he just used his status as a producer to help his friend get it made.
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11:42AM on 12/13/2012

I swear I'm not trolling but...

Am I the only one who thinks Guillermo Del Toro is WAY overrated? I really don't get it. The Hellboys, especially 2, were great and the ghost story movies were very effective little genre pieces but the love for this guy like he's some sorta legend is just ridiculous. Pan's Labyrinth is just not that great. Really. Could have been, but isn't. I truly appreciate his enthusiasm for genre film and him helping give a leg up to up and coming filmmakers is truly admirable and I think Pacific Rim
Am I the only one who thinks Guillermo Del Toro is WAY overrated? I really don't get it. The Hellboys, especially 2, were great and the ghost story movies were very effective little genre pieces but the love for this guy like he's some sorta legend is just ridiculous. Pan's Labyrinth is just not that great. Really. Could have been, but isn't. I truly appreciate his enthusiasm for genre film and him helping give a leg up to up and coming filmmakers is truly admirable and I think Pacific Rim looks fantastic (but I thought that about Labyrinth too) but comparing him to the guy who's career includes Bad Taste, Braindead, Meet The Feebles, Heavenly Creatures, Rings, etc. is freakin' ludicrous.
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12:33PM on 12/13/2012
i share your sentiment. i thought pans labyrinth was a huge let-down
i share your sentiment. i thought pans labyrinth was a huge let-down
11:09AM on 12/13/2012
This one is tough, because I like them both, but PJ's the clear winner. The "Lord of the Rings" movie is miles beyond anything del Toro has ever made.
This one is tough, because I like them both, but PJ's the clear winner. The "Lord of the Rings" movie is miles beyond anything del Toro has ever made.
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9:59AM on 12/13/2012
Jackson.
I don't care what else he has done, but LOTR over anything Del Toro has done and probably ever will do. And I'm a big Hellboy fan. Love Del Toro, I do, but I do not understand the amount of love the man does get, he's directed what, 3 good films? (Blade 2 was not good)
Jackson.
I don't care what else he has done, but LOTR over anything Del Toro has done and probably ever will do. And I'm a big Hellboy fan. Love Del Toro, I do, but I do not understand the amount of love the man does get, he's directed what, 3 good films? (Blade 2 was not good)
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9:31AM on 12/13/2012

Peter for me...

I love Del Toro, but LOTR is the best Trilogy out there...
I love Del Toro, but LOTR is the best Trilogy out there...
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8:25AM on 12/13/2012
I'm more a fan of Del Toro than Jackson but both are clearly capable and driven directors who've built up some well deserved respect over the years. The LOTR trilogy was the definition of epic, and Jackson had the balls to redo King Kong and be pretty damn successful at it, but with films like Cronos, Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth in the bag, and indeed the best of the Blade movies so far, Guillermo Del Toro wins this face off as far as I'm concerned.
I'm more a fan of Del Toro than Jackson but both are clearly capable and driven directors who've built up some well deserved respect over the years. The LOTR trilogy was the definition of epic, and Jackson had the balls to redo King Kong and be pretty damn successful at it, but with films like Cronos, Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth in the bag, and indeed the best of the Blade movies so far, Guillermo Del Toro wins this face off as far as I'm concerned.
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4:41AM on 12/13/2012
While Jackson is probably the more adept at multiple genres, Heavenly Creatures, The Frighteners, Lord of the Rings, etc. compared to Del Toro. Del Toro brings many new ideas and images to the table, even if they manage to still be in the horror genre, plus his comic book movies were awesome, Blade II, Hellboy I & II. I'll hold judgement until Pacific Rim comes out.
While Jackson is probably the more adept at multiple genres, Heavenly Creatures, The Frighteners, Lord of the Rings, etc. compared to Del Toro. Del Toro brings many new ideas and images to the table, even if they manage to still be in the horror genre, plus his comic book movies were awesome, Blade II, Hellboy I & II. I'll hold judgement until Pacific Rim comes out.
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2:18AM on 12/13/2012
Jackson manages can dive into different genres, once I see Del Toro do that, then maybe he has a chance.
Jackson manages can dive into different genres, once I see Del Toro do that, then maybe he has a chance.
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+3
1:57AM on 12/13/2012
No disrespect to Jackson because he is a pure innovator but I love more of Del Toros films than I do Jackson's.
No disrespect to Jackson because he is a pure innovator but I love more of Del Toros films than I do Jackson's.
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+13
1:32AM on 12/13/2012
Good match up, but I am going with Guillermo. While he may not have LotR, that's about all Peter Jackson has. King Kong has mostly been forgotten by viewers, and The Lovely Bones was panned by most. I'd even go so far as to call the LotR movie a single, epic movie because it's not like each of the films would change dramatically from one film to the next. Overall, his library is quite short. Not that his skill isn't great, but compared to Del Toro, he's not done that much. You look at Del
Good match up, but I am going with Guillermo. While he may not have LotR, that's about all Peter Jackson has. King Kong has mostly been forgotten by viewers, and The Lovely Bones was panned by most. I'd even go so far as to call the LotR movie a single, epic movie because it's not like each of the films would change dramatically from one film to the next. Overall, his library is quite short. Not that his skill isn't great, but compared to Del Toro, he's not done that much. You look at Del Toro's library though and you have such great diversity. Sure, they all have his touch, but the man has only done one sequel (yes, Blade II was a sequel, but he didn't direct the first film). His library is more diverse than Jackson's and I'd argue that, as I consider LotR to be essentially one long movie, more successful.
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1:18AM on 12/13/2012

Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro all the way! He has such a unique vision for the fantasy-horror stories, also a great passion for all his proyects, Their approach to the subject is very interesting , he seeks to expose the human side of all the monsters and villians in his films, no creature is one.dimensional in his universe, No dis-respect for Peter Jackson I think he is a fine director.... But Del toro is THE MAN!!
Guillermo del Toro all the way! He has such a unique vision for the fantasy-horror stories, also a great passion for all his proyects, Their approach to the subject is very interesting , he seeks to expose the human side of all the monsters and villians in his films, no creature is one.dimensional in his universe, No dis-respect for Peter Jackson I think he is a fine director.... But Del toro is THE MAN!!
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12:49AM on 12/13/2012
i'm going to go with peter jackson for now, simply because of the original LOTR, braindead, and meet the feebles. but man, then there's pan's labryinth and the devil's backbone. wait a minute. i'm confused. maybe i'll wait til after i see pacific rim to decide. this one might be a little too close to call...
i'm going to go with peter jackson for now, simply because of the original LOTR, braindead, and meet the feebles. but man, then there's pan's labryinth and the devil's backbone. wait a minute. i'm confused. maybe i'll wait til after i see pacific rim to decide. this one might be a little too close to call...
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