Continuing from last week…
Jack Ryan: Paramount Pictures has been trying for some time to hit its stride with the Tom Clancy novel adaptations, but the results have been uneven. It doesn’t help that the primary character, Jack Ryan, has already been played by four different actors. Alec Baldwin played Ryan in the terrific The Hunt for Red October (1990), then Harrison Ford took over for the enjoyable Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994). An attempted reboot starred Ben Affleck in the 2002 prequel, The Sum of All Fears. Most recently, Chris Pine took on the role for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014). I haven’t seen that last one, but I understand it was somewhat disappointing, too.
Now, Paramount (with Skydance) is trying something different, partnering with Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes to make a small-screen “Jack Ryan” for Amazon. Showrunners will be Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland. Though the series hasn’t officially been greenlit, the somewhat surprising news is that they already have their new star signed on — John Krasinski. Not quite as classically handsome as his “Ryan” predecessors, and most known for his comedic role in “The Office”, Krasinski has gained some serious attention (and packed on the muscle) for his performance in 13 Hours. He also has a sci-fi thriller, God Particle, coming out.
This latest take on Jack Ryan will follow him mid-career as a CIA analyst/operative, using the novels as a guide but apparently not following them very closely. As per People.com, the 10-episode series will begin with him “on a dangerous field assignment after discovering a terrorist plot that could spark global destruction.” Sounds practically ripped out of the headlines… that is, if the headline writers were privy to what professional spies were up to.
Narnia: For you fantasy fans, it looks like the powers-that-be are going to take another stab at continuing to adapt the Chronicles of Narnia books. If you haven’t been keeping score, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005) was a quite enchanting (though not perfect) adaptation of the beloved classic by C.S. Lewis. It was followed by Prince Caspian (2008) and Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), which were also enjoyable. I can’t remember all the reasons that Fox and Walden stopped putting them out, but I know a lot of fans were quite bummed out.
I think I only read half of the Chronicles, tbh, so I’m not as invested in them as some hard-core fans. Nevertheless, I think the entire series deserves to be done, and adapted as faithfully to the source material as is reasonably possible. So, I was pleased to read that a reboot is underway, with The Silver Chair being next in line. However, there are a few changes, with The C.S. Lewis Company and The Mark Gordon Company replacing Fox 2000 Pictures and Walden Media as the production companies. Also, TriStar Pictures and Entertainment One will be handling worldwide distribution. David Magee (The Life of Pi, Finding Neverland) will be screenwriter. (In fact, he completed his first draft last year.) Also, according to Gordon, the reboot will essentially be a “brand-new franchise… [with] different directors, and an entire new team.” There’s going to have to be some re-casting, too, of course.
If that’s what it takes to breathe new life into a great fantasy franchise, then I’m totally fine with it. Beyond my usual concerns about casting, my other primary concerns are for quality of special F/X and that the stories maintain the clearly Christian themes and messages from the novels. These were Lewis’ reasons for writing them, after all. The fact that The C.S. Lewis Company (who took over the rights from The Walden Group back in 2013) is more directly involved this time gives me hope that they will ensure the integrity of the adaptation.
[Note to self: Put the Chronicles on your reading list, for Pete’s sake!]
Battlestar Galactica: Yep, that’s right. Another version of BSG is in the works. I was one of those who watched and enjoyed the original BSG as a kid back in 1978/9. (Recently watched the original movie — first time in decades — for a nostalgic thrill.) I even watched the short-lived spin-off/sequel, “Galactica 1980”. I also enjoyed the SyFy reboot/re-imagining that began with the 2003 TV mini-series and continued with a well-executed and highly-acclaimed series from 2005-2009. (Yes, I watched the “Caprica” prequel, too.) While I thought that both BSG series ended weakly, and I wasn’t thrilled that the latter series changed Starbuck and Boomer into women (though I enjoyed their characters), I still thought they were both great. So, you know I’m a fan.
Since even before the SyFy series launched, Universal has been trying to get a new BSG project going, with various people (e.g., Bryan Singer, Jack Paglen) attached at one time or another. In February of this year, the studios announced that they have Bluegrass Films (Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark) teaming with producer Michael De Luca (Moneyball, Dracula Untold) to breathe new life into the franchise with a big-budget, big-screen movie. The most recent news came in June, proclaiming that Lisa Joy (Westworld) is set to write the film and Francis Lawrence (Hunger Games) was in discussions to take the director’s chair. If Lawrence comes on, I suspect they’ll be able to move forward with casting and pre-production.
As per Collider,
“This new version of the property at one point was said to not be related to the critically acclaimed series that aired on the Syfy network between 2003 and 2009. However, a report from The Wrap says the filmmakers are, in fact, taking into account the popular series.”
To be honest, I’m a bit conflicted on this one. On the one hand, it’s a terrific concept, and I’m intrigued with what this new take on it might look & feel like. On the other hand, I think it’s way too soon for another reboot. (The last one ended just 7 1/2 years ago!) If they’re planning an actual reboot from the beginning of the story, they need to wait another 10-15 years before trying another go at it. (Babylon 5, other other hand, is coming up on 20 years since the finale and a reboot may be worth considering. Hint, hint.) However, if it is somehow connected to, or even integrated with, the SyFy series, it might be justifiable.
The Crow: The original, black-and-white comic series by James O’Barr was quite popular once upon a time. I never got into it myself, but I remember that it had sort of a cult following (no pun intended). I also never watched the acclaimed The Crow (1994) film adaptation, starring the late Brandon Lee, or its lackluster sequels (The Crow: City of Angels (1996), The Crow: Salvation (2000), The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005)), or the “The Crow: Stairway to Heaven” (1998-99) TV series. So, I really don’t have much interest in this particular project. (I may check out the original flick, though.)
The project in question is the long-awaited, big-screen reboot, which is now set to begin filming in January 2017. Relativity acquired the rights to the property five years ago but have had financial issues (which they have apparently resolved) and worked their way through a number of actors and directors. Popular genre actor Jason Momoa is now attached to play the original murder-victim-turned-avenging-Crow, Eric Draven, which gives it a bit of star power. Corin Hardy is currently set to direct.
O’Barr, who is heavily involved in the production, had this to say last year:
“The new movie is not a remake of the Brandon Lee film. It’s going right back to the book; it’s like a literal page-for-page adaptation of the book. The trains, the horses, the talking bird, all the visual metaphors. The death figures throughout the thing…. [I]t’s going to be closer to Taxi Driver than to John Woo. The violence is supposed to be ugly, you know? I’m very happy with everything.”
This should make Crow fans very happy, too.
Sounds like some fun stuff coming down the pipeline! What are you most looking forward to? Or, most dreading?