Fan-Cast: Highlander Reboot

“There can be only one!”

Ah, the Highlander! Great concept, awesome film (1986)! (I’m sure I don’t have to explain what it’s about, right?) Perfect? No. But, despite a few flaws, I would easily rank it among my favorites. The sequels, on the other hand, left a *lot* to be desired. (Not sure I even watched the last couple.) The “Highlander” TV series was fairly popular — my brother was a big fan –, though I never watched much of it or the TV movie follow-up. I’m not sure I ever watched the (ironically) short-lived “Highlander: The Raven” spinoff series, either. (I found series star Elizabeth Gracen quite attractive, however.)

highlander-titleIn case you were unaware, Lionsgate has been trying since 2008 — when they acquired the rights — to breathe new life into the franchise. It was announced last month that Chad Stahelski, one of the John Wick co-directors, has signed on to helm the Highlander reboot film. This follows false starts with various other directors (e.g., Justin Lin). Also, Ryan Reynolds was once attached as the lead, Dave Bautista as The Kurgan, and Tom Cruise rumored for Ramirez. I hope we dodged that bullet! (I’m OK with Bautista, but I think the other two would be big mistakes.)

Here’s what Stahelski had to say:

“I’ve been a huge fan of the original property since I saw it in high school. Such great themes of immortality, love, and identity are all wrapped up in such colorful mythology. I can’t think of a better property that gives the opportunity to create interesting characters, mythic themes and action set pieces.”

The studio is looking for new writers to tackle the project. I know the screenplay probably won’t exactly mirror the original movie, but I really hope they keep at least the main story and characters, not to mention much of the look, feel, and themes of the original. Also, the music in the original was, I think, a big part of its appeal. So, I hope they re-use at least a couple of the Queen songs (e.g., “Princes of the Universe”, “Who Wants to Live Forever”). Unfortunately, Michael Kamen passed away several years ago, so they can’t bring him back as composer/conductor for the orchestral pieces. Maybe Danny Elfman? No news, yet, about potential stars, so I offer my suggestions below.

Note: I am limiting myself to the 4 principal characters — yes, I’m assuming they’ll still use ‘The Kurgan’ — but addressing them all in this one post. So, in an effort to cover multiple candidates for each, I will be much more limited than usual in the accompanying text. Slight change to format, too.

Connor MacLeod / Russell Edwin Nash

Using the 1986 movie as our reference point, the main character is a 30-ish-looking Scotsman, perhaps 6′ or a little less, with a fit but not overly-muscular build. (Christopher Lambert (5’11”,b.1957) was in his late 20s at the time and not particularly muscular.) I’d like to get a native Scotsman for the role, but the important thing is that he can do a good (and understandable) Scottish accent. (Almost anything would be better than the French(ish) accent that Lambert had. Was he even trying?!) Oh, and he should look competent wielding a broadsword.

Not being familiar with a *lot* of actors from the UK, I went looking at the cast of “Game of Thrones” and found one that might fit the bill. Gethin Anthony (5’9.75″,b.1983), who played Renly Baratheon, is the right build and just within height parameters. Canadian heartthrob Ryan Gosling (6’0.5″,b.1980) is my oldest candidate but can still pass for early 30s. He’s a fine actor and even has some Scottish heritage. Then, we have the Australian Jai Courtney (6’1″,b.1986), who is exactly 30 (at the moment, anyway). He is perhaps a little beefier than the other two, but that’s OK, and he has been racking up an impressive genre resume.

Gethin Anthony

Gethin Anthony

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling

Jai Courtney

Jai Courtney

 

 

 

 

 


Brenda J. Wyatt

Miss Wyatt, the love-interest who first gets onto MacLeod’s trail in modern-day NYC, was a forensic scientist working for (with?) the NYPD. I hope they retain that aspect of the character, though “investigative journalist” — however stereotypical — might be acceptable. The only real requirements here are that she be attractive, roughly the same age as the lead, have on-screen chemistry with him, and be believable in the part. Without elaboration, I present the following three lovely and talented actresses who could fill the role: Scottie Thompson (5’7″,b.1981), Sarah Lancaster (5’8.5″,b.1980), Megan Markle (5’7″,b.1981).

Scottie Thompson

Scottie Thompson

Sarah Lancaster

Sarah Lancaster

Megan Markle

Megan Markle

 

 

 

 

 


Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez

Since my ideal pick, Ricardo Montalban, is long dead and gone, I’ve managed to come up with a few more suggestions for this Egyptian immortal who long-ago adopted a Spanish name & identity. I’m flexible regarding height and build, though within reason, but preferably reasonably fit and believable as a master swordsman. Sean Connery was in his mid-50s when he played the part. My preference would be to cast someone pretty close to that, but the right person might convince me to go younger or older. The actor must also be credible in the role of MacLeod’s teacher/mentor, of course, and Connery’s shoes — though he may have seemed an odd choice at the time — will be hard to fill.

Assuming the producers go with a Latino, “Game of Thrones”‘s Pedro Pascal (5’11”,b.1975) might be an interesting choice. The main drawback here is that he’s in his early 40s. Antonio Banderas (5’8.5″,b.1960), on the other hand, is a tad on the short side but might be just right. We know Banderas is adept at both drama and humor, often mixing the two. Also, like Pascal, he has some experience with swordfighting. Finally, while I couldn’t find an Egyptian actor, I found one who once played an Egyptian mummy. Arnold Vosloo (6’2″,b.1962), who is actually South African, could be a great Ramirez. He’s the correct age, and I know he’s got the talent. (Note: I purposely chose pics of Vosloo and Banderas with beards to show the gray, like Connery’s Ramirez, though he had much less.)

Pedro Pascal

Pedro Pascal

Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas

Arnold Vosloo

Arnold Vosloo

 

 

 

 

 


Victor Kruger / The Kurgan

The Kurgan, as played by the terrific Clancy Brown, is truly a great genre villain. His imposing physicality, deep voice, Goth-cum-punk appearance, ruthless and somewhat psychotic behavior combine to make him a beloved baddie. I don’t expect the reboot to have the Kurgan look and act exactly the same, but I hope he is still a mix of brooding and psycho-killer. (More than just a “Terminator”, anyway.) Brown (6’3.5″,b.1959) is actually a couple years younger than Lambert, putting him in his mid-20s during filming. However, I think it better to find someone who is in his 30s, possibly 40s. He obviously must be physically imposing, so I propose a few athletic candidates that are over 6’6″.

Ex-NFLer Matthew Willig (6’6.5″,b.1969), whom we saw as “Lash” on Season 3 of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, has the right look. Robert Maillet (6’10”,b.1969), from “The Strain” and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, has a similar look. Of course, Willig and Maillet are already heading into their late 40s; but, they are also still very physically fit and active. Oh, did I mention that Maillet went by “Kurrgan” when he wrestled for the WWF? Now, for someone younger, slightly shorter, but even beefier, there’s always Icelandic Strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (6’9″,b.1988), who played Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane in “Game of Thrones”. Not sure about Willig, but Maillet and Björnsson have each done some swordfighting, too.

Matthew Willig

Matthew Willig

Robert Maillet

Robert Maillet

Hafthor Julius Bjornsson

Hafthor Julius Bjornsson

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, that’s it for this Fan-Casting exercise. Let me know if you liked any of my picks, OK? L8r…

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Throwback Wednesday: B5, Star Trek, & Star Wars

Given that I ran out of time to write a “normal” post this week, I got the idea for this one from the “Throwback Thursday (TBT)” posts you sometimes see people do on Facebook. But, I’m gonna give you 3-in-1. (I actually do a “Top 10” every December on my other blog, but I’ll keep this one more manageable.)

You may have noticed that I have grouped certain kinds of posts onto dedicated pages (with links), which I have linked to below the main blog image above. But, there are many that don’t fit any of those categories. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight three of my personal favorites, with excerpts of text from each post. You may notice something they have in common: each one presents several ideas for rebooting or continuing a major sci-fi franchise. If you missed them the first time around, or just don’t remember reading them, I hope you enjoy these posts (again?).

“On Reviving Babylon 5”

Babylon 5 station + logo“The “Babylon 5” series (1994-1998) is generally acknowledged as one of the best science fiction shows in TV history, and it’s certainly one of my all-time favorites…. Recently, I discovered that JMS is considering a reboot of “Babylon 5”. A reboot?! Don’t do it, Joe! … I’m a little leery about returning to the B5 universe, even by its creator, given the lackluster attempts made shortly after the original series went off the air…. But, given the right concept and talent involved, it could be another hit. With this in mind….”

“Multiphasic Trek Update, part 2: TV Trekkin’ for a New Generation”

star_trek_logo_20090511_750w“Ever since “Enterprise” (and maybe before), Star Trek fans have been hoping, wishing, and praying for a new Star Trek series to be produced by a major network…. Now, in case you somehow haven’t heard, a new show has finally been approved by the powers-that-be and scheduled to debut in January 2017…. Unfortunately, we have practically no details, even on what direction they may go with it, so there is plenty of speculation and wishing…. I have come up with a few ideas of my own for the upcoming series (though others may have had them, too, I suppose), spanning different eras….”

“Ideas for Star Wars Anthology Series Films”

star-wars-logo-art“Since we all — well, not ALL, but a LOT of us — are psyched for the upcoming Star Wars movies and speculating about what they might be about, I figured I’d throw out a few (not entirely original) ideas for the “Anthology Series” films. There is definitely a lot of material to mine for these spin-offs and opportunities for expansion on what fans are already familiar with, since they are “standalone” films that are not directly connected to the new trilogy (i.e., episodes, VII-IX)…. The third film in the Anthology Series has long been rumored to be a Boba Fett origin story…. But, this movie hasn’t been confirmed, as yet. So, here are a few other people/things that could be explored, assuming Disney/Lucasfilm decide to stick to prequels….”

Hope you got a kick out of ’em, and maybe they sparked a few ideas of your own! (Feel free to share below.) ‘Til next week…

Second, Third, or Fourth Chance, part 2: 3 More Reboots & Remakes In Development

Continuing from last week…

John Krasinski in *13 Hours* (Christian Black/Paramount Pictures via AP)

John Krasinski in *13 Hours* (Christian Black/Paramount Pictures via AP)

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.

the-chronicles-of-narnia-box-set-collection-csNarnia: 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!]

original-bsg-apollo-adama-starbuckBattlestar 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.

BONUS!

the-crow-with-pistolThe 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?

Second, Third, or Fourth Chance: 3 Reboots & Remakes In Development

I was going through my file of links and post ideas, and I realized that there were several movie and TV series that are in the process of being remade or rebooted. Some of them have been remade/rebooted before, but I guess somebody with influence decided there was money to be made from another try. It might be nice, I thought, to bring them together in a post and say a few words about each. I was going to do all six in one post, but other responsibilities ate up a bit more time than usual this week, so I’m splitting them into two posts. So, in no particular order…

logans-runLogan’s Run: I may be dating myself here, but I remember watching the original Logan’s Run movie (1976), starring Michael York, and the short-lived TV series (1977), starring Gregory Harrison, that followed. I don’t remember too many details, though something about the original seemed sort of bizarre, even scary, to my young mind. The main thing I remember about the series was the pot-bellied android played by Donald Moffat. They were adapted from the first book (1967) in a trilogy by William F. Nolan, which I never got around to reading, so I’m not sure how closely the screen adaptations kept to the source material, other than that the age for going to “Carousel” was changed from 21 to 30. (If you’re unfamiliar with that term, follow either link for a brief explanation.)

Well, it seems that Warner Brothers has been trying to get a film remake started since before 2000. Various writers, directors, producers, and stars (e.g., Ryan Gosling) have been attached at different times. Last year, a report claimed that they had decided to “completely retool[] the script to make it work better for a modern audience,” including changing the lead from male to female. This would ostensibly be to capitalize on the popularity of heroes like Katniss of the Hunger Games and Tris from the Divergent series. Frankly, I hate this idea, and I think it disrespects both the source material and potential new audiences.

The most recent news was that Ryan J. Condal, co-creator of “Colony”, has signed on as screenwriter. I haven’t watched “Colony”, yet, so I can’t comment on whether I think Condal is a good choice or not. I think the dystopia-with-a-utopian-veneer in Logan’s Run could definitely work, as it has for the two franchises mentioned above, though I’m not sure if the young-adult audience is the right target. Still, I hope they get the right team together to make it. I also sincerely hope that they go back to having a male lead. In fact, how perfect would it be to cast Logan Lerman?

lost-in-space-season-1Lost in Space: Everyone has heard of, it not watched, the popular “Lost in Space” TV show from the 1960s. The Robot (“Warning, warning! Danger, Will Robinson!”) and the villainous & irascible Dr. Smith (“Ooohhh, the pain!) are sci-fi icons. Then, of course, there was the disappointing Lost in Space movie (1998), starring Gary Oldman (as Smith) and several other notable actors and familiar faces. Even cameos by original castmembers didn’t help, and it seemed that fans’ hopes of a lasting reboot had been, er,… lost.

But, a couple months ago, Netflix announced that they had ordered a 10-episode first season of a new “Lost in Space” series. Produced by rights-holder Legendary TV, it is set to debut in 2018. Those involved have been associated in the past with things like Dracula Untold, “Prison Break”, and “Game of Thrones”. As it turns out, executive producer Kevin Burns had been working with Sheila Allen, widow of original series creator Irwin Allen, to develop a remake from 2000 until her death in 2013.

“The current creative team’s reimagining of the series for Netflix is sure to appeal to both fans who fondly remember the original and to create a new generation of enthusiasts around the world.”  — Cindy Holland, Netflix’s vice president of original content

I hope so. I was never a huge fan of the original show, but I can see the appeal and the potential for another Netflix hit.

the-saint-dvd-setThe Saint: I wonder how many of my readers remember the original “The Saint” series (1962-69), starring a pre-Bond Roger Moore? Based on novels by Leslie Charteris, it followed the exploits of a notorious, yet suave and charming thief, Simon Templar, who doubled as a British spy. He was a sort of Robin Hood, stealing from rich criminals, while foiling their plans and often getting them tossed in prison. (Not sure how much “giving to the poor” he did, though.) The underappreciated Ian Ogilvy starred in a reboot (“Return of the Saint”) in the late-70s that only lasted one season. Val Kilmer starred in a 1997 “The Saint” film, which was another disappointment. (I didn’t think it was too bad.) A TV movie was shot a couple years ago, starring Adam Rayner as Templar and with Moore & Ogilvy in supporting roles, but it has yet to be aired. (IMDB has it set for sometime this year (2016).) Some are already calling it a “failed pilot”.

Meanwhile, it was announced back in June that Paramount Pictures has secured the rights to the property and has a project underway. The studio is hoping to give Sony, which produces the James Bond films, some competition with a spy film franchise of their own. I say, “More power to ’em!” I think I watched more of the Ogilvy show than the Moore show, but I enjoyed them both. It can get somewhat Bond-ian, but as long as there are enough differences in tone and character to set it apart, I think it could do quite well on the big screen (again). There’s always room for another good spy. Speaking of which…

To be continued…

CORRECTION: Apparently, I misread the report re “The Saint”, as Ian points out in the comment below. That last paragraph should say, “… Paramount Pictures is in talks to secure the rights to the property. The studio is hoping …”.

Notes on Fantastic Four (2015)

Yes, I finally got around to watching last year’s disappointing reboot of the Fantastic Four. So, I put together a brief review in the form of a few notes, much like I’ve done in the past. I’ll try not to give away any major plot points or character-specific stuff….

As with its 2005 predecessor, the acting was fine (though not great) for what they had to work with, which was a so-so (definitely not great) story & script. Unfortunately, that meant that the characters were relatively dull, too.

Fantastic_Four_2015_poster1) Reed Richards — I don’t know. Miles Tellar is a good enough actor, but he didn’t quite look the part. He played “science nerd” OK, I guess. On the other hand, Reed seemed to be just a tad bit too socially well-adjusted. I always thought he was more socially awkward, especially in his earlier years, often distracted by scientific problems/projects. My guess is he would likely be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. (Just my take on it, of course.) Even without that consideration, some of his behavior was a little different than I think it should have been. Nothing major, though.

2) Susan Storm — Given that they were going with the brainier, scientist version of Sue (a la “Ultimate” universe), she was fine. I would have preferred a different look for her, though — like, maybe, Julianne Hough. I am guessing she was supposed to be roughly the same age as Reed (~18-20yo?), though she may have been a little older. The romantic interest between Sue and Reed was just barely hinted at, though mostly one-sided by him. Same goes for Doom’s interest in Sue. Sue’s relationship with her adoptive brother didn’t seem very close; or, maybe they just aren’t an emotionally demonstrative family.

3) Johnny Storm — Would have liked to see Johnny involved in more “adrenaline rush” activities and exhibiting more playfulness, which are essential parts of his personality. (This was a detail that the 2005/2007 films got right.) It was also a little odd to see him working with the team on the final teleportation device. (I think this may have been the case in the Ultimate version, too. Can’t remember for sure.) Given his interest in fast cars, I guess it does make sense that he had some skills in mechanics and/or engineering. To stay in keeping with the comics, it should have been made clear that he was a few years younger than Sue.

4) Ben Grimm — He may have been athletic, but he was way too small. Why couldn’t they get someone who was about 6′ or so and looked more like a stereotypical, beefy jock? His childhood/family life fits the character, though it would have been nice to hear a reference to Yancey Street and the gang. As for his “Thing” form, I liked it OK, though I prefer the classic, more “rounded” and heavy-browed version (as in the previous big-screen incarnation). This one reminded me of the Stone Men (aka Kronans) of the planet Ria. Also, his voice needed to be deeper — rumbly, even — to go along with the massive form.

5) Victor von Doom — They got this character all wrong, yet again. In appearance (pre- and post-transformation) and sound (no accent) and attitude (cocky, but not imperious) and abilities (some sort of freaky psychokinesis?), he still was not the iconic figure from the comics. Why?! Why is this so hard to do? Or, alternatively, why do the powers-that-be shy away from portraying him on screen the way he has always been written? Surely, there must be some 30-or-younger actor from Eastern Europe who could pull this off. Say,… Dawid Ogrodnik. On the plus side, at least he wasn’t some disillusioned computer hacker named Vic Domashev, as had been the rumor.

6) Dr. Franklin Storm — The comics don’t give him a lot of characterization, other than being a brilliant scientist who cares immensely for his children. He doesn’t often spend time with them or show affection in other ways, being very focused on administering the scientific think-tank at the Baxter Building. From what we saw and heard, this version of Storm is pretty much on target with that, though perhaps a little more attentive.

OK, now for a few more general comments about the film…

Fantastic_Four_(2015_film)_poster_0071) Given that Reed seemed to join the Baxter Foundation after high school, I am guessing he was about 17-18 years old. (Though, you’d think a brain like him would’ve skipped a couple grades.) Possibly more like 19-20yo, if he took some college in between times. Ben and Sue would’ve been roughly the same, Johnny even younger (16?), though Victor was probably a couple years older. However, all of the actors looked to be a few years older than those ages,… which they actually are, of course.

2) I recognized a couple early scenes adapted from Ultimate Fantastic Four, but they didn’t feel quite right. Lighting too dark; Baxter Institute looked/felt too “normal”.

3) Without giving anything away,… I’m not sure how I feel about the events that followed the accident. They didn’t follow either the original or Ultimate versions. The antagonism against Reed just felt… wrong.

4) There was no mention of “unstable molecules” (that I recall) in the post-accident uniforms’ composition. Plus, Reed was wearing something else, yet it stretched when he did. What’s up with that? If there is a sequel, will they reveal that he discovered something that allows uniforms to “cooperate” with their powers.

5) The fact that Dr. Storm and Johnny were not Caucasian was fine, of course, and the brief mention of Sue being adopted resolved that question.

6) I thought the special F/X were pretty good, despite that being one of the facets the film got criticized for. Maybe I would change my mind upon a second viewing, when I had time to see them again?

7) The fights were rather lacking. I assume the original, one-by-one attacks on Doom in the finale were meant to show they couldn’t beat him on their own — which Reed stated explicitly a couple minutes later. (A bit on-the-nose, if you ask me.) But, then the coordinated effort, especially Ben’s haymaker, was telegraphed so obviously that Doom deserves to get beat for still falling for it.

Overall, a fairly interesting variation on the FF origin story, but not quite satisfying. Too dark, for one thing, both visually and in tone. (Might’ve worked a little better as a graphic novel.) Familiar characters weren’t left familiar enough to feel like the “friends” fans were expecting. Or, at least, not this fan. Still,… it didn’t suck as much as some of the reviews (when it came out) led me to believe.

736784-namor3What can we expect going forward? Well, at one point, it looked like Fox and Marvel had worked out an agreement that put the Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, Dr. Doom, and Galactus back under control of The House of Ideas (i.e., in this case, Marvel Studios). But, more recent reporting indicates that Fox still has the rights and may try for a FF sequel or reboot around 2020. Of course, that could be inaccurate or could change in the future. One interesting piece of related news is that the rights to Namor, the Sub-Mariner, are back with Marvel Studios. (Yet another imperious foreigner with a thing for Sue!) If Marvel also regained control of the FF, they could introduce Namor and the Atlanteans as the villain. He/they could return as an ally in a sequel down the road. This could be really cool, if done right and, of course, faithful to the source material. Keepin’ my fingers crossed….

P.S.  I really need to fan-cast the FF!

On Reviving Babylon 5

“And so it begins….”  — Ambassador Kosh

Babylon 5 station + logoThe “Babylon 5” series (1994-1998) is generally acknowledged as one of the best science fiction shows in TV history, and it’s certainly one of my all-time favorites. It might have been a little slow getting out of the gate, and there were a few episodes that weren’t quite up to snuff. (Also, I thought season 5 felt somewhat anti-climactic following the big war in season 4.) But, that is to be expected with any series, especially over a period of several years. Overall, the writing by creator/producer J. Michael “Joe” Straczynski (JMS) and a handful of guest-writers (e.g., sci-fi great Harlan Ellison) was terrific. Both the larger, preconceived 5-year arc and the development of individual characters was creative, dramatic, and a lot of fun. As with Star Trek, a significant part of the series’ appeal was that it tackled big issues, big questions about religion, philosophy, morality, war, power, survival, trust, loyalty, hope, destiny, revenge, etc. Of course, the cool alien races and their equally cool starships were visually appealing, too!

Recently, I discovered that JMS is considering a reboot of “Babylon 5”. A reboot?! Don’t do it, Joe! Leave our… er, I mean… your baby alone! Assuming “reboot” means retelling the 5-year story arc from the beginning, I don’t see how this is a good idea, especially after the relatively recent success of the original. (Very different situation than, say, “Battlestar Galactica”.) I have a hard time believing JMS would go this route, but… who knows? Maybe he has something clever in mind that wouldn’t quite be a retelling of the original. Also, I understand that he is beginning with a TV movie (as he did the first time), which will serve to test the waters rather than jumping right into a new series.

I’m a little leery about returning to the B5 universe, even by its creator, given the lackluster attempts made shortly after the original series went off the air. (“Crusade” was enjoyable during its short run, but The Legend of the Rangers TV movie was rather disappointing, and I’m glad it wasn’t picked up for a series.) But, given the right concept and talent involved, it could be another hit. With this in mind, Jules-Pierre Malartre over at Den of Geek! recently presented 14 alternatives to doing a “straight reboot”. Here are my brief reactions/comments on each:

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

1) Babylon 5: The New Crew:  This would essentially continue with life on the station after Sheridan & Delenn left and would include Captain Lochley and a mix of new and familiar faces. This might’ve worked if it was only, say, 1999 or 2000. But, it’s 2015. Jeff Conaway (i.e., Security Chief Zack Allan) passed away in 2011 and everyone else is several years older. The familiar characters would all have to be re-cast. Also, it could not be set 15 years after Sheridan left, because we already know that B5 is decommissioned only 10 years later — with Zack there ’til the end.

2) What’s up with Lennier?:  At the end of “Babylon 5”, loyal Lennier loses it, betrays Sheridan, and flies off for parts unknown. A spin-off that follows his adventures and quest for redemption sounds interesting, and while Bill Mumy probably still looks relatively youthful, it could pick up with Lennier several years post-B5. This might work, assuming Mumy is game.

3) The Life & Times of Sheridan and Delenn’s Son:  There were references to Sheridan and Delenn’s son in a couple episodes, including one set in the future that references an infamous “incident”. In the other, the Drakh-influenced Emperor Mollari clearly has plans to control the boy. So, either or both of these could be addressed in a story — either movie or series — about the child. Regardless, we have very few details about that future (other than Delenn living a long time), so there would be plenty of room to explore this new character and the post-B5 universe.

4) Whatever happened to Citizen G’Kar?:  G’Kar and Lyta left the station at the end of the series (2258). Then, our favorite Narn popped up in The Legend of the Rangers (set in 2265), and we know the character lived another 12 years after that. Plenty of years of adventuring(?) to explore,… except that Andreas Katsulas died in 2006, and no one wants to re-cast G’Kar.

5) Legends Of The Rangers:  Sure, they could give this idea another try, hopefully with better acting and a better story. But, without the original series fresh in our minds to set the stage, as it were, I’m not sure it would get much of a following.

6) Crusade: Take 2!:  As I said earlier, I liked this show. The storyline was pretty decent, and I enjoyed the characters/actors. Given the time-sensitive mission, continuing the show 15 years later makes no sense. Also, would the original actors even want to return? (I doubt Daniel Dae Kim would leave “Hawaii Five-O”.) On the other hand, it could be rebooted with a new cast, but I don’t like that idea much, either. If they do a new “Crusade”, it should involve a new mission.

Babylon 5 cast

Babylon 5 cast

7) The first Shadow War:  In season 3, Sinclair/Valen time-traveled with the abandoned Babylon 4 to roughly 1000 years in the past, offering the station to the Minbari as a staging point for their imminent war with the Shadows. Assuming that Michael O’Hare (i.e., Cmdr. Jeffrey Sinclair / Valen) was up for it, this could have been, as Malartre put it, “an awesome military sci-fi series of epic proportions”. Unfortunately, O’Hare passed away in 2012. But, I suppose re-casting the role is a possibility, hopefully with someone who looks & sounds at least somewhat like O’Hare.

8) The Dilgar War:  Approximately 30 years before the events of the series, the Earth Alliance joined the League of Non-Aligned Worlds in a war against the xenophobic Dilgar. This might make for another cool, military-oriented prequel series, bringing back many of the familiar alien races from the original series.

9) Tales of Earth’s future:  The season 4 finale provided information (however limited) about a few events/periods in Earth’s far future, which could provide avenues to explore. Personally, I don’t think they should jump too far forward, because that increases the risk of losing the connection with the original series. On the other hand, it worked for “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, which took place roughly 75 years after the last movie (at the time) based on the original “Star Trek” series.

10) Tales of the Psi Corps:  The Corps was rather fascist, so it would be hard to make them “good guys”. Even if JMS came up with a workable concept (e.g., focusing on rebels within the Corps), it wouldn’t be the same without Bester. Still, I suppose Walter Koenig (who is going on 80 years old) might still be up for a few appearances.

11) The Interstellar Alliance:  This would probably take place during Sheridan’s 10 years as President of the ISA. Plus, as Malartre points out, “Bruce Boxleitner is old enough now to portray Sheridan in that time period without artificial aging.”

12) More Garibaldi, please:  Yes. Please! The end of the series saw the much-beloved, pain-in-the-butt, wise-cracking Michael Garibaldi — former B5 security chief — as CEO of one of the largest corporations of the Earth Alliance. Can you imagine what sort of trouble he could get into, trying to navigate the corporate world, while probably leaving the office more than he should and getting himself in the usual sticky “situations”. I’ll bet Jerry Doyle and JMS could have a lot of fun with it, especially if Londo showed up!

13) Ivanova:  I was really disappointed when Claudia Christian left the show after the 4th season. As for Susan Ivanova, we know she was given command of a ship, and she appeared “10 years later” in the series finale. I had forgotten this, but at Delenn’s request, Ivanova took over as Ranger One, leader of the Rangers. That would be a perfect place from which to pick up the story. Plus, as with Boxleitner, she’s the right age. The more I think about it, the more I like this idea.

14) Book & Comic adaptations:  Not being familiar with these, I can’t comment on any of them. I do know that some were quite well-received by fans and many are considered official canon. There may indeed be good material that could be adapted either as individual movies, mini-series, or a regular series.

If JMS (and whomever he gets to back him) makes a series and/or movies centered on (mostly) new characters, suggestions number 3 and 8 appeal and make the most sense to me. On the other hand, if it was to focus on more familiar characters from the original series, either number 2, 11, 12, or 13 would be great. Well-crafted guest appearances by other, previous castmembers would be terrific, too! In fact, a series set 10-15 years post-B5 which incorporates some combination of Lennier, Sheridan, Delenn, Garibaldi, Ivanova, maybe Vir and/or Londo, would be awesome!

If you are a fan of “Babylon 5”, I would love to know what your thoughts are on this. Do you like any of the above? Do you have a different idea? What do you think JMS will do?

Fan-Cast: Terminator Reboot

Yes, I know it’s already been cast, shot, and is currently in post-production for a scheduled release on July 1, 2015. But, when the Terminator reboot was just in the planning/scripting stages, I couldn’t help myself but to start thinking about who might be good choices to cast in the main roles. Of course, I didn’t know how closely, if at all, the writers would be sticking to the original plot of the first movie; but, I assumed the main plot threads and characters would still be there. (For example, I was expecting a T-800 series Terminator but not a T-1000.) Here are some names I came up with….

Sarah Connor

Using the original as model, Sarah is a pretty, fun-loving (but law-abiding), single gal, not particularly athletic and with no particular survival skills. (At least, in the first movie.) She is in her mid- to late-20s and of average height (~5’4″ – 5’7″?), though being slightly taller (5’9″?) or shorter (5’2″?) wouldn’t be a big deal, as long as she is still of medium build. Preferably blonde and White (to be consistent with the original), but that’s not a necessity. Possibilities include Brie Larson (5’7″,b.1989) (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 21 Jump Street), Margot Robbie (5’6″,b.1990) (Vigilante, “Pan Am”, upcoming genre films), Gillian Jacobs (5’4″,b.1982) (“Community”, “Fringe”, “Tiny Commando”), Chloe Bennet (5’5.75″,b.1992) (“Nashville”, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”). I also considered Emilia Clarke (5’2″,b.1986) (Triassic Attack, “Game of Thrones”), when I heard she was up for the part.

But, my two favorites of those I looked at are Maggie Grace (5’9″,b.1983) and Elisha Cuthbert (5’2.5″,b.1982) — even though they are at opposite ends of the preferred height scale and already in their early 30s. In the movie, we know Sarah will do a lot of running around scared, getting scraped & banged up a lot. Grace and Cuthbert both have a bit of experience doing this. (Not that it takes a lot of “experience” to pull that off. Just sayin’…) Grace is probably best known for her roles in “Lost” and the Taken movies, but she has also appeared in The Fog, Knight and Day, Faster, Lockout, and both parts of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. Cuthbert probably became recognizable to Canadian audiences from the last couple seasons of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”. But, she’s probably best know to genre fans as Jack Bauer’s daughter, Kim, in “24”. She was also in the short-lived “The Forgotten” series. Either of these two lovely ladies could make a great Sarah Connor.

Maggie Grace in Lockout

Maggie Grace in Lockout

Elisha Cuthbert - on the run in 24

Elisha Cuthbert – on the run in 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyle Reese

Again based on the original film, Reese should appear as a physically fit, scruffily-handsome, battle-hardened rebel soldier, ready to die to complete his mission of saving Sarah Connor from the deadly Terminator. He is in his late-20s to early-30s and probably around 6′ tall, give or take a couple inches. (F.y.i., Michael Biehn is 5’11.75″.) I considered a shorter list for Reese, which included Boyd Holbrook (6’2″,b.1981) (The Host, Gone Girl) and Garrett Hedlund (6’2.5″,b.1984) (Eragon, TRON: Legacy). But, as with Sarah Connor, I’ve narrowed it down to two candidates.

Jake McLaughlin (6’1″,b.1982) was recently seen in the short-lived series “Believe”, which is where I first saw him. He has also been in “Heroes”, Safe House, as well as playing military types in In the Valley of Elah, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and episodes of “Leverage” and “Scorpion”. He does the no-nonsense, extremely competent soldier role quite well. Then, of course, there is my favorite choice: Stephen Amell (6’1″,b.1981). Amell has legions of fans as the eponymous hero of “Arrow”, where he has proven he can play very serious characters and is up for a lot of action. Prior to his current hit show, he had appearances in many series, including “Dante’s Cove”, “Flashpoint”, and various American shows with “CSI” and “NCIS” in their titles. Either McLaughlin or Amell would be a great choice to play our hero-from-the-future, Kyle Reese.

Jake McLaughlin on Believe

Jake McLaughlin on Believe

Stephen Amell on Arrow

Stephen Amell on Arrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Connor

John is, of course, the future son of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese and destined to be the inspirational leader of the human resistance (in L.A., at least) against the machines. We only see him briefly in T2: Judgment Day, though a reboot may choose to give him more screen time. He appears to be a handsome (though scarred), physically fit man in his mid-40s. Is this about when he sends Reese back to save Sarah? I can’t remember the timeline well enough to be sure. When Christian Bale played John in Terminator Salvation, he was 35. So, depending on the determined timeline for a reboot and at what point they decide to show John, he could probably be played anywhere from mid-30s to mid-40s. As for height, the original actor (Michael Edwards) doesn’t have his listed, but Bale is 6′, which is a good baseline.

As it happens, all of the actors I considered for this are in their late-30s. If any of them were a few years younger, they could be candidates to play Kyle Reese. Two of them I have fan-cast for other things: Alex O’Loughlin (6’0.75″,b.1976) and Tom Welling (6’2.75″,b.1977). So, while I really like O’Loughlin for this, I decided to showcase my other two choices: Jensen Ackles (6’1.25″,b.1978) and Sullivan Stapleton (6’1″,b.1977). Ackles, as you probably already realize, is best known for his nearly 10 seasons on the very popular show “Supernatural”. I’ve never watched the show, but I know Ackles from his stints on “Dark Angel” and “Smallville”. He has also done voice work on the “TRON: Evolution” and “Batman: Under the Red Hood” video games. I know Stapleton from his work on the UK series “Strike Back”. But, he has also appeared in various TV movies and series (mostly Australian), as well as in genre big-screen movies like The Condemned, Gangster Squad, and 300: Rise of an Empire. He has definitely demonstrated that he can handle action roles. Again, I think either Ackles or Sullivan would be believable — given a few scars and the right lighting — as the legendary resistance fighter, John Connor.

Jensen Ackles on Supernatural

Jensen Ackles on Supernatural

Sullivan Stapleton on Strike Back

Sullivan Stapleton on Strike Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Terminator (T-800 series)

We all know what the T-800 should look like: big and muscular. But, it probably shouldn’t be too tall, lest it stand out in public, which might bring more attention to itself and complicate its mission. So, I limited myself to big guys between 6′ and 6’6″. This person doesn’t need to be much of an actor, since the character is a stone-faced automaton. He just has to play a mostly-silent, well-armed juggernaut. A natural choice would be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (6’4″,b.1972), but I wanted to consider a few others. Among the better known is Vin Diesel (5’11.75″,b.1967) (Fast and Furious movies, Riddick movies), who is the smallest of my candidates, in terms of both height and bulk. But, I definitely think he could make a great Terminator; he has a great look and voice for it, too. Terry Crews (6’2.5″,b.1968) (Idiocracy, Expendables movies) might be a little bit of an out-of-the-box choice, since he is a) Black and b) mostly known for comedy or comedic-action. But, he certainly has the build for it, and I’m sure he has enough “range” to play an expressionless robot. (sarc)

Now, I couldn’t narrow it down to two this time, so here are my top three potential Terminators. First, we have pro-wrestling legend Bill Goldberg (6’2.5″,b.1966). Actually, he already played a cyborg in Universal Soldier: The Return, which is probably why I thought of him over other wrestlers. (Question: Are T-800s allowed to have facial hair?) He has done a little acting outside of the ring (e.g., The Longest Yard remake, Kill Speed) and knows how to do “menacing”. Next, Rob Archer (6’6″,b.????) is an actor & stunt man who has been seen in such genre fare as “Alphas”, “Defiance”, “Lost Girl”, Kick Ass 2. He doesn’t usually say much, but he is huge (both height and muscles) and often plays scary characters. Sounds about right. Finally, Kim Kold (6’4″,b.1966?) is a former Danish soccer player who turned to competitive bodybuilding. He is massive, as can be seen in Fast & Furious 6, wherein he slugs it out with The Rock. Like Archer, he doesn’t have a lot of real acting experience, but he wouldn’t really need it for this role. Of course, whichever two aren’t cast in the central role could still appear as T-800s in scenes from the post-apocalyptic future.

Bill Goldberg

Bill Goldberg

Rob Archer

Rob Archer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kim Kold

Kim Kold

Kim Kold w/ The Rock

Kim Kold w/ The Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, I got thinking that it would be cool to give some of the original cast roles, too, even if just cameos. Possible parts for Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Michael Biehn could be as parent(s) of Sarah Connor, scientists(?) working with the future resistance fighters (which could lead to an explanation for why the T-800 is given Arnold’s face), and cops involved in the “manhunt”. It might be fun to have Lance Henriksen (aka Det. Hal Vukovich), Earl Boen (aka Dr. Peter Silberman), or even Bess Motta (aka Sarah’s roommate Ginger) and Rick Rossovich (aka Ginger’s boyfriend Matt) show up, too! Heck, we could even throw in cameos by Bill Paxton and Brian Thompson, who played two of the punks the original Terminator killed for their clothes. Alas, the great Paul Winfield (aka Lt. Ed Traxler) is no longer with us.

I think any combination of actors I presented here would have made a fine cast, and supporting roles for original cast members would have been a lot of fun for them and us. Regardless, from the trailer I saw of the upcoming Terminator: Genisys, I think we’re in for an interesting story and some pulse-pounding excitement with a great cast!