Tributes to Two Genre Giants

I really enjoyed Bill Paxton, and I’m gonna miss him.

Bill Paxton collage

Bill Paxton collage

In case you haven’t been keeping up on current events, Paxton passed away the other day from complications during surgery at age 61. As genre actors go, he was both beloved by fans and, I think, perhaps a bit underappreciated. His resume goes back to the mid-1970s and includes many movies and TV appearances that sci-fi/fantasy and action/adventure fans, along with fans of other genres, will forever remember him for. Some roles were quite brief (e.g., one of three punks who first encounter the T-800 in The Terminator), some were significant supporting roles, and others were terrific starring roles. Good or bad, you could tell he loved his job.

Most recently, Paxton could be seen co-starring with Justin Cornwell in the new “Training Day” TV series. A couple years ago, he did a guest stint on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”. I haven’t watched everything he was in, of course. But, of those I have seen, probably my top 5 Paxton roles were: Pvt. Hudson in Aliens (1986), Morgan Earp in Tombstone (1993), Fred Haise in Apollo 13 (1995), Bill Harding in Twister (1996), and, yes, “Punk Leader” from The Terminator (1984). He also appeared in Weird Science, Commando, Predator 2, Trespass, Boxing Helena, True Lies, Titanic, Mighty Joe Young (1998 remake), U-571, a couple of Spy Kids sequels, Edge of Tomorrow, and many more.

Paxton may not have been quite the household name as some of his co-stars, but among many aficionados of TV and film, he was a “big deal”. He provided a lot of entertainment to young and old, and I’ll always enjoy his work. He is gone too soon from this world, and all that is left to say is, “Thank you, sir.” Well, that and…

Game over, man. Well played.

Neil Fingleton

Neil Fingleton / Mag the Mighty

The other “giant” I’d like to pay tribute to was not nearly as well known as Paxton but was a giant of another kind. Former basketball player Neil Fingleton was known as the UK’s “tallest British-born man” at 7 feet 7.5 inches (232.5 cm) in height. He was playing professionally in an American minor league in Europe when he decided to give it up and pursue a career in showbiz.

Fingleton’s name and face may not be very familiar even to genre fans, unless perhaps you saw him on one or the other (or both) of two British TV documentaries he appeared in in 2007: “Britain’s Tallest Men” on BBC Four and “Superhuman: Giants” on ITV. The reasons are 1) at his height, there haven’t been that many roles he fit, and 2) the roles he had involved him being covered in a lot of make-up, prosthetics, and/or armor.

His credits include minor roles in X-Men: First Class and Jupiter Ascending. In 47 Ronin, he played a Lovecraftian Samurai who fought Keanu Reeves’ character. He played the giant “Mag the Mighty” in the epic “Game of Thrones” episode “The Watchers on the Wall”. (Other GoT giants, Dongo and Wun Wun, were played by Ian Whyte (7’1″).) In 2015 he portrayed the scary Fisher King in the “Doctor Who” episode “Before the Flood”. He also did a few stunts and motion capture work for “Ultron” in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Fingleton died of heart failure this past weekend mere days after turning 36.

One last thing… I watched For the Love of Spock last week. If you haven’t already seen it and were curious, I very much recommend it. It’s a touching tribute to both the character of Spock and the man who first brought him to life, Leonard Nimoy. Certainly, it’s a must-see for Trekkies/Trekkers, and particularly for fans of the Original Series.

Advertisements

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!

Can Cyborgs Be Tried for Murder?

“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”

Today’s post will be a bit more challenging, philosophically-speaking, than my usual posts. (Hey, I warned you I might do this on occasion.) But, that’s OK, ‘cuz sci-fi/fantasy fans are generally pretty smart! 🙂  It should be fun, too. I originally wrote and published the post on my other blog, “A View from the Right”, a few years ago. But, the cyborg angle makes it appropriate for here, too. I hope it sparks some synapses, and I look forward to your comments (either here or there).

—–

Last night, I re-watched the first two episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles — based on the first two Terminator movies, of course. You know… the ones where Arnold Schwarzenegger says things like “Ah’ll be bahk.” and “Hasta la vista, baby.” Except, Arnold wasn’t in the TV series. (Maybe if he had been, the show would have lasted longer.)

Terminator - SCC - Cameron posterCameron-the-cyborg was sent back from the year 2027 with a mission: protect the teen-age John Connor at all costs. As with Arnold’s “good” Terminator in T2, Cameron must be taught about ethics and given further instruction to temper her “no nonsense” methods of solving problems, like killing anyone perceived as an immediate threat to John’s survival. She must learn to use non-lethal methods whenever possible. You see, in order to blend in with humans, the Terminators must also be able to act like humans (albeit a bit “stiff”). To do this, they must be able to learn and adapt, which means they have artificial intelligence and a limited amount of “free will”. Within certain parameters, anyway. Each Terminator has a primary objective (e.g., “Eliminate John Connor” or “Protect John Connor” or ???) and possibly one or more secondary objectives.

Now, we finally get to my original question: Can, or rather should, cyborgs be brought to trial if they commit murder? If the cyborg in question is Steve Austin (the fictional character, not the wrestler), then the answer should be “Definitely, yes.” Assuming no one remote-controlled his bionic limbs to kill someone against his will, of course. He is an independent human being and responsible for his own actions. [Side question: At what point can a cyborg no longer be called “human”. What about a human brain in an artificial shell?] But, with a Terminator-type cyborg, the subject is not a human being. The “Cameron” character — named after producer/director James Cameron, of course — is an artificially intelligent machine with a great deal of autonomy, yet who must ultimately follow her programming to fulfill her primary mission. (I know. Technically, Cameron is an “it”, not a “her”. But, it’s a very attractive, feminine-looking “it”.)

I see at least a couple issues, here….

Read the entire, original post at: “Can Cyborgs Be Tried for Murder?”