Disney has finally given in to the demands of countless children, and made a sequel to their hit film Frozen. I already have my tickets and will be seeing it opening weekend with my girlfriend, the world’s biggest Olaf fan. (No, seriously. I can’t sleep at night anymore because of all the stuffed snowmen staring at me.) In-between the two films, Anna, Elsa, and Olaf have had a few adventures you may not know about. So in case you’re a completist like me, here’s some Frozen adventures you may have missed.
This seven minute short debuted in theaters in front of Disney’s live-action Cinderella in 2015. Elsa tries to give Anna a surprise birthday party. However, Elsa has caught a cold, and with every sneeze she produces a bunch of “Snowgies” — adorable snowball-like creatures — who begin dismantling the decorations. The cartoon features a catchy new song: “Making Today a Perfect Day.”
Frozen Fever can be found here:
Available for purchase on most major streaming sites like Amazon and iTunes.
Available as an extra on the Cinderella Blu-ray and DVD.
Available as part of the Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection on DVD/Blu-ray combo pack or streaming. (There’s also a funny Tangled short in that collection.)
Lego Frozen Northern Lights
Frozen gets the Lego treatment in this four-episode TV miniseries. Elsa and Anna journey to find the Northern Lights, which are invisible from their home of Arendelle.
This appears to be available for free on YouTube, with each of the four episodes running about 6 minutes.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
This twenty-one minute cartoon debuted in theaters in front of Pixar’s Coco.
Unfortunately, many audience members didn’t come prepared to see Olaf, and didn’t like waiting nearly half an hour for their Coco feature to start.
The cartoon was eventually moved to play after the feature, and then removed completely and made available on streaming sites.
During the first Christmas since the gates reopened, Olaf tries to help Elsa and Anna start some new holiday traditions, by finding out how the residents of Arendelle celebrate.
This is available on Blu-ray, DVD, or from major streaming sites like Amazon and iTunes. It comes with six classic Disney winter/holiday-themed shorts.
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There’s something so satisfying about the idea of Tom Hanks playing children’s TV show host Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Who can resist one of America’s favorite actors playing one of America’s most beloved TV icons? And I know Mr. Rogers was beloved because every time the preview for Won’t You Be My Neighbor played at the local art house theater last year, it got applause. In honor of Hanks’ latest performance and a possible sixth Oscar nomination, here’s a look back at some of his best and worst films.
Tom Hanks’ 5 Best Movies
Tom Hanks has such a plethora of great films, it was hard to whittle it down to just five. His IMDB page is an embarrassment of riches. I encourage you to explore his filmography.
Tom Hanks won Best Actor for his role as a man with HIV suing his law firm for wrongful dismissal. Antonio Banderas plays his partner. Denzel Washington plays his attorney in a powerful performance. Hanks gave a memorable acceptance speech, thanking his gay high school drama teacher. The movie was groundbreaking at the time for not only having a gay main character but casting an A-list actor in the role. It was also one of the first mainstream films to take on the topic of HIV.
2. Forrest Gump
One year later, Hanks won his second Oscar for playing the dim but big-hearted title character who was always at the right place at the right time throughout the twentieth century. He is one of the few actors to win back-to-back Oscars. (Others include: Luise Rainer, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Jason Robards.) Forrest’s famous quote from this movie is, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” This is probably the movie Tom Hanks is most famous for. The film spawned a popular soundtrack and even a chain of restaurants named Bubba Gump’s.
3.The Green Mile
Everyone knows The Shawshank Redemption. This is director Frank Darabont’s other Stephen King adapted prison movie. Hanks plays a compassionate death row corrections officer in this Best Picture nominee. He and the other guards face a moral dilemma when accused child murderer John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) displays extraordinary supernatural gifts. This is one of my favorite movies of the ’90s. The entire cast is amazing. It features one of Sam Rockwell’s great early performances. I think about Tom Hanks and Graham Greene’s discussion about the afterlife all the time.
Hanks got his first Oscar nomination for this performance. His character is a boy who makes a wish to be big and wakes up in the body of a grown man. (A little bit like Shazaam.) Hanks’s performance as a man-child is endearing, as he takes on the joys and burdens of adulthood. The film features a famous scene where he and his boss play “Chopsticks” by dancing on a giant toy piano. Hanks started out doing comedies in the ’80s. This is a great place to start if you’ve never seen anything from his early career.
5. Cast Away
Hanks got his fifth Oscar nomination for this Robert Zemeckis film. When his plane crashes over the Pacific Ocean during a storm, Hanks is the only survivor. He makes it ashore to a deserted island where he must learn how to survive on his own. The description may not grab you, but I assure you the movie will. I have watched people get sucked into this film while watching it on display televisions in stores. Somehow Zemeckis manages to weave a spell over you. And he does it with a movie that has hardly any dialogue.
Tom Hanks’ 5 Worst Movies
Every actor has their share of missteps and Hanks has some doozies.
1. The Bonfire of the Vanities
What do you get when you put Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, and Melanie Griffith in an adaptation of a Tom Wolfe novel? Pure dreck. This is generally considered one of the worst movies of the ’90s. Hanks is miscast as an unlikable character. The power of Wolfe’s writing is lost in its transition to the screen.
Who wants to watch a movie about stand-up comedians that isn’t funny? Hanks plays a young comic who helps a housewife (Sally Fields) develop her stage act. I tried to watch this movie several times in the ’80s and could never get through it. I was used to seeing Tom Hanks kiss mermaids and solve crimes with dogs. Nothing nearly as exciting happens in this movie. The punchline is there are no jokes in this film.
3. The Da Vinci Code
One of the best-selling novels of all-time, one of the most protested movies ever is also…a total snooze fest. Not even Hanks’ charm or a controversial plot twist can save this so-so thriller. Things pick up a little when Ian McKellen finally shows up.
4. The Ladykillers
This is one of the Coen Brothers’ worst films. Hanks plays an eccentric Southern professor whose gang is posing as musicians in order to rob a casino. They practice in the basement of his landlady’s home. I’ve already forgotten most of this forgettable film. But I’m still haunted by Hanks’ odd performance.
5. Cloud Atlas
What can I say about Cloud Atlas? As a friend of mine likes to say, it’s a lot of what it is. Nearly three hours to be exact. It’s a movie I want to like. But I’m not sure I want to put in the mental work and repeated viewings required to do so. The Matrix, it’s not. The movie deals with reincarnation and how our actions ripple through time to affect others. Hanks, Halle Berry, and others play multiple characters across multiple storylines. It requires a lot of concentration to keep up with everything. And that’s before the post-apocalyptic people start talking like five-year-olds (“Tell me the true true.”)
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Although I’m a fan of director Taika Waititi, the first trailer for Jojo Rabbit didn’t inspire much confidence. The scene of an imaginary Hitler comforting a ten-year-old boy fell pretty flat. Waititi isn’t the first person to mine World War II for laughs. Charlie Chaplin, Mel Brooks, and the TV show Hogan’s Heroes have made light of Hitler and the Nazis. Does Waititi find new ground to cover? Oh yes. And thankfully, there’s more to the film than hinted at in the trailer.
Roman Griffin Davis plays Jojo, a German Bart Simpson, whose imaginary friend is Adolph Hitler. Jojo is full of patriotism and fanaticism. Like most young boys, he does not want to admit he has anything as tender as a heart, but his innocence betrays him.
Waititi himself plays Hitler, and portrays him as absurd, funny…and scary. He brings the same comedic sensibility to this role as he does to Korg in the MCU films.
The imaginary friend aspect leads to some great moments of physical comedy, such as what Jojo imagines Hitler eats or how he has Hitler exit a scene. Hitler does not become a sympathetic figure like I was concerned he might. Instead, he remains mostly a figure of ridicule….taken seriously by Jojo, much less so by the audience. By his final scene, Jojo has seen the monstrous side of Hitler more than once.
Sam Rockwell plays the worst soldier/Nazi in the world. The fact that he is put in charge of a camp full of children is both hilarious and terrifying. At this point, we are going to have to deal with the fact that Rockwell is going to be a contender for Best Supporting Actor nearly every year for the foreseeable future. If he got a nomination for playing W in Vice last year, he’s got a shot at Oscar gold again for playing yet another bad boy misfit. (One who has a memorable and redemptive final scene.)
Scarlett Johansson is also probably in the Oscar race for Best Actress (or Best Supporting Actress, depending on Oscar politics) for her role as Jojo’s mother. Her zest for life recalls characters like Maude from Harold and Maude or Anthony Quinn’s Zorba.
Thomasin McKenzie, who was so good in last year’s Leave No Trace, plays a Jew Jojo’s mother is sheltering. McKenzie continues to do stunning work as a young actress.
Archie Yates plays Jojo’s buddy Yorki. Yates is effortlessly funny and a total scene stealer. I hope to see more of him in the future.
Although it’s rare for younger male actors to be nominated, Davis could receive a Best Actor nomination for his role as Jojo. His face is so expressive. He carries a lot of the film. He plays a complex character. And he captures the essence of childhood without being cutesy, cloying, or manipulative.
Jojo Rabbit exists in its own universe, combining the madcap comedy of a Mel Brooks film with something more emotional and dramatic. It’s rare for a comedic film to make it to the Oscars, however, this one will probably get a Best Picture nomination. It has already won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Since 2011, every People’s Choice Award winner has gotten a Best Picture nom. This one certainly deserves consideration.
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The Charlie’s Angels reboot comes out soon, starring one of my favorite actresses: Kristen Stewart. She began acting at age eight and has nineteen years of experience under her belt, giving her quite a resume. So for anyone who wants to catch up on her career before the new movie, or who just wants to worship at the shrine of Kristen, here are her most essential films.
From a young age, Kristen Stewart had the chops to be an actor. She gave a memorable performance in one of my favorite thrillers as Jodie Foster’s daughter. The two of them are terrorized by three robbers and have to hole up in a panic room (an impenetrable room designed to keep homeowners safe).
At age 13, Stewart gave a mature performance in this made-for-TV-movie based on the popular YA book. She plays a teenage rape victim who becomes an outcast and stops talking. It’s heavy material that’s handled very well.
This is easily the best of the Twilight films. Stewart’s heartbreak as a lovelorn Bella is palpable. This also has the best soundtrack of all the films….and the funniest scenes with Anna Kendrick’s Jessica. This is probably the movie where Bella is most active in pursuing both Jake and Edward.
Stewart plays the girl next door in this comedy about a run down amusement park. A welcome break from Bella Swann, Stewart is the more mysterious and unattainable object of Jesse Eisenberg’s affections. This was their first pairing together.
Stewart went against type to play bad girl rocker Joan Jett. Her performance helps to anchor this rock biopic, featuring Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie. Michael Shannon steals scenes as manager Kim Fowley.
Snow White and the Huntsman
This is one of Stewart’s most commercial and best known roles outside of the Twilight films. This dark take on the classic fairy tale doesn’t really get good until towards the end. But once Stewart’s Snow White finds her power and begins to lead a revolution, you’ll find yourself wanting more.
Clouds of Sils Maria
Kristen Stewart became the first American actress to ever win a César Award (the French Oscar) for her performance in this film. Stewart plays the personal assistant to Juliet Binoche. Binoche plays an actress cast as the older character in a lesbian drama, who wrestles with jealousy and insecurity while preparing for the role. There is some sexual tension between her and Stewart.
This weepie isn’t one of my favorite films (Julianne Moore should have won her Oscar for Freeheld instead), but Stewart gives a solid supporting performance as the daughter. Her scenes with Moore feel authentic.
This is Stewart’s second pairing with Jesse Eisenberg. This unexpected action film goes a little bonkers with the violence, but it’s a fun ride.
Stewart teamed up with Clouds director Olivier Assayas again for this haunting drama. She plays a personal shopper, trying to make contact with her twin brother who has passed away.
Kristen Stewart hasn’t garnered an Oscar nomination yet. However, she keeps choosing interesting and surprising roles. And she continues to play characters from all walks of life. So it’s probably only a matter of time.
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Terminator: Dark Fate opens this week. It’s the sixth movie in the Terminator franchise. However, it is the official sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day…which basically invalidates Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, one of my favorite entries in the entire franchise.
Billy Crystal once joked that Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on to make Terminator 3 in exchange for everything west of the Rockies. Terminator 2 was so popular that such an outrageous payday almost seemed feasible at the time. Expectations for the third film were extremely high.
Unfortunately, lightning usually doesn’t strike twice. I’m the first to admit that T3 isn’t is as good as T2. However, it’s still a movie I enjoy and I feel like it doesn’t deserve its poor reputation. So here is my defense of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
Before we begin…
Yes, it’s a flawed film and I understand the problems people may have with it. James Cameron didn’t direct. Edward Furlong was replaced by Nick Stahl. And Linda Hamilton turned down the offer to reprise her role as Sarah Conner, and was subsequently written out of the series. Setting those things aside, can we enjoy what there is to enjoy? Because there’s a lot.
Nick Stahl makes a decent John Connor.
Christian Bale’s portrayal of an adult John Connor in Terminator: Salvation is too moody for my taste and turns the character into a jerk. I honestly don’t remember how Jason Clarke played the role in Terminator: Genisys. (I mainly remember a good movie being ruined halfway through by an unnecessary plot twist.) Stahl is a good choice to play the disillusioned young man who is uncertain of the future and his place in it. I buy into his character enough that when the final scene comes, I’m ready for another hour.
It has a strong prologue.
The movie has a great opening prologue that builds audience sympathy for John Connor. He is saddled with the burden of knowledge, the burden of leadership, the burden of greatness, and the burden of unfulfilled prophecy hanging over his head.
The first female terminator.
Kristanna Loken plays the T-X, the first female terminator in the series. She also plays a newer model than Ahnuld, so she’s extremely powerful and gets to show off some badass moves. Plus she looks good in leather.
Although Kristanna Loken didn’t come out as bi until she did interviews with Curve in 2006 and The Advocate in 2007 (years after T3 came out), it’s still inspiring to myself (and others) that one of the terminators is bisexual.
You have to love Claire Danes.
Claire Danes adds humor and a dash of romance to the film as Kate Brewster, John’s future wife and a key figure in the resistance. Any excuse to watch Claire Danes for two hours is a good one, but this performance is especially worthwhile.
It has a great twist.
The movie has a great twist. SPOILER ALERT: It’s actually Judgment Day! What could be more exciting than that?! You get to watch history in the making. The long rumored apocalypse is finally here and you have a front row seat.
The showdowns are so satisfying.
The action scenes between Loken and Schwarzenegger, from the car chase to the final battle, are all so satisfying. The sheer amount of destruction in this film is amazing. So is the fight choreography. Rewatching the movie this week, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to defend it. Instead, I was thoroughly entertained.
The ending is a great set-up.
The ending to this movie is a wonderful set-up to a fourth film that never happened and perhaps never will. It’s Infinity War with no Endgame. It’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One left hanging. John and Kate are in a fallout shelter on Judgment Day. How do you not want to know everything that happens from there? It’s such a great set-up for a fourth film, a perfect place to resume the story, but no one ever picked up the ball and ran with it. Not even in the comic books. No one has gone back to the fallout shelter and told the story of how the resistance was born from there, how John Connor became a leader starting on Judgment Day. (Terminator: Salvation shifts the storyline back to Kyle Reese.) I’m still hungry for that promised-but-never-delivered movie.
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Zombieland 2: Double Tap opens this week and I have a feeling I’m not the only one hungry for Twinkies. It’s been ten years since the first Zombieland and if the sequel does well, they’re talking about making a third one in another ten years. In case you need more zombie goodness to tide you over until then, here are some of my favorite zombie movies.
Night of the Living Dead
George Romero pretty much created the genre with this 1968 cult classic. Seven people are trapped in a farmhouse surrounded by a growing number of zombies. The movie remains a classic of not only the horror genre, but of independent cinema as well.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Zack Snyder directed a remake of Romero’s loose sequel to Night of the Living Dead and managed to keep the satirical anti-consumerism theme intact. This time, a group of strangers seek refuge inside a shopping mall, as zombies wander the streets. The cast features Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames — and Ty Burrell, playing a much different character than fun-loving Dad Phil from Modern Family. Be sure to stay through the credits to learn the fate of the characters.
28 Days Later
This movie popularized the concept of fast zombies. It also revived the popularity of zombie films. In fact, I’d argue that the continued popularity of everything zombie-related in pop culture began with this movie in 2002. This is also the movie that introduced Cillian Murphy to American audiences. Unfortunately, a sequel (28 Weeks Later) proved to be less satisfying to audiences and critics.
Shaun of the Dead
In this comedy, a directionless Londoner is forced to take action to protect his family and friends when a zombie outbreak occurs. This is the first of three films starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and directed by Edgar Wright that make up The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. (Cornetto is a brand of ice cream popular in the UK.) There are fun references to Night of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later, as well as other zombie films.
It’s a point of contention whether body snatcher films count as zombie movies or not. I contend that they do. They have plenty in common, including the mass spreading of infection. This 1993 installment also features one of the main hallmarks of a true zombie movie: a bleak ending. I’ve only seen this once, twenty-six years ago, but parts of it have stayed with me.
Resident Evil series
This is probably the longest-running movie franchise based on a video game. The mileage may vary from one installment to the next. I didn’t care for the first part, loved the second one, was disappointed by the third one, etc. But the ones that are good are amazing with action scenes that are some of my favorites. (Can we get Milla Jovovich in a John Wick movie please?) The series tends to lean heavily on action (at the expense of scares) so if you’re a horror purist, these may not be what you’re looking for.
This is one of the few zombie movies that doesn’t just present zombies as a global epidemic but actually take you around the globe to witness it. The scene where the zombies climb over the wall in Jerusalem is overwhelming. Brad Pitt plays a former U.N. investigator trying to protect his family and find a way to stop the pandemic.
Director Jim Jarmusch fiercely divided critics and audiences with this recent zombie parody. It features an all-star cast including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, RZA, Rosie Perez, Carol Kane, Iggy Pop, and Selena Gomez. It’s a very metaphysical film. People tend to love it or hate it. I loved it and found it to be rather humorous.
On my watch list:
Just to give you an idea of my blind spots and to add a few more titles to your own must-see list, here are the zombie movies I haven’t gotten around to yet:
Anna and the Apocalypse, Day of the Dead, Fido, Maggie, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Train to Busan, and Warm Bodies.
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Gemini Man opens October 11. The name Will Smith has become synonymous with sci-fi action films. Smith has had a long and varied career, even if his genre roles are my favorite. I’ve been a fan of his since I was a kid. Somewhere I have a Soundtracks cassette of eight-year-old me rapping (or attempting to) “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” (Once upon a time, kids, we paid to do karaoke and they gave us recordings of it.) On the eve of Will Smith’s latest movie, let’s take a look at his most essential performances.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Will Smith’s first significant acting job was starring in this long-running sitcom. He played a fish out of water who left a rough neighborhood in Philadelphia to live with his rich relatives in California after getting in a fight. But you probably already knew that from the famous, catchy theme song. I had loved Will aka The Fresh Prince for his novelty rap songs like “I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson.” This show was what made him a household name though.
Six Degrees of Separation
This was one of Will Smith’s first movie roles and it proved he could play serious parts. Smith’s character interrupts a rich couple’s dinner party claiming to be a friend of their Ivy League children. He charms his way into their home but there may be more to him than there appears. This movie, adapted from John Guare’s play, is the basis of the Kevin Bacon game aka Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. (I can link Will to Kevin in 2 degrees. Will Smith stars with Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black. Tommy Lee Jones stars with Brad Pitt in Ad Astra. Brad Pitt is in Sleepers with Kevin Bacon.)
Will Smith joined fellow sitcom star Martin Lawrence for this action film where they play detectives. The duo proved to be so popular that not only did they make a second movie, a third one is slated to come out next year and a fourth one is in pre-production.
This blockbuster set a precedent for a while. It just wasn’t summer without a Will Smith movie, most of them coming out on Fourth of July weekend. Smith plays a military pilot who helps defend Earth against an alien attack. The special effects may seem dated today, but at the time the White House getting blown up by a UFO was the coolest thing any of us had ever seen. The movie became the highest-grossing film of 1996. The following summer would see Smith working with aliens again.
Men in Black
Based on a comic book, this sci-fi comedy blockbuster paired Will Smith with Tommy Lee Jones. They made for a winning team. They play secret agents who are part of an organization that supervises alien lifeforms on Earth and hides their existence from humans. The movie spawned three sequels and a cartoon series.
Smith plays boxer Muhammad Ali in this biopic. His performance earned him his first Oscar nomination. (I’m not going to discuss his second Oscar nomination for The Pursuit of Happyness. If you want to see Smith in an inspirational role, watch The Legend of Bagger Vance instead. It’s much less schmaltzy.) Sadly, this is one of those films where the movie isn’t as good as the performance. But it’s still worth seeing. Will Smith becomes Muhammad Ali.
I Am Legend
I still feel like Smith was within a hair’s breadth of getting an Oscar nomination for this role. You can feel his loneliness and isolation as the last man on earth after a zombie apocalypse. The scene where he begs a mannequin to talk to him is SO GOOD! This is easily one of my top films of 2007. It’s a change from the more humorous sci-fi roles of ID4 and MIB. This one’s more serious. And he still rocks it. It’s amazing how they were able to film/create an abandoned New York City, especially Times Square.
I love movies about con men. And this one has Margot Robbie to boot. Usually, Smith plays the hero. It’s rare to see him play an antihero (like in Hancock). This is a fun movie with some twists.
Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu in this important film about how football can lead to brain damage. He was nominated for a Golden Globe but snubbed by Oscar for his performance about a doctor who takes risks to do the right thing. This underrated performance is one of his best roles.
There aren’t words for how bummed I am that Smith won’t be reprising his role as Deadshot for the new Suicide Squad movie. He made a great antihero, a villain you cared about. He was a badass but he was also a loving father and made both halves of that believable. He also had great rapport with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. My only consolation is that he’ll probably play someone equally badass in the Marvel Cinematic Universe eventually.
No one else will ever be Robin Williams. However, Smith brought his own original spin to the role of the Genie. It’s hard not to enjoy this new version of the classic.
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Todd Philips’ controversial new film Joker opens this week. It’s kind of amazing that a character piece with no connection to the DC Universe and no Batman in sight got the green light. Many other movies aren’t so lucky. Even movies with major talent attached to them. Here’s a look at some superhero movies that were never made.
Superman Movies That Were Scrapped:
Christopher McQuarrie’s Man of Steel sequel
In July, the writer-director of Mission: Impossible-Fallout revealed on Twitter that he had pitched a Man of Steel sequel idea that would have tied in to a Green Lantern movie proposal. Ultimately, Warner Brothers rejected both ideas. McQuarrie did not give specifics of the plot of either film.
Matthew Vaughn’s Superman trilogy
The Kingsman director and comics creator Mark Millar pitched a Superman trilogy where the entire first film would have taken place on Krypton. Superman would have grown up on Krypton, a change to his origin story, “maturing into an adult before having to reckon with his loyalty to both planets,” as Vaughn told Polygon. This sounds like it could have really been epic. I wish he’d reveal what his plans for the other two films were.
J. J. Abrams wrote this Superman origin story that would have seen the hero fighting against new villain Ty-Zor, his Kryptonian cousin. McG and Brett Ratner were each attached to direct the project at one point. Warner Brothers ended up going with Superman Returns instead.
Superman Returns sequel
Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns didn’t make enough money at the box office to revive the franchise. He has hinted that a sequel would have been more action-oriented and might have featured the villain Brainiac. This is the one that stings for me. It always pulls at my heartstrings that SPOILER ALERT Superman has a son. I really wanted a sequel to explore that concept in depth. I remember watching Superman Returns with my friend Robert and both of us getting emotional during the scene where Superman watches his son sleeping. This will always be one of the great unmade sequels for me.
This is the most famous unmade Superman film. Tim Burton was attached to direct. Nicholas Cage was going to play Superman. Kevin Smith wrote a draft of the script. There’s even a documentary about it titled The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? The movie would have featured villains Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and Doomsday. “The Death of Superman” story line from the comics was part of the movie’s inspiration. After seeing what Tim Burton did with Batman, one can’t help but wonder what his Superman would have been like.
Spider-Man Sequels We’ll Never Get to See:
I know, I know. Spidey’s a sore subject ever since the Sony/Marvel split. But the truth is that Spider-Man’s been breaking our hearts for a while with expected sequels that never made it out of the gate.
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man
Casting rumors indicate that John Malkovich would have played the Vulture and Anne Hathaway would have played the Black Cat in this sequel. Concept art indicates that villain Mysterio would have put in at least a cameo appearance. Screenwriter James Vanderbilt was hired to write out plot lines for Spider-Man 5 and 6. The exact reasons this sequel never came together aren’t completely clear. Raimi takes responsibility and says he couldn’t deliver a quality film by the release date and didn’t want to disappoint the fans. Adding insult to injury is the fact that we never got to see Dylan Baker’s version of the Lizard.
The Amazing Spider-Man 3
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ends with a cut scene that teases an awesome sequel. It sets up a group of fan favorite villains called The Sinister Six which Spider-Man would have faced in the next movie. Sadly, writer-director Drew Goddard never got to bring his vision to the screen though there are rumors it could still happen.
Batman Movies That Didn’t Happen:
Ivan Reitman’s Batman
The Ghostbusters director once had his eye on a 1960s-themed Batman project. And the casting for this one is insane. Bill Murray would have played Batman. Eddie Murphy would have been Robin. And David Bowie would have played the Joker. (Aren’t you dying to see that?) Fortunately, this movie fell apart, paving the way for Tim Burton’s Batman.
If Tim Burton had made a third Batman film, Marlon Wayans would have played Robin and Robin Williams would have been the Riddler. It would have set up a spinoff film for Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman as well. As much as I like Batman Forever, I wish Burton could have completed his trilogy.
This would have been Joel Schumacher’s follow up to Batman and Robin. Schumacher’s third Batman film, the fifth in the series, would have seen The Scarecrow and Harley Quinn make their first appearances on the big screen. Batman and Robin also would have split up suggesting some of the darker storytelling associated more with Burton than Schumacher.
Other Comic Book Movies That Never Made It To the Big Screen:
Justice League: Mortal
Before Zack Snyder’s Justice League movie came to fruition, Mad Max director George Miller was slated to direct this project in 2008. The movie would have starred Armie Hammer as Batman, D.J. Catrona as Superman, Adam Brody and Anton Yelchin as dual Flashes, and Common as Green Lantern. A high budget and a writer’s strike led to the movie being cancelled.
Fox hired Noah Hawley (creator of TV shows Fargo and Legion) to write a movie about Fantastic Four villain Doctor Doom. Hawley has described his script as being an antihero story and a political thriller in the vein of Captain America: Winter Soldier. The movie is largely considered dead after the Disney-Fox merger, however there is still some hope that Marvel may make the film at some point. Especially now that they have plans to revive the Fantastic Four.
The Silver Surfer
Speaking of Fantastic Four characters, comic book writer Brian K. Vaughn was hired to write a script for a stand-alone Silver Surfer script. This was about two years before the Disney-Fox merger. This secretive project is probably DOA as most of Fox’s comic book projects have been under the merger. There is no word on whether actor Doug Jones would have reprised his role from the Fantastic Four sequel.
Green Lantern 2
Ryan Reynolds starred in The Green Lantern in 2011. A sequel was written that focused on Sinestro becoming evil. The first movie was a box office failure and plans for a sequel were scrapped. Reynolds made fun of Green Lantern’s poor box office performance in the more popular movie Deadpool.
Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman
Before the Allan Heinberg script that became Patty Jenkins’ vision, Joss Whedon wrote an unproduced Wonder Woman script in the early 2000s. It was recently leaked to the internet and has faced a lot of criticism for being sexist and focusing too much on Steve Trevor instead of Wonder Woman, even going so far as to make him the main character. Whedon recently quit the Batgirl movie without completing a script, leaving it in limbo. Which makes it another movie we may not get to see or at least not for a long time.
Green Arrow: Escape From Super Max
I saved one of the best for last. This one is cool as hell and I wish they would make it. Framed for an assassination, Green Arrow has to partner with famous DC villains to break out of prison. Doesn’t that sound awesome? Cinema Blend has speculated that this would be an excellent script to transition the Arrow TV series into films.
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Dark Phoenix hits DVD and Blu-ray on September 17. It’s the final adventure for this cast of characters. And it’s the next-to-last X-Men film we’ll see for a while, assuming The New Mutants eventually gets released. There have been a LOT of X-Men movies, ranging from fair to awesome. And then there are those that might have been.
Let’s take a look at days of future past with X-Men movies that were never made:
X-Men Origins: Magneto
Wolverine got his own spin-offs, so why not give one to the X-Men series’ most popular villain? Sheldon Turner wrote a script set between 1939 and 1955. It followed Magneto trying to survive in Auschwitz. Xavier is a young soldier who helps liberate the camp. Magneto tracks down and exacts vengeance on the Nazis who tortured him. This quest for vengeance puts him at odds with Xavier. While the film was eventually shelved, parts of it were absorbed into X-Men: First Class.
The fan favorite comic book character has only appeared in one X-Men movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he was played by Taylor Kitsch. However, Channing Tatum was attached to star in a full-length Gambit film for years through several script changes, several changes of directors, and several release date changes. After Disney acquired Fox, they finally cancelled the project. All hope is not lost though. Gambit may not get his own movie, but Marvel will probably bring him to life when they finally make their own X-Men movie(s).
Byron Burton wrote a script featuring Nicholas Hoult’s Hank McCoy (not Kelsey Grammar’s). The film would have featured a mutant with a mutation similar to his own that was terrorizing an Inuit village. It would also have featured a connection to Mr. Sinister from the comics. And Beast would have been fighting alongside Wolverine in the final act. However, that’s the reason it never got made. Simon Kinberg, who was in charge of the X-Men film property, refused to even read the script as he had his own plans for bringing Wolverine back into the X-Men universe.
X-Force is a team of superheroes often associated with the X-Men. According to Wikipedia, they take a more militant and aggressive approach toward their enemies than the X-Men do. Deadpool 2 featured a version of the X-Force. However, the X-Force were slated to get their own violent, raunchy, R-rated movie similar to Deadpool. Unfortunately, the X-Force movie was another casualty of the Disney-Fox merger.
Fox’s Marvel crossover movie
On Kevin Smith’s Youtube show Fatman Beyond, writer Zack Stentz revealed a project he’d been co-writing in 2011 that would have used every Marvel character that Fox owned at the time. In addition to the X-Men, the movie would have featured The Fantastic Four, Deadpool, and Daredevil. Paul Greengrass came close to directing it. I wish Disney/Fox would publish/release the script for this unmade film because I’m so curious. Stentz was a co-writer on Thor and X-Men: First Class. I’d love to see what his take on these characters would be and how it differs from how others have portrayed them. Plus, it would just be fun to see them all together.
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Ad Astra opens this week. Starring Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones, it has plenty of Oscar potential. Pitt plays an astronaut who travels through space to seek his missing father.
In honor of this movie’s opening weekend, here are my top five space travel movies.
5. The Right Stuff
This movie takes the fifth slot because it’s been the longest since I’ve seen it. It’s based on Tom Wolfe’s non-fiction book about Mercury 7, the first crewed space flight by the U.S. It boasts a cast that includes Dennis Quad, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard (Oscar nominated for his role), and Fred Ward. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert named it the best film of 1983.
I’m a huge Christopher Nolan fan. This is his underrated space epic starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway. In a dystopian future where Earth is becoming uninhabitable, a team of explorers travel through a wormhole to search for a new home for humanity. This one gets emotional in that the astronauts have to say goodbye to their families in order to save them, with no promise of ever seeing them again.
Alfonso Cuarón won Best Director for this survival story starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. It also won Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. Which is fitting because the movie makes you feel like you are there. I saw this one on an IMAX screen and it was like being on a thrill ride. Sandra Bullock got an Oscar nomination for her knockout performance.
Damien Chazelle makes movies about the price of ambition. This biopic focuses on Neil Armstrong and what it took to achieve the Apollo 11 moon landing. This film is notable for its realistic scenes of rocket travel. It features sound editing and special effects that put you inside the rocket next to Ryan Gosling, from the very first scene.
1. 2001 : A Space Odyssey
My mom bought me a Stanley Kubrick boxed set for Christmas when I was in college and this was my favorite film in the set. Kubrick set the bar for the space epic with his adaptation of the Arthur C. Clarke novel. It follows mankind from the beginning of time to the future. And it features one of the most famous computers in cinema history: H.A.L. 9000. I got to watch this with a live orchestra providing the soundtrack and it was awesome. I always try to catch this one when it plays on a big screen. All of these selections should be seen on the big screen when/if possible for maximum effect.
I know, I know. Apollo 13 isn’t on the list. Sorry, but I feel like it’s one of the overrated movies of my generation. Maybe I’ll give it another watch one day and reassess it. [Editor note: Apollo 13 is in my top 10 films ever and my rewatches never get old…]
This would probably be in my sixth slot. It was hard to leave it off the list. Like Gravity, this is another tale of survival. Matt Damon plays an astronaut stranded on Mars who must find a way to survive until Earth can send a rescue mission. Based on the novel by Andy Weir, the movie gets bonus points for using actual science. [Ed note: okay, you are redeeming yourself a little here.]
This biopic tells the story of NASA engineer Homer Hickam as a teenager. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the son of a coal miner who is inspired to take up rocket science by the Sputnik launch. Chris Cooper (always good!) plays his disapproving father. Laura Dern is the inspiring teacher who helps Homer and his friends build and launch model rockets.
Or, as my poor forgetful father dubbed it after calling me three times to ask the name of it, Feelings For Numbers. The movie tells the story of three black female mathematicians who worked for NASA during the Space Race, especially during Project Mercury. Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, and Octavia Spencer give inspiring performances in this important and uplifting film. The movie also features one of my favorite recent Kevin Costner performances.
The Downlow on Sci Fi movie breaks:
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