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 find 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.
2. First Man
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 Odyseey
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.
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.
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.
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IT: Chapter 2 opens this week, promising bigger scares and more blood than the first part. (Is that even possible?) If you’re like me, you haven’t visited these Stephen King characters since the first IT movie came out two years ago.
IMPORTANT: IT Chapter 2 is almost 3 hours long…you’re going to need to know your Peetimes. Okay, let’s get going on the who is who in case you forgot.
I’ve included photos of the before and after of the cast, shown as kids and adults.
Do you remember the child characters?
So, here’s a refresher on who’s who in “The Losers Club” to get you caught up before Pennywise strikes again:
played by Jaeden Martell as a child
played by James McAvoy as an adult
Bill is Georgie’s older brother. He is the leader of the group, bent on avenging his brother’s death. He stutters, and has a crush on Beverly.
played by Sophia Lillis as a child
played by Jessica Chastain as an adult
Beverly is a tomboy. She has a strict, abusive father and is part of a love triangle between Bill and Ben. She has the vision of the group returning to fight Pennywise as adults.
played by Jeremy Ray Taylor as a child
played by Jay Ryan as an adult
Ben is the poet. He is Beverly’s secret admirer who writes her the poem on the postcard. Ben pieces together a lot of the town’s history.
played by Finn Wolfhard as a child
played by Bill Hader as an adult (I so approve of this casting!)
Richie is the joker of the group, funny and foul-mouthed. He and Bill have a huge fight after nearly getting killed at the Well House. But they reconcile to save Beverly.
played by Chosen Jacobs as a child
played by Isaiah Mustafa as an adult
Mike is the loyal friend. He is bonded with the members of The Losers Club for life. He is also the one member who never left Derry. (We learn this in the previews.) Mike joins the club when the others defend him from Henry and his gang.
played by Jack Dylan Grazer as a child
played by James Ransone as an adult
Eddie is the hypochondriac of the group. He is reluctant to go into the sewers. His arm gets broken during an encounter with Pennywise. Eddie eventually stands up to both his controlling mother and to Pennywise.
played by Wyatt Oleff as a child
played by Andy Bean as an adult
Stan is the voice of reason. He is often the most cautious, reluctant to go in the sewers, and opting to stand guard outside the creepy house rather than go inside.
IT Chapter 2 will be here soon!
Pennywise is coming, but you won’t have to float if you have the RunPee app. Don’t miss the best parts of IT: Chapter 2 or any of your other favorites. We always have Peetimes for the latest Hollywood hits, including Ready or Not (an underrated gem!) and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
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The extremely R-rated Good Boys is helping close out the summer movie season this week. I’ve been looking forward to Good Boys for months, ever since the trailer dropped. They had me at Jacob Tremblay. What could be more wickedly subversive than casting the sweet little boy from Room and Wonder in a teen sex comedy?
If you’re also chomping at the bit to see Good Boys, here’s something to help tide you over. It’s a list of my favorite raunchy comedies.
The Kentucky Fried Movie
The title of the movie is a misnomer as it has nothing to do with The Bluegrass State. This is an early film from the minds that would go on to make Airplane and The Naked Gun series. The movie is composed of a series of sketches, the film’s centerpiece being a parody of kung-fu films. I recently got to witness my girlfriend’s reactions to the movie as she watched it online. For a movie made in the ’70s, a lot of the humor and shock value stand up.
It was difficult choosing which Kevin Smith film to include on this list. Clerks was groundbreaking and battled against censorship. Chasing Amy and Dogma are dear to my heart. I adore Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back but it’s not as iconic as Mallrats to me. And while Clerks 2 is certainly offensive, it’s not as classic. There’s just something about the running gags in Mallrats that I really love. (“Like the back of a Volkswagen?”) From the fortune teller to the chocolate pretzels, there are plenty of raunchy moments.
There’s also a Stan Lee cameo before that kind of thing became common. And he gets a speech. And it’s a good one.
There’s Something About Mary
By the time I saw this one, most of the best laughs had been ruined by previews or my friends. However, screenwriting guru Robert McKee gave me a new appreciation for the opening scene. He used as an example in his comedy writing seminar.
Ben Stiller’s character goes to pick up his prom date and while in the bathroom, he gets stuck in his zipper. The Farrelly Brothers take what could be a one-note throw-away gag and turn it into comedy gold. I forget exactly how the scene goes. But more and more neighbors keep stopping by the house or passing by the window and trying to help, just making Stiller’s embarrassment that much worse. The stuck zipper is like a laugh button. And every time another character shows up, the Farrelly’s press it.
Watch the scene and you’ll see what I mean. They milk about seventeen laughs from the audience out of a single gag. (And just when you think you’re safe, they actually cut to a shot of it! So gross!) Definitely a masterclass in writing raunchy comedy.
Plus, the end credits has one of the most joyous sing-alongs of any movie.
This is the Judd Apatow produced forefather to Good Boys. If you haven’t seen it, I don’t want to ruin the joys of it for you. Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Christipher Mintz-Plasse are hilarious in this teen comedy about friendship, and trying to acquire booze for a party. This movie introduced Emma Stone to the world.
Seth Rogen and Bill Hader play possibly two of the worst cops in history. This is the movie my ex-girlfriend took me to right before she dumped me, and I still love it.
Booksmart is Superbad for smart girls. Two brainiacs try to cram four years worth of partying into one night before they head off to college. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein bring the funny in Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut.
This is one of my new favorite comedies. It didn’t get a fair shake in the theaters and I hope it gets embraced on digital, streaming, etc. The drug and sex jokes are funny, but even the innocent stuff, like just watching their nerdy dancing on the way to school, made me laugh so hard.
The Sweetest Thing
Selma Blair has several moments in this film that still make me laugh just to think of them. Only Christina Applegate and Cameron Diaz would be good enough sports to round out the cast for a romantic sex comedy like this. This movie really must be seen to be believed.
Below is an impromptu musical number from the film. It is NSFW.
A Dirty Shame
I’ve only seen a few John Waters’ films. This one again features Selma Blair as a promiscuous character that Waters saddled with a giant pair of fake breasts. Which is really all you need to know about the film. It deals in sexual extremes. Waters tried to fit as many sexual fetishes into the movie as he could.
I only saw this once in the theater 15 years ago. But I remember laughing hard the entire time. PSA: This is the only movie on this list with an NC-17 rating.
First things first: parts of this movie haven’t aged well. Privacy and consent are very important, everyone. That aside, this movie is still dear to me and reminds me what it felt like to be a teenager. The screenwriter abstained from masturbating while he was writing the script, so he’d feel the characters’ frustration.
This movie introduced most of America to the term “MILF” and popularized the phrase “This one time, in band camp…”
This lesser American Pie wannabe makes the list for one major reason: an early surprise cameo from Matt Damon singing the cruel, heartbreaking, and utterly catchy “Scotty Doesn’t Know”, during which Scotty finds out his girlfriend is cheating on him. It’s a totally rewindable moment that redeems the whole film.
Austin Powers: Goldmember
The Austin Powers trilogy concludes with this film. It’s my favorite for several reasons. It has the star-studded Austin Powers parody/film-within-a-film that includes John Travolta and Danny DeVito among others. It also features Michael Caine and a young Beyonce.
All the sex jokes and scatalogical humor are there as well. The first two movies are fun entrees, but this is pure dessert.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette opens this week. While it’s not Richard Linklater’s first commercial film (Bad News Bears, School of Rock), it does appear to be wholly unlike anything else he’s ever done.
I’ve been following Linklater for a while and he’s one of my favorite filmmakers. Below is a list of my favorite Linklater movies. (Note: This is not The Essential Richard Linklater. Because then I’d have to include Dazed and Confused. Sorry, that one’s just overrated to me.)
Linklater pulled off one of the most amazing feats in cinema history with this one. We get to watch a boy grow up over the course of the film. And he’s played by the same actor at every age! Linklater had the patience to shoot the scenes once a year or once every few years throughout Ellar Coltrane’s life.
The fact that he was able to do this with the same cast over a period of twelve years without the world finding out is amazing. (And without anyone dying, quitting, etc.) This movie was such a beautiful surprise when it came out and remains a gift to the world.
The Before Trilogy
In 1995, Linklater made one of the essential 90s romances, Before Sunrise. It features Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy killing time together and falling in love, before having to part ways. If that was all he’d ever made, it would stand alone as a beautiful, unique, romantic film.
Instead, he made a sequel nearly a decade later called Before Sunset where the two meet up again in Paris while Hawke is on a book tour. They are each spoken for, but the spark is still there. Again, if these two bookends were all there is to the story, it would be enough.
But then the artists reunited to make Before Midnight. The final film in the trilogy deals with love and family at midlife, and all the complications that come with them.
Slacker was Linklater’s debut film. It’s a meandering piece where the camera follows an odd assortment of characters through a Texas town, moving from one interaction to the next, never returning to any of the storylines. It probably sits somewhere at the intersection of Robert Altman and David Lynch. One of the film’s most famous moments involves a woman being arrested as someone passes by, musing, “I know her. She was in my ethics class.”
Waking Life is a documentary where the film cells were painted over/animated. It features Wiley Wiggins trying to determine if he is awake or in a dream state as he encounters various talking heads. It’s a visually beautiful film that is philosophical and haunting.
School of Rock
This is probably Linklater’s most accessible film. A substitute teacher turns a classroom full of children into a rock band to try to win a local Battle of the Bands competition. Jack Black gives one of his best performances without going over the top. Writer Mike White who also cameos delivers a great story. So great in fact, that Andrew Lloyd Weber turned it into a stage musical. It works surprisingly well. This is a great feel-good movie.
Everybody Wants Some
This movie is about the members of a college baseball team bonding together at the start of the school year in the 1980s. It’s sort of an older cousin to Dazed and Confused. The main character, Jake (Blake Jenner), is figuring out who he wants to be. This comedy was the first movie I watched after my grandfather’s death and I remember it lifting my spirits with its goofy charm.
It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock’n’roll. It’s also a long wait to go to the bathroom if you’re gonna white knuckle it until the end credits.
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Guillermo del Toro’s new movie Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark — an adaptation of Alvin Schwartz’s book series — haunts theaters this week. I didn’t read the books growing up as a child. I was too much of a scaredy cat.
But then I studied collections of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand — one of Schwartz’s influences — when I was in my twenties. It may not be Halloween yet, but it’s the perfect time to swap scary stories. Here are some of my favorites, and some are actually true.
Tell me which I of your stories I missed in the comments section below..
Note: In true Urban Legend fashion, I elected not to reread any versions of these stories, but to tell them as well as I can from my own memory. This is how stories grow and change from one teller to the next.
The New Pet
On a trip to Mexico, a woman found a sickly, abandoned dog. She snuck it back across the border with her and nursed it back to health. However, she became very concerned about her new pet. It had a nasty temper, often tried to bite her, and had a voracious appetite. She finally took her new dog to the vet. After a while, the veterinarian came out and asked her, “Where did you get that thing?”
“I found that dog in an alley in Mexico,” she confessed. “He was very sick. I couldn’t leave him there.”
“That’s no dog,” the vet told her. “That’s a Mexican sewer rat!”
She nearly fainted.
(This is the first urban legend I ever heard.)
This is a legend that constantly gets told about a certain theme park. Brunvand has tried to track down anyone who can verify it. But everyone always claims it happened to a “friend of a friend.” It’s why he likes to call these FOAF stories.
“If you ever go to [World Famous Theme Park I’m Not Getting Sued By], keep a close eye on your children. If you lose a child, report it to an employee immediately. Time is of the essence.
Security will take you to an underground room with monitors that show you the entire park. They’ll tell you to search for your child’s face. Their clothing and hairstyle may have already been altered by the kidnappers.
True story: my cousin’s friends got lucky. They were able to recognize their kid and stop the kidnapper. The little boy’s head had been shaved, and he was dressed differently. I hate to think about what happens to other families. Something shady is going on there. If you vacation there, be careful.
(It’s never made sense to me that you would lose valuable getting away time to shave the child’s head. When I discovered this was an urban legend, I thought it would bring my sister some relief, as this is one of her greatest fears every time we visit this park. Instead, she double downed on her belief that this story is 100% true. Some people don’t want to hear that their kid isn’t the most valuable thing on Earth.)
The Killer With the Hook
Several variants on this story. Here’s one: A couple was parked out on Lover’s Lane one night. They kept hearing this “scratch, scratch, scratch” noise. When the man got out to investigate, he saw a hooded figure with a hook for a hand, scraping away at the roof of the car. The hook-handed fiend swiped at the man, nearly taking his head off. The man got back in the car and locked the doors. He started the car and gunned it, but the killer hung on, crawling down onto the hood of the car and shaking his deadly hook at them. The woman shrieked. The killer crawled back up the car and began trying to punch his way through the back windshield. The driver sped up and finally lost the killer on a sharp curve.
Later, when he got home, he tried to convince himself it had all been a bad dream. But the next morning, when he came outside, he found a hook caught in the car window.
[Ed Note: I STILL find this one scary….shudders.]
A Scary Drive
A woman was driving alone at night. A large truck came behind her, all of a sudden. It flashed its lights at her and honked, but refused to pass her. She became nervous because of the other vehicle’s aggressive actions. She sped up a little but every time she sped up, so did the truck. Every now and then, it would honk and flash its lights again.
She tried to motion for the truck to go around her, but the driver stayed on her tail as if he were stalking her. When she finally came to a gas station, she pulled over and jumped out of the car, yelling for help. When the truck pulled in, the driver yelled out the window, “There’s someone else in the car!”
Moments later, the truck driver and the service station manager, both armed, approached the woman’s car. In the backseat, they found a killer with a knife. He’d snuck into the car at the last gas station she stopped at. Every time the killer had reared up to stab the woman, the heroic trucker flashed his lights to blind him.
(This story is the reason I look in my backseat EVERY time I get into my car. The opening scene of the movie Urban Legend does a good adaptation of this one.) [Ed Note: Also the 10th Rule in ZombieLand.]
This Urban Legend pops up in a lot of horror movies and surely you’ve seen this terrifying idea or a variant of it:
One night, a young woman was babysitting her neighbors’ kids. All night long, she kept getting creepy phone calls. “You’re all going to die,” the voice on the other line would say. Thirty minutes later, she would receive another call, “I’m going to slit your throats.” After she put the children to bed, she got a third nasty phone call. So she dialed the operator to see if they could trace the calls.
When the threatening voice called again, it was followed by another call from the operator. “Get out! Quick! The call’s coming from inside the house!”
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Tarantino just released his ninth film, Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood. The movie follows the lives of fictional characters actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), and real life actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), in the days before the Manson Family murders. The movie debuted in second place behind The Lion King, and is receiving rave reviews. Now is the perfect time to review the director’s catalog and suss out the essential Tarantino films.
Tarantino’s first film premiered at Sundance in 1992, and was picked up by Miramax. The film also played at Cannes. The story concerns a group of bank robbers reconvening after a bank heist gone wrong, to figure out what happened. The movie introduced several staples of Tarantino’s work, including pop culture references (the Madonna debate in the opening scene), long scenes of dialogue (including the opening scene), profanity, extreme violence, a story told out of chronological order, and a hip soundtrack.
The movie features three actors Tarantino is fond of working with: Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, and Tim Roth. The title doesn’t have a specific meaning. It just sounds cool.
When Tarantino returned to Cannes in 1994, he was a star. He had a following, and anticipation was high for his new film Pulp Fiction. Inspired by pulp novels, the movie weaved together the tales of several criminal figures, including two hitmen (John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson), a corrupt boxer and his girlfriend (Bruce Willis and Maria de Medeirios), a gangster’s girlfriend (Uma Thurman), and two robbers (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer)….among others.
Pulp Fiction took Cannes by storm and won the Palme d’Or. It revived Travolta’s career! The movie was nominated for Best Picture, and Travolta, Jackson, and Thurman were all nominated for Oscars. Tarantino was nominated for Best Director. Tarantino and Roger Avary won Best Original Screenplay. The film also received a nomination for Best Editing.
This is the director’s most essential work, and the film against which all his other movies are judged.
The last quarter of Four Rooms
Four Rooms is kind of a “throw away” film. It was a fun anthology where four directors each got to direct a quarter of the flick. To illustrate how forgettable the movie is, I can only remember three of the four sections of the movie.
Tim Roth plays a bell boy who will break all of his mentor’s rules by the time one fateful New Year’s Eve is over. Tarantino directs the end of the flick — the last room that Roth has to deal with. This section of the movie is a remake of a classic “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episode that originally featured Peter Lorre.
Bruce Willis, Quentin Tarantino, Jennifer Beals, and Paul Calderon play a game of poker, where the stakes go beyond money. This section of the movie is wicked fun…and if I were programming a QT film festival, I’d definitely include it.
Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2
Volume 1 is Tarantino’s martial arts film. And Volume 2 is his first western. But together, they’re a compelling drama about revenge and its consequences. (Tarantino has gone on record saying that he recently talked to star Uma Thurman about making a part 3 featuring Vernita Green’s adult daughter seeking vengeance against her character.)
The House of Blue Leaves sequence in Volume One is probably one of the longest action scenes ever filmed.
The change of tone in Volume Two is daring. Thurman gives a tour de force performance as The Bride. These movies came out during a period in my twenties when I felt a lot of anger. There was something about them that was very special to me. A catharsis. Waiting for Volume Two to start was like waiting for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King to begin.
I’ve only seen this one once, so it’s hard for me to speak of it eloquently or at length. There is something quite satisfying in Tarantino’s rewriting of history. Violence and revenge are major themes of this film as well. Christoph Waltz won his Oscar for this movie and he as cold blooded and terrifying here as he is lovable in Django. The tense opening scene is a breathtaking highlight. Our review is here.
Tarantino crossed the Western and the Blaxploitation film to create this controversial picture. Say what you will about it, but the image of the slaves’ abused ankles alone at the beginning of the film drove home the horror of slavery to me, in a way few things ever have. I have never forgotten it. The inhumanity of it. Whatever other parts of the movie may be over the top, that stuff really happened. Christoph Waltz’s retelling of the Broomhilda legend is a highlight.
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Hey, #Tarantino fans, are you ready for #OnceUponATimeInHollywood? #GoldenMan takes a look at QT’s #filmography with The Essential Tarantino. #ReservoirDogs #PulpFiction #Uma #TimRoth #Travolta #SamJackson #ChristophWaltz
Avatar is one of my all time favorite movies. So I’m a little torn that Avengers: Endgame has broken its box office record. Yes, it’s cool that a superhero movie is now the reigning box office champ of all time.
Endgame is the reigning champ
And it’s an impressive feat wrapping up 11 years worth of a series of movies so successfully. Some series never even make it off the ground (I’m looking at you King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and The Mummy 2017). Other series have no expiration date (*ahem*James Bond *ahem*). So to wrap up an epic story in an emotionally satisfying way is no small feat. Marvel deserves all the kudos they are receiving.
And it’s not that I’m not a fan of Marvel or the actors involved. I was a Robert Downey Junior fan long before Iron Man came out. I loved watching Paul Rudd and Mark Ruffalo in art house films for years. I’ve adored Scarlett Johansson since Lost in Translation. I’ve crushed on Gwyneth Paltrow ever since Shakespeare in Love.
So Endgame meant as much to me as anyone else.
What I love about Avatar
But, Avatar. Avatar is something different. It came out of nowhere and wasn’t part of a franchise or any preexisting property. James Cameron took audiences to another world. Avatar reflected my spirituality. For instance, the idea that we are all connected. Plus, it came out at a time in my life when I needed a beautiful world to escape to.
It is said there are only so many basic story types. Blade Runner can be seen as a take on Frankenstein: man vs his creation.
The three replicants in the film seek vengeance against Eldon Tyrell, the rich scientist who created them. They want longer lifespans than just the four years they are given. Theirs are close to ending. Although the replicants are the antagonists in the film, Hauer’s final speech makes it impossible not to feel sympathy for their plight. Roy Batty’s final speech is made even more incredible by the fact that Hauer improvised the entire thing. It wasn’t in the original script.
Essential Rutger Hauer performances include: the movies Ladyhawke, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Hitcher. To my knowledge, his last widely celebrated big screen performance was the title role in 2011’s violent instant cult classic Hobo With a Shotgun. It was deeply disappointing that the filmmakers did not find a way to bring him back for Blade Runner 2049.
Hauer will be missed, but his legacy in sci-fi and fantasy cinema history is secure.
Here’s Rutger Hauer’s beautiful, iconic Tears in the Rain speech from the 1982 Blade Runner:
To make sure you don’t miss essential moments like Roy Batty’s speech, always use the RunPee app. We’ll have Peetimes for Ad Astra, Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, and all your other upcoming sci-fi favorites. You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunPee/.
The “live action” (actually CGI, folks) remake of The Lion King is hitting theaters. This new version of the Disney 1994 classic features significant differences. Now is a great time to return to Pride Rock — and revisit Simba, Nala, Timon, Pumbaa, Mufasa, Zazu, and Rafiki — as we compare the animated, Broadway, and the live action versions of The Lion King.
The Animated Version of The Lion King
In the summer of 1994, Disney released The Lion King. It was the fifth film in the Disney renaissance that started with The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. It was also the first Disney animated film that featured an original story, and not an adaptation of an existing property. Although it does have strong similarities to the play Hamlet….(link goes to our cool comparison post).
The movie was a true critical and box office success!
Synopsis of The Lion King (Spoilers)
The film starts with a young lion cub named Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), heir to his father Mufasa’s throne.
All three versions of The Lion King open with the song “The Circle of Life” with the mandrill Rafiki (Robert Guillaume) presenting newborn Simba to the animal kingdom, who bow in reverence.
Simba’s uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons) murders Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and blames Simba for it, sending him into exile and taking over the throne. Simba forms a new family with free spirits Meerkat Timon (Nathan Lane) and Warthog Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella), who rescue him in the desert. He embraces their philosophy of “Hakuna Matata” (No Worries).
Time passes. Simba’s friend and love interest Nala (Moira Kelly) goes in search of him, and finds adult Simba (Matthew Broderick). They fall in love (“Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”) Nala tells him the Pride Lands are in ruin and everyone is starving under Scar’s reign. She urges him to return home.
Simba refuses and storms off, unable to tell Nala he “killed” Mufasa. Simba runs into Rafiki, who tells him his father’s spirit lives on in him. Simba is visited by Mufasa’s spirit, who tells him he must take his rightful place as king (the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Black Panther has this concept too, and is also from Disney Studios…hmmmm).
Unable to run anymore, Simba returns home. Timon and Pumbaa distract the hyenas so Simba can get to Scar. When Scar thinks he has Simba cornered, he confesses to murdering Mufasa. Simba pins him to the ground and forces him to confess this out loud to everyone. Like all Disney villains, Scar ends up getting what he deserves. Simba takes his rightful place as king with Nala as his queen. The last scene is of Rafiki presenting their own newborn cub.
The Broadway Version of The Lion King
In 1997, Disney brought the Lion King to Broadway. Beauty and the Beast was still going strong as a musical, so why not adapt one of their other biggest hits for the stage? Indeed.
From the very start, Lion King was getting rave reviews and selling out. It won six Tonys, including Best Musical. It is Broadway’s third-longest running show, and the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time. It made over a billion dollars. Julie Taymor became the first woman to win Best Director of a Musical.
One of the most significant differences between the Broadway version of — and the other versions of — The Lion King is the appearance of the animals.
Animation is not an option for a live theatrical Broadway performance. Instead, Julie Taymor designed elaborate costumes — most of them based on puppetry — that create not only the illusion of the animals, but the grace of their movements.
Having seen the show at least five times, I can tell you the effect is breathtaking. It is the kind of creative risk one wishes Disney would take more of.
Another significant difference is that Rafiki was changed to female, and the role is now traditionally played by a woman on stage. According to the Wikipedia, Taymor believed there was no leading female character in the film. Rafiki becomes a sort of Greek chorus in the musical. She actually leads the song, “The Circle of Life” at the top of the show.
New Lion King Songs in the Broadway Musical
Musicals are generally longer than the average Disney cartoon. So material had to be added to flesh out the show. Significant new songs included Zazu’s pun-filled “Morning Report,” Mufasa’s powerful explanation of ancestors “They Live in You,” Rafiki’s reprise to Simba about Mufasa “He Lives in You,” and Simba’s lament “Endless Night.”
Other new songs written for the musical include: “Grasslands Chant,” “The Lioness Hunt,” “Chow Down,” “Rafiki Mourns,” “One by One,” “The Madness of King Scar,” “Shadowland,” and “Simba Confronts Scar.”
Rafiki’s chants in “Rafiki Mourns” were written by Tsidii Le Loka, who originated the role on Broadway. Of course, favorites from the animated movie such as “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” remain intact.
The Lion King musical also includes new scenes:
There is a conversation between Zazu and Mufasa about his parenting. Timon nearly drowns in a waterfall while Simba watches, paralyzed. This is an event that helps remind him of who he is and the power he has. Nala departs from Scar when he tries to make her his queen in “The Madness of King Scar.” She announces her intention to leave home and find help. During new song “Shadowland”, the other lionesses and Rafiki bless her.
Of course, there were new actors playing the roles when the show debuted on Broadway. The one I felt was especially cool was Max Casella, originating the role of Timon on-stage. Those of you from my generation may remember him as Vinnie, Neil Patrick Harris’s best friend on Doogie Howser, M.D.
The Live Action Version of The Lion King
It is now 2019 and Disney has gone a little remake crazy. (Done or coming next: The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, Mulan, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid.) Then again, after seeing the promos that show the photo-realistic Circle of Life sequence, a live action Lion King kind of feels irresistible.
I should start off by saying “live action” is a misnomer. Even though we’re all using this expression, the animals are actually computer generated animation.
A few things the new Lion King has in common with the original: James Earl Jones is again the voice of Mufasa (as well he should be). And Rafiki is male again.
Like the Broadway version, the new movie includes The Tokens’ classic pop song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” The Broadway song, “He Lives In You” is also represented. “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” are, of course, highlights of the film.
The movie also boasts a few new songs. Beyonce contributed a song called “Spirit” and Elton John wrote a new song called “Never Too Late” — which plays over the credits.
Chiwetel Ejiofor’s new version of “Be Prepared” is reported to be toothless compared to the original Jeremy Irons version. Which is ironic, because his version of Scar is angrier and scarier, according to reviews. He even fought Mufasa for the crown and lost: a new addition to the villain’s back story.
The visuals in the new movie are beautiful. This is constant across all versions of The Lion King. The sets on Broadway are amazing. The look of the original animated film is still dazzling. (If they ever do another IMAX re-release or even just a theatrical re-release, I highly recommend it.)
According to critics, the new movie fails in two key areas:
One is that by making the film photo-realistic, the characters and the world are now bound by the constraints of reality. For instance, you can’t have a massive animal pile-up at the climax of “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” or an army of hyenas during “Be Prepared.”
The 1994 film wasn’t bound by such constraints. The Broadway musical gets around this by using a combination of inventive costumes and set pieces, stage magic, and the participation of the audience. When you’re watching a play, you fill in things with your own imagination. You’re an active participant in the process.
When you watch a movie, you’re more passive. You don’t get to co-create the experience with the filmmaker.
The second flaw with the new movie is the limited range of expression the animals have. Again, this is a problem with setting the movie in a photo-realistic world. In animation and theater, you can get away with going over the top. In theater, you have to play to the back row. However, to accurately portray how an animal looks, you can’t exaggerate its features.
And Timon and Pumbaa?
The good news is that Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) steal the show here (as they do in pretty much every version). Some critics claim they’re even more fun in this version than in the original.
Don’t forget to bring the RunPee app to The Lion King
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