What is the best all-time series franchise?

harry-potter sorcerers stone
It started well and kept getting better. Congratulations, Harry!

So many movie franchises, so little time. While it’s easy for producers to add yet another movie to any long-running series, it’s not so easy to have every one of them qualify as good, quality films. And in some series, all are decent, but none are outstanding. How to decide who gets the top spot for film series narratives where everything is both above average and don’t contain a clunker?

Definition: What’s a movie franchise?

We figure anything beyond a trilogy counts as a true series. Also, I’m looking at stories with an element — any element — of cannon material.

We fudged a few times here. Riddick only makes four films by including Dark Fury, an animated but CANNON inclusion to the series. The Matrix (at least through now, since a 4th movie has been recently announced, but hasn’t been filmed) has an entire cannon series of Animatrix anime. We’re going to take a leap and include those.

So, we’ve decided we have to draw a line somewhere, since linear story-telling material in so many series are all over the map.

Here we go: Soft Reboots are included…Hard Reboots are not. In other words, if the series nods to any previous incarnations and characters, that’s a Soft Reboot (ie – the Kelvin Timeline in Star Trek that refers to our Classic Timeline and has Old Spock and New Spock as continuous characters), but Hard Reboots are out (removing something like Evil Dead from the equation, for example, since the new version goes back to the beginning and erases the entire previous trilogy).

James Bond films are tough that way, and might be based on who was Bond when. Probably. We’re mulling over whether each Bond series has any connective tissue to the last. But clearly with each Batman version, it’s a Hard Reboot from the ones that follow. Which makes detangling DC an issue.

Note: We can’t say we’ve covered every series out there, especially those in the horror genre, which can malinger like old laundry. We see a lot of movies, but aren’t superheroes here. Let me know what I left out in the comment section below. 

Interesting “leading” actors note:

Vin Diesel, Harrison Ford, The Arnold, and Sylvester Stallone each have two entire lead role franchises on this list. Wow! We could possibly, maybe, conceivably, say so do Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, but those are “starring” roles in large ensemble films, instead of clear leads.

What do you think? We aren’t sure where to draw the line on this, so feel free to chime in to the comments with your opinions. We realize people can get worked up about their favorite movie series, and we want to hear all about it!

So, let’s get to it. Here are the franchises we’re looking at, and our personal, very opinionated comments as we go.

  • Aliens — Pure disaster from 2 onward. What not to do. ARGHHHH. So much original goodness, so, so wasted. After the first and the sequel, which ROCKED, we can’t recommend anything else. And they keep on trying…to no avail.
  • Terminator —  None actually suck, but it’s very uneven. A good effort. Also, with all the timelines, working out what is a Soft Reboot vs Hard Reboot is problematic. This would have been worth consideration as a winner, especially with the new Dark Fate offering, if Genisys wasn’t so damned dumb.
  • Predator —  All of them are rather good, if you don’t throw the Aliens vs Predators into the mix. That 2nd AvP is one of the worst movies I have ever sat through. And, to be honest, I don’t like Predator 2 much at all either, except for the fun spaceship ending. It felt like a gangster film and was not very sci fi. Bummer.
  • Resident Evil — Jeez. Past the first, are any good? There are six live action films to date, and a few animated ones. Did you realize six movies even happened? I remember really liking the first one a whole lot, with the brand new Alice and Raccoon City. Then the Resident Evils seemed to blend into a massive zombie mess, and can’t recall anything important, except for a cool scene with a motorcycle crashing through a church stained glass window. Which movie was that? I sure don’t know. Oh, wait, and didn’t one film have the remnants of humanity in Alaska? I really tried to keep up…
  • Harry Potter — Most consistently above par as a series. Each one is great-to-excellent. Probably the All_Over_Series Champion for this article’s purposes. So far, the Fantastic Beasts films are pulling it down a little, but not by much. None of these suck. The first two are juvenile….because the intention is that the audience will grow up with the series.  And the juvenile ones even knock my socks off, by introducing a magical ambiance and the firm foundation of a wizarding wish fulfillment fantasy. You know you want to get an acceptance letter to Hogwarts too. Don’t deny it. 😉
  • Twilight — Oooo boy. Best case: they are consistent…consistently bland. Next…
  • Star Wars. Yikes. It’s really too bad how uneven this series is. Even if you love the prequels, you’ll argue about the new films. No one agrees here with any of this. It’s really too bad. How did this happen?
  • Star Trek / original and Abrams — More yikes. Do you prefer Kirk or Picard? And which Kirk do you prefer? It doesn’t really matter, since each series has some great highs and some low, low, lows. Somehow, each movie manages to keep the continuity going (the Kelvin Timeline of JJ Abrams is a borderline Soft Reboot because of the alternate timeline including Old Spock). But the classic Kirk stories have their greats (Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home) and their losers (The Motion Picture, The Final Frontier). And the Patrick Stewart efforts are also up and down (Great: First Contact, Awful: Nemesis). I’m not going to argue about Nu-Trek. The big issue: no matter how you slice it, none of the parts of the series are consistent enough to come close to winning this prize. Sorry, Trek fans.
  • Indiana Jones — Sigh. Yep, uneven…I doubt I need to elaborate. Honestly, I only love the original. The rest are good-to-poor in execution. And it’s not Harrison Ford’s fault. I don’t know what happened with such a great premise.
  • MCU — Sooooo close to perfection. None are bad. The Hulk isn’t exactly good (it gets by with a ‘fair’). We think after the Harry Potter series, this is the Runner-Up Winner in terms of being consistently excellent. One could say the MCU should win by default, however, since after a WHOPPING 23 films, they are almost uniformly excellent. Should we allow one ‘fair’ Hulk film to drag this amazing feat down? (This Hulk was definitely better than the Ang Lee Hulk, which is frankly unwatchable). Seriously, none of these films are bad. But not all of them rank as good. This is a toughie. Also, Agents of SHIELD, Peggy Carter, and a few other one-offs with good material count as cannon. (Not sure if Thor’s adventures with his roommate Darryl count, but I don’t see why not. It’s even a trilogy in itself!)
  • X-Men/Wolverine/Deadpool — Part of the fun here is even the characters don’t know what is or isn’t cannon. Personally, I think this is an example of Marvel working out the bugs in making a contiguous franchise. Even their most recent X-Men movie this summer shows how awfully bad things can get when the writing isn’t planned well. I’m as confused as Wade Wilson when it comes to the X-Men.
  • DCEU — OH DEAR GODS. I’m going to just disqualify the DC universe until they figure out what the heck they’re doing. Some of it is cannon. Some are quite enjoyable (for me: only Wonder Woman and Shazam). Some of the DC films are hard reboots and some are soft reboots, and some suck no matter how you slice them.  Even after the successful new Joker film, I think they still don’t know what they’re doing. I hope James Gunn’s Suicide Squad 2 will be great, but even that is supposed to be a soft reboot. Will Birds of Prey fit in? Do we even care?
  • LOTR/Hobbit — It’s really too bad about that last Hobbit film. Our trips to Middle Earth could have swept all the wins. Battle of Five Armies was just awful. Damn.
  • Lego Movies — These are almost all pretty good. But the Ninjago one isn’t worthwhile. Sorry, Lego fans. Alllmost. It’s too bad. The other three are excellent. One clunker ruins the score.
  • Men In Black — Only the original is GREAT. The other three are…fine. Even the new one is…no better than fine. My personal ranking is 1, 3, 4, and then 2. Pass.
  • Toy Story —  Quite good as a series. 2 is kind of a clunker and brings the series down, which is too bad. This is almost a winner.
  • Shrek — Do you know there are four Shrek films out there? Me neither. And that boots this off the list. Sorry, Mike Myers. Were the last direct-to-video? I have no idea where this went.
  • Despicable Me + Minions — A fairly even series, I’ll grant it that, and a lot of fun. Not one is a clunker. But if Despicable Me wins this contest, I may have to eat someone, like a random Grip or Best Boy or Foley Artist…please, don’t make me do this. Cute, cute, cute. But seriously amazing storytelling? This might be a runner up. Seriously, for being a silly premise, this is kind of a winner. Banana!
  • The Matrix — The first movie redefined action movies. On the DVD box set there’s an option to watch the movie while three movie critics (yes, movie critics) commentate on the movie — how brave of the directors! One of the critics commented: “I realized while watching this movie that I was witnessing a watershed moment.” Then the other two movies came out — Reloaded and Revolutions — a few years later, to less than critical acclaim. As a huge Matrix fan, I didn’t know what to think, but upon rewatching, and rewatching, I understand that the story couldn’t have been better. Even the universally panned Burly Brawl fight scene in Revolutions served an important plot point than few people understand. (There’s a reason the fight went on, and on, and on.) Between Reloaded and Revolutions, we had the collection of animations –in the Animatrix. While it’s probably only appealing to uber-fans, the stories are all entertaining and are artfully done. Well worth watching, and they help fill in much of the back story, and even introduce a character who later shows up in Revolutions.
  • Riddick — All are good. Two are great. But having only half be amazing isn’t enough to win the franchise prize.
  • The Monster U/Godzilla — This series is ongoing, so the jury is still out until we see King Kong vs Godzilla. So far, the series is enjoyable, but far from great. I remember thinking during the first Godzilla movie that there wasn’t nearly enough Godzilla. Mostly, watching any of these movies just makes me crave watching Pacific Rim again.
  • Mission Impossible — Most of these mush together in my head. I can recall it around the stunts…as in, “This is the one where Tom Cruise does a Halo Jump.” Some of these are really very good, and some (early on, mainly) are mediocre.
  • Fast & Furious/H&S — None of these are bad, but it’s a pretty uneven series. Like with Mission Impossible, it gets better as it goes, and I remember them by stunts (“This is the one Vin Diesel flew a car between skyscapers in Abu Dhabi…”).
  • Rocky/Creed — The first movie was pretty amazing, and I don’t usually like fight plots. But then each following film focused more on fighting and less on story. Things got mediocre fast, even with the Creed films bolstering the narrative.
  • Rambo — I hate to say this, but I’ve never watched a single Rambo film. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.
  • Jaws — HA!  The first two have some decent continuity and are worth viewing…but then things dwindle fast. Do you know how many Jaws movies there are? (Hint: officially, 4. But with the ‘bad shark franchise’ being so fat and happy, you’d think there were more.)
  • Bond — Very uneven, if you look at all the Bonds in all the years. Some Bonds are more consistent than others. But since each one is a Hard Reboot, this makes it hard to grade. I don’t think any new Bond character acknowledges a prior Bond storyline. But I might be wrong. If you have some thoughts, share them in the comment section. I’d love to know if any Bonds refer to prior incarnations.
  • Die Hard — Did  you realize there are five films in this series? Poor John McClane, running barefoot through glass shards every Christmas. So to speak. I love him and the original film, but  this series is still too wobbly to win the Ultimate Franchise award. A+ plus for the original. then thing get mediocre quickly.
  • Mad Max — With Fury Road, this is 4 films and thus enters our competitive list. And I hate to say this….but I have NOT seen Fury Road. (Man, I know. I suck.) Even so, I think this is a consistent series, and each one is worth a watch. But they aren’t AMAZING, no matter how you slice it. So it’s not a win, not compared to Harry Potter.
  • Hunger Games — Decently consistent, but the 3rd is sort of lame and drags the series down. It’s too bad — this really could have been a contender. All it takes is one bad movie…
  • Transformers — Let’s face it:  that any single one of these movies is watchable is a win. The best I can say about any of the Transformer movies is that they make great films to play in the background for cleaning the house.
  • Halloween — There are 11 movies in this series. The most recent brought Jamie Lee Curtis back in a true sequel (and Soft Reboot) that continues where the first film left off, discarding the rest. Thankfully. This is how to do a follow-up, and it performed very well at the box office. There are two more films on the pike to continue this narrative.
  • Jurassic Park — The original is an A+ film and Lost World was a pretty good sequel. Then we got the abyssal Jurassic III, which should be taken out behind the shed and shot. It’s that bad. It took a long time to revive the series with Jurassic World, and the 4th movie is quite charming — a great relief for dino-philes like me. The 5th film is good, not very good or great, but certainly isn’t a dog like HP 3. It’s too bad 3 happened at all: JP could have been contender. JP 3 is THAT BAD.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean — Although there are four movies in this series, the only one to be taken seriously is the first. While the original was ground-breaking and fresh, everything that followed seemed like a live-action cartoon. FAIL.
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation – All, at least in the 5 films, (American Vacation, European Vacation, Xmas Vacation, Vegas Vacation and Vacation) are watchable. None are above a B grade, however. Just because all are watchable doesn’t mean any are great.
  • The Bourne movies – There are 5 of these! But the quality is up and down. Bummer.
  • Saw, Chucky, The Conjuring Universe – I’m just not a horror fan. I’ve seen exactly zero of these films, so I can’t comment on them. We’re hoping RunPee Sis, our resident horror fan, will make her own franchise list. I do have the sense that all have a very uneven quality. Feel free to tell me what you think in the comment section below.

I don’t pretend to cover every series. I’m not that awesome. But from this list here, it’s clear who wins, and who just misses the cut.

Winner: Harry Potter (even including the 2 Fantastic Beasts films), with 10 films of good to ‘fantastic’ quality that all easily make the ‘film classics’ list. Congrats to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Newt!

Runner Up: The Marvel Cinematic Universe. I really want to give this series the win. It’s hard to have 23 movies (plus two cannon TV shows and several one-shots) all be amazing. And it’s not fair to have Hulk (and maybe Thor 2) drag the entire thing down. When they did Hulk they really didn’t have the MCU formula worked out — that was the same year as the original Iron Man, which was a long shot at best. But you know what? It created an empire that almost nothing could compete with. It’s just soooo close. MCU, we love you 3,000.

Honorable Mention: The Matrix. A lot of people just do not like the sequels, and haven’t even seen the Animatrix Collection. In fact, the sequels spawned some serious vitriol when they came out. But if you watch them now, 20 years later, and forget “all you know, and think you know”, you’ll actually enjoy what the directors have accomplished. This cinematic experience is really very deep, and the quality can’t be argued against. We only hope the previously announced four-quel will add to the story (unlike the new Men In Black: International).

Honorable Mention 2: Believe it of not, Despicable Me/Minions is right up there, and more consistent than the otherwise beloved Toy Story series. I’m shocked too.

Do you agree or hate my assessments? Comment below. I promise I’ll respond with respect. This is what makes films fun. 

Top 5 Whodunnits in Film

After months of positive buzz, Rian Johnson’s mystery Knives Out is finally being released.  It features an all-star cast with Daniel Craig playing the detective, and Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, and Jamie Lee Curtis among the suspects.  In case this new release whets your appetite for a good mystery, here’s my list of top five whodunnits.

1. Murder on the Orient Express (1974) 

This list would not be complete without a good Agatha Christie adaptation.  I wanted to to include one of the versions of Ten Little Indians/And Then There Were None but I’ve

Poirot explains it all.

never seen any of them.  I can highly recommend the novel, however.  Back to The Orient Express:  Detective Hercule Poirot is one of Albert Finney’s best roles.  And this is one of Christie’s greatest puzzles.  When a murder is committed aboard a train, a famous detective has until the train reaches its destination to solve the impossible mystery.  It’s such an irresistible story; it’s been adapted countless times, including as an American TV movie, starring Alfred Molina.  Most recently, Kenneth Branagh directed a 2017 adaptation, starring himself as Poirot.  It’s a quality production with some great performances, and it spawned an upcoming sequel I’m looking forward to.  If you’ve managed to never have this mystery spoiled for you, please seek it out at once.

2. Gosford Park 

Stephen Fry on the case.

In Robert Altman’s 2001 film, a murder occurs after a dinner party at a wealthy British estate.  Like most of Altman’s films, there is a huge ensemble cast.  The investigation is shown from both the guests’ and the servants’ perspectives.  The delightful comedian Stephen Fry plays the detective.  Julian Fellowes wrote the script.  He later created the TV show Downton Abbey, which was inspired by the film, and at one point was meant to be a sequel to it.  The movie received seven Oscar nominations.

3. Brick

Rian Johnson’s own debut film is a neo-noir, set in a high school.  After receiving a frantic phone call begging for help from his ex-girlfriend, and then finding her dead body soon afterwards, a teenage loner vows to solve her murder.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the detective this time, in one of my favorite performances of his.  This film has a twisty plot and hip dialogue full of invented slang.  The podcast Filmspotting named their annual Golden Brick award for Best Film by a new voice after this movie.

4. Clue

Was it Col. Mustard in the library with the lead pipe?

Yes, Clue is based on the board game.  I watched this movie endlessly throughout my childhood on Showtime.  Six strangers are invited to a mansion for dinner.  When the host is killed, they have to work together to solve the murder.  Tim Curry is brilliant as the butler.  There’s a lot of fun humor in this one.  How can you resist a comic mystery, with a cast that includes Christopher Lloyd, Madeline Kahn, Susan Sarandon, Michael McKean, and Martin Mull?  One of my favorite things about this movie is that it has three endings.  When the movie was released theatrically, what part of the country you lived in/watched it in determined which ending you saw.

5. The Thin Man

If you’ve never seen The Thin Man series, you’re in for a treat.  William Powell and Myrna Loy trade barbs and imbibe alcohol as retired detective Nick Charles and his wife Norah.  They are accompanied by their faithful pooch Asta.  These comic mysteries are a joy.  The chemistry between Powell and Loy is amazing.  They made several other pictures together.  The Thin Man movies always end with an old school round-up of the suspects, where they build up the suspense before finally revealing who the killer is.

Don’t miss the most suspenseful part of a movie.  Always use the RunPee app when you go to the theater.  We have the latest PeeTimes for movies like Ford v Ferrari, Midway, Charlie’s Angels, Knives Out, and more.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

 

Spoiler-iffic Review of Terminator – Dark Fate

Please don’t read this review if you haven’t seen Terminator: Dark Fate yet. You’ve now been warned.

So, I did a story where I neatly ranked every Terminator film from 1984 through 2015, and they slot themselves perfectly by year. As in the first being the best, T2 coming close on its heels…and then each one a little (or a lot) less good than the one before.

Now I have a big decision to make. Where does T6: Dark Fate (“no dark fate but what we make”) fit in? And what about that short-lived but underappreciated two season TV show, The Sarah Connor Chronicles? Now I have to rethink the whole thing. Way to mess up my ranking order, Hollywood.

Talking Dark Fate

Man, the fans loved it. Whoo-ee! Me, I like some things they did and am pissed off about the rest.

LIKED: Grace the augmented human was wonderful. She stole the movie and our hearts. Too bad this was a re-tread of the plot in Terminator: Salvation. I’ll return to this thought.

ALSO LIKED: Carl the Drapery Terminator. What does an out of work T-800 do? T2 established they can’t self-terminate. So once he fulfills his mission, the cyborg creates a family and a business, and sends encrypted messages to former nemesis Sarah. Why does he bother? He must have felt bad about things and joined the human race. Like Spike in the Buffy series, he grew his own conscience. I’m fine with this — actually, more than fine….really happy, actually. I never expected this plot pivot and find it super charming.

Arnold nailed it. The writers did good. This is a very neat turn of events, and we at RunPee would gladly watch a prequel TV show about T-Carl’s Drapery Business. Who wouldn’t?

Terminator Dark Fate - Carl
#ThereAreNoDrapesButWhatWeMake

Where Dark Fate Failed

So, yes, Mackenzie Davis as Grace was the main reason this film is so good. But having JUST watched the entire series for my ranking post, I’m annoyed that Grace, the augmented human-Terminator hybrid, is a retread of the Sam Worthington plot in T4: Salvation. T4 actually picks up quite well where T3: Rise of the Machines leaves off, with a pregnant Kate and the other remnants of humanity eeking out a post-Judgement Day life. I’m not sure why we had to have another go at an “augmented human” plot.

All I can think is Linda Hamilton wanted to return before her T-3 cannon “death” and the producers felt a soft reboot was the way to go…and — bonus — liked the idea they ran with in Salvation. So, a soft sort of re-telling had to happen to bring back Sarah. (And if you saw Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, you’d see another way to side-step this pesky issue, using time travel to just skip right over the…um…cancer.)

But, as I mentioned above, we are dealing with TIME TRAVEL in this franchise. There could have been many ways to bring Sarah back without ditching the storylines in T3 and 4. (Forget 5. That was entirely unnecessary). We could have also added Grace without ditching the 1-4 film cannon.

Although…I’m not certain at this point what’s considered cannon in this franchise anymore, or if we are to accept three or more timelines.

(REALLY,  STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN  TERMINATOR: DARK FATE.)

Hasta La Vista, John Connor?

So, there’s my main beef. John Connor. Remember him? Well, forget about everything that mattered since 1991, because he’s unceremoniously offed in the first few minutes of Dark Fate.

That’s right. John’s gone. Out of nowhere, on a lovely beach. Poof.

What was the point of making me care about everything that came before? (Yes — I’m angry.)

I guess it’s better than where they took John Connor in 2015s  T: Genisys, which insulted everything ever done before and pissed all over the fanbase…seriously, who though that was a fine idea? Does anyone even remember what happened in Genisys, even just a scant few years ago?

More Pissy Thoughts

Lastly, I was rather bored by the new, spiffy Terminator in this outing, which was a real shame, in spite of Gabriel Luna’s earnest attempts to make it work. He just wasn’t as amusing as Robert Patrick’s T-1000. The Rev-9 was…made of tar? And had a skeletal drone? Was that really the best the writers could come up with over the last decade of thinking about this?

This just should have been better and more up to date, like something using nanotechnology. Or a pure internet-based intelligence that hunts and kills using our world-spanning interconnected cyber systems, tracking you like the “God’s Eye” in the Fast & Furious franchise. (If the F&F movies could come up with something more exciting, you know there’s trouble.)

Think about it. The liquid metal special effects looked better in 1991 than the the tar special effects in 2019.

Moving on.

Dark Fate: Girl Power Version

So, some gal in Mexico steps up as the new savior. Okay. Fine already. She’s not a womb; she’s the real deal. At least the real deal-to-be.

Except Dani’s kind of boring. I can’t remember a single significant moment she had. Do you?

sarah-connor-young-linda-hamilton
Come with her if you want to live.

Sarah Connor…is back

And the long awaited return of Sarah? Of Linda Hamilton reprising the iconic role?

Well, for one thing, she needs to lay off the cigarettes, since her vocal cords are shot. And she’s really, REALLY bitter. Not that I wouldn’t be too, after running away from several Terminators, losing her lover, losing her son, getting locked down in a facility for the criminally insane, and being wanted —  apparently — in all 50 states.

Hamilton does a great job in the role, fitting easily back into her Sarah Connor persona, but it kind of hurt to see how awful life treated her character, and how little she had left to live for. She is brittle, and so, so damaged. It’s got to suck when an ex-Terminator who killed your son has a nice home, a good job and loving family, and you’re alone and on the run…with nothing but hardship and a lifetime of regrets. While the Terminator franchise depicts an apocalyptic near-future and isn’t intended to be a happy story, it’s just not fun to see characters you care about living in such pain for so long. No wonder Sarah drinks herself to sleep every night.

At least she was up to date enough on her film history to realize the first “death” of the Rev-9 was bogus. That made me smile. Linda Hamilton wasn’t married to James Cameron for nothing.

I’m going to go back to the John thing. I understand it’s cool to see a woman herself being the hope of humanity vs a just another Mother Mary, but there really was no need to off poor John. It actually makes me angry that I cared about the series at all. It retroactively makes the first two wonderful Terminator movies pointless.

So, I had to see Dark Fate again

I saw Dark Fate twice to see if I’m just being too picky about all this. Well…the answer is no. I’m not. Right now I feel betrayed, like I did with Aliens 3, when they unceremoniously killed off Newt and Hicks. That STILL bothers me, and I can’t really appreciate this new Terminator entry until I come to terms with what they’ve done.

I’ll say this: Dark Fate is probably the third best Terminator film, but not as good as the Terminator TV series. Damning with faint praise?

It seems like it, but honestly, in spite of my annoyance, Dark Fate really is a good movie.

dark-fate-grace
Strictly human or not, she kicked some serious machine butt.

Judgement Day: Now What?

One final thing. It does seem the Terminator franchise posits that we’re going to have an AI apocalypse, in any possible timeline, no matter how we try to prevent it. Skynet, Cyberdyne, Legion, Google, whatever. As Thanos would say: Judgement Day is… inevitable.

Chew on that.

Movie Grade: B+

Ranking the Terminator Movies

Official Movie Review – Terminator: Dark Fate

Movie Review – The Terminator

Terminator TV Series: The Carlenator

In Defense of Terminator 3

 

 

The 5 Best and Worst Films of Tom Hanks

A Beautiful Day in the NeighbourhoodThere’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.

1. Philadelphia

PhiladelphiaTom 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

The Green  MileEveryone 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.

4. Big

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 Shazam.)  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

Cast AwayHanks 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

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.

2. Punchline

PunchlineWho 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

The Da Vinci CodeOne 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

The LadykillersThis 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

Cloud AtlasWhat 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.”)

Don’t miss the best parts of your favorite movies.  Use the RunPee app every time you go to the movie theater.  We add new movies weekly.  And we always have the latest Peetimes for movies such as Midway, Doctor Sleep, Playing With Fire, and many more.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

Virgin Movie Review – Sully

Movie review: Cloud Atlas

A Happy Shazam Review – A delightful time in the DC universe (for once)

 

The Essential Kristen Stewart – Her Best Films

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.

Panic Room

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).

Speak

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.

New Moon

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.

Adventureland

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.

The Runaways

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.

Still Alice

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.

American Ultra

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.

 

Personal Shopper

 

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.

Don’t miss your favorite actress in her best scenes.  Get the RunPee app and you’ll never miss the good parts of a movie again.  We always have Peetimes for the hottest movies including Terminator: Dark Fate, Zombieland: Double Tap, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, and Joker.  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.

 

Movie Review – Charlie’s Angels

Ranking the Terminator Movies

sarah-connor-young-linda-hamilton
No fate but what we make. (Man, does Linda Hamilton look young!)

Well, cool, I just rewatched the entire run of Terminator movies and realized it will be easier to rank them in order of greatness than I thought. For each movie (I’ll get to the TV show later), the best to worst go in order of first to last created. That made it easy!  How often does that happen? Here we go, and YES THERE ARE TERMINATOR SPOILERS through Genisys, but not through Dark Fate:

The Terminator Movies, ranked from best movie to worst:

    1. The Original movie (1984) — I realize that T2: Judgment Day is most people’s favorite Terminator outing, but for me it lacks the excitement and character building — and pure 80s fun — of the classic first time. Here’s my enthusiastic rewatch review of the classic film where Arnold first promised he’d “be back.”
    2. T2: Judgment Day (1991) — Although I wasn’t fond of the young John Connor portrayal, this was the movie that made me ugly cry when Sarah was about to shoot Miles Dyson, before backing off when realizing he was a good man. I was glad she couldn’t do it. When Dyson sacrificed himself, I kept on crying. There’s a lot of humor in T2 (some of it a bit silly), and it’s a very exciting sequel. There’s still just nothing like the first thrill ride in 1984. Linda Hamilton and Arnold really sold Judgment Day, but the whole Hasta La Vista attitude and focus on a young John trying to teach an AI to be ‘cute’ was…well… a bit too cute. This wasn’t as thoughtful as the original, and the move of focus from Sarah/Kyle to a juvenile delinquent John was less gripping. I’m not sure why T2 is most people’s favorite, but feel free to tell me why I’m wrong in the comments below.
    3. T3: Rise of the Machines (2003) — I remember thinking this wasn’t as cool as the first two, but I think it was the lack of Linda Hamilton here, back in the early millennium. In my recent watch (all of them in one week, right after another), I now realize a few things: this is the best John Connor portrayal ever (TV show aside), Claire Danes was just lovely in the part, Arnold did a fine job in his three-quel, and the story ended up with an actual Judgment Day. All good stuff, as Golden Man wrote in his Defense of T3. If Hamilton had to bow out, I’m not going to complain about going after John’s best soldiers. My main problem is with the female Terminator. She was…fine. Not awesome, like Robert Patrick in T2. I’d have loved to see some of the sneaky wry moments Patrick imbued his T-1000 with. And he was a LOT scarier. Kristanna Loken as the third Terminator was frankly a bit dull. Sure, it was cool to have a female Terminator, but Summer Glau, in the Terminator TV series, showed that we could have had a lot more. Still, T3 felt like a Terminator film.
    4. T4: Salvation (2009) — I liked Salvation but it didn’t FEEL like the previous movies. There were nods to the previous films, but the tone was off. I think they should have added a half hour of character development & ensemble moments (like in Aliens, as a perfect example), added some more humor. It would have been just lovely. Another issue: it almost looked like T4 was filmed in black and white, which didn’t work for me. Everything was washed out or too dim. And a lot of great actors amassed for T4 were kind of wasted. For example: why get someone like Michael Ironside if you don’t write him some good lines? No wonder he didn’t even try to make anything of his part. I liked the film, I liked it….it just should have been a lot better. It did pick up with the character Kate from T3, which I appreciated, but most of the character writing felt lazy. One thing that does stand out now was how sad it to see a super young Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese. I didn’t realize he was in Salvation. Awwww. 🙁  Yelchin did do a nice job coming across as a young scared-but-resolute soldier who John needed to train up. I could see the producers were going for a Terminator/Aliens/Matrix look, but it really didn’t go beyond moments of homage to better material.
    5. T5: Genisys (2015)  Well, this one hits the bottom of the Terminator barrel. I didn’t hate it, or even dislike it, but I can’t say it was good. I’m not sure it fit within the timeline cannon the others all followed so nicely, Dyson dad and son revisititations aside. And where was Kate, John’s wife? Going back to another timeline to follow Han Solo’s girlfriend was fine (ha! I only understand this reference from my re-watch), and ‘Pops’ was cool and all, but what the writers did with John Connor was inexcusable. Hello, WTF? The John actor didn’t look right, didn’t act the part, and his existence as a Terminator was a kick in the gut to anyone who cared about the franchise. I didn’t enjoy this one at all, although it wasn’t a ‘bad’ movie. It just didn’t sit well and made me a little angry. What were the writers thinking, crapping on the John Connor character? This was a misfire on so many levels, even though Arnold and Co gave it a good shot. Like I said, this wasn’t a bad sci fi film, and it was an okay “alternate timeline” for Sarah Connor, but it was too moody and…well, weird. I really hope the soft reboot of Terminator: Dark Fate returns to the adventurous tone and epic storytelling we saw in T1 and T2. 

Bonus extra: The TV Show: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008-09) —

The TV show used an alternate timeline, with yet other Sarah and John actors, but was so damn great that it was a joy to watch as a serialized story on TV. Summer Glau made a wonderful Terminator. I wasn’t thrilled with Lena Headley’s Sarah, but everyone else knocked my socks off, and I was very excited to see how the narrative would progress.

Unfortunately, we never got to see that. When it was cancelled, I was sad. Not as sad, mind you, as when Firefly (another Summer Glau show) was cast aside before its time, but still a bit adrift. I wish I’d known where the John Henry/Cromartie story was headed…and what the final trip to the future was about, and where the loyalties of Shirley Manson’s Terminator were leading us…but we’ll never know.

So how to rank the TV show?

Honestly, it had so much potential. I’d rank it after T2, personally, although it really only got exciting in the second season and left us hanging for the third. I’d watch it again, absolutely. At least this time I’d be prepared for the looming permanent hiatus status, and could appreciate what we did get.

Terminator: Dark Fate Well, howdy ho; I’m excited. I’ll be seeing this one shortly, and understand the story picks up right after T2, creating cannon waste to everything that came after 1991. I’m okay with this, since Sarah, in the timeline from T3 and on, is dead.

And now what?

I won’t hide that I dislike reboots in general (Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica aside), but if Linda Hamilton and Arnold himself are co-signing this new edition, I’m totally on-board. Where it will fit in the overall rankings remains to be seen. Soon, soon…

A bit older, a lot wiser.

What is your ranking of the Terminator franchise?

Best Zombie Movies Ever

Twinkies not included.

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.

“Are you down with the sickness?”

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.

Body Snatchers

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.

World War Z

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.

Iggy Pop as a zombie. You’re welcome.

The Dead Don’t Die

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.

Don’t miss the funniest and scariest parts of your favorite movies.  Always use the RunPee app when you go to the movie theater.  We always have Peetimes for the latest movies including Joker and It: Chapter Two.  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/.

Movie Review – The Dead Don’t Die

Warm Bodies – movie review

Movie Review – World War Z

The Essential Will Smith

 

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.)

Bad Boys

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.

Independence Day

Man, I miss 1996!

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 

Don’t look at this or they’ll flashy-thing you.

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.

Ali

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.

Focus

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.

Concussion

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.

Suicide Squad

Deadshot putting up with Harley.

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.

Aladdin

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.

Don’t miss the best parts of Gemini Man or any of your other favorite movies.  Always use the RunPee app to get Peetimes for the latest movies like Ad Astra, Joker, and the upcoming Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RunPee/).

 

 

X-Men Movies That Were Never Made

 

dark phoenix xmen
Probably not the last X-Men movie, but it’s up to the studios.

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.

x-men gambit
We’re really waiting for Gambit’s movie.

Gambit

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).

Beast spinoff

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 deadpool
Deadpool says X-Force is a great name, since it’s gender neutral.

X-Force

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.

What’s your superpower?  Ours is never missing the good parts of a movie.  Make sure to take the RunPee app with you every time you go to the movies.  We always have Peetimes for the latest movies including Spider-Man: Far From Home and IT: Chapter Two.  And you can stay up to date with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/RunPee/

Movie Review – X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Every X-Men Film Explained

X-Men: Apocalypse (movie review)

X-Men: Days of Future Past – movie review

Movie review : X-Men First Class

 

 

 

Top 5 Space Travel Movies

 

gravity with sandra bullock and george clooney
Gravity, or lack thereof.

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.

4. Interstellar

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.

3. Gravity

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 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…]

Honorable Mentions

The Martian

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.]

October Sky

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.

Hidden Figures

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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Movie Review – Ad Astra

Movie Review – Hidden Figures

Movie Review – First Man