“The Avengers Will Assemble!”

Thor teaserAnd no matter what anyone tells you, that is the cold hard fact of this film. As the second to last place setting for next summer’s ‘Avengers’ superhero team-up flick, ‘Thor’ does nicely.

Much in the style of ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ (Damn, I hate that sub-title), the story touches greatly upon the mythos of the title character (obviously more deeply based in Norse mythology) and updates it accordingly. Luckily in this case, for all the simplicity in the story development and character set-up, Kenneth Branagh was at the helm and worked the proper amount of development into both the story and the primary characters.

The script, obviously having a major mythic back-story to draw from, mixing it with the established comic lore and then adding the S.H.I.E.L.D. element and place setting actually moves fairly well. Yes, there are a few slower parts, but this is Norse mythology directed by Kenneth Branagh and it ain’t all gonna’ be on rocket propelled roller-skates. However, this is a Marvel comic book film directed by Kenneth Branagh and you can’t really go wrong.
Donald Blake and his girlWith cast members such as Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman you expect a good turn and you certainly get it. A few of the characters are a bit cardboard but the actors do well to keep them believable. Chris Hemsworth fits quite well behind the hammer, playing both sides of the egotistical God of Thunder as well as anyone could play an egotistical God of Thunder. If there was one complaint, much like a Skywalker turned Vader in Episode III, the turn from one side to the other as Thor makes his heroic choice was a bit rushed. Obviously, the clock was ticking and the story needed to move into Act III, but…
Father and SonsAs a place setting for the forthcoming ‘Avengers’ (and if you saw the post end credits teaser scene, a great unknown lead in for Captain America) this film performs and does so far better than Iron Man 2 (whose exit teaser was a place setting for this film). As a stand alone film about Marvel’s Thunder God, it exceeds expectations.

Not quite Comic Book epic, but definitely taking you for the ride. Bring popcorn and no bathroom breaks.

4 Stars

Avengers… ASSEMBLE! Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Avengers European posterFifty years ago, that simple phrase ushered in a vision of comic book excitement and sheer imagination. And let there be no doubt, this film lives up to The Avengers storied past.

With a brisk pace, compelling character plot and backed by a motivating Alan Silvestri score, The Avengers is an excellent ‘movie’. It meets the requirements of a Saturday matinée popcorn flick, an action movie and a damned epic comic book film. The dialogue stays fresh while mixing comic relief, drama and Steve Rogers’ archaic sense of civility. Joss Whedon and his staff did a fantastic job of sharing the ‘heavy lifting’ between characters while remaining true to Stan Lee’s original visions.
Loki DemandsMarvel’s answer to DC’s Justice League of America, The Avengers took several of the comic line’s mid-level characters and created Marvel’s first true “Super-Team”. With the Silver-Age revival of Captain America in issue number 4, the Avengers never looked back. This film, the culmination of plot bits and end of credit scenes from Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America (I still don’t get why people left during the credits… ) we finally get the epic telling of Marvel’s most elite team. Sure, many in the comic world will debate who really comprises the best incarnation of Avengers (as they will X-Men), but this assemblage of heroes is it. It harkens back to the Silver Age while keeping a purely modern feel (which propelled Iron Man from background character to comic media sensation in his debut film) for the characters, the story and the idea that such fantasy could indeed seem so real.
Assembly RequiredBelieve me, this is the film that will dictate the future of the comic book film industry… and it is the film that has to make Warner Bros./DC stand-up and take note. Easily the second greatest comic book film of all time, Avengers mixes its comic lore against The Dark Knight’s gritty realism. Marvel, who for years plodded in a non media landscape and survived bankruptcy to give us the Blade Trilogy, Spider-Man, Iron Man only to score the slaughter in 2011 (perhaps thanks to their purchase by Disney) with such summer blockbusters as X-Men: First Class, Thor and Captain America have reached a definite new level of epic storytelling with The Avengers.

The TrioAnd let’s not forget, we still have Iron Man 3, a Captain America sequel and a Thor sequel before we get to the next installment of The Avengers and their previewed antagonist, Thanos (who makes a showing in the surprise hit Guardians of the Galaxy to delay his Infinity Gauntlet appearance, aka Avengers 3 & 4).
ShwarmaReaching comic book epic, grab the popcorn and snow-caps and absolutely no bathroom breaks. And yes, you’ll be seeing it at least twice in the theatres.

5 Stars

Another Iron Man Movie… Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3 teaserTo me, this film seemed to have even less to do with the original Iron Man (and the best film of the ‘trilogy’) than Iron Man 2 which barely achieved place mat status. It certainly didn’t do anything to advance the saga of Tony Stark nor did it add a sense of closure or continuity to the recent Avengers storyline. It did however do much more in destroying Pepper Potts as a credible character.

As most Shane Black movies go, it involved Christmas… no wait, that’s not fair. It involved things that get shot and blow-up at Christmas. Making a useless involvement of AIM, the Hydra-esque secret agency which could have been easily folded into the ongoing Marvel film or Television universe, the plot just sank. If the point of the movie was that Stark can survive through his wits, sarcasm and ingenuity, well we established that in the first movie, it’s why he’s Iron Man. Since there are no plans to extend Iron Man into Phase Two or Phase Three in his own solo adventure, let’s hope his involvement in the expanding Avengers universe fares far better than this.
Kingsley MandarinDefinitely a wasted effort for the reliable Downey Jr. in follow-up to the masterful first Avengers film but a total fail for the awesome effort of Sir Ben Kingsley who stole a portion of the film (I can only hope he will return to the Marvel Universe in a future film).

Bring popcorn but a break is allowed.

3 Stars

5 of the Greatest Batman Animated Films

From: Wall Street Cheat Sheet

There’s little to no question that the most recent Batman trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan has become the new standard to which all future titles will be compared. They acted as the perfect trifecta achieving financial success (Boxofficemojo.com lists combined domestic profits of the trilogy well over one billion dollars), critical success (the lowest metascore from Metacritic.com was a 70), and popular success, with an audience approval rating of 94% on rottentomatoes.com for both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. And while these films stand as the flagships of the franchise, they’re not the only full-length features that deserve praise.

 

The feature-length animated films of the Caped Crusader deserve — and have received — equal acclaim. It may be easy to dismiss these as “kids’ stuff,” but it would be doing them a huge disservice as they share many of the great qualities found in the Nolan films; brilliant visuals, immersive environments, and rich storytelling pedigree that can trace its roots back to some of the most famous Batman comics ever penned and inked. The sheer number of Batman animated features made choosing where to start a daunting task to undertake. So to make things easier, here are five of what are, arguably, the greatest Batman animated movies of all time.

5. Batman: Year One

Year OneIt may seem cliche to start with the beginning but cliches exist for a reason. Batman: Year One chronicles the first year Bruce Wayne transforms into the Batman and it does it in a very straightforward way, mirroring the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller. Miller is known for his very dark take on comics, with Sin City and 300 being terrific examples. Batman: Year One even helped inspire Christopher Nolan’s well-received dark take on the Batman franchise.

The similarities between Nolan’s Batman Begins and Miller’s Batman: Year One are numerous but that doesn’t mean this animated film is lacking in new content that fans of Nolan’s Batman are not already familiar with. Year One delves further into Miller’s classic comic by accurately following the original content rather than just drawing inspiration from it. Viewers are given the treat of seeing the comic come to life in the most precise portrayal possible.

 

The idea of Bruce Wayne being new to the crime fighting game is driven home time and time again as Bruce chastises himself for being an amateur — a lucky amateur. On top of getting this unique view of a less confident hero, audiences also get to enjoy the rise of a detective who one day becomes the staple and reliable, Commissioner Gordon, wonderfully voiced by Bryan Cranston. The film is just as much about the growth of Bruce Wayne as it is James Gordon, making it a must-see for anyone interested in the history of the Dark Knight and the honorable Commissioner. Not to mention that the action sequences are all top-notch.

~Personally, I would have moved this one up the list a bit.  It follows the Comic as closely as stated above and that wins points in a DC Animated Universe that often ‘borrows’ from the stories, but doesn’t duplicate them in full.~

4. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

Return of the JokerIn the spirit of anachronism, next up on the list is Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, a full-length feature inspired by the animated series depicting the future generation of crime fighting. If the previous item focused on Batman’s first day on the job, this one depicts his retirement. Making the decision that he is too old to safely and productively patrol the streets of Gotham, Bruce Wayne decides to end his career as Batman. Twenty years pass until various chance situations result in 17-year-old Terry McGinnis taking up the mantle of Batman with an ancient Bruce Wayne as his mentor.

 

By focusing on Batman’s nemesis, the Joker, this film was able to delve into the popular history of the Batman franchise while telling a new story and maintaining its unique universe all at the same time. It was the best of both worlds; everything that was right with the Batman Beyond series combined with the staple characters and fascinating events of the Batman universe that fans know and love. Bruce Wayne being voiced by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill voicing the Joker was practically all the movie needed to scratch that nostalgia itch that kept so many people from enjoying the Batman Beyond TV series.

~This would have moved up my list as well for the simple reason of it’s gritty story telling.  The fall-out of the Joker’s misdeeds is much more realistic as told here. If you have the opportunity, view the ‘uncut’ version as it depicts a disturbing torture scene not often seen in WB animation.~

3. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Mask of the PhantasmIf there should be considered one true voice of Batman, it should be Kevin Conroy, the man who has voiced Batman since 1992 with the debut of Batman: The Animated Series. And Mask of the Phantasm marks Conroy’s first of what would be many times voicing Batman in a feature-length movie.

 

This film was commissioned after the very first season of Batman: The Animated Series, and it really shows; it drips in the style and soul that made the television series so wonderful. Gotham is amazing, portrayed with the signature art deco style from the animated series that helped distance itself from the campy Adam West Batman of the 1960s. That distance further increases with Conroy’s portrayal of Batman; a perfect blend of foreboding and heroic. The Batman seen in Mask of the Phantasm is a darker version that today’s fans are probably used to, but he is still the voice of moral guidance throughout the story, which makes him the hero every kid could look up to.

 

It’s easy to assume that kids were the target audience of this film, but there are plenty of mature themes that run throughout. Writers did something that had yet to be done in the television show by delving into the romantic life of Bruce Wayne. What’s even better is that this is done in a productive way that ties into Batman’s own origin story. If the added romance wasn’t enough, the film also contains multiple flashbacks that are reminiscent of Citizen Kane. It has since been revealed in Les Daniels’ Batman: The Complete History, that this was intentional.

 

There’s no denying that an entire generation, when asked about Batman, will hear Kevin Conroy’s voice, see the art deco Gotham skyline dotted with dirigibles, and feel the hair stand up on the back of their necks at the thought of Mark Hamill’s Joker. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is not only a terrific movie, but acts as a testament to one of the most memorable eras of the Batman mythos.

~Having seen this one in the theatre on it’s initial release, it easily would have vied for the Number One or Two position on the list.  It set a new standard for the Animated Series, which already had raised the bar all on it’s own.~ 

2. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 and Part 2

TDKRThe writers of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm went out of their way to take a cartoon aimed at children and added a story line and themes that could be appreciated by adults as well. The creators of The Dark Knight Returns may not have ever even heard of children before. Based on Frank Miller’s 1986 comic book, the animated adaption is dark, violent, and incredibly mature. Though not really over-the-top in terms of what our society is used to violence-wise (it’s given a PG-13 rating by the MPAA), the film and depiction of Batman is definitely the most aggressive on this list.

 

Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment stay very true to Frank Miller’s comic in this animated movie adaption both in terms of plot and overarching themes. Anyone who was pulled in by Christopher Nolan’s darker take on the Batman universe will respond positively to this portrayal of the Dark Knight as well. Miller practically pioneered the dark tone for Batman, so much so that he’s been quoted as saying in an interview with Playboy that “[Nolan] seems to think he owns the title Dark Knight. [laughs] He’s about 20 years too late for that. It’s been used.”

 

Being “dark” isn’t the only draw Batman: The Dark Knight Returns has. The film tells tales that are relatively unknown to most movie-going audiences. Imagine that instead of taking on mentee Terry McGennis (mentioned before in Batman Beyond), Bruce decided to take things into his own hands and come out of retirement. Cleaning up a newly plagued Gotham, viewers are able to see what Batman has to do in order to make up for his age and resulting ailments. These new problems require new and sometimes unsettling solutions that fans aren’t used to seeing, but should find interesting all the same.

 

On top of the stories being new to people, they’re also huge in scale. There is a great sense of finality for Bruce and his relationships with many long-standing characters and super villains from the Batman universe. This animated feature even portrays one of Batman’s greatest challenges of all; going head-to-head with Superman, a clash that looks to have heavily influenced the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

 

The combination of new hurdles, dark tone, and climactic battles makes Batman: The Dark Knight Returns a must-see for anyone wanting to see Batman really let loose and do what needs to be done.

~I agree, this one, like Miller’s ‘Year One’, stays fairly true to the source material.  I may have dropped it down a peg out of the top two, but definitely on the list.~

1. Batman: Under the Red Hood

Under The Red HoodAll of the films on this list got here because they are loved by both fans and critics. They’re held in such regard for a multitude of reasons that include voice acting, animation quality, story line, and theme. Every movie on this list achieves some level of success in every one of the aforementioned categories, but Batman: Under the Red Hood might just do it better than all of them.

 

Neil Patrick Harris and John DiMaggio do a terrific job at voicing Nightwing and The Joker respectively. The latter deserves additional credit for putting such a unique spin on a character who has been portrayed in so many memorable ways over the years. John DiMaggio (best known for Bender from Futurama and Jake the Dog from Adventure Time) plays The Joker in a unique way that is every bit as good as Nicholson’s, Hamill’s, and Ledger’s portrayal of the psychotic clown.

 

Batman: Under the Red Hood employs a slightly more traditional animation style than The Dark Knight Returns in the sense that it’s reminiscent of many other DC universe TV series and movies. However, the creators managed to accomplish this without making it look dated or lazy. Everything looks beautiful while maintaining a style that DC fans have grown used to when it comes to animated movies.

 

A familiarity with the Batman pedigree is just as important, if not more so, than employing a familiar animation style. The creators of Under the Red Hood get points in this regard, too. Like others on this list, the film does an amazing job at combining important events from the Batman universe with new storytelling. Specifically by taking one of the most memorable events in comic book history, the brutal death of Robin (the Jason Todd incarnation), and exploring the long-term consequences of it. The result is something new that can be appreciated by long-time fans and newcomers alike.

 

This film is a combination of everything that makes a good animated Batman movie. Beyond just scoring top marks in “important” categories though, the film lets viewers see a much more vulnerable Batman and gives one of the best glimpses into why the hero adheres to the code he has made for himself.

~Although I can see why the writers altered the direction of the opening as compared to the original source material (which involved a larger comic universe storyline), it just doesn’t rate over ‘Mask of the Phantasm’ or ‘Year One’ for me.  It is definitely a well done piece, but maybe in the Five or Four spot for me.  Still worth seeing.~

Michael Keaton Says He’d Play Batman Again — Under One Condition

In his new film Birdman, Michael Keaton plays an aging actor living in the shadow of a past superhero role.  It would be easy to see this as Keaton’s swan song to Batman, a character he re-invented for the big screen in Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns. But Keaton says that’s not the case. In fact, he’d be willing to play Batman again – under one condition.

“If it was Tim Burton directing? In a heartbeat,” Keaton tells Entertainment Weekly in a new cover story.

Tim and his Batman

That idea of Keaton and Burton making another trip to Gotham should be enough to give Batman fans heart palpitations, however unlikely it may be. For now, Warner Bros. won’t give the cowl to anyone except Ben Affleck, who plays the Caped Crusader in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And Keaton famously bowed out of the third Batman movie when producers started asking for bigger (and broader) approach. “I hadn’t been stupid about it,” the actor told EW. “I always knew it was a big machine with a big studio and a corporation behind it. But the simple answer was, [that approach] wasn’t any good…I tried to make them understand. But when somebody says to you, ‘Does it have to be so dark?’… I thought, ‘Are we talking about the same character?’”

Bruce WayneFor Keaton, the character’s appeal lies in his dual personalities: Vigilante superhero Batman and wealthy dilettante Bruce Wayne. “Now I can say this, because for many reasons, I never allowed myself to say it at the time: It was never about Batman for me. It was always about Bruce Wayne,” Keaton tells EW.  “He’s funny! He’s screwed-up! The guy is the coolest motherf—-er in the world, and he’s messed-up!”

Despite (or perhaps because of) his personal investment in the character, Dark Dark KnightKeaton hasn’t seen Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, and has no notes or advice for Ben Affleck. But he does feel strongly that Tim Burton still “gets” the genre better than anyone else. “Tim, in movies, really invented the whole dark-superhero thing,” Keaton says. “He started everything, and some of the guys who have done these movies since then don’t say that, and they’re wrong.” 

Actors You Didn’t Know Were In Bond Movies

From Yahoo!

When it comes to the Bond movies, there’s likely very little you don’t know: everyone seemingly has the 007 actors, the Bond girls, the cars, the gadgets and the one-liners all committed to memory.

However, the cast doesn’t begin and end with Bond – it takes a wealth of actors to make a movie, and some of the bit-part players occasionally go on to find fame of their own…

Dolph Lundgren in A View To A Kill (1985)

Lundgren publicity still A view to a KillBefore he was Gunner Jensen, before he was He-Man, even before he was Ivan Drago, Dolph Lundgren was mysterious KGB henchman Venz. The mountainous Swede made his movie debut in Roger Moore’s 1985 outing as 007, although Venz didn’t have any lines and wasn’t even mentioned by name. He pointed a gun at Grace Jones when she threatens to break an agent’s back, and he appeared as a blur in the background of a few shots over someone’s shoulder, but that’s about it. Still, it set him on the path to ‘Rocky IV’ and ‘Expendables’ infamy, so Venz secured his place in cinematic history.

 

Benicio Del Toro in ‘Licence To Kill’ (1989)

Del Toro as DarioAll untamed eyebrows and Eddie Munster stares, Benicio Del Toro also made his movie debut as a henchman in a Bond movie (unless you count ‘Duke The Dog-Faced Boy’ in ‘Big Top Peewee’). Not only does he get actual lines and fight scenes (duffing up Bond and coming this close to killing him, like every other henchman EVER), Del Toro’s bad guy Dario even gets a catchphrase of sorts.  When asked what he did with a hostage’s wife, Dario replies dreamily: “Don’t worry… we gave her a niiice honeymoooon!” Sadly he meets an ignominious end at the bottom of an industrial shredder. But 12 years later? Boom: Oscar. Where’s your Academy Award, Timothy Dalton?

Joanna Lumley in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ (1969)

Lumley CameoWe’ll overlook her proper movie debut as ‘Second Robot Saboteur’ in 1969 exploitation action Some Girls Do (we haven’t seen it but we’re thinking Austin Powers and fembots) and consider Joanna Lumley’s brief outing in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ as the real deal.  Playing ‘The English Girl’, part of Blofeld’s harem, Lumley didn’t make much of an impact on screen, but behind the scenes she provided German, Chinese and Norwegian accents for international dubbing – she even taught the other Bond girls how to crochet. Of course, Lumley’s spy credentials would be guaranteed some years later when she joined ‘The New Avengers’, alongside ‘OHMSS’ co-star Patrick Macnee.

Sammy Davis Jr in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (1971)

Davis Jr CameoThe erstwhile Rat Pack swinger made a cameo playing himself in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, Sean Connery’s much heralded return to the role of Bond, but alas it was not meant to be. Just before Mr Wint and Mr Kidd kill Shady Tree, there was a scene with Davis Jr playing on the roulette table at the casino. When Bond shows up in his trademark white tux and bowtie, Sammy quips: “They ain’t ever going to find a cake big enough to put him on top.” Sadly for Sammy, the scene was deemed to ruin the pacing of the film and found itself on the cutting room floor.

 

Charles Dance in ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (1981)

Dance cameoYou wouldn’t think Charles Dance would have a lot in common with Dolph Lundgren, but like the muscular star, Dance also made his movie debut in a Bond movie (they also both like lazy Sundays and long walks in the rain). He played Claus, a – you guessed it – villainous henchman who’s got it in for 007. After several unsuccessful attempts to kill Bond – including a tussle on a ski-slope and an incident with a dune buggy – Claus is terminated via a harpoon to the back. Interestingly, Dance later played Ian Fleming in TV movie ‘Goldeneye’, a biography on the Bond author.

Minnie Driver in ‘GoldenEye’ (1995)

Driver cameoBefore her big break in ‘Good Will Hunting’, Minnie Driver made a small but memorable appearance in Pierce Brosnan’s first Bond movie. She played Irina, the Russian girlfriend of Robbie Coltrane’s gangster Zukovsky, who takes to the stage in a nightclub wearing a red cowboy hat and a low-cut top. After 007 describes her singing as “like strangling a cat”, Irina waltzes off stage in a strop.

Gerard Butler in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ (1997)

Butler cameoWhat a difference a decade makes. In 2007, Gerard Butler kicked a hole in the fabric of pop culture in ‘300’ as the mighty King Leonidas, fond of yelling, spitting and punting messengers into bottomless pits. Rewind 10 years, however, and Butler was still green, amassing around six seconds of screen-time in this forgettable Bond adventure as a sailor on the soon-to-be-sunk HMS Devonshire. “Sir,” he purrs in his unmistakable Scottish burr. “We’re fourteen degrees down by the stern!” Star quality, that. Out of acorns, mighty oaks grow.

Richard Branson in ‘Casino Royale’ (2006)

Branson cameoWe’re stretching the definition of the word ‘actor’ to its absolute limits here, but yes, that mysterious bearded gentleman on whom ‘Casino Royale”s camera lingers for slightly too long is indeed Virgin benefactor and international playboy Richard Branson. While Bond busies himself with matters of national security in Miami airport, you’d be forgiven for not noticing the flaxen-haired tycoon getting scanned in the security gate. To be fair, it was the least Eon producers could do, given Rich provided a fleet of Virgin Airlines planes for the shoot. In a way, he was the real hero.

 

The roles that got away…

From Fox News

Mel Gibson in ‘The Terminator’?

Finding Sarah Conner

Mel in 1984Ah-nold’s iconic role was reportedly offered to Mel Gibson, who turned it down. And thankfully so, because the words “I’ll be back” just wouldn’t have the same effect coming from Mel.

 

 

 

Robin Williams as ‘The Joker’?

Joker Jack

Robin in 1989In an interview with Sirius XM, Williams revealed he was considered for Jack Nicholson’s role in the1989 Batman flick. “Supposedly at one point they offered [me] the Joker in Batman, and then it went to Jack,” he said.

 

Nicolas Cage as ‘Iron Man’

Iconic

Nic in 2008Nicolas Cage as ‘Iron Man’… It’s hard to picture the Marvel trilogy being as wildly successful without Robert Downey, Jr. starring as Tony Stark, aka “Iron Man.” But this movie was a long time in the making before Rob signed on to play the comic book character.  Back in 1997, Nic Cage was one of the first actors to express interest in the part. Luckily for audiences, filming didn’t actually begin until a decade later and Robert Downey, Jr was there to save the day, literally.  Note: RDJ was almost literally the last choice to play Tony Stark per Marvel/Disney… and still better than the alternative. Cage, a huge comic book fan in his own right, was also cast in a mid to late 1990’s Tim Burton reboot of Superman that never saw production.

Hugh Jackman as ‘James Bond’?

Craigs first kill

Hugh in 2006Before Daniel Craig was dubbed the new Bond in 2006, Hugh Jackman was approached to play the MI6 agent. “‘I got a call from my agent saying, ‘There is some possible interest in you for Bond, are you interested?'” Hugh Jackman recalls. “At the time I wasn’t. I was about to shoot ‘X-Men 2’ and Wolverine had become this thing in my life and I didn’t want to be doing two such iconic characters at once.” On a personal note: If Warner Bros. ever decided to reboot the ‘Dirty Harry’ series, Hugh Jackman would be ‘it’.

Burt Reynolds in ‘Pretty Woman’?

Gere in Pretty Woman

Burt 1990The actor was offered the role of Edward Lewis in “Pretty Woman” but ultimately declined.  He later joked with Piers Morgan in 2012 that after he saw the film and the love-making scenes with Julia Roberts, that he regretted not taking the part.

 

Robert De Niro in ‘Big’?

Hanks wishing Big

DeNiro in 1988The 1988 hit wouldn’t have been the same without Tom Hanks as Josh, but that role almost went to Robert De Niro. Luckily, De Niro was too expensive and the producers gave it to Tom.

 

Frank Sinatra as ‘Dirty Harry?’

Iconic Harry

Sinatra in 1971The music legend was in talks to play the dirty cop, but reportedly dropped out during contract negotiations because the handgun was too heavy. He was cautious to put added stress on his wrist, which he broke on the set of “The Manchurian Candidate.” But that wasn’t the only reason he stepped away from the script. His father had also recently passed away and he wanted to spend some time doing lighter material.  Once ol’ blue eyes dropped out Marlon Brando and Paul Newman were considered for the role before Clint Eastwood was ultimately cast.  John Wayne was one of the first actors approached to play the role, having turned down ‘Bullitt’ just a few years before.

Eric Stoltz in ‘Back to the Future?’

Fox as Marty

Stoltz as MartyFans of “Back to the Future” almost didn’t get to see Michael J. Fox in the starring role as Marty McFly.  When he was first offered the part, Michael was busy shooting “Family Ties” and had to turn down the role. So producers began filming the trilogy with Eric Stoltz. They reportedly weren’t happy with how things were going and eventually found a way to make it work with Michael J. Fox by having him film at night after “Family Ties.”  Who knows if the movie would have been the cult hit it is without Michael as the star.

Tom Selleck as ‘Indiana Jones’?

Doctor Jones

Selleck in 1981The 1981 movie was almost made with Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones instead of Harrison Ford. Unfortunately Tom had to turn down the role due to his recently signed contract to star as “Magnum P.I.”

Who Is the Best ‘Star Wars’ Villain of All Time?

From Star Wars.com via Yahoo!

Emperial DuoThere is no shortage of bad guys in the Star Wars universe: A huge cast of characters — from Darth Vader to lowly Stormtrooper TK-421 — who fight on the side of darkness. But who among them is the baddest of the bad? The worst of the worst? The villain we most love to hate?

The staff of StarWars.com took a stab at answering that question and cameSenator Palpatine up with what we think is a very reasonable and well-thought out roster of candidates. Topping their list: Emperor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious). Makes sense. He’s the head honcho, pulling the strings, responsible in many ways for Anakin Skywalker’s ultimate downfall. Plus, he’s really creepy looking: while we know it’s not wise to judge a book by its cover, one look at Sidious and you know he’s up to no good.

Emperor PalpatineFollowing the Emperor, Star Wars staffers placed Darth Vader in the number-two slot, followed by Grand Moff Tarkin (a.k.a., the guy with the “foul stench”). Here’s their complete list:

1. Darth Sidious / Emperor Palpatine
2. Darth Vader
3. Grand Moff Tarkin
4. Darth MaulDarth Maul
5. Jabba the Hutt
6. Count Dooku / Darth Tyranus
7. General Grievous
8. Asajj Ventress
9. Nute Gunray
10. Pong Krell

Darth TyranusBut, but, but! What about Boba Fett! Where is he? How could they forget Boba Fett?!?! Relax. This was no oversight: Staffers plan to release a separate list of their top ten bounty hunters. We’ve got a feeling he’ll be at the top.

For the sake of argument, though, let’s say Boba Fett was included in the above list. Where would he place? In his favor: He plays by his own rules, utters only cool lines (“He’s no good to me dead”), and isn’t afraid of anything. On the minus side — he meets his end (in Return of the Jedi) in a most undignified manner.

Delivering Solo

That said, we feel comfortable placing Fett in the spot ahead of Jabba. A solid showing. We could see him ahead of Maul, but Maul went out with a bang. Fett went out with a whimper. The best bad guys don’t do that.

Lightsaber Battle

Note: For my money, this is obviously a bit of flawed list just to grab some social media play.  Boba Fett is a villain, plain and simple and should have been on the list but obviously isn’t ‘Number One’ material which may offend the Fett fans.  Too bad.  Fett has been overrated for years and has had the advantage of being (in the film universe) a fairly undeveloped character (which is good for the forthcoming ‘one-shot’ film).  We know more about his Dad than we do him.  He is, however, the coolest of the Bounty Hunters… Maybe I’m biased because I’m a Han Solo fan.

 

Did You see the end of ‘Iron Man’..? Iron Man 2 (2010)

French teaser posterGood, cause you just watched the extended version of it. When Tony Stark defeated his formerly trusted ally in the ‘Iron Monger’ armor, I’m fairly certain the next thing he said wasn’t “Boy, I hope I get to fight a whole lot more of those…”.
So let’s see, an arms dealer jealous of Tony Stark, check. A terrorist who covets Tony Starks’ toys and makes a devious deal with the jealous arms-maker, check. Iron-Man fights another Iron-Man type, check. Throw in the ever shag-able Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow and we have a movie.

Black WidowNow, this movie does very little to set itself apart as an installment in a series other than serve as a place setting for the forthcoming ‘Thor’, ‘Captain America’ and a reminder we still have ‘The Avengers’ to look forward to. As a comic book movie, it still makes an OK Saturday matinée popcorn flick and is better than such sequels as ‘Spider-Man 3’ and ‘X-3’.

RASPUTIN

Not quite epic, but no bathroom breaks.

3 Stars

“With Great Power comes Great Responsibility”… Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man TeaserOK, it went to another very popular Marvel Comic flick but the message was loud and clear, especially throughout the second half of the film. An excellent role for the roller-coaster known as Downey Jr. (whom Disney repeatedly did not want in the role), who really seemed to enjoy and excel playing the troubled genius ill-fated billionaire.

Did it follow exactly as the 60’s story did, no, but damn it was still a good story. Combining elements of yesterday and today.. just as the Batman series (part deux) has been able to do. Let’s hope the sequels will follow suit where the X-Men films and Spidey’s have faltered and failed.
I Am Iron ManComic book epic for sure… bring the popcorn and no bathroom breaks.

5 Stars