CASTING CALL: THUNDERCATS

Nothing screamed 80’s Saturday Morning Cartoons more than the Thundercats. With that insanely detailed open - the Sword of Omens brilliant light - Lion-O bouncing around like a bad ass. Panthro, Tygra and of course Cheetara running and spinning her bo like a pro. Between Thundercats and Silverhawks the 80’s kids cartoons was all about “sleek running” and “dramatic jumping.” Created by Tobin “Ted” Wolf, written by Leonard Starr, produced by Rankin Bass and directed by Katsuhito Akiyama. Thundercats went for four seasons and passed through three major production studios in that time. From Rankin Bass, which became Lorimar Productions into Warner Brothers. But that didn’t kill the mighty cats from Thundera as they enjoyed multiple stints in comics from Marvel to Wildstorm, which is really an imprint of DC Comics, owned by Warner Brothers. So if a Thundercats movie were to get a green light it would be at the WB, home of DC’s greatest heroes. Not to get too divergent but what an amazing combined universe that would make. Warner Brothers did attempt to reboot the series in 2011 by making an updated version - it lasted a season. Timing is everything I guess. I have heard many times over the years about a possible Thundercats live-action movie and it always dies out. It’s been sitting in Development Hell for decades. The problem with a live action Thundercats is two-fold: The Thundercats themselves, their design would have to be amazing given they aren’t really human but cat people, done poorly it’ll look goofy or weird real quick. But I think films like Avatar prove you can have non-human characters that look legit without being distracting. Also the plot to Thundercats, since it was a kids cartoon, was fairly simple and yet at times convoluted with some generic heroes and villains. I think J. Solo and I could come up with a coherent and intriguing idea to make Thundercats relevant again with a solid story, exciting action and of course a cast to be envied. So in this first installment, we’ll discuss the plot for our hypothetical adaptation of Thundercats and how we draw our ideas from the source material while creating some new threads. 

 So let’s start with the origin of the Thundercats, as we think we can keep most if not all of that securely in place. Thundera is in deep shit. Much like Superman’s homeworld of Krypton, Thundera suffered some form of planetary disaster that wiped the planet all together. The evil Mutants from Plun-Darr attack the fleeing Thundercats who are trying to start a new life on Third Earth causing some issues for them along the way. I think that would be a good idea to establish off the bat that the Mutants of Plun-Darr are evil a-holes who should not be trifled with. On the show they were a bit goofy and extremely non-threatening. I think our first changes here should be the war with the Mutants have decimated Thundera to the point that it is no longer habitable. The remaining Thundercats escape under fire in order to reach their new home on Third-Earth. The Mutants destroy the entire fleet and attempt to board the flagship containing the heir of Thundera, the child Lion-O and his family legacy the Sword of Omens.

 The Sword is very powerful as it contains the heart and soul of the planet Thundera within the ruby eye at its hilt. This is the source of the Thundercats power. The Mutants led by Slithe, a reptilian creature, hates the Thundarans and covets the Sword of Omens. He and his Mutants destroy every ship in the fleet save the flagship. The Flagship gets away just in time. Unbeknownst to the Thundercats, Slithe had, during the battle, planted a few of his Mutants on board the Flagship where they promptly disable the ship from the inside. The Thundercats appear to be helpless as they have taken to their hibernation pods, all but one. The elder Jaga. He fights the Mutants killing them, but not before they damage Lion-O’s pod forcing Jaga to move Lion-O to his pod and sacrificing himself in the process. Because Jaga’s pod is programmed for him it is later discovered that it has slowed allowing Lion-O to grow to adult size while still retaining the mind of a child. Jaga pilots the ship to Third-Earth but dies of old age once they arrive. Lion-O and his Thundercats explore Third-Earth and all of its strange inhabitants like the Warrior Maidens, The Robot Bears, The Fishmen, the Brute Men, and of course it’s most dangerous inhabitant, the evil Mumm-Ra. The evil one learns of the Sword of Omens from the Slithe and his Mutants, who have been pursuing the Thundercats all this time. They join forces in order to take the sword and conquer Third-Earth. I think you can really explore some interesting ideas with Lion-O, a child trapped in a man’s body, kind of like Big in a much more perilous surrounding.

In our next installment we'll discuss the characters and the actors we think would be best for the roles, as well as a kick ass director that can set the Thundercats loose!

DuckTales: Then & Now

"D-D-D-Danger, watch behind you!  There's a stranger, out to find you! What to do just grab on to some DuckTales, ouh oooh."

Nostalgia to the max!  I used to love this song so much (ok, so maybe I still do...it's quite catchy!), and to hear they're re-making this 80's cartoon classic?  Yes, please! I have such fond memories of this show.  My childhood self is freaking out. Ok, so my adult self is squee'ing as well.  When it first premiered back in 1987, I remember watching as a kid and being mesmerized by it. It was so much fun and so very colorful. And I loved how Huey, Dewey and Louie all wore diff colored shirts and hats so you could tell them apart. And they each had their own personality.  One of my favorite parts was when Scrooge McDuck did his big dive into a pile of coins. I wanted to do that! True story.  I mean, it looked like fun, didn't it?  Swimming in money is pretty sweet!  *Sigh* if only.  It's so nice to relive your childhood, especially with a cartoon that you really enjoyed. The reboot will premiere this summer on Disney XD. And from what I see, Webbigail "Webby" Vanderquack, Scrooge's niece-by-affection, will have a much larger role in this reboot. From what I've been reading, she will have a "stronger and more unique voice than she ever had before." I love everything about that line!   
I think I'll have to check out the series premiere this August, and see what shenanigans these three nephews get themselves into, along with Webby! - J. Solo

Ghost in the Shell - Whitewashed

Well let me start off by saying I was way way off of the number GITS actually ended up with last weekend for its opener. Yikes! so I thought it might open to 37 million and end up at 80 million but that is completely not in the cards for this movie. In my previous post about this I speculated about the whitewashing controversy with the film and that Scar-Jo was playing with fire by taking the role from an Asian actress. There may be something to this as of the three films (Dr. Strange and Great Wall) that were mentioned this one was considered the most grievous. Mostly because it’s an adaptation of an Japanese anime film and it takes place in Tokyo and according to the film hardly anyone lives there that is actually Japanese. In fact the spoiler apparently makes the case of whitewashing even more plain. But as this is not a review don’t worry I won’t reveal that here. It is possible that audiences had no appetite for sci-fi. Sony’s Life, a sci-fi horror movie fared equally badly. Perhaps it will make it back in the international arena where it is already at 92.8 million. I would imagine that’s still a pretty weak number as it looks like most of the major countries are accounted for here. So for a movie that cost over 100 million to finance it looks like Paramount will take a pretty costly hit for this one. The website Independent claims Paramount admits this is probably going to happen to the tune of at least 60 million. Ouch!!

For last weekend the Boss Baby with Alec Baldwin kicked everyone’s ass including Beauty and the Beast, Ghost in the Shell, Kong: Skull Island and Logan. The Baby made 50 million dollars for number 1 and it put March over a Billion; $1,148,058,562 which puts this year as 53 million more than last year at this time. Man March is starting to look a lot like summer these days.   

Flash -ep. 17 Duet - Musical thoughts

Ok, I know what you might be thinking. The Flash is on hiatus until April 25th and that musical episode was two weeks ago, so what gives? This is more about how this season is starting to run off the rails, and I worry that with failing ratings and inconsistent storylines it could happen faster than we might expect.  First and foremost, I’m a big fan of the Flash; Grant Gustin is fantastic, his supporting cast is funny and effusive, especially Cisco, as they bring a steady dose of character and heart to each episode. Unfortunately as Flash has progressed each season they have grown increasingly plotty, repetitious, predictable and at times overly schmaltzy. I get that it’s the CW and they have to, for whatever reason, contain varying degrees of smolder and teen drama for that phantom teen audience that ritualistically watches all of their shows, but this season they have taken it to new heights. The episode before the highly anticipated MUSICAL EPISODE featured Barry having to go get Kid Flash (Wally West) from his prison in the Speed Force, which he accomplishes after varying degrees of tests and the convenient arrival of the Flash from Earth 3, Jay Garrick, who willingly sacrifices himself to stay in order to free Wally. All of this was fine, great episode until the end when Barry decides to put his relationship with Iris on hold because he has to focus on…defeating Savitar? What? That whole conversation seemed really contrived and the whole reason Iris was mad at him from a previous episode was she learned that Barry only proposed to her because he was trying to change the future in which Savitar kills her, but he clearly still wants to marry her. So what is this all about? I’ve been confused by the manufactured anger from Iris on that one. Then I realized that this was just a giant set-up for the next episode 17, "Duet", a team-up with Supergirl who is, no surprise also having relationship issues. In my mind this was already off to a bad start. 

The show’s producer, Greg Berlanti, has been talking publicly about making this wonderful musical episode as far back as September of last year. Honestly though I had been hearing rumors about it even earlier than that. A good number of the cast have strong musical backgrounds especially Jesse L. Martin (Joe West), who has the most experience from his Broadway singing days on Rent and the Winter’s Tale (more recent), so I sort of get why this came up. But here’s the problem, I’ve heard more than one reference to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Once More With Feeling,” which is a tall order to live up to. That episode was written by Joss Whedon (Avengers, Buffy, Dr. Horrible) who not only wrote all of the songs which were then choreographed. The most important part of this accomplishment is that Whedon made a solid episode which addressed many of the over-arching plots of the season and put them out there for everyone to see but, you know, in song. He laid his cast’s hearts out on their sleeves and it worked. I will admit I don’t like musicals much but "Once More With Feeling" was a great episode that complimented the show by furthering the story and also brought a little light to a fairly dour and dark season 6. Flash’s episode "Duet" did none of those things.

For starters it is always a joy to watch Grant Gustin (Flash) and Melissa Benoit (Kara/Supergirl) ham it up on screen they clearly have a wonderful chemistry and I do want more of it, but I would prefer without song. So Music Meister (Darren Criss), a being from another universe, crashes the episode of Supergirl and traps her mind in a musical world forcing Kara’s boyfriend Mon-El and J’onn to bring her whammied body to Barry’s world for help.  Music Meister follows and then he does the same thing to Barry. MM then proceeds to leech their respective powers and go tramping about Central City. Um, ok? So Barry and Kara are now forced to sing their way through this musical world in order to get out of it. This is where I started to check out, somewhere between a pretty cool rendition of Moon River by Benoist and a mind-numbingly obnoxious song called Super-Friend. In the end it felt like a trivial push to get the heroes’ significant others to figure out it was them all along that could save them and they do, happy endings all around. Yay! Oh, and one more terrible song at the end of the episode when Barry proposes to Iris for real, again? I don’t know. This kind of shit drives me crazy it’s derivative and pointless and it sucks out any joy you can derive from it because it was so sloppy in its execution. So please Mr. Berlanti if you are listening if you want to make musicals, make them, but keep them away from my superheroes, unless you get Joss Whedon to write it. Then we’ll talk.        

Lego Batman - Opening Gross

Last week I did a little gross prediction of the new Lego Batman movie. It was going up against Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick 2. All three were highly anticipated so something would have to give. The total box office for last weekend for all movies was $188,579,473. Compared to last year at this time, which was the weekend of Feb 12 - 15th, the gross was  $89,904,854 lower. Doesn't quite get to Deadpool levels but still a strong weekend. I put Lego Movie taking the number one spot between 65-70 million. It actually ended up at number one with a very solid 53 million. Fifty Shades ended with 46.6 million and John Wick 2 at 30.4 million. I was a little surprised that Batman didn't surpass Lego Movie in opening box office. But there is some evidence in sequels or even side-way sequels that Box office doesn't always translate the same. Despicable Me 2 grosses 83 million on it's opening weekend in 2013 and ended up at 368 million all in. It's side sequel Minions in 2015 opened to a whopping 115.7 million but couldn't quite top D2 at 336 million all in. I was looking at this film as my barometer for Lego Batman's possible success but still came up short.  Lego Batman will still make out like a bandit and it looks like Lego Batman will again be the number one at the box office this President's Day weekend after kicking Matt Damon and Ice Cube's asses. For some reason I was convinced that adults would want to see this movie as much as Lego movie because it's Batman and I don't know if that was a correct assumption. The film got good reviews and nerd and geek of all ages seemed ecstatic about it but it came up short of Lego Movie's opening tally.  I think that Lego Batman has a strong hold for a while, you have an animated film, Rock Dog coming out next week which will take a bit of that gross but I don't think it will be much. My final tally on Lego Movie is 225 - 250 million all in. 

Next week we'll take a look at Logan, which comes out on March 3rd, and based on early reviews this one could be the best X-Men story ever put on screen.  

 

CASTING CALL: THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN REBOOT

I had a blog a few years ago called Troys Bucket where I and a few colleagues of mine would talk about movies/comics/sports etc., any and all entertainment. One of the more popular things we did was the casting calls, a little exercise where we act as the casting director and put our favorite actors and actresses in the role. Sometimes we would throw in a director for good measure. G.I.Joe, A-Team, Justice League, hell, I even did Leon Uris' Mila 18. So when I decided to start blogging here at Titan vs. Titan, that was one of the first things I wanted to tackle - and before the hype gets insane on this one, I wanted to do a proper League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In our previous post we discussed how to approach the franchise and who should be director in this installment we begin to build the cast:

Mina Murray.jpg

MINA MURRAY: Mina is one of the most important characters in the league not only because she is, most of the time, the only woman but because she keeps this group of malcontent misanthropes from killing other people or most importantly from killing each other. She is the glue that keeps the league together. She is the leader of this rabble without question and it won't work unless that is the case in the film, they truly botched that in the last interpretation. Quatermain is not the hero he used to be and in some regards he's a whiny crybaby opium addict who is too haunted by his demons to function properly. Mina gets him through that. She also is able to compel Hyde, who is the most unpredictable in the group to control, to fight through his urges and work with the team. Mina is the former wife of Jonathan Harker from Dracula. She was traumatized by the event that went down between the Count and her she still carries the scars on her neck. She is strong willed, a bit presumptuous but very much a woman ahead of the time period she is living in. Which would need a great actress who can be vulnerable but strong in a fluid way. My first choice would be Emily Blunt. She's a fantastic actress can play any number of rolls but she can do this role in her sleep. Edge of Tomorrow, Sicario, Looper and Adjustment Bureau, she's capable of a wide range.  Runner up I love Natalie Portman in a role like this but I hated her British accent in V for Vendetta, it was a bit distracting even though I did like her in the movie so it drops her to second. 

ALLAN QUATERMAIN: Alan was a former adventurer you may or may not have heard of depending on what you read. Quatermain was a character created by H. Rider Haggard in 1885 called King Solomon's Mines and he appeared in various other works as well as serials and films most recently in the 80's with Richard Chamberlain in two films. Quatermain is a British big game hunter who lives primarily in Africa. He in part inspired Indiana Jones so he has some importance in the lexicon.

I think to start with you will need someone older but not too old, especially if he is to have a relationship with Mina it's distracting and plays into bad stereotypes of Hollywood. He should be a good deal older than her but not by an insane measure. Someone who can also be vulnerable and yet can have the spark of hero through his muddled opium haze. This can't be the super perfect hero Connery played in the first one. He has to be deeply flawed with elements of his old self. This is an aged hero looking for a reason to check out. He needs to be played that way. Sir Daniel Day Lewis would be fantastic in the role but he probably wouldn't do it. So you would need a big name and maybe age him up a bit more, the other Daniel, Daniel Craig. He can play rugged and sophisticated you can look at his Bond, Cowboys and Aliens and Lara Croft for examples. He's got the chops and I like him with Emily Blunt.

CAPTAIN NEMO: Nemo is a very interesting part of the League as he is has a more radical background than the others. Quatermain and Murray are both British loyalists but Nemo is anti-colonialist. His other name is Prince Dakkar, the son of an Indian Raja. A scientific genius who built the Nautilus submarine as well as other technical gadgets. He is always reluctant to help the British in anyway. More about the common good with him but he is still a bit of a pirate. Created by Jules Verne in 1870 in the book 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Whoever plays Nemo has to be sophisticated, can play the role of a scientist but also a cutthroat. Very difficult to portray but I think I have a great character actor in mind. Irrfan Khan. Khan certainly looks the part but he is an amazing actor from smart indie roles like the Namesake and A Mighty Heart and his turns in big productions like Life of Pi, Amazing Spider-Man and Jurassic World prove he can handle the big budget feature. This guy can do it all and he can and will make a compelling Nemo.

DR. HENRY JEKYLL/MR. EDWARD HYDE: Author Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886 wrote the very first fictionalized account of a doctor who drinks a chemical cocktail and a monstrous alter ego is born. You wouldn't have the Hulk, Red Hulk, Man-Bat, etc. if that crazy sexual deviant, bag of rage Hyde hadn't have come first. 

Again the first film in 2003 had the very capable Jason Flemyng playing both Jekyll and Hyde. The only problem here was the CGI Hyde looked a bit like Flemyng but was also insanely stupid and terrible not to mention distracting for the audience. The effects for this kind of thing has gotten much better when you look at the Avengers and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes but I would prefer a real person so I'm splitting them in two.

So let's start with Jekyll first, an unassuming man, smart, seemingly harmless but already pretty screwed up due to his transformation problem. You don't need a celebrity in this role I think but someone who can bring the doctor's sensibilities with an air of mystery which is why I like Sean Harris. He was in the excellent BBC TV series Red Riding. Also in films like Prometheus and as the calculating bad guy in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

For Hyde instead of a CGI creation I think you need to have a real person. He doesn't have to be like the Hulk and you can use the power of cinema to enhance a regular big guy to make him look a little bit bigger if you really need to. Now you may not want to use his voice but you damn sure want to see this giant ass hole tearing it up around Victorian London. Of course I'm speaking of Robert Maillet. The guy is huge and he's no stranger to blockbuster movies. The recent Hercules, Sherlock Holmes, Immortals and 300. This guy knows how to play big and scary. But if you have to choose a big named bruiser Dave Bautista or Kevin Durand would be solid as well.

HAWLEY GRIFFIN THE INVISIBLE MAN: Created by H.G. Wells in 1897 the Invisible Man is a huge part of pop culture for decades. From the 30s to the present the Invisible Man has left an indelible mark in Sci-Fi and the comics world. In the League Hawley Griffin is a miscreant a true spy and is seemingly only interested in himself.

You probably wouldn't see him through the production but he would need to have a very distinctive voice. Someone creepy I would think.  In this case I would go with Mr. Motion Capture himself Andy Serkis. His voice is definitely distinct and he can definitely be creepy. Just check out his work as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit not to mention his Sith Lord Snoke in the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens

ORLANDO: Written by Virgina Woolf in 1928 Orlando is a unique and interesting character. He is born a man but when he reaches 30 he switches his sex to female. She discovers she is an immortal and this occurrence happens periodically throughout Her/His long lifespan. In the League, Orlando has been doing this for quite a long time and is very free in the sexuality department. Orlando is also one of the originators of the first League in the 1600s with Prospero of Shakespeare's the Tempest as its head. Orlando is noble and brave as well as a fighter and a bit of a smart ass. So who would be able to fill his/her shoes?

There are a few actors right off the bat that could pull off both male and female Orlando. Tilda Swinton being the best choice. She's made a career out of playing androgynous characters. There is also Eddie Redmayne who is also very capable of playing both as his newest film the Danish Girl will support. There is also Cate Blanchett who would always be great to do both, she played a version of Bob Dylan in I'm Not There. Finally there is Jared Leto who has this ability as well from his Oscar turn in Dallas Buyers Club.  I think in the end I'm going to go with Cate Blanchett. You aren't going to get a finer actor than her and she's already a pro at the big fantasy blockbuster from her stint on the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films. 

PROSPERO: Now this role may not be as large as the other ones but it is still extremely important. Prospero was first realized in Shakespeare's The Tempest. He is the Duke of Milan and an experienced Sorcerer. He's also the one tasked by Queen Gloriana, of England, to create the first League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in the 1600s. His presence has to be felt througout the whole thing even if he isn't in much of it. That's a big role to play.

There are quite a few spectacular actors I can see to play the role of Prospero and it has to be someone with presence. You have the standards who would do a fantastic job without question in this role Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart or Sir Anthony Hopkins. Sign any of these three up and you'll get the performance you want even if they all have tread on this type of character before. If you want to go outside of the box a bit I would love to put Idris Elba in this somewhere that guy would kill in this role and it would be very different from the other three. He totally crushed his role as Thor's Heimdall  in the Marvel U. He would make this one his own and it will be memorable guaranteed.

Now if I wanted to this post could go on even longer as there are still about 10 or more League members we could explore. This is a whole Universe and I'm starting to understand Fox's interest in this. We are now in the age of world building but as Fox must understand now after their many failures from Daredevil to the Fantastic Four that a Universe is useless if no one wants to go there. Take heed Fox hopefully you'll see my suggestions because I think they can help otherwise you will be overseeing yet another 100 million dollar franchise right into the shitter. 

LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN REBOOT

One of my favorite writers of comics has to be Alan Moore: Watchman, V For Vendetta, From Hell, Batman: The Killing Joke and of course The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The man is certifiable, and his genius as a comic book writer is unparalleled. However, a filmmaker has yet to come along to properly translate his work to the screen. Not to say all film adaptations of Moore's work are bad; in fact, I like quite a few of them. They just have never been able to capture his particular quirks and tone very well. Moore, of course, will dislike anything any studio tries to do no matter what, but it would be great to have someone with some vision actually do it right. 

Alan Moore.jpg

As luck would have it, or if you are cynical, the money wheels at a studio started turning to try and actually remake this again. In May of this year Variety reported that Fox is remaking this with writer Jayson Rothwell. No cast or director has been named yet so I thought I'd take this opportunity to weigh in and give my thoughts on the matter. If you are listening, Fox, this may help you make a better movie than the Movie-That-Will-Not -Be-Named from 2003 and that subsequently ended Sean Connery's film career.

Now what would be our plot? This is also tricky as there are now about 15 issues from 1999 to the present, plus two graphic novels. There are about 8 or 9, depending on who's counting, members of the league that span from the 1600s and hops around every few centuries ending up in around 2009. The previous film tackled the first adventure and it's probably best to not be repeated. It involved The Great Detective, Sherlock Holmes', greatest villain Moriarty played by Richard Roxburgh - so I wouldn't suggest telling that story again. I also wouldn't suggest using the second story since it's basically a rehashed version of War of the Worlds which has been done to death over the years and would be difficult to put to film in my opinion. The real appeal of this property is the literary characters brought together in crisis much like the Avengers or Justice League but in Victorian London. Alan Moore said as much when asked to describe it. So I would say simply go with the original cast and possibly include Carnacki and Orlando and build on a crisis from that period, whether literary or historical. I personally would start with H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu since many of the monsters that appear is derived from Lovecraft. Combine the cult group in the 1910 volume that is focused on the Moon Stone. They bring forth a creature that the League must band together and destroy. Perhaps they can also explore a bit of the Blazing World run by Prospero (yep, of The Tempest), which is a surreal place not of this Earth. It could be confusing but intriguing.

DIRECTOR: This is going to be the hardest part of the entire production because I think that most directors would have a hard time with this subject matter. If you've ever read The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen you will realize that even though it follows a plot you may have seen before and has characters you know (if you read a lot of Victorian-era literature), it is unconventional in its approach. There is only one man who can make this film, Christopher Nolan. That's right, there aren't many mainstream director's who can dabble in difficult subject matter or genre and still make it palpable for mainstream audiences. If you can't get Nolan lets just be honest, it probably won't work. From Memento to Interstellar this guy has mastered the art of storytelling through cinema and he would make a very honest, kick ass, slightly fucked up version of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen that could possibly bring Alan Moore back into the cinematic fold. I would look to The Prestige, Inception, and the iconic Batman/Dark Knight trilogy. This guy understands the power of myth, he totally gets the period piece and he's extremely capable of creating a visual but complex world either in the real world or a dreamlike world, which is a large part of the League's overall story.