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Posts Tagged ‘Timothy Olyphant’

In a particularly meta moment in the oh so meta Scream 2, Randy (Jamie Kennedy) tells us “Sequels suck!” and “By definition alone, sequels are inferior films!”. Classmate Mickey (Timothy Olyphant) disagrees “It’s bullshit generalization. Many sequels have surpassed their originals.”  He suggests T-2, another classmate played by Joshua Jackson thinks “Aliens. Far better than the first.”  While I don’t totally agree, I prefer The Terminator to T-2, and love Alien and Aliens equally, there are however, some horror sequels and second films is series that I prefer to the first:Aliens and T2

Bride of Frankenstein (1935): I love the original, but the sequel has the edge.  Together cinematographer John Mescall and art director Charles D. Hall, director James Whale created Expressionist masterpiece that isn’t just a horror movie, it’s also a social satire and a comedy.  The greatest of the Universal horrors. Bride of Frankenstein

Dawn of the Dead (1978): George A. Romero’s masterpiece came a whole decade after the original film, Night Of The Living Dead. Tom Savini (who also appears in the film) provided the zombie makeup that makes the film so effective.  The allegory of modern consumer society is more and more relevant as time passes.  A film that manages to be both a truly gruesome horror and a clever satire.  Dawn of the Dead

Evil Dead II (1987): Bruce Campbell returns as Ash in Sam Raimi’s sequel to The Evil Dead.  It is essentially more of the same from the first film but more polished, more gory and a hell of a lot funnier. Evil Dead II

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966): Most fans will tell you the first Hammer Dracula, Horror of Dracula from 1958 is the best.  While a great film and one of the studio’s best, it is a retread of Bram Stoker ‘s original often told story.  Prince of Darkness is an original story, and a really effective one. It lacks  Peter Cushing as Van Helsing (except a prologue recap of the previous film) but Andrew Keir’s Father Sandor is a suitable substitute.  Famously, Christopher Lee doesn’t speak in this film (as the dialogue in the script was so bad), this makes his performance is more chilling.  A true horror that has a feeling of dread from start to finish. Dracula Prince of Darkness

Blade II (2002): Wesley Snipes is perfectly cast as the half human, half vampire “daywalker” vampire hunter.  Predating the MCU, Blade (1998) proved what Marvel movies could be.  It works as both a horror, and an action movie, with suitable amounts of both gore and humour.  How could you make this better?  Hire Guillermo del Toro to direct it!  del Toro brings even more style, but also, as always  he plays with the idea of who the monsters are. blade II

The Devil’s Rejects (2005): Admittedly this one has something of low bar, 2003’s House of 1,000 Corpses wasn’t great, but this second instalment of the (mis)adventures of the Firefly family is a really solid grindhouse inspired gore-fest.  By far the best Rob Zombie directed movie, and the end is fantastic.  A third instalment 3 from Hell is in post production and due out in 2019. The Devil_s Rejects

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016):  Totally different to the original, telling a very different story, and dropping the now tired found footage gimmick.  Most of the film is a claustrophobic three-hander; John Goodman is fantastic, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is even better. 10 Cloverfield Lane

I have only included horror movies, there are plenty of examples from other genres, I have also stuck to examples where I think the sequel is better than the original movie, not merely good sequels.  

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Last week saw the second attempt to launch a franchise based on a successful series of young adult novels. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is based on The Mortal Instruments series of five novels (with a sixth on the way) written by Cassandra Clare. Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins) plays Clary Fray a seemingly normal teenager who discovers she is a Shadowhunter, a sort of daemon hunter. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with less (intentional) comedy. The other movie earlier in the year Beautiful Creatures is based on The Caster Chronicles: Alden Ehrenreich plays Ethan a seemingly normal high school student ( is this sounding similar?) who has a recurring dream about Lena played by Alice Englert (daughter of Jane Campion), a girl he has never met, until she turns up as the new kid at school. Both films are fun and entertaining movies with a suitably gothic tone. However they are also sadly unremarkable and unoriginal. Beautiful Creatures failed to find an audience making a sequel unlikely.  On the other hand the confidence in Mortal Instrruments is such that City of Ashes the second Mortal Instruments film is already in pre-production.  Shooting is due to start next month with a release next summer. This got me thinking about similar themed books that have been adapted into movies. Some have done better and more successful than others:

City of Bones and Beautiful Creatures

Harry Potter (2001-2011): The undisputed champion of the book to film adaptation in recent years has been Harry Potter having grossed nearly $8billion from its 8 films (based on 7 books). The success of the films comes partly from the great casting and the faithful (so I am told) adaptation from J. K. Rowling‘s books. But it goes further than that, a film should be its own entity and survive on its own merits not requiring the viewer to have read the books. This helps the audience grow over and above the fans of the novel. I didn’t see any of the films until 2011 but watched them all in a short space of time and have to admit I enjoyed them.Harry-potter-films

Chronicles of Narnia (2005-2010): Based on C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series of books and produced by Walden Media in association with first Disney then Fox. Three of the seven novels: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Prince Caspian (2008) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) have been adapted into films so far. Faithful to the source novels and like the source novels, the movies are distractingly preachy but good entertaining fun. Commercially successful grossing over $1.5billion, the first is amongst the top 50 all time highest grossing movies. It appears the series has stalled with complications since Walden Media’s exclusive rights have lapsed.The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Golden Compass (2007): Was an unfortunate mess of a movie. Well cast and beautifully shot but completely ruining Philip Pullman’s fantastic story. If reports are correct it was nothing short of a clusterfuck for New Line Cinema. One of their most expensive films ever with a budget estimated at around $180million, it took around $70million at the US box-office. New Line then sold the worldwide rights to cover the production costs, it went on to take over £300million. In one way it is sad that Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is unlikely to be adapted into a film anytime soon, on the other hand I am glad the series stopped before they made things any worse.

The Golden Compass

The Twilight Saga (2008 – 2012): Coming second only to Harry Potter in the book adaptation box-office, The Twilight Saga had its detractors who were almost as vocal as its fans. It also had its ups and downs artistically; Eclipse (2010) directed by David Slade representing the high point and New Moon (2009) directed by Chris Weitz the low point. The first film directed by Catherine Hardwicke was arguably the most important as its success secured the budget for the ongoing saga. Love them or hate them, you can’t argue with nearly $3.5billion from 5 films (based on 4 books). Not great films but completely inoffensive, I really can’t see why people get so worked up about them.twilight-saga-poster

Tomorrow when the War Began (2010 – ?): Based on the first of a series of seven Australian novels that have a striking resemblance to Red Dawn. The first movie was well received in Australia but failed to find an audience in the rest of the world. Two sequels have been suggested but are yet to materialise.Tomorrow when the War Began

Percy Jackson & the Olympians (2010 – ?): Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013) are based on the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series of books by Rick Riordan. An updating of Greek mythology, Percy is a demigod, and son of Poseidon (based on his exploits in defeating various monsters, he appears to be based on Perseus, son of Zeus). The first film was a financial success but the second has only just managed to make back its budget making an adaptation of The Titan’s Curse less likely.Percy Jackson

I am Number Four (2011): Based on the first of four (to date) novels about alien children hiding out on earth from a second alien race who took over their home world. Finding a good balance between sci-fi action and high school drama the movie is entertaining if disposable. The cast is quite good but Timothy Olyphant is criminally underused and Teresa Palmer’s ‘number six’ is a more interesting character than Alex Pettyfer’s ‘number four’. Made on a relatively small budget (the money was all spent on producer Michael Bay‘s robot hitting exercise) for this type of movie it made a reasonable profit. A sequel was announced but then shelved.I AM NUMBER FOUR

The Hunger Games (2012-2015): Thanks largely to the perfect casting of Jennifer Lawrence the Hunger Games was a huge success. Grossing nearly $700million and becoming the best selling DVD/Blu-ray of 2012 a sequel was guaranteed. The first sequel Catching Fire is scheduled for release later this year with the final book Mockingjay split into two parts, Part 1 will be released in November 2014 with part two twelve months later. My only concern the second and third books were much weaker than the first creating a real challenge for the script writers.The Hunger Games

So what’s next?

Seventh Son: Based on the first (there are twelve so far) of Joseph Delaney’s children’s dark fantasy novel series The Wardstone Chronicles. The highlights of the casting are Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore. Scheduled for release next January (February in the UK) next year.Seventh Son

Vampire Academy: Based on a series of six young-adult paranormal romance novels by Richelle Mead. I haven’t heard of any of the principle cast but the supporting cast includes Olga Kurylenko, Gabriel Byrne and Joely Richardson. Scheduled to be released February next year.Vampire Academy

Divergent: Unlike the other films mentioned, Divergent is based on the first of an intended trilogy. It has been adapted into a film before parts two and three have been published. It is the debut novel by American author Veronica Roth. The film version is directed by Neil Burger and has an interesting cast including: Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet and Maggie Q. it is scheduled for release next March next year.la_ca_0708_divergent

I’m not sure we have seen ‘The Next’ Twilight or Harry Potter yet but The Hunger Games is looking like the best and the most successful.

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justified-season-4Last week saw the last episode of the season of possibly the best, certainly my favourite American TV show of recent years, Justified. When the show started in 2010 it looked like it was going to be just another American cop show, but then something happened a few episodes in. although each episode is largely self contained, each season has its own over arching story that develops in most of the episode. We can thank Elmore Leonard for the original idea, the show started life as “Fire in the Hole” a 60 page novella he wrote in 2001. As with a lot of Leonard’s writing the story is driven by the dialogue more than the narrative, this found its way into the show especially through Boyd Crowder who will always use a sentence when a word would do. The first episode contains a lot of the ideas from the book and introduces the characters Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins ) and his sister-in-law, Ava (Joelle Carter). Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant ) had already appeared in Pronto and the follow-up Riding the Rap. The driving force behind the show is Graham Yost, creator, show runner, executive producer and some time writer. And this is where the story finds its real strength, the writing. To extend the story from 60 pages to 52 hours of television (to date) is a real achievement.JustifiedTimothyOlyphant

The way it holds the viewers interest is simple, the characters. You expect Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder to be well written characters, but it goes beyond that, and includes the supporting characters. With the best part of another dozen well written characters including other U.S. Marshal’s, low level criminals and The Dixie Mafia the show has a depth and breadth of character that no other show can on TV at the moment can match. This not only helps keep the interest but also gives the show potential longevity. The beauty of the format is the way it allows characters to be promoted from supporting and background characters to more important ones when the story needs it. There is also a wealth of recurring characters who are also we rounded and perfectly cast.JUSTIFIED: Joelle Carter.  CR: Frank Ockenfels III / FX

At the heart of the show is Raylan Givens a cowboy hat wearing Deputy U.S. Marshal, who is described in the source novella as “a man who is born 100 years too late”. A perfect stereotypical character, honest and righteous but always pushing the boundaries of the rules, he is far from “by-the-book”. A quick draw man straight out of the old west, despite his best attempts for a peaceful resolution, he shoots (and kills) a lot of people. But on his own, how good could the character be? Givens and Boyd Crowder are two sides of the same coin. The pair knew each other as kids and “dug coal together” in their teens, they have real if begrudging respect for each other. As Boyd often reminds Raylan they aren’t that different.Boyd Crowder Walton Goggins

The first three seasons all hard a story revolving around a central villain. In season one it was Bo Crowder (M.C. Gainey), Boyd’s farther who runs the local drug trade. Season two sees the converging forces of a mining conglomerate and Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) and her family drug business. In season three it is Robert Quarles (Neal McDonough), an exiled lieutenant from Detroit crime family. In season four it all changed as the overriding story involved an investigation into a twenty year old crime and the secret identity of the perpetrator. But two characters held all these stories together, Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder are always there in some way or another, as the stories develop there involvement increases. Don’t underestimate the geniuses and subtlety of the writing that makes this possible.justified_cast

A fifth season has been announced for 2014. There are lots of things that need to fall into place for the show to succeed and remain fresh, I’m not worried.

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It is relatively easy for a main character in a TV show to be a perfectly cast well drawn and rounded character, but the best shows can claim the same in the supporting roles. There are many of them: Katey Sagal in Sons of Anarchy, Peter Dinklage (one of an ensemble rather than a supporting character) in Game of Thrones and Kelly Macdonald in Boardwalk Empire, but there are two that really stand out for me: Ruth Wilson as Alice Morgan in Luther and Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder in Justified.Ruth Wilson and Walton Goggins

We first met Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) in the first episode of Luther back in 2010. Fresh back from seven month suspension, DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) returns to investigate a home invasion/double murder. After interviewing Alice, the victims daughter he soon realises that she killed them but can’t prove it. In any normal show that would be the end of it but Luther is far from a normal show. A genius, sociopath, narcissist and serial killer she should be a detestably character but is strangely alluring for both Luther and viewers of the show.Alice Morgan

The great thing about Boyd Crowder is that he is both ambiguous and morally ambiguous. We first meet him as a white supremacist who doesn’t appear to be a racist (unless there is money in it). He reinvents himself as a preacher but appears to atheist. A reluctant war hero, he is highly intelligent and well read but most likely self taught. Every sentence he utters contains about three times more words than needed and often contains quotes from scripture and literature. On top of this he is a childhood friend of the shows main character U.S. Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), it is often mentioned the pair dug coal together as teenagers. Originally appearing as favour to his friend, Timothy Olyphant, Boyd was shot in the first episode “Fire in the Hole”. Rumour has it that the character was supposed to die, however after a positive reception from the test audience became a recurring and main character. A career criminal and reprehensible character you just can’t help liking.boyd-crowder

Perfectly written, but it goes deeper than that the two characters are so perfectly cast, it is quite possible that no other actor could play then half as well Ruth Wilson and Walton Goggins. If you aren’t familiar with the two shows, go back and watch them from the start, they are worth seeing on their own merits as well as for these tow great characters.

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