Casting An X-Men Movie, My Way

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I am a big fan of the X-Men movie franchise, especially the first two X-Men movies.  They are far from perfect movies, but overall they are quite enjoyable. Director Bryan Singer and his crew did a lot of things right. However, there were a lot of missed opportunities and many questionable decisions across the whole X- Franchise. Although some of the casting was perfect, enough of the choices were suspect.

Take a journey with me across time as I attempt too cast a better X-Men movie.  This  version would feature a slight variation on one of the team’s classic lineups.  It would feature Cyclops, Phoenix, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Sprite. Although he has been overused in the X-Men movie series I would go with Magneto as the villain.

In order to cast this movie properly I would require a time machine. Not only would the casting depend on certain actors.  It would also depend on them at different stages of their careers.

To really do this great comic book franchise justice on the big screen I would bring in The Russo Brothers to direct.  They have proven with their work on the Captain America movies that they are fully capable of handling extreme action sequences as well as serious drama.  I do love a lot of what Bryan Singer did with the franchise. His involvement would add so much to this movie as well. Now, on to the cast.

Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine

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There is no change needed here, Hugh Jackman is the perfect man for the job. To this day I still find it hard to believe that Dougray Scott was originally cast in this role. For this film I would opt for Jackman as he appeared in The Wolverine movie from 2013.  He was at his peak physical condition in this film.

Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X

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Patrick Stewart was born to play this character. As great as he was on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Captain Picard, I know many were thinking the same thing that I was. This man absolutely needed to play Professor X one day. Is there a better example of perfect casting?

Iman as Ororo Munroe/Storm

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From the moment that I saw her in Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country, I thought to myself, “That’s Storm”. Many felt that Angela Bassett would have portrayed a great Storm. I am sure she would have done great in the role. But my perfect Storm would be Mrs. David Bowie

Rutger Hauer as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto

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I love Ian Mckellen’s performances as Magneto. He was one of the highlights of the X-Men movies. However, I feel that Rutger Hauer embodies Magneto so much more, especially physically. In the 1980’s watching Hauer in movies like Blade Runner and Ladyhawke I always envisioned him as Magneto. For this film imagine Hauer in his early 60’s, but as fit as he was in Blade Runner.

Brent Spiner as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler

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While watching Spiner portray Data on The Next generation two thoughts always crossed my mind: 1) Data was this Star Trek’s Spock and 2) Spiner would be the perfect Nightcrawler. Picture a leaner, meaner 1980’s Spiner.

Jonathan Frakes as Scott Summers/Cyclops

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I really enjoyed James Marsden’s portrayal of Cyclops. However I do not feel that the character was written properly and he was under utilized. Once again all those years ago, as I watched Jonathan Frakes on The Next Generation I thought, he would be a great Cyclops.  In the X-Men comic books Cyclops led the team with a commanding presence.  This was never really the case in the movies.  I always liked the dynamic on The Next Generation between Captain Picard and Commander Riker.  It reminded me of the dynamic between Professor X and Cyclops, in the comic books.  Picture a lean and mean 1980’s Frakes.

Daniel Cudmore as Piotr Rasputin/Colossus

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The all to brief appearance of Colossus in X2 is one of the highlights of the entire X-Men movie franchise. The fact that he was not utilized more in X2 is criminal. I always found it odd that Colossus was not cast in the X-Men movies from the start.  Cudmore was perfect as he appeared in X2.

Margot Robbie as Jean Grey/ Phoenix

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Of all the characters here, this was the hardest one for me to cast. No actresses really stood out to me as an obvious choice. After much thought I do believe that Margot Robbie would be great for the role. Femke Janssen was a really good Jean Grey and Phoenix, but she lacked a strong physical presence.

Natalie Portman as Kitty Pryde/Sprite

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Obviously I’m going with a very young teenage Sprite, as she appeared when she first joined the X-Men in the comic books. Imagine a very young Natalie Portman from the early 1990’s.

There you have it, my X-Men cast. Thank you for taking the time to indulge my X-Men fantasy.  Overall this is a movie franchise that should be amazing. But in reality the overall results have been mixed. With Hugh Jackman retiring his claws and the lackluster X-Men: Apocalypse the future is not looking very bright.  This is a movie franchise in need of an X-treme makeover.

Troy T.

My Highlights Of 2016

As the year comes to a close various top ten and  best of  lists will be published. Many of these lists can be fun to read. This is not really a true top ten list, plus it contains eleven items.  It is an brief overview of some entertainment highlights that come to mind from 2016.

Unfortunately 2016 was a year full of far too much bad news, negativity, hate and division. At times during 2016 the world seemed like a very dark place. At the end of the year it’s good to reflect on some of the entertainment that brought some light into my life in 2016.

Phil Collins’ Reemergence

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Phil Collins’ slow and steady reemergence from retirement. Not one event, but a series of live appearances, interviews and the release of his autobiography Not Dead Yet. All of this is leading up to some large scale concerts in 2017. At 65 years of age Phil Collins may look a little rough around the edges. But he is still one of my favorite musical artists. The man’s music has brought a lot of light to my life over the years.

Xiphea – Once Upon A Time

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Xiphea are a fantastic symphonic metal band out of Germany. They call their brand of music Fairytale Metal. With song titles like Beauty And The King, Masquerade, Cinderella and Power Of The Dwarfs one can understand the label. Do not let the song titles fool you, this is a serious and heavy band.  Once Upon A Time is Xiphea’s third release.  So far they have released one EP and two full length albums.  The future looks bright for this band.   I plan on writing more about them in a future blog.

The Genesis Show

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The Genesis Show are an absolutely amazing and talented Phil Collins era Genesis tribute band that, for now, focuses on Genesis live circa 1976-1977. Tribute bands can be hit or miss, either really good or downright silly. The Genesis Show are a serious band that are passionate about playing the music of Genesis. I had the great pleasure of seeing them live this year. As a huge Genesis fan since 1981 I was extremely impressed by The Genesis Show. The musicianship on display was incredible. I highly recommend seeing them live.

Kansas – The Prelude Implicit

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I count Kansas among my top 20 favorite bands. Their newest release, The Prelude Implicit, is a strong argument for classic bands continuing to record new music. I would definitely place The Prelude Implicit on my top ten favorite Kansas albums list. The band’s new singer Ronnie Platt has some incredibly big shoes to fill. He does so quite well. I look forward to more new music by this great band.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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A very, very good Star Wars film that falls short of being great by playing it too safe in the second half of the movie.  But I will say that the movie contains one of my absolute favorite scenes from any Star Wars movie. I just hope that the success of this film will allow for more ambitious Star Wars movies in the future.

Arrow: Season Five

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A fantastic rebound from the disappointment of season four. It would seem that in the off season the creative team revisited the things that made the show great in the past. Half way through season five and  I would say that Arrow is back on track.  Stephen Amell, in the title role, continues to play this character with such conviction.

Metallica…Hardwired To Self-Destruct

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It’s been eight years since Death Magnetic, but overall it was worth the wait. The double disc release showcases a collection of fast and heavy songs by a rejuvenated band. Unfortunately all of the songs are not equal. I would say that if the band had trimmed the fat and lost two songs they would have had a killer single disc.

Captain America: Civil War

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A movie that contained not only great action, but also great drama. Civil War and the prior Captain America movie The Winter Soldier have really brought superhero movies to a new level. There is a lot going on in this movie, but the performances of Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. provide a solid foundation and help keep the movie grounded.

Doctor Strange

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Doctor Strange is Marvel’s latest superhero movie.  It stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role.   Benedict Cumberbatch joins the ranks of actors  like Hugh Jackman, Christopher Reeve, Harrison Ford and Patrick Stewart. What do they have in common?  It seems that they were born to bring to life certain iconic characters. Wolverine, Superman, Indiana Jones, Professor Xavier and in Cumberbatch’s case Doctor Stephen Strange. A great movie with a fantastic performance by Cumberbatch.

Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice

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I know it had it critics, but I loved this movie. Henry Cavill is super as Superman. Ben Affleck really nails the true essence of Bruce Wayne/Batman. His portrayal of Bruce Wayne is my favorite of any actor to date. I love Diane Lane as Martha Kent. Gal Gadot’s fantastic performance as Wonder Woman may be my biggest and most pleasant surprise of the year. The only real downside for me was Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor.  His was a different take on the character that did not really work for me.

Epica – The Holographic Principal

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I feel that Epica, a symphonic metal band out of the Netherlands, are the best band in their genre. The Holographic Principal is their seventh studio album and it is phenomenal. Epica continues to grow and evolve with each new album. Their unique and dense mix of thrash metal, opera, progressive rock, classical music, death metal and soundtrack scores continues to delight this metal fan a great deal.

Troy T.

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., A Reevaluation

I am currently in the process of rewatching the first season of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. With the third season winding down and the impending release of Captain America: Civil War, it felt like a good time to reevaluate the series. Six episodes in, so far, and I am enjoying the first season much more than when it first aired.

I must say that my expections of what I thought the show was going to be really lead to an initial letdown. Overall Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a character driven show that happens to be set in the Marvel universe.  I was expecting a fast paced show full of action and super powered heroes and villians.  At times there is a great deal of action and the appearance of super powered characters, but these are not always the main elements. The main thrust of the show is the characters, the slow reveal of their back stories and how they work together as a team.

It’s quite interesting rewatching the character development of the team from the begining knowing where they will wind up in seasons 2 and 3. In some way each member of the team has been through hell.  Each has grown, for better or worse, into drastically different versions of themselves throughout the show’s run.

There is some debate about one of the major plot twists in season one. Some feel that it was written in later, in reaction to the storyline of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But there seem to be subtle hints that perhaps the twist was planned all along.  If the twist was intended from the begining than major kudos to the writers.

To date Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been a very enjoyable show that has improved greatly with each new season. It is a nice piece of the ever growing Marvel cinematic universe.  It is also on a short list of my  must watch television shows.  Here’s to hoping that the series will continue to improve and have a long run.