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Movie Pitch: DOOM (REBOOT)

Way back in 2005 there was an adaption of the infamous video game property DOOM starring Dwayne Johnson and Karl Urban. That film ended up being a commercial and critical failure earning only a paltry 56 million (worldwide total) on a 60 million budget. The major problem with the film, in my opinion, was that it diverted from the simplistic and satisfying nature that made the games so fun. Instead the story placed the focus on a search and rescue mission wherein a squad of space marines are sent to Mars and discover that the monsters of the film are actually scientific aberrations created by infecting the humans of the Martian site with a Martian chromosome synthesized from the bones of a long forgotten genetically advanced race. What? Where are the demons from Hell? The film gave more questions in the end than answers, and it wasn’t paying homage to the true spirit of the games at all. Now, if I were given the opportunity to draft a reboot of the property I’d follow the basic blueprints from the recent video game update in 2016.

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The basic plot of the story is that in the future we humans became entrenched in an energy crisis, so, the solution that we came up with was to build a technical facility on Mars that houses a portal to Hell where we siphon the dark energy from the demon realm to charge our i-phones. Eventually acolytes or otherwise corrupted individuals,  such as Olivia Pierce, make a pact with the demon realm for power and unleash the demons onto the Mars facility halting the energy production for Earth. The DOOMSLAYER, or main character, is reawakened by Dr. Samuel Hayden (the facility director on Mars that now inhabits an android after his human brain was lost to a deadly cancer) as a last ditch effort to stave off the demonic invasion.

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After being awoken, the DOOMSLAYER (the caps make it more fun!) goes on a violent journey serving up bone crunching and head splitting action until he travels to Hell and severs the connection between worlds. It’s a fast paced and gory affair with heavy metal accompanying the glorious melding of science fiction and fantasy in this revamping of the video game property and I think this new iteration could be translated into a supremely entertaining action/sci-fi/fantasy film. The three main points of focus here should be similar to the game in it’s momentum, horrifying character designs for the demons, and the absolutely gruesome displays of violence. This would definitely be a hard-R rating, but with movies like “Logan” and “Deadpool” out there earning accolades and cases of cold hard cash,  this proves that there’s an appetite for over-the-top violence when done right.

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As far as casting is concerned, I have four characters that I believe the story hinges on, and four actors that seem particularly appropriate for the requirements of such an adaption. Firstly I’d pursue Tom Hardy for our hero in the DOOMSLAYER (still fun, every time). He’s proven in recent performances like “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, and “Dunkirk” that he can act particularly well with a lack of dialogue, but he’s also especially great at conveying personality and attitude through actions like in “Fury Road”, and the DOOMSLAYER requires a certain amount of attitude through characterization.

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As for Dr. Samuel Hayden I would cast James Spader in the motion capture and voice over role as the mechanical genius overseeing the facility long after his body had rotted away. Up until the writing of this article I had assumed that it actually was James Spader doing the voice over in the video game reboot, he sounds exactly like Spader’s rendition of Marvel Comic-book villain Ultron. That role was actually from Darin De Paul, but I say bring on Spader, the android doctor had a dry sarcasm embedded in his performance that would be perfect for the character actor to play off of without entirely riffing his Ultron performance, they are definitely two different characters with different motivations and intentions.

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As for the ultimate villain of the story, Olivia Pierce, I would cast either Tilda Swinton (who would be fascinating in this role-though I doubt she would take it on), or Elizabeth Debicki. Both actresses have the look of the villain down, plus I feel they could both give some extra characterization to a villain that does have motivations behind her actions, but they are slightly cardboard-thin in the game. We can give slight altercations to improve such things through the acting, but still I believe both women would pull excellent performances out of an over-the-top adaption such as this.

 

This last role isn’t one that was in the game or the earlier film adaption, but instead of doling out weapons upgrades to the DOOMSLAYER through another A.I. type character like the recent video game reboot did-I would create a sort of comic relief character that would function as this role. I would cast Charlie Day in this role. As a facility worker that hid from the demonic invasion, you could have Day play the role of the scared but capable engineer that has secret knowledge of the weapons division. He could pop in and out of the story communicating to the DOOMSLAYER and providing support by pointing out where things like the chainsaw, rocket launcher, or say the B.F.G. are hidden. He could also support in the closing of the portal to hell at the end of the film, severing the connection between the realms. The DOOMSLAYER could choose to stay in hell? Or we could have Dr. Hayden take matters into his own robot hands by transporting the crucible (magical blade used to kill Olivia Pierce in the game) back to Mars to research for energy creating purposes, but not the DOOMSLAYER. There’s a lot we could do with the ending, but nonetheless, I think having a comedic relief character portrayed by Charlie Day could be a benefit to the film’s entertainment value.

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The last major choice I would pursue with this adaption would be to secure the writer-director team behind the “John Wick” movies, Chad Stahelski, David Leitch and Derek Kolstad. I believe the style and fast paced nature of what they’ve accomplished with “John Wick” and its sequel proves that they know how to direct action-not just well, but creatively. They’ve shown that they know how to build mythology effectively, and provide flare and personality through the action on the screen. If they can transfer their slick gunplay action to the realm of the DOOMSLAYER, they’d benefit greatly from this material.

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Combine all of these elements and I believe we’d have a hit on our hands. The market and box office numbers in the last few years have proven that the fantastical and the hyper violent can be a boon both creatively and financially. With committed talent and a stripped down bare bones idea of DOOM in place, I’m pretty sure we’d have an entertaining and profitable movie to put in theaters. I know I’d want to watch this!

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Movie Pitch: The He-Man and The Masters of the Universe Live-action Reboot

Sony Pictures is currently in pre-production (hell) for the live action reboot of the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe property. There have likely already been major choices made and machinations in place by now, but for the fun of it all here’s some of the major ideas I would pursue if given the reigns to a project such as this.

1. Cast Terry Crews as He-Man

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First and foremost, I would immediately seek out Terry Crews for the lead role in this film. From The Expendables to Brooklyn Nine-Nine Crews has the acting experience behind him to advance onto a leading role, and this property is one where I think he would excel in, not only for the look of the character, but also in the nature of the content. This is a fantasy/sci-fi adaption that can hardly be taken seriously, so why do so? I would expect a certain amount of serious threat to raise the stakes and conflict in the story, but there has to be levity here. Much like the recent Thor Ragnarok film from Marvel Studios, this should be a property that embraces the weird and hilarious nature of what’s happening onscreen, and I believe Terry Crews has what it takes to provide us with a compelling hero, but also, can you imagine him screaming “I HAVE THE POOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWEEEEERRRRRR!” in a big budget Hollywood movie? I want that more than I should.

2. Cast Bryan Cranston as Skelator

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Bryan Cranston has the perfect blend of gut-busting comedy chops paired with deadly serious threats. Just look at Malcom in the Middle and Breaking Bad if you have any illusions as to his ability to perform in either category. Cranston has experience in major Hollywood blockbusters and television alike that hearken all the way back to his days voicing costumed villains in Saban’s Power Rangers. I strongly believe that Bryan Cranston would be the perfect Skeletor in this adaption, he’s funny, he can be immeasurably menacing when he needs to, and he can pull off the specific kind of goofy interplay that could work in a film such as this.

3. Get Taika Waititi to direct

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Now that he’s proven himself as a capable big budget filmmaker with Thor Ragnarok, after his smaller but seriously grand films What we do in the shadows, Hunt for the wilderpeople, and Boy– Waititi should get more opportunities to handle larger productions if he so chooses. I think this property presents a great opportunity for the kiwi director as it’s similarly a blend of fantasy and sci-fi genres like his recent success, but also because he might have even greater control with He-Man. I doubt there would be riots over departures from the source material here and he could take the ideas in play to greater rewards thematically and financially, he’s got the Marvel (magic) touch right now and a great sense for what works in good storytelling.

4. Be self aware of the inherent silliness of such a property

My last suggestion for this adaption is one that can be applied to the film as a whole. If you’re going to craft a film about a character that’s the most powerful man in the universe and have him battle a skeleton sorcerer with his giant green-striped battle tiger at his side, well, you should have fun with it. Embrace the oddities that made the cartoon ridiculous but fun in the first place. Also, as always, I would hope for practical effects, real costumes, shooting on location etc you’re making a movie not a video game- embrace it!

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Movie Pitch: A course correction for the “Alien Versus Predator” film series

I don’t know about you, but I found both of the “Alien vs Predator” movies to be rather lacking in quality. Which is a massive disappointment considering both sci-fi/horror icons come from series that are pillars of the modern genres that they helped to pioneer. That’s not to say I didn’t find aspects of both films that were entertaining, but the initial flick was rated PG-13 and didn’t do enough with either property- while the sequel was drowned in darkness and went way too over the top to amend the misgivings of the first. Probably shouldn’t have opened the sequel with a child getting a heart to heart with a squirmy facehugger. So, I’m going to offer a few ideas as to how I would make a third entry into the series and revive the respective space aliens and their age old struggle.

1: Set the film in space

The initial flaw of the first two films, in my opinion, was that they followed the structure put in place of the Predator flicks by setting the stories on modern day Earth. For the third entry, I would flip that idea and set the films in deep space. Put the Predators in the world of “Aliens”. In fact, I would take inspiration from the video game “Alien: Isolation” by placing the story in a gigantic space station that has been taken over by a nest of Xenomorphs.

2: The timeline should be post “Aliens”/in the future

I would set the film after the events of “Aliens”, not being directly related to that film, but taking place after that film in the timeline. In order for the humans to have any kind of impact I would give them the benefit of this time jump when we have superior weapons and technology. I would also keep the world tactile and retain that “lived in” sensation partly by keeping the eighties technology, something that looks old and outdated-but is actually futuristic in its ability. As a side note, I would embrace practical filmmaking practices as much as possible. Real, large, sets built from scratch, costumes, animatronics, and slimy oozing gore.

3: Make the Xenomorphs great again

Okay, ignore the political subtext, it simply made me chuckle. Now, one of my favorite aspects of “Alien” and its sequel are the fact that these creatures are horrifying. They’re essentially space raptors. We should treat them as such. Show that they are capable of being an intelligent species-not purely a source of fodder for the predators’, or humans’, weapons. Maybe have them trick the humans into falling into a trap, much like coyotes or wolves operate with a pack mentality.

4: Have the Predators pull the strings

As the galactic hunters that they are, the Predators should be the driving force behind the plot’s movement, even if the viewers are unaware of this as its happening. In this story I would set up the Predators as a small group of elite hunters tasked with eliminating this alien nest. We could play with the possibility of this being a sort of “last stand” scenario for the aliens in this section of space? Or the Predators motivation could be that they don’t like the idea of a space station filled with Xenomorphs so close to their own planet? There are a few different ways this could go, however I do enjoy the idea of the Predators subtly manipulating the space marines into checking out this station. Or, another possibility is that the space marines were sent there independently, as a response to a distress signal, but the Predators use the marines to their advantage when they discover humans also milling about the derelict space station. Either way, I think the Predators using the humans as bait to bring out the queen they intend to kill would be a great deal of fun.

5: Humans storyline should be military based

The human element of the story should be present and at the center of the film. However, we are not the stars of the movie, the warring alien factions are. So, through this effort I believe creating bombastic characters from a military squad akin to the one in “Aliens” would benefit this story greatly. We cannot simply slavishly recreate those characters or scenes though. No one can take “Game over man!” from Bill Paxton, R.I.P. I would view this as a monster movie, set in space, with a horror aesthetic permeating it. We can meet new characters as the film progresses, survivors on the station etc. Obviously somebody also has to be an android in hiding.

Those are my ideas for a possible third entry in the “Alien vs Predator” series of films. I think this would be an excellent return to form if handled with care, and more than anything else- it’s a movie I want to watch. Maybe some day we’ll get something along these lines. So, what do you think? Comment below with any ideas you have for another film in this series or let me know what you thought of my rendition. Thanks for reading!

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Movie Pitch: Adaption of “Endurance” Ernest Shackleton’s fated Antarctic voyage

Recently I finished the book “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible voyage” and ever since I’ve been obsessed with what a film adaption of this tale would look like. Below I’ve assembled a cast and crew that would create a unique and vibrant adaption of this actual voyage. This is the story of Ernest Shackleton and his attempt to organize a crew, and a ship, to travel to the southern pole and become the first to traverse the Antarctic continent from sea to sea as his previous journey south ended with him being beaten to the south pole by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. This attempt would also go awry, as fate would have it, the crew of the endurance would never make it to the Antarctic coast. At about a day’s journey from their destination the Endurance became trapped in floating pack ice in the Weddell sea.

For months the crew of the Endurance stayed on ship hoping for the ice-floe to give, but its grip only tightened further until they had to abandon ship before the ice crushed the Endurance. Thus the crew camped out on the floe, surviving blizzards, sea life, starvation, and boredom until it broke up and they could make a break for land. It was a grueling journey with flares of mutiny, dog sledding races, soccer matches, theatre shows and musical entertainment by way of banjo. That doesn’t even cover the second half of the journey, which consisted of Shackleton and several crew members sailing in a twenty foot lifeboat across 800 miles (roughly) of raging seas in some of the most dangerous waters on the planet. The true story is thrilling, harrowing, and full of the extent to which humanity can struggle and fight just to live another day.

I haven’t, however, casted for the entire crew of the endurance. The Endurance’s crew consisted of 28 members including Shackleton, but I have tried to cast for the majority of crew members that have some sort of standout personality or that have moments over the course of their journey that play into a compelling narrative better. I’m sure there are regulars in the film casting world that would be capable of such scale and lengthy film shoots. I honestly see this as being a very long film because of the nature of the story, as a lot of it is the crew lying in wait on the floe, and later waiting on Elephant island, but it is sparsed with more intense times throughout. What has to be considered here is the essential world building, and the immersion of the story, as it is in the world of 1914, during World War One. I’d suggest longer takes and shots, lingering on thought and expression at times. Look at “The Hateful Eight” (Ironically this is a film I initially did not enjoy but have come to find it to be more of a masterpiece in some regards) and how patience in camera work made for better and more intuitive character moments, it also helped to set the mood for the narrative.

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Iñárritu proved incredible skill as a director in both “Birdman” and “The Revenant” winning two Best Director oscars for both, two years in a row, with “Birdman” receiving Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture as well. Shackleton’s story does share similar themes that “The Revenant” also tackled, ‘Man versus Nature’ and the grit to go through extreme hardships, but the Fate of the Endurance and her crew is a bit different. There is no revenge here, just man tempting the fates of nature and getting a horrid hand of cards dealt their way, but striving nonetheless. It is about the neccesary implementation of optimism and hope, even in the darkest of times. Alejandro Iñárritu has done groundbreaking things with his cinematopgraphy choices in both “The Revenant” and “Birdman” and I believe he could do wonders with this material.

Writers: Steven Zaillian and the Coen brothers

Steven Zaillian was one of the main screenwriters on “Gangs of New York”, which is in my opinion one of the very best films set within a historical context. That film is grounded and has a good sense about the world that it has to efficiently emulate and become. Combined with the Coen brothers who have an extensive record of creating films within very specific time settings (from “The Big Lebowski” to “O Brother Where Art Thou?” and  “Inside Llewyn Davis” among others), not to mention their outright skill in the writing department AND the fact that they’ve been known to join in on the writing efforts of other films at times (“Bridge of Spies”). This is a team that has the credentials and the skill to pull this film off.

Cast:

Ernest Shackleton (Expedition Leader): Liam Neeson

With Shackleton being of Irish descent I believe Liam Neeson is uniquely qualified to pull off the stoic optimism of this legendary explorer excellently. While Neeson has recently evolved into an action star in the last decade he has the gravitas and grit when needed, just look at “The Grey” (For the ‘Man versus Nature’ argument) and Scorsese’s upcoming film “Silence”, a story of jesuits sent to 17th century Japan to retrieve a fellow jesuit wherein Neeson portrays the mentor of the jesuits. Shackleton was a born leader and it was under his authority and compassion that led them all to survive. Shackelton’s mantra of unity and show of humanity was infectious among the crew, often leading them all to rise to his example and treat each other with tremendous compassion. He broke the barriers between the classism that was more present in society at the time. He ordered everyone to perform all tasks, he even washed the floors himself and served the men hot milk (One of the few morsales of food and liquid available at the time) when trapped on the floes. To Shackleton, survival and maintaining the morality of the crew was far more important than any scrap of glory once he knew they would never make it to the Antarctic coast, he simply changed gears and made new goals, mostly that of the crew’s survival and return home. Liam Neeson could portray that confidence, optimism, and sense of checked urgency without folding under the immense pressure that Shackleton was constantly facing. Plus-an argument that could be made for each of these actors included below- who wouldn’t want to work with the director that just won two best director oscars and won one best picture, but was nominated for it twice?!

Thomas Orde-Lees (Storekeeper): Martin Freeman

Orde-Lees was a particularly sassy fellow as far as the rest of the crew was concerned. Labeled a prima donna by some of the crew, he held one of the most perceptive journals out of everyone as he so often complained of others’ nuisances, in his eyes. After Freeman’s performance in “The World’s End”, among many other films and shows,  I am convinced that Martin Freeman could pull off the slightly adverse crew member with his somewhat grumpy demeanor and general negativity towards their odds of survival.

Frank Worsley (Captain/on South Georgia trip): Michael McElhatton

As Captain of the Endurance Worsley needs a character actor with a presence, and Michael McElhatton has presence in spades. You might know him as Roose Bolton, Ramsey’s father, from Game of Thrones. This role would be far less antagonistic than that of the Bolton clan but his projected power in leadership that he portrays on Game of Thrones would most likely transfer to film well. He was also chosen to go with Shackleton on his treacherous journey to South Georgia Island from Elephant Island as Worsley had become adept at navigating in the ever worsening conditions ever since their departure from “Patience Camp” on the pack ice.

Frank Wild (Second-in-command): Eddie Marsan

Eddie Marsan may have portrayed a pushover in the film “The World’s End” but I believe he not only has the smaller framed look of Wild, but the acting ability as well. Wild was an important player in this journey as he often was confided in by Shackleton, and he took on many roles once everything had turned from exploration to that of survival. Marsan has had an incredible amount of side character roles in television and film and is well rounded enough to be able to pull this off efficiently.

Huberht Hudson (Navigator): Tim Roth

Hudson was an indespensible asset on the Endurance as he helped them to find their position while lost at sea on their floating savior/menace of ice. Tim Roth is equally indespensible in every film or show I’ve seen him in and I believe he’d only add gravitas to the ordeal.

Thomas Crean (2nd officer/on South Georgia trip): Sean Bean

While not as commanding a role as he’s had before, this role would be a bit different for Bean. A tough everyman for the English in 1914 Crean proudly became the ‘Father’ of a set of puppies on the trip proving to have a heart of gold under that rugged exterior. Crean is also one of the few characters that travels with Shackleton through the 800 mile journey to South Georgia Island. You need strong willed character actors to portray the enduring battle for survival, and Sean Bean can emote strength, loyalty, and respect effectively. Crean was a man that followed orders, but didn’t quit when it got tough, for he was tougher.

George Marston (Artist): Daniel Radcliffe

As with “Swiss Army Man” and “Horns” Daniel Radliffe seems to be choosing odd yet fun roles since his departure from the wizarding world of magic and nothing would set him apart from that realm of storytelling more than a hard dose of realism set against the backdrop of a dying breed of conquest and adventure at the beginning of World War One. Marston may not have been the biggest standout character among the journey, but he has a unique perspective from the other crew as the journey’s official Artist, he could play with the material within common sense for the character and make smaller moments shine whereas others may not be able to do as much with the role.

Frank Hurley (Photographer): Simon Pegg

Hurley had an interesting perspective within this journey as the photographer of the expedition, he took (and saved) all the pictures and film we currently have today. In fact the picture at the top of the article was taken by Hurley and has Frank Worsley and Lionel Greenstreet in the picture with the Endurance in the harbour of South Georgia Island below, the last stop before getting caught in the pack ice. As such a character, one that frames and views people and spaces, Hurley has qualities that I think Simon Pegg would excel at portraying. Pegg is exceptionally good at imbuing heart and he has a genuine authenticity that would play well into such a character.

Harry McNeish (Carpenter/on South Georgia trip): Walton Goggins

McNeish would be an especially fun role to have Walton Goggins in. As the only member of the party to really step forward to begin a mutiny, before having Shackleton firmly stand his ground as the authority figure, McNeish has a special amount of conflict within his character. He is also one of the crew chosen to go with Shackleton on the trip to South Georgia as his loyalty and ability to influence others came into question. Goggins is rightfully getting more recognition in the film world due to his scene stealing role in “The Hateful Eight”, and I feel he could do this role justice.

Charles Green (Cook): Charlie Day

In my opinion Charlie Day should be in more and bigger roles whenever possible. His antics on the show “Its always Sunny in Philadelphia” are ridiculous and entertaining, but out of the other roles he’s popped up in, I believe I see talents greater than that of Charlie Kelly, ‘King of the Rats’ (Although I do love that character). Green was noted as having a squeaky voice and being conscientious- yet scatterbrained. Does this not sound like the character type Charlie Day has become known for? As the chef that continually serves the crew in the worst of conditions Charlie could have ample opportunity to flex the role and show off his ability to weather any storm and survive, if he can bring anything from the Charlie Kelly character- it would be his skill in survival.

John Vincent (Seaman/on South Georgia trip): Adam Baldwin

You may remember this Baldwin from a little sci-fi show from the early 2000’s called “Firefly”. As Jayne on that show Baldwin expressed a lot of what we’d need for Vincent, essentially a strong strongman (Vincent had been an amateur boxer and wrestler before taking on work on the open seas) that attempts bullying behavior among the crew and is thus also picked by Shackleton to go on the journey to South Georgia, he’s loyal, just slightly antagonistic. Adam Baldwin could excel in this role.

Timothy McCarthy (Seaman/on South Georgia trip): Sharlto Copley

This may be a smaller role on the journey but as one of the capable seaman on the trip Copley could have great fun in being an eternal optimist in the worst of it. He was also chosen to go on the journey to South Georgia and maintained a sunny attitude once proclaiming “Another fine day” to McNeish when switching shifts at the till, to which I believe McNeish later recorded in his journal as “Insufferably optimistic”, but don’t quote me on that.

Lionel Greenstreet (First Officer): Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman is an actor with an incredible set of range, just watch “Kate and Leopold”, “The Wolverine”, and “Les Misérables” to get an idea. As an outspoken officer aboard the ship Greenstreet held his level of authority and was well liked. Later in the expedition he ran one of the dog teams and ended up killing an 800 lb Weddell seal with the help of Dr. Macklin. Jackman would be yet another indespensible asset to the film.

Leonard Hussey (Meteorologist): John C. Reilly

John C. reilly has done serious roles before (“Gangs of New York” for example), and he would fit in well here. Hussey had little qualifications going into the trip but Shackleton eyed his potential crewmates with more than just record and experience although those were ample qualifiers as well. He relied on gut and intuition. It paid off with Hussey as he was rather proficient at his work.

Dr. Alexander Macklin (Surgeon): Christoph Waltz

Macklin was a worldy man having been born in India and traveled globally before his family returned to England where he began his certification to become a doctor. When he was interviewed by Shackleton for acceptance on the expedition he asked Macklin what was wrong with his eyes, as Macklin wore glasses, he humorously replied “Many a wise face would look foolish without them” That clinched the decision for Shackleton and he was aboard the Endurance. After they became trapped Macklin was put in charge of a team of dogs, his quickly became the best team of all the men, running sledges through the ice from the ship before it was crushed entirely. They also held races in the ice to abate boredom and apathy. Once getting to Elephant island Macklin and the other surgeon remained on the island to attend to Rickenson (one of the seamen) as he had a heart attack upon reaching the island, and Blackboro as he’d gotten gangrene on one of his feet and eventually had it removed. Christoph Waltz has the charm and wit to pull this character off well enough, plus giving him a worldly background would be easy for such a wordly actor.

Perce Blackboro (Stowaway): Paul Dano

Paul Dano does sadness and uncertainty incredibly well, see “Swiss Army Man” for a perfect example of this. As a stowaway who is caught and given work only to have an awful time after that, Dano would excel in this young character’s fear of being stranded on the ice. Even worse is the fact that he loses a foot due to gangrene after they leave the floe in the boats, being awash in freezing cold saltwater consistently for seven days straight without being able to move and almost no sleep and even less food will do that. Dano is amazing at emoting during times of struggle and strife, and this role is full of that.

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Movie Pitch: Live Action “Up”

Recently on an episode of MovieFights! by Screenjunkies on youtube, their guests were posed a very interesting hypothetical question. “Which Pixar movie should be made into a live action film?” One of the answers submitted was “Up”, the adventure bound tale of Carl Fredricksen, a disgruntled old man living alone in his home, and Russell, a young plucky boy scout full of optimism. Immediately I thought of several creative talents that I believe would make an incredibly entertaining adaption of the film while still maintaining a faithful rendition of the source material. Many of you know this film already, but mainly it’s about those two getting wrapped up in a whimsical international adventure in Fredricksen’s house as its hoisted by balloons through the sky. It’s one of Pixar’s greats and if it were adapted for live action you’d need to bring real talent to the table to successfully transfer the quality of this animated story to celluloid status.

Director: Steven Spielberg

Spielberg has the right kind of optimism in his directing style that would mesh well with his knack for adventures that can be viewed by anyone without pandering to children or adults. Obviously the man could adapt almost anything and have it be some sort of success but I believe his most filmic qualities play into making this adventure memorable and full of heart.

Writers: Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright

Both “Star Trek Beyond” and the cornetto trilogy by Edgar Wright (‘Shaun of the Dead’, ‘Hot Fuzz’, and ‘The World’s End’) prove that these two can imbue blockbuster flair with the intimacy of true character moments sparsed throughout their screenplays. I’m betting these two would make for quick witted quips and whimsical wordplay that fills you with wonder. They’re the right men for the job!

Cast

Carl Fredricksen: Mark Rylance

While Ed Asner’s voiceover work in the animated version was decidedly impeccable I doubt he would be as capable today at the age of 86 to pull off the performance, no harm meant however, the man is a legend. Mark Rylance, while a spry 56 years old, still has the look for an older gentleman and he hasn’t (since his scene stealing role in “Bridge of Spies”) had the opportunity to perform the curmudgeony role of Carl Fredricksen’s type, most of his performances paint him as likeable, he could have some fun with this one.

Russell: Julian Dennison

After his scene stealing turn as Ricky Baker in “Hunt for The Wilderpeople” Julian Dennison has proven his acting ability and outstanding charisma. Alongside Mark Rylance this could be another proving ground with a somewhat similar pairing as his previous outing, yes, but what a tantalizingly entertaining performance it would be.

Charles Muntz: Brad Pitt

Having the caliber of acting that Brad Pitt brings to the table could be the perfect dash of celebrity in this scenario. Muntz is a rich billionaire obsessed with finding the rare bird (Kevin) that follows our heroes around diligently. With the character being based on Howard Hughes and other classic americana adventurers Pitt could find merit and fun within this performance.

Voice of Dug the retriever: Paul F. Tompkins

Anyone that’s seen Netflix’s animated show “Bojack Horseman” can tell you that Paul F. Tompkins definitely has the voice of a golden retriever, because he plays one quite well in the form of Mister PeanutButter. I can’t think of a better voice work actor that could measure up for this sort of role than Mister Tompkins.

Kevin (the Bird) Noises: Bill Hader

This one is more of a fun suggestion really. If Kevin the bird came down to being voiced by a human instead of a sound design team producing the animal’s gutteral noises who better than Bill Hader to come in and record all kinds of ridiculous sounds for Kevin? He’s had multiple voiceover performances in the past and has proven to be another quality tool in any director’s bag of tricks when utilized, let the man crow and caw.

Those are my thoughts and musings on how I would organize a live adaption of the Pixar animated movie “Up”. Agree with my choices? Either way coment below or leave your own thoughts on the topic! As always, thanks for reading!

 

 

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Movie Pitch: Indiana Jones (5) and The Lost City of Atlantis

Now that we know Steven Spielberg will be directing the fifth Indiana Jones with Harrison Ford returning as the titular treasure hunter we can have some fun speculating in the meantime. What follows is not just a movie pitch, but an idea that I believe would make for a strong entry in the adventure series. Obviously, not all will agree, and that’s okay. Lets just all dream of a better Indiana Jones sequel together.

Okay, so:

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: *Not George Lucas

Cast: Harrison Ford, Shia Labeouf (patience), Daniel Day-Lewis, Chris Hemsworth & Mark Rylance

Plot:

It’s 1963 and Shia Lebouf’s Mutt from “Kingdom of The Crystal Skull” is on the trail of a South American war monger (Daniel Day-Lewis) that’s been manipulating villages into mind controlled slaves. Rumor has it the ruthless leader of the violent gang was seen with an artifact that allows for such a transformation over mind and body. Mutt tracks the gang but gets too close, seen, and caught. The man-in-charge leaves no prisoners and sends Mutt’s corpse back to the closest inhabited town to ward off any other would-be pursuers.

We find Dr. Jones examining a recently discovered temple in Central America when he receives word of Mutt’s demise. With Marion back stateside, bed ridden with a worsening case of alzheimer’s, Indy swears to find out the truth behind his son’s death. He leaves for South America with his most recent collegue, Samuel Kern, (Mark Rylance) an expert in diseases of the mind and tribal languages along with his steadfast assistant Kel Worth (Chris Hemsworth).

From there the group follows the trail of the band of criminals as they weave further into the jungle. Indy and company slowly piece together what they are after upon spotting them. It is not immediately revealed that Daniel Day Lewis’s character is a former Nazi, that comes later, but what they do figure out is that Lewis and his gang of miscreants are after the Lost City of Atlantis.. but why? To revive the catatonic body of Adolf Hitler that they have been hiding in secret all these years, of course. It turns out he was wounded upon their exit of Germany, the body that the allies found in the bunker was obviously an illusion to throw the allied governments off their trail.

The elite team of escaped Nazis want to raise Atlantis out of the depths because of the rumored healing properties and psyche warping abilities surrounding the small continent-city. I’d honestly love them to succeed until they get to the altar where Hitler is woken and placed in the device, only to have his face melt off similarly to the scene in “Raiders of The Lost Ark”, because who doesn’t want to see Hitler get his face melted off?

There’s a lot in play that could be changed or altered, but I believe there is a solid idea in there for a compelling return, and end, to the Indiana Jones film series.

Filmmaking ideas:

This film will need a lot of underwater shots. Who knows, maybe this will be what excites Spielberg the most, a new filmmaking challenge. He could even have James Cameron on as an advisor with his groundbreaking work in the waves.

I would almost entirely stick to on location shots, props, and huge sets as much as possible. Indiana Jones lived in the first half of the 20th century, and that was a far more palpable and tactile world than the one we live in now. At least in the romantic sense.

Mutt lives?

I feel like this could go either way. It would likely just be seen as fan service and a darker turn for the series so maybe killing the character off wouldn’t be the best bet. I wouldn’t want the character to go down the same path as Indiana Jones however, he should have his own story. I’d also be interested to see what Shia Labeouf himself would like to do with the character, with the amount of hate this movie (somewhat unfairly in my opinion but I recognize I’m in the minority on that one) received I doubt he would want to return unless it was worth his while. Maybe he’s thought of a tasteful way to end his character, or maybe he just wants an off screen death and nothing to do with the production. Although why anyone would want to turn down any amount of work with Steven Spielberg is beyond me.

Location of Atlantis

Originally I thought it could be fun to play with the myth of the Bermuda Triangle. The lost city’s docile effects on nature being the turbulent storms that the area is known for.. and mind warping, which could explain all the downed ships and planes over the years. However if we’re going with a more reality based concept Atlantis was probably located far closer to the “western world” at the time, Greece, Rome, etc. Although certain accounts only cite that it is “Far off in the Atlantic Ocean” and that it was “larger than Ancient Libya and Asia Minor combined”

Artifact that draws them to Atlantis

My Atlantis lore is a little rusty at best but all we really need is a good Macguffin, all of Indy’s stories have a solid one. Of course the screenwriters could simply make something up entirely that has no basis in lore, but if there was a viable object in particular that would be nice.

Casting

Obviously getting Daniel Day-Lewis for an Indiana Jones movie, especially as a Nazi on a quest to revive the Führer, would be difficult to say the least. Let’s be honest though, he’s won three academy awards for best actor, the man has absolutely nothing to prove. If he wanted to pursue a roll in one of cinema’s classic series and bring an unprecedented level of gravitas to a potentially generic role otherwise, why not? He’d probably have a great deal of fun in the process as well, but who am I to say? I’d simply just love to see him do it, especially after his scene stealing role in “Gangs of New York”.

I chose to add Mark Rylance to the crew because Spielberg loves to work with his regulars and adding Rylance to the series couldn’t hurt for the level of acting he would bring as well. Plus He’d be another knowledgable character to aide in the search for Atlantis.

Chris Hemsworth as Rylance’s assistant/personal body guard would add a youthful charisma to the team. He’s also entirely capable of acting as the tough and foreboding muscle, or a sort of “thief with a heart of gold” type. Plus somebody has to be able to throw a solid punch around besides Indy, and even he’s getting up there.

Thanks for taking the time to read and (hopefully enjoy) my musings on what I think would be a fun take on ending the Indiana Jones series now that we know we’ll be getting another one anyways. What would you like to see in the next/last Indiana Jones film? Let me know in the comments!

 

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantis

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Movie Pitch: Tree Loop

Genre: Quirky Comedy/Drama/part Sci-Fi

Director: Wes Anderson or Taika Waititi

Writer: Simon Pegg or Joss Whedon

Actors: Elijah Wood, Charlie Day, Zach Galifianakis etc

 

Charlie Day & Elijah Wood both work as Park Rangers in a giant Yellowstone-like National Park. Charlie Day is the opposite of everything Elijah Wood’s character stands for. The chaos to his order. Zach Galifianakis as the head of the Forest Rangers. Charlie Day is the veteran and Elijah Wood is the rookie being trained. Starts as a sort of “Day in the life of” scenario following Elijah on his first day of training at the Park. Charlie is a bit deshoveled and irritable,  he isn’t as devoted to the idea of the park as Elijah is.

They are sent to investigate an anomaly with a gigantic redwood tree in the forest. Elijah believes that Charlie doesn’t know what he’s doing and thus has no respect for him, which leads to him digging further into the anamoly with the tree. The tree’s identification is unknown to the public as it is the oldest known tree in the world. Elijah falls into a hole deep in the roots… the tree is one of the few spots on the planet that are in direct contact with the flow of the universe. This is a thread of connection between dimensions.

The rest of the story follows  Elijah’s character as he tries to find a way back to his dimension, but he never finds it. He can only enter the tree and fall into other different dimensions, there seems to be no rewind, or discernible path, between them. From here we can have fun with repeating the actors as slightly different versions of their characters in each dimension, sometimes they don’t even recognize or know Elijah’s character. He also has a doppelganger in each new dimension, but he doesn’t think of this right away. He eventually stumbles upon a dimension in which he happens to be an artist and finds peace in this new life. The message of the movie is that life is what you make of it, you may not have been born into royalty or fame and fortune, but sometimes you have to make the best of your situation. Elijah ends up impersonating himself and taking over this life and making the best of it.

I would peg the humor of the film as not exactly slapstick or modern humor, but rather just a weird ambiance with an embrace of the unknown and whimsy. Trippy and existential with lots of practical effects, I feel like a lot could be done with the premise and that a lot could be said with the ideas at hand. Personally I’m at a point where I’d like more unexpected turns being taken in films. Unpredictability is something I adore when I encounter it in films and keeping a fresh take on big ideas could be worthwhile!

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Movie Pitch: Tarantino’s revival of Pauly Shore

Who better than Quentin Tarantino to bring actors back from the dead? None. Which is why my pitch this time is a challenging one. How do you bring back “The Weasel” Pauly Shore to the silver screen without inducing the longest and loudest groan from moviegoers since Phantom Menace? Not an easy task. Pauly Shore himself has said he would like to return to acting, maybe even a redemption tale. Not a bad place to start.

Since Tarantino seems to be in a western phase right now, and as someone who loves westerns I’m loving it, so why not continue that trend? When’s the last time you saw a train robbery on the big screen, and done well? Lets all collectively forget about ‘The Lone Ranger’ and that it ever existed though. My point being, Tarantino loves doing homages to classic cinema, so I’m sure there’s part of him that desperately wants to shoot an old west train robbery/chase sequence. Lets have the story center on a wanderer, Shore, and a group of notorious theives in say, 1880. This gets us past the civil war and gives us more latitude for widespread use of trains by this time. Shore can play up aspects of his well know character, trying way too hard to be comedic, a klutz, someone that wanders into danger with no clue how to overcome it, and maybe he accidentally causes massive havoc in the same town where a train with a huge score is moving through and thereby makes it all that much easier for our gang of thieves and bandits to get away with their caper.

From then on out Shore’s character is determined to right his wrongs and track down the gang. He searches for a tracker, say Christophe Waltz or some other equal caliber actor to weigh out Shore’s persona, and together they hunt them down following a string of robberies. Obviously Tarantino could carve out a more clever throughline than that, but in his films you never need to sacrifice character moments, or good acting, for spectacle. You could have several larger sequences in the film, but they would only be the frosting on this old west heist.. cake. I’d love to see the tables turned and have Shore infiltrate the gang and turn them against one another, or sabotage them into authority’s captivity. There are many ways this story could twist and turn. Shore’s character work would also need heavy work, but this wouldn’t be the first time Tarantino changed an actor’s life or reception, and Pauly Shore is a grown man now, its time to purge him in a trial by fire, in the end he might come out on top. It could be worth the effort.

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Movie-Pitch: Adaption of “Ex-Heroes”

*Just a quick note, I’m dropping the “Monday” portion of these Movie-Pitch posts because, well to be fairly honest, sometimes I miss the Mondays, and I’d like to entertain the idea of quality movie pitches, and that doesn’t always happen on a clean schedule. I will continue to post as often as possible though, so thanks for reading, and enjoy!*

Do you like vicious blood spilling Zombies? How about bombastic super heroics? Then I have quite the Movie Pitch for you today. FULL DISCLAIMER though, I have not read the book I’m about to pitch to you reader, but the premise alone seems like an enjoyable romp. In 2010 Peter Clines authored a book called “Ex-Heroes” a zombie apocalypse tale set in a world inhabited by superheroes. After looking into the story of the book I found that it essentially reads like a summer blockbuster produced by JJ Abrams, not a bad thing, but only if he had the skills and urges of a seventeen year old. It seems that there is an adventure/horror tale in here that could be an excellent film adaption, it just needs the right talent behind it.

This is precisely why I think Alex Garland should helm this piece if its ever greenlit. Garland wrote the screenplay for “28 days later”, produced the new “Dredd” film, worked on the screenplay for Neill Blomkamp’s “Halo” movie when that was happening, and he wrote and directed this year’s excellent sci-fi film “Ex-Machina”. Obviously he knows good storytelling in a genre specific world. It seems the book might have missed some opportunities to tell a more nuanced story involving the human experience in all of this, which is understandable, with so much pop and excess being tossed around that’s a lot to juggle, especially without throwing in any existential dilemmas.

The characters need some work as well, if dozens upon dozens of reader reviews are worth their salt. They’re essentially all common caricatures of superhero lore. The boy scout, the elusive sex symbol, the anti-hero bad boy, the every-man teenager that developed powers, a lot of expected swaths of the superhero world. That is part of the allure though, putting these well known archetypes into a horror infused zombie setting is compelling, they just need fleshing out. Apparently there’s quite the lack of diversity as well, not only in the heroes, but in the characterization of other races. One threat that the heroes have to deal with is an all Hispanic L.A.gang that wants the weapons and ammunition that the heroes have stockpiled. I’m just saying, you can’t have the only representation of these heroes be all white and only have the threatening characters, and the situations they create, be purely people of color. That’s just bad juju and totally unrealistic too. Even blockbusters should work to reflect the world we all live in.

The book is told in past and present sections unfolding how everything came to be, which could work in film. Slicing the timeline like this is, in my opinion, a great story tool for this particular situation as it gives a bit of mystery to the whole question of “Wait, how did this happen?” This also allows for retconning characters backstories if need be. As I have not read the book yet, and I intend to eventually, I don’t have any specific casting choices, I have actors I’d like to see in this sort of movie, but I also don’t want to simply throw big name talent at the wall to see if anything sticks a la “Fantastic Four” either. (Forgive me because I am about to throw big name talent at the wall and see if anything sticks) The names Daniel Radcliffe, Elijah Wood, Brad Pitt, Anthony Mackie, Michael B. Jordan (I know, I know, FF and all, but he’s a damn good actor), Joseph Gordon-levitt, and Oscar Issac, come to mind. All could be fine choices, but I need to take the time to really know the source material first. There’s also the women involved as well. Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Famke Janssen, Charlize Theron, maybe even Emma Watson, or Emilia clarke too. I know, I’m not really focusing in or narrowing down on the performances, but I do believe there’s a world where these actresses, and previously mentioned actors, improve the quality of this story and elevate it above the state of the content to create a supremely fun genre piece. As long as there is an overall point to be made with this story, I think it has the potential to be something more than the promise of the premise alone. And that might be worth the effort.

That’s my movie pitch for this week! Thanks for reading!

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Monday Movie Pitch [On a Tuesday]: Expendables 4

First of all apologies for the late Movie Pitch this week, occasionally life can take precedence, and this week it did just that. Enough with the speed bumps however because this week I have a tantalizing pitch that I’ve been stewing over for quite some time now: The next iteration of “The Expendables” Franchise.

On the whole I’ve enjoyed “The Expendables” movies but as they continue the movies have an increasingly cumbersome issue with each episodic adventure. Each movie feels like just like the other but with different palettes of actors or explosive situations. It could be said that Marvel Studios films are getting somewhat into this same issue of overly consistent tone, but that’s a whole other issue in itself. As far as I’m concerned Sly and the Gang need to up the ante and change things up big time in the next movie or the franchise will die, especially given the horrific box office of last year’s third entry in the action heavy series. Granted, the numbers were particularly low because of the movie being leaked online two weeks before the release date, but any way you slice it 6 million for an opening weekend with the amount of star power involved just doesn’t add up. That’s simply bad news for everyone involved.

What I would do to revitalize the series is to play to the crowd of the audience, pitting the older action stars up against impossible odds, odds of a particular magnitude. Introduce a superhero into the mix. It’s the perfect direction for the series to reassert itself among the crowded super-powered market with a unique perspective. The trick is to cast a powerhouse in this role, somebody that’s charismatic, able to do action/CGI sequences well, and bring audiences along with him. That man should be nobody other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

I can already see the general outline of the plot. Act one has the Expendables sent to take out a young dictator on the world stage that has gotten unwisely bombastic with his nuclear weapon potential. North Korean assumptions can obviously be made here. Have Stallone and the team knock the palace doors down only to be out-staged by this new incredible force. They’re all out of the job after this sequence of events as the “hero” attempts to do as much as possible for humankind in eradicating war and instituting world peace. Eventually he must become either mad with power or deduce that he should be the earth’s sole leader because multiple sovereign nations will only ever result in war and discord. This is where the Expendables become important once more. After multiple countries attempt to nuke the Superman-like hero, and fail, the secret agencies that have been hiring the Expendables since day one step in and introduce some plot device or perceived weakness etc whatever they can do to trick, reason with, or kill the hero.

We could play into the otherworldly alien hero raised among humanity to save/destroy us storyline but that Superman “skin” has been used countless times as is. I prefer a “radiation/accidental act that transforms the everyday man” sort of event for this central character’s origin. For international appeal, and to make more sense for the global scale of the story, including new additions to the Expendables team from other nations would only help the formation of the group.

My top choices for additions to shake up the core team are as follows:

Jackie Chan: I’ve personally wanted JC in this franchise from the beginning since his contemporary Jet Li has had a spot on each film, small as they may have been. I shouldn’t have to explain why this would be a great deal of fun. Especially if he is against the use of guns.

Kurt Russell: Adding Kurt Russell to any movie is a wise decision in my opinion but he’s proven he’s ready to get back into the limelight with his “Furious 7” and “Hateful eight” roles and I’m sure any role they craft for him would be a blast.

Nicholas Cage: The franchise has gotten a bit ridiculous and if they want to be self aware and referential then adding in Nic Cage would be the just desserts. Especially if they need anyone to go crazy. He could be a conspiracy nut that knows everything on Dwayne Johnson’s character. Woody Harrelson would also fit this type of role… or Charlie Day, but that’s just because I love Charlie Day and will gladly advocate more roles for him.

Laurence Fishburne: The man that made Morpheus work has a certain gravitas to himself that would only help to bring balance to the team, plus he’s proven himself many times over the years for the type of work this film would likely entail.

Tom Cruise: Incredibly unlikely I know, but maybe they could squeeze an extended cameo sequence out of him similarly to how they utilized Chuck Norris in the second flick?

Charlie Hunnam: After “Pacific Rim” and “Sons of Anarchy” he could definitely be comfortable with a gun and growl, plus Stallone seems to enjoy the idea of “Young Blood” being added to the team.

Vin Diesel: Between saying “I am Groot” a hundred times and driving off of cliffs Diesel might be too busy to take on another franchise role anytime soon but no one can deny how much he could bring to the table in this sort of setting.

Idris Elba: Citing “Luther”, “Pacific Rim”, and his recurring “Thor” roles it comes to be seen that not only does Elba have a propensity for genre fair, but he’s a damn fine actor that can handle a one liner, or a monologue. Give that man a gun already!

Gerard Butler: “Shoot ’em up” alone has given this man enough action film cred to be involved in this series, let alone his glorious “300” role as King Leonidas. Give that man a sword, or a gun, or both- and let him have at it!

Chiwetel Ejiofor: I seriously doubt he would even want to take on this caliber of role, but his choice of the villain in the upcoming “Dr. Strange” film opens the conversation for more ridiculous options than the Oscar level work he’s currently being more associated with.

A few other recommendations for this film:

Make it a Hard “R” rating. All, or at least most of, the actors in the franchise come from action series where they are almost constantly killing hordes of bad guys in the process of achieving their goals, let them be who they want to be. Let the movie be what it wants to be too, going PG-13 for a wider audience only alienates the core audience that clamors for this type of movie anyways. Oh and cut the CGI blood splatter and terribly awful renderings of tanks and helicopters, we can all see how terrible it is and in the year 2015 we shouldn’t have to see blatant budget choices every time a bad guy bites the dust.

Put Stallone back in the director’s chair again. I stand by the fact that the original Expendables was the best in the series. While I enjoyed the second one there were clear losses of vision and expertise on several levels that Sly had covered in the first piece. Granted I know this series is not known for Oscar nominated performances or the world’s most stunning cinematography, but the first film excelled in areas where the sequels lacked. Having Stallone back in the saddle again might alleviate these issues and help to keep the tone and feel he wants consistent with what ends up being the wide release version.

Kill one of the main characters. They are called the Expendables after all, right? At this point in the game a death in the family, and I mean a meaningful death *SPOILERS* not what we got in two where a newcomer is introduced and killed two scenes later. It would be a good motivator for the team, but it only works emotionally for the audience if we’ve invested in the character. I nominate Dolph Lundgren’s character. He’s gone through a lot in the series and it would maker sense thematically to painfully cut that chord. Nothing against Lundgren though- he’s great.

All in all this could be a potentially huge game changer for this series if pulled off well. Obviously there needs to be a lot more thought put into Dwayne Johnson’s character to make sure he is overwhelming but not omnipotent as well as pacing issues, and having enough for the action guys to do what they do best, shoot, cut, blow up, and punches to the face! Hopefully Sly can make the next one work because I enjoy the series and love the talent involved, its because of this that I want each installment to be better than the last. That’s my movie pitch for this week!