ICS HALLOWEEN EXTRAVAGANZA!
|ICS’ers left to right –
Neil Wagenfer, Steve Vaught, Andrew Kent, Regina Vallerani, Robin Richards,
Charlie Wittig, Dave Henderson, Jim Childs
And for more great pictures – over thirty more photos of the fun that
evening – go to the ICS Halloween 2006 photo gallery that Betsy created
for your enjoyment. The photos were sent in by Dave Henderson, Gary
Roberson, Rick Arnold and Betsy Childs. It was a great meeting and
a fun party, thank you everyone!
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FEAR MAKES JERICHO COMPELLING
Jon Turteltaub, executive producer of CBS' hit SF series
Jericho, admitted that real-life tensions about North Korea's nuclear test
and fears of a possible nuclear attack help make the show more compelling.
"If people had no fear of nuclear bombs, then this show would kind of suck,"
he told the trade paper. "But if America was in a panic over nuclear bombs,
we probably couldn't make the show."
Turteltaub's intention isn't to prey on that fear in the
name of easy scares. Instead, he aims to create intriguing stories that
result from an examination of the way that the different characters—survivors
left isolated in a small Kansas town—react in a crisis situation.
"I think what we have all really focused on is less the
nuclear message and more of the sociology of how to behave when everything
goes wrong," Turteltaub said. “True leadership appears, and really hard
choices have to be made."
Jericho recently received a full-season order. Jonathan
A. Steinberg, Josh Schaer and Stephen Chbosky are credited as creators.
"I like ideas where when I hear the initial part of an
idea, it brings up thousands of other thoughts," Turteltaub said. "This
spawned a rash of other ideas—everything from the fact that all of life
would be changed by this event, through where life doesn't really change
at all if you live in small town and are already removed from the nonsense
of a big city." Jericho airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. PT/ET.
SOAP OPERA SUPER HERO
Marvel Comics has partnered with CBS' daytime soap opera
Guiding Light to produce an episode in which a character is zapped by an
electrical current and becomes infused with superpowers, including the
ability to levitate and to conduct electricity, according to The Hollywood
The episode, set to air Nov. 1, involves the show's Harley
Davidson Cooper character, played by Beth Ehlers. As part of the deal,
Marvel will produce an eight-page insert for some of its top comic titles
that involves Marvel characters descending on Light's fictional town of
Springfield to determine whether the new superhero is friend or foe.
HELLBOY TOON REMAINS TRUE
Tad Stones, director of Cartoon Network's upcoming animated
film Hellboy: Sword of Storms, said that the movie takes its story cues
from Mike Mignola's Hellboy comics universe, though it also features the
voices of actors from Guillermo del Toro's live-action 2004 Hellboy movie.
"Our animated films are much closer to the comic," Stones said. "Basically,
every [medium] has its own Hellboy universe, and Hellboy's creator, Mike
Mignola, is very careful to keep his universe separate. In our case, our
goal was to get [the characters], certainly, and the tone of the story
to be as close to the comic as possible."
In Hellboy: Sword of Storms, a university professor reads
aloud from a forbidden scroll and is possessed by the demons of thunder
and lightning, who attempt to awaken dragons hidden around the world. Stones
said, “The film is "kind of like a trip to Alice in Wonderland, but instead
of seeing the Mad Hatter, Hellboy falls into the world of Japanese folklore,".
He adds, "Hellboy doesn't know much of that, because he picks up this sword
and is transported into this world and has these varied adventures. We
find stories within stories, and he's trying to figure out what he has
to do to return back to our world.".
Hellboy: Sword of Storms is the first of two animated
Hellboy features to come from the mind of Mignola. "These movies are written
[to be]—and the Hellboy comics themselves are—PG, PG-13 at most," Stones
said. "These shows are like an animated X-Files, which has scares in it,
has certainly suspense, has moments where you don't know what's going on,
and that's OK."
Stones admitted that he defers to Mignola when it comes
to the storytelling. "My job is to keep the uniqueness of Hellboy, which
makes him different from any other comic character, and that's the point,"
he said. "There’s no point in taking Hellboy and turning him into the next
mutant in line." Hellboy: Sword of Storms premieres on Cartoon Network
Oct. 28 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT, during the network's Toonami programming block.
GALACTICA RUMORS SQUASHED
SCI FI Channel and its parent network, NBC, put to rest
fan rumors that SCI FI's original series Battlestar Galactica will make
the move to NBC. "There is no truth to this rumor," a SCI FI spokesperson
The rumor has appeared on fans sites such as the Battlestar
Galactica Site and been picked up by other entertainment news sites. "Word
has begun to circulate that NBC's acquisition of Battlestar Galactica is
in the 'waiting-for-the-ink-to-dry' phase at this moment, and an official
announcement could be days away," the Battlestar Galactica Site said.
Battlestar Galactica returned for its third season on
SCI FI on Oct. 6 and airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. It was the number-one
cable show in its timeslot for the night.
SUPERHERO WANNABES GET SECOND CHANCE
Its back and better than ever! SCI FI Channel has ordered
up an expanded second season of its hit original reality series Who Wants
to Be a Superhero?, starring Stan Lee. The second season, which is slated
to air next summer, will expand from six to 10 one-hour episodes. The show
is produced by Bruce Nash's Nash Entertainment and Lee's POW! Entertainment,
"Who Wants to Be a Superhero? was a success for us on
many levels last summer," said Mark Stern, SCI FI's executive vice president,
original programming. "The show garnered great reviews, attracted a record-breaking
number of younger viewers to the channel and held its own against some
very stiff competition on Thursday nights."
The first season of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? averaged
a 1.1 household rating (1.5 million total viewers), more than doubled the
year-to-date time-period average among viewers aged 18-34, increased the
number of 18-49 viewers by more than 74 percent and grew the 25-54 audience
by more than 44 percent.
TENNANT TALKS WHO
Russell T. Davies, executive producer of Doctor Who, and
star David Tennant insist they didn't consciously set out to make the 10th
Doctor different from his predecessors. Tennant (U.K. TV's Casanova) took
over the role from Christopher Eccleston, who left at the end of season
one; the second season of Doctor Who airs in the United States on SCI FI
Channel starting Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
"To be honest, I write them the same," Davies said. "I
think you can get very hung up on those adjectives: He's foppish, quirky,
eccentric, but it's better not to talk about it. I write it, and he does
it, and somewhere in the middle of that, it sort of works. I think it's
a big mistake to sit down and say, 'Oh, let's make him allergic to bananas
and left-handed,' because you just end up with a list of adjectives and
not a character at all. He is a man reborn in some ways, so he's got a
lot of energy, and it's interesting to watch that."
For his part, Tennant agreed. "I think there's always
a danger with characters that are this kind of open-ended of being self-conscious
and cocky," he said. "I think you can trap yourself in 'Oh, he must always
hop on a Tuesday,' and you're then left with this rather ugly mannerism
that you have to stick with for however long you're doing this."
Davies said that the Doctor is always the Doctor. "And
there is a huge amount that you just can't change," he added. "He goes
into a situation and is the hero and takes the moral high ground as well,
and you're just not going to get away from it. There's no point to trying
to come up with differences."
A longtime Doctor Who fan himself, Tennant
grew up with the series, not realizing that he'd one day be starring in
it. "Tom Baker was the one that I grew to love as a kid, and Peter Davison
as well," Tennant said. "I was 10 when he took over. I haven't really drawn
from either of them, but I suppose having a knowledge of the show and what's
gone before [helps], and, as Russell said, the Doctor is the Doctor, so
everything that he's been before feeds into what he is now in terms of
the character and probably the performance. I don't consciously think,
'Oh, I'll do this bit like Tom did!' But I'm sure it's all in there."
VENTIMIGLIA ON HEROES
Milo Ventimiglia, who plays Peter Petrelli in NBC's hit
SF drama Heroes, said that viewers have only begun to see the extent of
his character's ability to take on the powers of other superheroes. "There's
a physical pressure that Peter feels if he were in the room with two superheroes,"
Ventimiglia said. "The physical, the mental overwhelming that it could
possibly get him into, we do get into that. We do explore it. And also,
is he ever going to retain [it], or is it just when he's nearby somebody?"
Ventimiglia agreed that his character has the potential
to become one of the most powerful characters on the show, but won't be
any more important than the other heroes on the show. "We all play our
parts," he said. "And per the pilot, I think the storyline that was easiest
served was the Petrelli brothers. But all these other characters unfold
in interesting ways, and that's also what is part and parcel and integral
to the show."
The series will also continue to explore the love triangle
between Ventimiglia's character, art dealer Simone Deveaux (played by Tawny
Cypress) and prophetic painter Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera). "It's just
one of those complicated triangles that add drama to any situation, any
show," Ventimiglia said. "I think Simone's part in the show, with regards
to Peter, it brings him back to that earnest point of, well, why is he
doing this? She's actually the one that in future episodes kind of helps
him along, and is understanding and taking charge of this situation, this
opportunity, he's been placed in. And we'll definitely get into that more."
news movie news Silver Screen movie news movie news
SULU BEAMS UP FOR FAN TREK
George Takei has agreed to play his Star Trek character,
Hikaru Sulu, in an episode of the fan-produced Star Trek: New Voyages Web
Takei's character will age 30 years, with flowing hair
and leather clothes, in "World Enough and Time," a 50-minute fan production
being filmed at an old car dealership in the Adirondacks in upstate New
James Cawley, a fan who lives in nearby Ticonderoga, has
financed 15 years of such Star Trek episodes from his earnings as an Elvis
impersonator and plays Capt. James T. Kirk in this episode. Cawley said
that the episode will be released in March as a free Internet download
from his Web site.
CASINO REBOOTS BOND
Longtime James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli said that
the upcoming 21st film in the longstanding series, Casino Royale, essentially
reboots the franchise, right down to a new Bond: Daniel Craig, taking over
from Pierce Brosnan. Casino Royale, based on the first of Ian Fleming's
007 books, also sets the stage for future adventures—but it's anyone's
guess which direction the Bond films will head next, Broccoli.
"Well, that's going to be the subject of great debate
over the next six months," Broccoli said. "We are already working on a
screenplay, and I think we like the direction we are taking with Casino
Royale, and we'll continue along in that direction."
Casino Royale goes back to the early stages of Bond's
career, shortly after he achieved his "double-oh" status, and deals with
an early romance, with British treasury agent Vesper Lynd, played by Eva
Green. Unlike earlier Bond films, Casino Royale is grittier, more brutal
and more realistic, with few of the trappings of previous films.
For example, one character fans will likely not see in
the near future is Q, the MI6 quartermaster who created Bond's nifty gadgets
and elicited moviegoer laughs as he introduced them to a seemingly uninterested
"I think in Casino Royale, he relies much more on himself
than on gadgets, and I think that's worked very well," Broccoli said. "He
does have things like the car [a 2006 Aston Martin DBS]. In fact, our stunt
team was just presented with a Guinness World Record for spins, seven and
a half rollovers, which was amazing. The thing is the stunts in this film
are real, and I think the public loves that. I think they can tell when
things are real. I think the public appreciates that more than him coming
out with a gadget thatgets him out of a situation.".
ROGUE DEVELOPS 3-D FILM WITH CAMERON
James Cameron will produce an as-yet-untitled 3-D adventure
thriller movie for Rogue Pictures, Rogue co-presidents Andrew Karpen and
Andrew Rona announced on Oct. 30.
The story takes place in the world of cave diving and
will center on a father and son who become trapped and struggle to survive
deep below the Earth's surface.
Rogue has worldwide distribution rights to the feature
and will make the movie with Cameron's Earthship Productions, the production
company that the filmmaker founded to advance his extensive underwater
expeditions and documentary work of the past decade.
Emmy-Award nominee Gary Johnstone (Expedition: Bismarck)
will direct, from a script by John Garvin. Andrew Wight, producer and expedition
leader on all Earthship productions to date, will produce the film with
Rogue and Cameron will search for a cast of actors who
will be filmed in real caves in Mexico and Papua New Guinea.
The film will be shot with the 3-D Fusion camera system,
developed by Cameron and Vince Pace.
SINGER SIGNS FOR SUPER SEQUEL
Bryan Singer has signed a deal with Warner Brothers to
direct and produce a sequel to Superman Returns, with Legendary Pictures
expected to co-finance.
The sequel is tentatively intended for release in summer
2009, although the studio stressed that there's not even a script or budget
The sequel is apparently at the very beginning of the
development process, and, as with any other project, there are any number
of factors that must be addressed before it is given a green light.
Superman Returns grossed more than $390 million worldwide,
though it wasn't the performer the studio had hoped for.
In terms of casting, Warners has an option on Superman
Returns star Brandon Routh.
Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris penned the script for
Superman Returns based on a story they created with Singer. It's not clear
whether Dougherty and Harris will return for the sequel.
SHATNER CONFRIMS TREK TALK
Original Star Trek star William Shatner revealed that
he had "a long talk" with Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams about his upcoming
proposed 11th Star Trek movie, confirming earlier reports on TrekMovie.com
and elsewhere. Shatner joked when asked who he thought should assume the
mantle of Capt. James T. Kirk in the film, which is rumored to deal with
Kirk and Spock's first meeting.
"I think it's essentially uncastable," Shatner answered
with a wink. He also dismissed a suggestion that he have a cameo in the
movie, which was also the subject of rumors.
Asked about his currently airing Trek-themed DirecTV commercial,
Shatner admitted that visual effects shaved years off of him. "They've
got me CGI'd," he said. "They've got a computer program trying vainly to
make me look younger."
BLACK SHEEP PICKED UP
IFC and the Weinstein Co.have teamed to pick up Black
Sheep, a horror comedy about good sheep gone baaaaad, for North American
distribution, Variety reported. (no really)
Black Sheep follows two brothers on a New Zealand farm,
one of whom has created genetically modified sheep who begin to run amok.
IFC will handle theatrical release on its First Take label; TWC will
release on DVD through its Genius Products homevid arm. The New-Zealand-shot
Sheep was produced by Live Stock Films and Philippa Campbell; the New Zealand
Film Commission financed and sold it. Jonathan King helmed from his own
CAVIEZEL TALKS OUTLANDER
Jim Caviezel, who stars in the upcoming SF action-adventure
movie Outlander, dropped his usual reserve said that he's excited to be
part of the epic tale. "It's going to be big," Caviezel (The Passion of
the Christ) said. "Outlander is going to be big."
Caviezel is now in Canada shooting the film, which is
directed by Howard McCain and tells the story of a being from another galaxy
who crash-lands on Earth during the time of the Vikings. "It's kind of
like Braveheart and Highlander combined," Caviezel said. "Somewhat, and
really not, and much bigger."
Outlander, which was written by McCain and Dirk Blackman,
follows the story of a human-like alien on Earth in 509 A.D. and the monstrous
alien creature called a Moorwen that has followed him, threatening to destroy
all human life. Caviezel said that he has not yet seen the creature, which
will be created by designer Patrick Tatopoulos (I, Robot), but added that
it will scary. (Outlander is not related to the Diana Gabaldon book series
of the same name.)
The Weinsten Co. started shooting Outlander in the Halifax
area earlier this month. It co-stars Cliff Saunders, Patrick Stevenson
and Ted Ludzik. Caviezel can next be seen in Déjà Vu, an
SF action thriller that stars Denzel Washington and Val Kilmer and is directed
by Tony Scott; it opens Nov. 24.
HARK HELMING EYE 3
Hong Kong-based helmer Tsui Hark will direct Eye 3, third
installment of the Chinese-language horror franchise, which has already
given rise to two English-language remakes.
The sequel will again to be produced by Peter Chan's Applause
Pictures. It tells the story of a woman whose photographer husband is killed
in a mysterious diving accident and who is haunted by images of things
she has never seen. Shooting begins this winter. Casting details are not
The first Eye is being remade into an English-language
remake through Cruise/Wagner and Lionsgate. The second is in development
at New Line/Gold Circle. The first two Chinese films were helmed by brothers
Danny and Oxide Pang.
THING REMADE BY MOORE
Strike Entertainment and Universal Pictures will remake
John Carpenter's SF horror movie The Thing, with Battlestar Galactica executive
producer Ronald D. Moore writing the script. The 1982 original dealt with
a shapeshifting creature from outer space that terrorizes researchers at
an Antarctic station. That film in turn was a remake of the 1951 classic
SF movie The Thing From Another World, which was adapted from the 1938
short story "Who Goes There?" by legendary SF author John W. Campbell Jr.
Strike partners Marc Abraham and Eric Newman will produce,
and David Foster, who produced the 1982 film, will executive-produce.
The producers said they consider the new film to be more
"a companion piece" to the Carpenter film than a note-for-note remake.
CINEMA COMING SOON
NOV 22nd DECK THE HALLS
Cast: Danny DeVito, Matthew Broderick, Kristin
Chenoweth, Kristin Davis,
Premise: Danny's latest dream - to create the
biggest holiday light display in the world, visible from outer space -
is turning Steve's disciplined world into a chaotic nightmare. As Danny's
home explodes with festive lights of incredible design, increasing complexity,
and exponentially-growing wattage, Steve becomes a man on a mission. At
any cost, he will thwart Danny - or top him.
MUST SEE MOVIES FOR YOU!
NOV 22nd DEJA VU
Cast: Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer, Paula Patton,
Bruce Greenwood, Adam
Premise: That flash of memory when you
meet someone new you feel you've known all your life. But what if the feelings
were actually warnings sent from the past or clues to the future? It is
déjà vu that unexpectedly guides ATF agent Doug Carlin through
an investigation into a shattering crime.
NOV 22nd THE FOUNTAIN
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn,
Sean Patrick Thomas
Premise: Three parallel stories--about love,
death, spirituality, and the fragility of existence--as told through the
odyssey taken on by one man. From 16th century Spain thru modern day scientist
to 26th century astronaut, he travels to save the woman he loves
DEC 22nd CURSE OF THE GOLDEN
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li, Liu Ye, Chen Jin,
Premise: A period high drama that concerns the
volatile balance of power between the King and the Queen and his three
sons, which entails betrayal, deceit and passion--pitting the King against
Queen and father against sons.
DEC 25th BLACK CHRISTMAS
Cast: Michelle Trachtenberg, Oliver Hudson,
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Katie Cassidy
Premise- This is a remake of the 1974 slasher
classic about a psycho terrorizing a sorority house during the holiday
season. Ho Ho Ho!
Good bye farewellsfarewellsfarewells
Jane Wyatt, a three-time Emmy Award-winner
for her portrayal of the patient, understanding housewife and mother on
the classic 1950s family situation comedy Father Knows Best, has died at
age 96. She also will be remembered by the ICS as Spock’s mother in the
classic Star Trek TV series.
Wyatt was born Aug. 12, 1910, in Campgaw, N.J.
Her father, Christopher Wyatt, was a New York investment banker, and her
mother, Euphemia Van Rensselaer Wyatt, was a playwright, drama critic and
editor. She majored in history and took drama courses at Barnard College,
but she left after two years to become an apprentice at the Berkshire Playhouse
in Stockbridge, Mass. Her first appearance on the New York stage was in
Give Me Yesterday in 1931, and in 1933 she succeeded Margaret Sullivan
in Dinner at Eight on Broadway.
Signed to a short-term contract by Universal
in 1934, Wyatt made her screen debut that year playing the heroine's supportive
sister in James Whale's One More River. Her first on-screen lead was in
Great Expectations in 1934. Other of her films include lost horizon, hurricane
smith, none but the lonely heart, gentleman’s agreement, house by the river,
interlude and star trek iv.
Phyllis Kirk, the actress who played
the damsel in distress stalked by Vincent Price in House of Wax, a horror
movie considered the best of the 3-D films of the 1950s, has died. During
the rest of the 1950s, she often appeared in television anthologies before
being cast opposite Peter Lawford in The Thin Man, which aired from 1957
to 1959. The pair played Nick and Nora Charles in the TV series based on
the Dashiell Hammett book and the MGM movies that had starred William Powell
and Myrna Loy. She appeared in such films as three guys named mike, the
iron mistress, thunder over the plains, crime wave, johnny concho and the
sad sack. She was 79.
Tuba player Tommy Johnson, who brought to life
the low and ominous notes of John Williams score for Jaws, sent a chill
up the spine of anyone sitting in a darkened theater as the great white
shark came near, cutting through the water in pursuit of its prey, has
The first movie Johnson played on was Al Capone,
with a score by David Raksin. That 1959 film was followed by a seemingly
endless list highlighted by The Godfather, Close Encounters of the Third
Kind, the Indiana Jones trilogy, the Star Trek movie series, The Lion King
and Titanic. He was 71.
Arthur Hill, a veteran actor whose
career spanned over 40 years and will be remembered by the ICS for his
roles in the andromeda strain and futureworld, has died. He was 84.
Born in the Saskatchewan town of Melfort, he
was the son of a lawyer. After serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force
during World War II, he earned his degree from the University of British
Columbia. To support himself through school, where he planned to earn a
law degree, he found work with the Canadian Broadcasting Co. performing
in radio theater, and loved it.
He won a Tony Award for his work in the groundbreaking
Broadway production of Edward Albee's Virginia Woolf.
Hill was in such other films as I was a male
war bride (debut), miss pilgrim’s progress, the ugly american, harper,
petulia, the chairman, a bridge too far, a little romance, the champ and
making love. He starred in two TV series, owen Marshall and Hagen, and
guest starred in such genre television shows as voyage to the bottom of
the sea, the invaders, tales of the unexpected and murder in space (TV
Jack Williamson published his first
science-fiction short story in 1928, a year after Charles Lindbergh made
his historic solo flight from New York to Paris. The story, The Metal Man
appeared in an issue of the pulp magazine Amazing Stories when he was 20.
A pioneer of the genre and one of the longest-active
writers in the field, Williamson died of natural causes at his home in
"Jack Williamson was one of the great science-fiction
writers," said writer Ray Bradbury. "He did a series of novels which affected
me as a young writer with dreams. I met him at 19, and he became my friend
He once said that "science is the door to the
future and science fiction is the golden key". He wrote more than 50 novels,
including the alien intelligence, islands in the sun, Darker Than You Think,
land’s end (with Frederick Pohl), demon moon and stonehenge gate. His series
included legion of space, legion of time, humanoids, seetee and (with Frederick
Pohl) undersea eden, starchild and saga of cuckoo.
The Oxford English Dictionary credits Williamson
with inventing the terms “genetic engineering (in Dragon’s Island 1951)
and “terraforming” (in Seetee Ship 1951). He was 98.
Jack Palance, the leather-faced,
gravelly voiced actor who earned Academy Award nominations for Sudden Fear
and Shane, and who finally captured the Oscar almost 40 years later as
the crusty trail boss in the 1991 comedy western City Slickers, has died.
He was 87.
He was one of the best-loved bad guys in motion
picture and television history and kept acting well into his 80s.
He was born Feb. 18, 1919, and named Volodymir
Ivanovich Palahniuk and hailed not from the West but from the coal country
around Lattimer Mines, Pa.
A professional boxer in the early 1940’s, he
became a bomber pilot in WWII and after crashing his plane had to have
extensive facial reconstructive surgery. After the war he became a sportswriter
for the San Francisco Chronicle, but unhappy with the $35 a week salary
and on the advise of an actress friend, he decided to give acting a try.
He debuted on screen in Elia Kazan’s Panic in the streets.
Other of his films include the silver chalice,
attack, the barbarians, barabbas, the desparados, che!, portrait of a hitman
and city slickers II. His genre work includes the shape of things to come
(1979), without warning, batman, cyborg II and on T.V., dracula and dr.jekyll
Basil Poledouris, a composer whose
sweeping score for the 1989 miniseries Lonesome Dove won him an Emmy and
who became known for his bold orchestral sounds, has died.
"When we were all beginners at USC, he was the
most talented of any of us," said director John Milius, speaking of a 1960s
film school class that included future directors George Lucas and Randal
Kleiser (The Blue Lagoon).
Some of the films he scored were, extreme close-up,
the blue lagoon, fire on the mountain, the hunt for red october, quigley
down under, flight of the intruder, serial mom and cecil B. Demented (for
John Waters). His genre films included conan the barbarian, conan the destroter,
robocop and robocop III and starship troopers. He was 61.
THE LAST WARD . . .
Action movies are my vice.
I’ve spoken before in this column about my passions for certain
kinds of movies, starting with the Triple Play of our club: horror, science
fiction, and fantasy. I’ve talked about my love for westerns, and
I’ve discussed the merits of sports movies. I’ve even discussed comedies,
and I’ve argued many times that they just don’t make ‘em like they used
to. But it’s an adrenalin-soaked, pyrotechnic action spectacular
that really makes me sit up and beg for more.
You want to know a secret? It’s simply this: Action
movie lovers are not brain-dead idiots. It’s just the movies in this
category that sometimes flirt with frontal lobotomies. It’s true
what they say – that you often have to turn your brain off to enjoy an
action film. But when an action movie stumbles along that represents
more than visual proof that stuff blows up real good, one is pleasantly
I thought I could go to the Internet Movie Database for help,
but this time, the supersite failed me. When I scanned the Top 50
list of action movies found on the IMDb website, I was slightly confused
by the number of films that seemed to overlap. THE LORD OF THE RINGS
trilogy was cited as an action picture, but it rightfully deserves the
crown as the all-time best fantasy movie ever made. METROPOLIS is
listed as an action movie, for crying out loud, and anyone with potty training
and a brain can see that it stands as one of the greatest science fiction
movies ever. So I decided to skip the all-knowing, all-seeing power
of the IMDb and go strictly by my wits on this one. Which should
make for a pretty short column.
Where to begin? I think it might start with one simple
statement: I hate to be bored in a movie theater. If the moviemakers
want to grab my attention, they have to do it pretty quickly, and if they
want to hold my attention, they have to do it with style, flair, and imagination.
I like to be thrilled and surprised at the movies, and the older I get,
the harder this task becomes, because I’ve seen a lot of movies.
(If you’re reading this column, you probably have, too.)
This simple premise applies to all genres, by the way:
action, of course, but also horror, sci-fi, fantasy, noir, comedy, western,
political drama, musicals, even romance. (I’ve been known to sit
through a few of those, usually to please my wife.) When the movie
stubs its creative toe, I wince – and I start looking at my watch.
Or, even worse, I fall asleep. This happens most often at home, although
I’ve logged sack time in the theater, too – whenever the film had the word
Pokemon in the title, for example, or whenever the movie was a musical
set in Chicago. Here’s my point: when the movie sucks eggs,
it seems a little easier to disguise that fact when stuff is blowing up
all over the place, and you’ve already turned your brain off, anyway.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve seen plenty of bad action movies, and
just because they’re usually loud don’t mean they aren’t boring.
The worst action movies are the repetitious ones, the films that repeat
the same stunts and bits over and over. The best ones don’t repeat
themselves. Here’s where I agree with the ubercritic Roger Ebert,
who loved DIE HARD 2 because it was able to show him something new.
I’m speaking of the scene with Bruce Willis’ John McClane trapped in the
airplane cockpit, surrounded by grenades primed to explode. He straps
himself into the pilot’s ejector seat and launches a split-second ahead
of the explosion. The bird’s eye camera catches his figure as it
shoots toward the camera lens before falling back, which impressed jaded
ol’ Roger. It impressed me, too – because I hadn’t seen anything
like it before.
While I’m always a sucker for something new and different, the
best action movies are the ones that make me care about the characters.
Come to think of it, that rule applies to all the other genres, too.
It should be engraved somewhere on the Ten Commandments of Filmmaking:
Thou shalt create characters worth a damn. You know who I mean –
characters like John McClane, Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh, Ellen Ripley,
Indiana Jones, Peter Parker, Sarah Connor, Roger Thornhill, the “Bride”…and
a cop named Tequila.
Here are my picks for the best of the best. They all have
Characters You Care About, Kinetic Action to the Max, and Stuff That Blows
Up Real Good.
JOHN WARD’S BEST ACTION MOVIES
My only rule: when dealing with a series (which happens a lot in this
genre), pick one title to represent them all.
1.HARD BOILED (1992) John Woo at the peak of his skills, and there was
none better. Chow Yun-Fat oozes machismo as rogue cop Tequila, trying
to bring down crime triads and avenge his dead partner in the process.
Several dynamic set pieces, and the finale in a hospital is positively
2.ALIENS (1986) Science fiction? Only on the outside. As
soon as Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley returns to the alien planet with a cadre
of overmatched Marines, it’s full throttle all the way.
3.RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) So masterful, so respectful of the
genre, so dang much fun, that Paramount shoulda put up a “Republic Studios”
logo at the beginning, just for kicks. The movie that took us all
back to the days when the heroes carried bullwhips and crawled under moving
trucks and outraced giant granite boulders. With apologies to the
galaxy far, far away, this was the movie that made Harrison Ford’s career.
4.THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) Probably the greatest of the
costume spectaculars: all color, all daredevil wizardry, all romance, all
movie magic. The role Errol Flynn was born to play – and to think
that Warners almost put Jimmy Cagney in the tights.
5.SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) More character interaction than any three other
movies on this list, but the battle scenes are magnificent. (Pardon
me while I dig out my thesaurus; I think “spectacular” and “magnificent”
might be heavily overused in this column before I’m done.) Akira
Kurasawa’s greatest achievement.
6.DIE HARD (1988) One of my all-time favorite poster taglines: Prepare
to be blown through the back wall of the theater. And how.
Thanks to smartass cop Bruce Willis and master villain Alan Rickman, the
movie launched a whole sub genre.
7.KILL BILL VOLUME 1 (2003) I listed the first volume because there’s
nothing in the second volume to compare with the fight in the House of
Blue Leaves. Actually, very little in action movie history can compare
to that sequence, one of the greatest fight scenes ever. Uma Thurman
kicks butt better than any woman who ever wielded a samurai sword.
8.LETHAL WEAPON 2 (1989) The first movie introduced great chemistry,
pairing Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as bickering cops. The second
film upped the action ante, added a wisecracking Joe Pesci as a mob informant,
and that rare animal – a sequel better than its original – was born.
9.SIN CITY (2005) Honestly, I just didn’t see how Robert Rodriguez
could do justice to the ultrastylish, ultraviolent comic art of Frank Miller.
Man, was I wrong. Rodriguez solved the problem by keeping Miller
on set constantly as a co-director, and filming exclusively on green screens
to amplify the comic book effect. The best use of CGI I’ve ever seen,
next to Gollum.
10.TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991) James Cameron improves on the
original by adding a couple of twists: making the Schwarzenegger cyborg
a good guy, and making the bad terminator an unstoppable force that even
Ahnuld would not be able to beat.
And ten more, in no particular order:
THE MATRIX (1999)
BATMAN BEGINS (2005)
ENTER THE DRAGON (1973)
SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004)
THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974)
FIST OF LEGEND (1994)
NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)
CALENDER OF EVENTS
NOV 22nd DECK THE HALLS
NOV 22nd DEJA VU
NOV 22nd THE FOUNTAIN
NOV 25th ICS MEETING 5:30 pm.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!!