More Casting Announcements for The Stand

As the closing chapter of the It series is currently in theaters, and the release of Stephen King’s new book The Institute hitting shelves yesterday, it seems only fitting that we keep talking about King’s upcoming adaptations. Collider is reporting several new casting announcements for The Stand, the upcoming CBS All Access Series, including Alexander Skarsgård as the villainous Randall Flagg.

The report also revealed Whoopi Goldberg, Jovan Adepo, Owen Teague, Brad William Henke, and Daniel Sujata joining the cast. Previously announced cast members included James Marsden, Amber Heard, Odessa Young, and Henry Zaga.

The big reveal here of course is Skarsgård as Flagg, the villain of the book and one of King’s most important characters across his multiverse. Flagg enters the story as the world is ravaged by a plague called Captain Tripps which wipes out a significant portion of the population. So it would seem that the Skarsgård brothers will be sharing the villain spotlight in King’s work, with Alexander’s brother Bill playing Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the It films.

It was previously reported that Whoopi Goldberg would be playing Mother Abigail, the light to Flagg’s darkness, and it would seem that has now been confirmed. Not much else is known of the other additions to The Stand’s mammoth cast, but I’m excited to see some more good names joining the production, which is set to release in 2020.

Making some guesses here, I would assume perhaps Owen Teague (known for Patrick Hockstetter in the It films as well) could be playing Harold Lauder, a nerdy youth who is in love with Odessa Young’s Frannie Goldsmith. I would like to see Brad William Henke playing Lloyd Henreid, a criminal poised at Flagg’s right-hand man. I could potentially see Sunjata placed in a Larry Underwood role as a musician who just hit it big with his new single, but I’m not sure how I would place Adepo except for perhaps a role as Tom Cullen, although this is a complete out-of-nowhere guess.

What do you think about these casting choices, and who do you think they will play? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

James Marsden Potentially Leading Stephen King’s The Stand

File this one under Exciting News for This Writer.

I’ve been extremely excited to see a new attempt at Stephen King’s The Stand. It’s my favorite book, and I’m not alone in that way. It’s often in the top five of just about any King fans personal list. For years now, different filmmakers have been trying to take a crack at it. I was particularly interested when Ben Affleck was rumored to be directing two films, like how It was done, telling the massive tome. As far as book lengths go, the uncut, extended edition of The Stand is longer than It, coming in around the 1,200 page mark. Now, Josh Boone, self-described as a major Stand fan, has taken on the project, now in limited series form over at CBS All Access. Casting is officially underway for the project, so let’s tackle a few of these.

James Marsden is circling the project in the role of Stu Redman, an East Texas man who comes into contact with patient zero of an extinction level flu. He’s the lead character (if there is one) in the novel and I’d be happy with someone of his caliber jumping into the role of Stu.

Amber Heard is in talks for Nadine Cross, and this is just spot-on for the character. I really like the way her character is played out in the 1994 miniseries, but I think more can be done with the longer-form narrative this time around. I think Amber Heard is great when she means to be, and I think she could find a nice level of connection to Nadine, a troubled teacher. Her casting will depend on who is brought on to play Larry Underwood, the singer who first comes across Nadine in the story.

This is one of the weird ones. Whoopi Goldberg is in talks for Mother Abigail. The interesting thing about this character is that she is 106 years old in the book. In fact, she states that fact a lot. Now, Ruby Dee played the character in the original miniseries and they applied a lot of makeup, so I could see that being the route, but can Whoopi play old and can she play the serious up again? I just haven’t seen serious Whoopi Goldberg in some time.

Greg Kinnear is in negotiations for Glen Bateman, another interesting choice given that Greg Kinnear is also not as old as the character he’s written to play. Now, this one is not as drastic as Mother Abigail nor is it really contingent. He provides an interesting fatherly/brotherly character to Stu, and I think, whether or not under a lot of aging makeup, Kinnear could play that to Marsden.

Odessa Young and Henry Zaga have been tasked for Frannie Goldsmith and Nick Andros, respectively. I have little knowledge on either, but these are important characters in the novel so care should be given in casting.

I’m more than a little excited to visit the world of The Stand. I cannot wait for this interpretation, and the casting here just means that this is chugging along quite nicely. Thanks go out to Collider and Jeff Sneider for all the great info here, and I’m looking forward to learning more.

So what do you think? Are you excited for The Stand? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

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Director: Brett Ratner

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellan, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Patrick Stewart

Screenplay: Simon Kinberg, Zak Penn

104 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence, some sexual content and language.

 

After X2: X-Men United, the superhero series was invigorated and raring to go again. Bryan Singer left to direct Superman Returns, so Brett Ratner took over the chair and creative control of the franchise. This has often been seen as a bad idea. Brett Ratner, not to be blunt, is terrible.

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It’s the story of the mutants dealing with the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen, GoldenEye, Taken 3) in the previous film. Logan (Hugh Jackman, The Prestige, Prisoners) appears on the surface to have gotten over her death and has taken on a more important role within the school alongside Ororo Munroe (Halle Berry, TV’s Extant, Cloud Atlas). Meanwhile, Eric Lensherr (Ian McKellan, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Golden Compass) has been recruiting new mutants to join The Brotherhood in the fight against the government, which has created a new treatment or “cure” for mutants. Rogue (Anna Paquin, TV’s True Blood, The Piano) is interested in the cure, but her boyfriend Bobby (Shawn Ashmore, TV’s The Following, Frozen).

There a lot of moving plot points in this movie, but the script is far too weak to fully explore them all. There are multiple times when dialogue is unreal, too much exposition is given (or sometimes, not enough), and characters are doing things that betray their character traits.

The actors are trying to perform to a weak script, and most of them do as well as they can, but Brett Ratner focuses too much on trying to be a spectacle, often sacrificing character moments under piles of action. Now, the action is good, and leads to a solid climax which is handled nicely, but we have a conflict of style. On one hand, we have the previous film, which establishes a seriousness and a stake in what happens. On the other hand, we have a goofy style which pushes against and a more-comic-booky look to the film, something that was handled much better in the prequel X-Men: First Class.

While the climax is handled nicely, Ratner chooses to play down the denouement, which, considering this was supposed to be a closing of the trilogy, is what really kills this movie. We have so many plot threads untreated and ultimately unthreaded that it set the series up for several films of trying to fix the damage, before finally X-Men: Days of Future Past was able to do.

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This isn’t the worst X-Men movie of all time. That honor is currently held by X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but that doesn’t mean that this wasn’t an epic letdown from X2, and served to topple the franchise for a couple years.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of X-Men, click here.

For my review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, click here.

For my review of X-Men: First Class, click here.

For my review of The Wolverine, click here.

For my review of X-Men: Days of Future Past, click here.

X2: X-Men United (2003)

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Director: Bryan Singer

Cast: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Bruce Davison, Anna Paquin

Screenplay: Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, David Hayter

134 mins. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action/violence, some sexuality and brief language.

 

X-Men was a very popular comic book adaptation, especially for the time period, when those movies hadn’t really been doing well. I originally wasn’t a major fan of the original X-Men, but I honestly don’t think I got it. I didn’t really know the X-Men mythos, so when X2: X-Men United came into the fold, and I saw the trailer, featuring a creature I would come to know as Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming, TV’s The Good Wife, The Smurfs 2) trying to assassinate the President, that I knew I had to see this movie.

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X2: X-Men United continues the story six months after the original film, and follows the mutants as they deal with a mutant attack on the President. Logan (Hugh Jackman, The Prestige, Prisoners) is looking for his origins in Alaska. Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart, TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return) has continued to teach at his school, and spends free time playing chess with imprisoned Magneto (Ian McKellan, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Golden Compass). Meanwhile, William Stryker (Brian Cox, Troy, Her) has taken the attack in the White House personally, and chooses to round up the mutant children at Xavier’s school and keep them imprisoned, and Wolverine finds that he may have more connections to Stryker than he knows.

If X-Men woke up the superhero genre, X2 proved that superhero movies can actually be about something while also being great films in general. Without X2, we may not have had the Marvel Cinematic Universe or any of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series.

It also proved that people can perform as superheroes. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan carry this film and drive its story nicely as two friends with very different compasses who must unite against a common enemy in Brian Cox’s Stryker, who also lends his seasoned expertise to the film. Hugh Jackman has also honed his skills as a performer with Wolverine.

Singer’s directing and the film’s editing give us multiple branched out storylines that all come together very well for a powerful and shocking climax that creates ripples for the series for several films to come.

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X2: X-Men United was the best film in the series up until this year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, and it has aged very well, becoming one of the most notable superhero films ever.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of X-Men, click here.

For my review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, click here.

For my review of X-Men: First Class, click here.

For my review of The Wolverine, click here.

For my review of X-Men: Days of Future Past, click here.

X-Men (2000)

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Director: Bryan Singer

Cast: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Bruce Davison, Rebecca Romijn, Ray Park, Anna Paquin

Screenplay: David Hayter

104 mins. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.

 

This is where it all begins. Remember when you saw Spider-Man or Batman Begins or even Iron Man. The Modern Superhero Revolution. It all started 14 years ago when Bryan Singer brought together a star-studded cast and a great script from David Hayter.

X-Men follows Logan (Wolverine) and Marie (Rogue), two lost souls in the near-future, as they team up with Professor X and his heroic team of mutants to stop Magneto from turning human beings into mutants like him. It is a more complex story than I originally expected, with a nice amount of twists and turns.

This cast is one of the main reasons that this film not only succeeded, but also developed the superhero genre into more than cheese. We have Hugh Jackman in his first portrayal as Wolverine, a character who be a staple on the franchise and appear in every installment. Logan is a complex character, and Jackman gets to flex those claws a lot more in later installments, but this is a nice introduction to the character. We get to see the softness in his relationship with Rogue (Anna Paquin, TV’s True Blood, The Piano). We also get a nice strong turn from Halle Berry (Cloud Atlas, The Call), still somewhat early in her career (we are talking pre-Bond girl Berry here), as Storm.

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Nice work should go to Famke Janssen and James Marsden as Jean Grey and Cyclops, respectively. Their relationship in this film offers some conflict to be mined, and Marsden is portraying Cyclops for crying out loud, not an easy sell, as the character could have just come off as silly.

All these able performances are under the powerhouse work of Bromance buddies Patrick Stewart (TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, Ice Age: Continental Drift) and Ian McKellan (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Stardust). These two classically-trained actors bring such depth to the characters of Professor X and Magneto. They carry the film and up the ante for future comic book adaptations.

The soundtrack in this film is absolutely iconic now. I find myself humming it and getting pumped up at the same time, very nice work.

The special effects do seem a bit dated, but there isn’t much to be done about that.

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This is a great start to a franchise and every single superhero movie since owes something to Bryan Singer’s incredible saga. You really feel like you know the characters from this original outing alone. Easily one of the most impressive superhero blockbusters of recent memory.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, click here.

For my review of X-Men: First Class, click here.

For my review of The Wolverine, click here.

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