Tag Archives: Idris Elba

The-dark-tower-From-Stephen-King

Initial Photos of Idris Elba as Roland from The Dark Tower Film

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”   – Stephen King, “The Gunslinger”.

The first sentence in what would become an epic sprawling book series created over several decades.

In my middle school years, I discovered an author who would change the course of my life.  As the terrible and disturbing years that counted as my adolescence gave way to an awkward period of pubescence, not many things were what you would call “comfort”.

Stolen stock image or not, this is as close as I could get to the look of me "reading" a "book", so, a little comfort.
Stolen stock image or not, this is as close as I could get to the look of me “reading” a “book”, so, a little comfort.

After using “reading material” (and I use that term loosely) to indulge in teenage desires, I soon found that certain genres took me away from the hell of bullying, school, and you know, general Middle School BS.  For me, Stephen King and his World’s did that.  The first novel I read was “The Green Mile”.  I was inspired by Michael Clarke Duncan’s (may he rest in peace) performance as the unfortunate victim of racism and fear. Not only did I feel a connection with Duncan’s character, John Coffey, but once the prose was displayed upon paper, I was forever enchanted by Mr. King and eventually became a “Constant Reader” as he likes to put it.  Now, obviously, I could not relate to the character in form of race, but being an outsider was simply a feeling that has never left me, even through to this day.

My second run-in with Mr. King’s work was a bit different.  After finishing “The Green Mile” on vacation in Colorado, I was brought along to a used bookstore in which I discovered the first three volumes of Mr. King’s dark fantasy series: The Dark Tower.   The odd tale of a “Authurian-Like” figure going on a journey through time, multiple dimensions, and the supernatural grabbed me and enveloped my feelings and thoughts. It took me almost another decade before I was able to finish the series (King began the series formally in 1982 and it was finished in 2004), but every step of Roland, The Gunslinger’s journey was my own as well.  I know many a person that feels the same way.

You can find the series on Amazon and be thankful you don't have to wait years between novels.
You can find the series on Barnes and Nobel (or wherever books are sold…always wanted to say that) and be thankful you don’t have to wait years between novels.

Then in 2012, Warner Brothers and Ron Howard announced they wanted to take on a huge project with a hybrid film/television version of The Dark Tower series.  HBO, one of the sister companies of WB would air the show and WB would distribute the film.  This ambitious announcement was also met with an announcement that Javier Bardem:

No country for old menthe creepiest creep

Silvathat ever creeped) was originally set to play Roland, but that fell through and Russell Crowe was given the option for the role.  That also fell through and everyone’s favorite weirdo actor, Matthew McConaughey was offered a role in the film, which many thought of him portraying The Gunslinger Roland as a given.

Well, WB backed out, and four years later, we’re staring down the sandalwood grip pistols of a joint Sony/Media Rights Capital/Columbia Pictures amalgamation filming right now!  That’s right, the start of The Dark Tower film is happening as you read this.  Directed by a relative unknown, Nikolaj Arcel, who’s most notable credit comes from writing the screenplay of the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  This is an odd and bold move, but clearly Sony trusts this man and with Stephen King providing the bones, there is a lot that can go south, but let’s choose to ignore until the film is finished and we’re strapped in for a unique ride.

With all of that, the actual news of this story is, yesterday, we were given the first images of Roland himself, portrayed by Idris Elba, an actor whom Stephen King himself called “One of the Best Actors” Working Today.  High praise from such a legend.  So without further ado, see our “hero” for the first time:

Roland 1 Roland 3 Roland 4

All of these images come curtosey of Twitter (Mr. Elba’s I do believe) and if you’re familiar with the books or now intrigued by them, Idris Elba looks glorious as Roland, The Gunslinger.  Now you cannot have a protagonist without an antagonist.  This character first comes in the form of “The Man in Black” as mentioned above.  And while he didn’t get the lead role in the film, none other than Matthew McConaughey himself was cast opposite Idris Elba.

Preparation...
Preparation…

I realize this post doesn’t give much for the non-reader, but please understand that there is a massive following for these books and I encourage you, if you enjoy dark fantasy, science fiction, and any novel Stephen King has ever written, The Dark Tower is for you.  And as one of the main protagonists says: “Go then, there are other worlds than these.” -Jake Chambers, “The Gunslinger” by Stephen King.

darktower
May the road to the Tower be of quality and entertainment…

-Darkmovienight

The Jungle Book or Surprising Amazing Uncanny Valley Movie

Disney-The-Jungle-Book-Jon-Favreau1

Ah, 2016.  A movie enthusiasts dream.  You’ve got your original pictures like Money Monster, Midnight Special, and Zootopia.  Then of course the finest sequels studios could put out: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Independence Day: Resurgence, and Star Trek: Beyond.  And what’s a year in film without a few remakes: Ben-Hur, Ghostbusters, The Jungle Book, and of…wait…The Jungle Book?

“Wait, wait, wait…slow down now I say.”  Why in the name of Stephen Spielberg remake The Jungle Book.  And just to sate curiosity, they actually do mean a remake of the beloved animated film from 1967. This is Disney after all and they have been making it a bit of their MO recently: remake old animated features into live action adaptations, some good:

It's all about the shoes and dress...
It’s all about the shoes and dress…

And some not so good:

Well...the horns are cool...
Well…the horns are cool…

So, it’s come to this Disney.  You took the remake/reboot wagon to new heights and then made it skydive.  Well, I have one thing to say to you about your precious new Jungle Book live action film: how did you make it so good?

First of all, I’m all for remakes.  I don’t care, if I loved the film before, and Hollywood remakes it now, I either get to laugh at it and remember how good the original still is or I get to see it through new eyes and be surprised by the unique take a director or actor has done to my loved film.  Of course the bottom line is that Hollywood is out of ideas so they’re just hoping all the people that saw the film originally in theaters are dead now.  I mean, after almost 80 years, I think it’s okay to retread a little bit of ground:

Not sacred ground...
Not sacred ground…

But, now that I think of it…

"Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
“Louis, I think we’re going to kick some Nazi ass all Inglorious Basterds style”

Okay, so Disney is taking their classics and remaking them with today’s technology.  In the case of The Jungle Book, director Jon Favreau (the guy that pretty much made the Marvel Cinematic Universe possible) used cutting edge animation to make the most believable CGI characters I’ve ever seen.  There is even a question of if the film will compete as an animated feature instead of the typical “live action” films in Award Season.  I’m reasonably tech savvy myself, but what those artists and Weta did is something unlike I’ve ever seen.  Right there, it’s worth the price of admission.

After you’re done gawking at the realistic animals actually talking to the new actor, Neel Sethi (Mowgli), you then have to listen to who is talking. Voice work is where it get’s a little sticky for me.  For a while, animation voice work was done by relative nobody actors or some that just had a natural talent at voice work and eventually became completely iconic:

"If you can't hear that voice in your head right now...you're dead to me."
“If you can’t hear that voice in your head right now…you’re dead to me.”

But then Dreamworks had success with Shrek in 2001 with Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy headlining the film.  First time I can remember that an animated feature actually billed the actors playing a role.  Well, that’s not quite true:

I am really trying not to cry now. And credit to the artist on this beautiful image.
I am really trying not to cry now. And credit to the artist on this beautiful image.

Nevertheless, once Myers and Murphy headlined Shrek, every animated feature had to have Hollywood stars doing voice work, whether they could or not.  This was not a problem in the least for The Jungle Book. Being told the tale by the amazing Ben Kingsley as Bagheera the panther, laughing it up with Bill “Freaking” Murray as the lovable lazy bear Baloo, or just being plain freaked out and comforted by Scarlett Johansson’s boa constrictor Kaa.  These actors didn’t just phone in a lazy script.  They made their mark on the characters, and yes, I thought of the animals just as real as Mowgli.  Usually you can hear the voice and see the actor’s face, but Favreau went to great lengths to gather a cast of professional actors to bring more life into his CGI world.

I skipped two names up there.  The first one, Idris Elba as the vicious tiger Shere Khan, who basically took an entire jungle hostage for the sake of revenge, was terrifying.  Not one moment did he not sound menacing, in charge, and lethal.  I’m now convinced that Elba should be available at all times so parents can have him call unruly children and calmly speak until their pants are full.

Don't make me pick up that phone again, you remember what he said the last time...
“If your shorts aren’t up to your armpits on the count of three, Mr. Elba will call again…”

Hell, I bet it would even work on adults:

"He only said he was disappointed in me!" *Sobs uncontrollably*
“He only said he was disappointed in me!” *Sobs uncontrollably*

The other name I left off was someone that absolutely stole the show every second his character was on screen.  Christopher Walken portrayed the devious (and humongous) King Louie the Orangutan, and oh yeah, they let him sing.  Walken’s  “I Wan’na Be Like You” started off as a discussion with Mowgli and soon took off like a bullet from a gun.  His talents were absolutely perfect.  Dancing, singing, and totally creeping everyone out.  I have no doubt in my mind that Walken didn’t audition for the part, he simply came in took it over.  There is not enough words of joy to describe his performance.

Now that he's retired, I'm pretty sure Walken has already commondeered the Dous Eccious factory until he is the replacement.
Now that he’s retired, I’m pretty sure Walken has already commandeered the Dos Equis factory until he is the replacement spokesperson.

The only downfall in Favreau’s The Jungle Book is that it is a remake and thus no surprises in the story.  It’s not even a “The original was better” argument, it was just the same.  Sure, they added more adult dialog and changed a couple scenes up, but it was still the same Jungle Book I remember from when I was a kid.  That’s the trap you have with a remake or a reboot: if you don’t make it different enough while still using the same framework, you’ve pretty much already lost.  We’ve seen it happen with multiple films, and unfortunately the best example of a remake/reboot giving better life to the source material would be 2010’s True Grit.  While tons of people will argue that there is no one better than John Wayne in a Western Film, seeing “The Dude” bring Rooster Cogburn to whole new levels and satisfactorily bringing in crowds for a Western film…in 2010!  So, yeah, it sucks, but unless you’re Jeff Bridges getting drunk, you can’t escape this aspect of a remake.

Didn’t read my fancy words, here is the short version:

The Jungle Book took almost every fear away from being it being a remake.  It was truly an adaptation.  Showcasing probably the best CGI I have seen to date which allows a talented director and a myriad of stellar actors to move and breathe just as if it was all real.  No surprise in the story, but it won’t matter when you here this:

-Darkmovienight

Star Trek 2009 Movie Poster

Five minutes away from my computer and the “Star Trek: Beyond” trailer gets released…

Can movie studios please STOP RELEASING TRAILERS THIS WEEK!  Not saying that I don’t appreciate it, but come on!  I’m unemployed here, I have to do something other than update this website!

"I like this job, it's exciting" Yeah Simon, but you'd probably get paid for this.
“I like this job, it’s exciting” Yeah Simon, but you’d probably get paid for this.

Anyway, check out the Beastie Boys’ new music video for “Sabotage” and some quick flashes of a more upbeat Star Trek than the last one. And I finally get to have Idris Elba in a franchise I love.  Also having Simon Pegg writing and Justin Lin directing, you could say I’m more excited for this one than Star Trek: Into Darkness.  If you’ve not seen Lin’s work, just know he’s the guy that did Fast Five (reinvention of the Fast & Furious franchise to make it actually interesting, oh and get The Rock and Vin Diesel to fight each other).

Forget Batman vs. Superman, THIS was the title match in 2011
Forget Batman vs. Superman, THIS was the title match in 2011.  They both played Khan though, it was weird

He also did all of the paintball episodes of the TV show “Community”. Those episodes had the best comedy and action I’ve ever seen since the original Die Hard.  So, you could say I’m excited.  However, I really don’t understand the title of “Star Trek” in this series since most of the action seems to take place on Earth or other planets.  Kirk says it himself in the trailer: “No ship, no crew….”  I would just like to see a little more *stars* in my Star Trek.  Is that so much to ask?

After all, we already had a stationary (pun intended) Star Trek
After all, we already had a stationary (pun intended) Star Trek

-Darkmovienight