7 Movies And Counting- X-Men Days of Future Past

It has been a while since I have done a movie review, but I figured the 7th X-Men movie was deserving of a post. X-Men Days of Future Past, the title alone is confusing. I had high hopes for this film as it literally brought back all the X-Men, both from the original 3 movies as well as from the newer installment, X-Men First Class. I was a little worried about this film only because the most recent Wolverine movie left a lot to be desired.
X-Men: Days of Future Past-
The premise of the film (no spoilers, don’t worry) is that the ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the mutant and human species across two time periods. The bitchin characters from the original X-Men film trilogy join forces with their younger selves in order to change their inevitable demise in the future.
So What?!
     Overall this film is solid. It is a very well done X-Men action flick with enough humor and plot to support it. The action isn’t over done, it’s funny and I loved seeing the old X-Men gang back together.
    NERD ALERT!!!– Also- this wont matter to all those of you that aren’t movie freaks like I am, but how the hell is old Xavier in this movie?! (This is no spoiler, you can see this in the preview.) Patrick Stewart who played the older (original) Charles Xavier is in this movie. And although that is fine, because I like him as an actor, how is that possible? In the third X-Men movie he is busted into dust by Jean when she is the Phoenix. And although if you wait until after the credits in that film you see Xavier take over the mind of a brain dead patient, he still wouldn’t be in his original body like he is seen in this newest film. Anyway, nerd rant over. Sorry. That little rant has no bearing on the quality of the film.

 If I had to say one semi negative thing about X-Men: Days of Future Past it would be that because they had so many recognizable actors in it, I was sad how little screen time they got. It felt a like they tried to do a little bit too much in the time that they had.

  –X-Men: Days of Future Past combines the best elements of the series to produce a satisfying fast-paced outing that ranks among one of the franchise’s better installments.

What Were They Thinking? -Actors Who Turned Down Big Roles

In general, actors may be prettier than us, richer than us and more successful than we will ever be, but at least we can take solace in the fact that they make stupid work decisions like the rest of us. This is evident with the projects they chose to work on. From time to time even great actors chose uncharacteristically stupid roles or movies to be apart of. I can reconcile this with the fact that it might have sounded better on paper, or merely the fact that bills had to be paid and nothing better was forthcoming. But sometimes I am dumbfounded by the parts that an actor decides to turn down. Granted, I am sure they didn’t think what they were passing up would become an iconic role, but sometimes their arbitrary reasoning for turning down the part gives me serious pause as to whether they have anything in their pretty little heads. Nonetheless perhaps the part would not have been as epic if it had been played by the original choice. Who knows. Though it would be impossible to list every major part passed up by a notable name, I’ve compiled a few.

1. Gwyneth Paltrow- Titanic 
Even though I have never seen Titanic (I know, GASP, but forgive me, I don’t wanna see a movie where I know going in that most people you care about in the movie will die for sure) I know that this film was, and still is, a world wide phenomena, one of the highest grossing films of all time. It launched the careers of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into the stratosphere (as well as creating a really adorable friendship between the two which has lasted over a decade and a half.)  But not as many people know that Paltrow was the first choice to play Rose but Paltrow declined it claiming it wasn’t her “cup of tea.” This is understandable, I too hate success and critical acclaim.

2. Johnny Depp- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

There’s a pretty long list of high profile roles that Depp rejected during the 80’s and 90’s. One of those being Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Why was he against these roles? “I’m not a blockbuster boy” he said. Ha, really? If 90’s Depp could see himself now, he’d cry those beautiful eyes out. Of course none of us can see the future, but it does seem a bit rich for the guy who’s about to start work on Pirates of the Caribbean 5.

3. Julia Roberts- Sleepless in Seattle, The Blind Side, The Proposal

Roberts has suffered her fair share of missed opportunities as each of the films listed above were huge box office success’, not to mention the Oscar win for Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side. Though not stated why she turned down the role in Sleepless in Seattle that was offered to her “many times”, her reasoning for rejecting the lead roles in The Blind Side and The Proposal was due to pure greed. The economy had taken a blow and many lead stars were asked to take a pay cut in films being made during those years, Julia Roberts was no exception, but Roberts refused both films because she was not willing to take a pay cut. Though, I dare say, we benefited from the multi- millionaires greed, as Sandra Bullock was perfect in both films.

4. Tom Selleck – Indiana Jones

Yup ladies and gentleman this is true! Tom Selleck was the original choice to play Indiana Jones and he accepted the offer. He even got in a day of shooting before he had to turn it down because of conflicts with his television show Magnum P.I.

5. Will Smith- Django Unchained
Smith passed on playing Django in this film because he felt that Django was not the main character of the film. (Uhhh… what is the title of the movie friend- and who is on the movie posters? Pretty sure that would be Django.) Smith said that he was only really available for leading roles at this point in his career. I guess these days the only films up to his standard are terrible, half ass-ed movies where he forces his untalented son on us (After Earth).

6. Sean Connery – The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix

The former Bond star turned down the roles of Gandalf and Morpheus in LOTR and The Matrix. According to Connery, “I got offered The Lord of the Rings and I turned it down because I didn’t understand it. I was offered the Matrix a couple times, and turned it down because I didn’t understand it. I’ll be damned if I turn down another role for not understanding it.” How do you not understand the role of Gandalf? He is a smart-ass, sassy old man who occasionally does magic. Not hard. I get not understanding the Matrix though, I still don’t get it.

7. Hugh Jackman- James Bond
  Speaking of James Bond, Jackman said that he was offered the role as the super suave British agent, but he turned it down out of fear that it would limit his opportunities in the future. “I thought it would box me in too much. My natural instinct is to keep as many doors open as possible.” Oh right, cause taking the role of Wolverine wouldn’t box you in at all. Big talk for a guy who has now made 7 movies where he played Wolverine.

Karma’s A Bitch: Funny as Hell Coincidences Behind the Scenes

Some movies seem to be cursed, while others appear to predict the future with creepy accuracy. But then you have films like some of the ones I am going to list below, which feature grossly unlikely, yet huge, ironic coincidences. What do I mean when I say that? Well here are a few examples.

1. Tropic Thunder — Robert Downey Jr. Receives an Oscar Nomination by Playing an Oscar Winner—

Tropic Thunder is one of those movies that on paper has the potential to be the worst thing ever made (it has Tom Cruise in a fat suit and Robert Downey Jr. in black face, Ben Stiller AND Jack Black), but somehow it all kinda works. Indisputably the best part of the movie is Robert Downey Jr.’s character, Kirk Lazarus, who is an actor that only takes movie roles that will give him an Oscar.

Like how Cage does for anyone who offers him an acting role.

In the film, Lazarus is an insufferable method actor, famous for committing completely to whatever role he’s currently undertaking. For Tropic Thunder (the film within a film), Lazarus undergoes pigment-darkening plastic surgery to play a black character, because as I said before, physical transformations are Oscar gold (particularly for attractive women who either put on ugly make-up or have sex with Billy Bob Thornton). Kirk Lazarus’ Oscar baiting is made so unbelievably self indulgent and ridiculous that he is almost a cartoon character, a pretensions ball of buffoonery (is that a word) who doesn’t realize how absurd he is. Hollywood, characteristically failing to get the joke, nominated Robert Downey Jr. for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award in 2009 for his performance.
That’s right, Robert Downey Jr. was given an Oscar nomination for playing an actor shamelessly trying to win an Oscar. It is even possible that he could have won, if it hadn’t been the year that Heath Ledger died and won every award for The Dark Knight.

This nomination becomes even more impressive when you consider how infrequently comedies get nominated for Oscars. Since 2000, out of 55 nominees, only one other was for an actor in a comedy (Adaptation). To be fair, none of those movies had posters like this one:

I know some people may find this poster offensive, but I couldn’t find one where he’s not smoking…

It may be that the academy was totally on board and was delivering the smartest meta-joke punchline in history of the world… but I doubt it.

2. Singin’ in the Rain– A Lip Syncing Scandal in the Film and Real Life

Although it was made in the 1950’s, Singin’ in the Rain is actually set in the 1920’s, during the period when silent movies were transitioning into “talkies” (movies with sound). In the movie we find out that Lina Lamont, a famous silent actress, has a speaking and singing voice like a dude whose junk is caught in a mouse trap.
Instead of giving their top actress the boot, the studio hires an unknown actress named Kathy Selden to dub Lina’s voice. Lina refuses to let Kathy get any recognition and keeps her behind the scenes, taking all the singing credit for herself. As you may expect, the studio’s ruse is found out, Lina never makes movies again while Kathy becomes a star and hooks up with the leading man.
Those bastard movie producers sure got what they deserved, you may be thinking. Who could actually take advantage of some poor struggling actress like that? The answer is the real producers of Singin in the Rain.

“Hey, y’know the whole cautionary tale behind the story we’re telling? Let’s ignore the shit out of that.”

Despite the movies message of “Do your own goddamn singing,” Debbie Reynolds, who plays the heroine Kathy Selden, doesn’t actually sing several of her own songs. At least two of them (if not more) were really performed by an actress named Betty Noyes. And just like in the movie, the studio wasn’t eager to fess up to the fact that they’d used an unknown singer to dub songs for the famous actress they’d hired to play an unknown singer who dubs songs for a famous actress. As a result, for a long time, Noyes went uncredited.

Pictured here in what is apparently the most pointless head shot of all time.

Unlike the move character Kathy Selden, Noyes did not skyrocket to fame and fortune, but did lead a career performing half a dozen big budget movies— in which she was almost never credited.

3. Troy— Brad Pitt injures his Achilles Tendon While Playing Achilles

If you didn’t pay attention in biology class and don’t follow sports injuries, the Achilles tendon is the thick tendon at the back of your ankle that connects your heel to your calf (soo, it’s pretty important). It was named after the hero of Greek Mythology, because according to the legend, that spot was the only vulnerable part of Achilles entire body. He eventually dies from taking a wound there (which of course is why we refer to a fatal weakness as someones ‘Achilles Heel’).
Now, some of you who missed that whole story in school are still familiar with it, thanks to the movie Troy, where a well oiled Brad Pitt played the role of Achilles.

Pitts abs received their own producers credit

About three-quarters of the way through the film, Achilles faces off with the noble Hector played by Eric Bana, and kills him while the entire family watches, dragging Hector’s corpse around the walls of the city just in case any of them missed it (Achilles is a bit of a dick). However, while filming the scene, the fight did not go nearly as well for Pitt: while performing a difficult jumping strike against Bana directly into his raised shield, Pitt landed awkwardly and injured his leg.

Pitt’s most awkward scene… not involving his accent.

Or more specifically… he tore his damn Achilles tendon.
The only part of Achilles’ body that was vulnerable, and consequently the only part of the human anatomy that bears his name, was the one area in Brad Pitts entire body to sustain an injury while playing Achilles in a movie. Yes, it turns out that the Greek Gods are real and that they mock us mere mortals.

Jennifer Aniston’s voodoo doll? I think so.

An injury like this isn’t particularly light either. The filming had to be delayed several months because Pitt could only hobble around. When filming did restart, they celebrated Pitt’s return by filming the scene where he gets lanced with an arrow through his “Achilles” heel… soo his death scene pretty much. So damn ironic!

Wait… What? -Epic Unscripted Movie Scenes

Much to the frustration of the writers, movie scripts aren’t always ironclad. They are often evolving and changing, sometimes drastically, during the actual filming process. Some films, like Jaws, didn’t even have finished scripts when the cameras started to roll. Talented actors often get very engrossed in their role and often improvise, going off-script while reciting their lines. Sometimes the directors hate it- sometimes they love it. Jim Carey in particular is famous for having a great deal of improvised lines that make it into his movies. Occasionally the improvised lines become some of the most memorable and loved moments in cinema history. Here are a few of my favorites-
1. Gun vs. Sword
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

     -While chasing after his “woman” who has been kidnapped, bad-ass adventurer Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) runs into a bad guy with a huge sword (compensating…?). Instead of having a fairly epic fight scene, which was what had been planned, Indy instead just pulls out his revolver and unexpectedly shoots him. The original script called for a long sword fight but the day before Harrison Ford came down with severe food poisoning and decided on the set that he did not have the energy to film the scene, deciding his way would be much easier.
2. The Cat
The Godfather (1972)

     -Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the cold-hearted head of a powerful Italian mob family. This shows when he is seen sentencing a man to be beaten as retaliation for that mans abuse of another man’s daughter- doing all this while stroking a cat. Thing is, the cat was never part of the original script. Brando found the cat roaming around the set and decided he would be a good addition. The cat set the precedent for cats being the companion of all “baddies” in movie future.
3. Slow Clapping
The Dark Knight (2008)

     – The Joker (Heath Ledger) was in jail after having been arrested by Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the Mayor shows up to witness the man who had caused such mayhem to his city. While there he also promotes Gordon to commissioner. As the officers in the room applaud the promotion, Ledger begins an unexpected slow clap-never changing his unsettling facial expression. It was just a simple addition but one that was ominous, unsettling and darkly brilliant.
4.  Need A Bigger Boat
Jaws (1975)

     – While cumming the waters in an attempt to lure the deadly great white shark within range, police chief Brody (Roy Scheider) gets his first look at exactly how massive the killer shark truly is. Afraid, shocked and startled he stands up and utters the famous, un-written, line to Captain Quint “You’re going to need a bigger boat.” Turns out he was right.
5. Here’s Looking At You Kid
Casablanca (1942)

     – The very last heartbreaking scene in Casablanca between Bogart and Bergman, as Bogart selflessly puts Bergman on a plane bound for America, Bogart says one of the most iconic lines in all cinematic history “Here’s looking at you kid.” This line was not part of the original script, according to reports Bogart said that phrase “Here’s looking at you kid” multiple times to Bergman while teaching her to play poker between takes and decided to add it in during filming.
6. Hssssss
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
     – The famous “hssss” sound made by Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) during his story about eating a liver with beans and a Chianti to the FBI agent (Jodi Foster) wasn’t planned. Apparently it was something Hopkins did during rehearsals to creep out Foster. It worked so well that it was left in.
7. I Know
Star Wars: Episode V (1980)

     – Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is about to be encased in carbonite, princess Leia finally reveals her love for him as he is possibly going to his death. In the script Leia says “I love you” to which Solo is supposed to respond “I love you too.” Ford decided right before the shot that Solo would not say something like that and changed the line in the middle of the scene.

8. Delayed Explosion
The Dark Knight (2008)

     – Originally, the Joker was supposed to walk down the street while the explosion at the hospital began, get on the school bus during the scripted pause, and the bus would drive away while the explosion finished. However, Ledger stopped walking during the pause and in a moment of improvisation began fidgeting with the remote detonator in a very Joker-esque manner – bringing a slight dark humor to what would have just been a serious scene.
9. You Talking to Me?
Taxi Driver (1976)

     – When the screenwriter wrote this scene it simply said “Travis talks to himself in the mirror” – there was no specific dialog given. Everything that Robert Di Nero says during this faux-conversation was improvised by Di Nero on the spot. To this day whenever someone walks past a mirror they can’t help but say “You talking to me?”

These listed are only a very small number of a few of my favorite great ad-libbed lines and scenes done in movies over the years. I guess that’s why the actors get paid the BIG bucks. That and the fact that some have abs that could grate cheese…