James Bond stuntman Jerry Alan has lost his battle with throat and mouth cancer at the age of 75. Alan passed away on 26 September (14).
He served as a stunt co-ordinator and stuntman in Hollywood for more than four decades, and is best known for his work on three Bond movies, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man With The Golden Gun and Casino Royale.
He also took his talents to the small screen, working on programmes such as Gunsmoke, Bonanza and The Dukes of Hazzard.
A U.S. Navy and Army veteran, Alan was also a founding member of the Florida Motion Picture and Television Association.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
While 2002's Spider-Man gets the lion's share of the credit, Bryan Singer's X-Men, released two years earlier, was the film that really revived the comic book film genre after its near-death at the hands of George Clooney and his Bat-nipples. Through the franchise's 14 years of sequels, spin-offs, soft reboots, and now, timeline colliding mashups, loads of mutants have sprung to life on film. And while some have endured through the franchises ups and downs like Hugh Jackman's ever-present Wolverine, others have slipped through the cracks after only appearing in one film. In tribute to our lost mutant brothers, we've decided to comb through the list of our favorite one and done mutants and determine which ones deserve a second chance in the film series.
DeathstrikeReal Name: Yuriko OyamaTeam Affiliation: One of Stryker's henchmanLast Seen: X2: X-Men UnitedBest Moment: Her fight with WolverineShould She Return?: Yes. Her face off with Wolverine during the tail end of X2 was thrilling. Having a dark foil of Wolverine with similar abilities would be grea asset for the series going forward.
JuggernautReal Name: Cain MarkoTeam Affiliation: The Brotherhood of Evil MutantsLast Seen: X-Men: The Last StandBest Moment: "I'm the Juggernaut, b**ch!"Should He Return? Yes. The Juggernaut is a fan-favorite mutant, and the character's inclusion in X-Men 3 was one of that film's few highlights. The character crashing through walls with reckless abandon, and especially his fight with Kitty Pride was a ton of fun.
NightcrawlerReal Name: Kurt WagnerTeam Affiliation: X-MenLast Seen: X2: X-Men UnitedBest Moment: Nightcrawler vs. the White HouseShould He Return?: Hell yes, Nightcrawler's dizzying fight scene at the start of X-2 is still the franchise's best moment, even ten years later. Alan Cumming brought a real, earnest humanity to Kurt Wagner, and it's a pity that the franchise hasn't found room for the mutant in subsequent films. Sure, we got some teleporting action via Azazel in First Class, but that brooding bad guy doesn't have an ounce of the charm as Nightcrawler.
BansheeReal Name: Sean CassidyTeam Affiliation: X-MenLast Seen: X-Men: First Class Best Moment: Banshee taking flight for the first timeShould He Return?: No. Banshee was perfectly likeable in X-Men: First Class, but the series rightfully jettisoned the character since things were getting too crowded on the mutant front, especially with Days of Future Past's multiple timelines.
AngelReal Name: Warren Worthington IIITeam Affiliation: N/ALast Seen: X-Men: The Last StandBest Moment: A young Warren trying to file down his wings as a childShould He Return?: Yes. There's something really majestic about Angel. Sure, a ton of other mutants can fly, but who else does so with giant, feathery wings.
BlobReal Name: Frederick J. DukesTeam Affiliation: Team XLast Seen: X-Men Origins: WolverineBest Moment: His boxing match with WolverineShould He Return?: It's a shame that this blubbery villain's only adventure was in the worst film of the franchise, but there are much cooler mutants that deserve more screen time.
Deadpool/WeaponXIReal Name: Wade WilsonTeam Affiliation: Team XLast Seen: X-Men Origins: WolverineBest Moment: Pre-Weapon XI Wade Wilson cutting down bad guys with swords and verbal jabsShould He Return?: No. Perhaps the biggest sin made by the entire franchise was the handling of Deadpool. It still baffles us how the powers that be at 20th Century Fox thought the best way to handle "the merc with a mouth" was to sew said mouth shut and use him like a cheap, final act pinata for Wolverine and Sabertooth to claw down to size. Fool me once...
Kestrel Real Name: John Wraith Team Affiliation: Team X Last Seen: X-Men Origins: Wolverine Best Moment: Sabertooth grabbing the teleporting mutant's spine was nightmarishly cool. Should He Return?: No. Will.i.am is better off as far away from the X-Men franchise as possible, and if the series were to introduce any teleporting mutant back into the fray, it damn well better be Nightcrawler.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
We've pored over the headlines and highlights of the last 12 months and come up with a quiz that'll test the old grey matter.
So, put down the eggnog and turn down the TV...
1. She played a Salt-y spy, he voiced Metroman. Name the celebrity couple.
a. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
b. Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise
c. Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith
2. ... and can you name their three biological children?
a. Pax, Maddox and Shiloh
b. Shiloh, Vivienne and Knox
c. Isabella, Conner and Suri
3. Name Scarlett Johansson's super villainess character in Iron Man 2.
a. Black Widow
c. The Bride
4. Hollywood icon Tony Curtis died in September after suffering a cardiac arrest. Name his daughter.
a. Jennifer Jason Leigh
b. Jamie Lee Curtis
c. Carrie Fisher
5. Which fugitive actor spent the latter part of the year seeking asylum in Canada after confessing he feared for his life if he returned to the U.S.?
a. Dennis Quaid
b. Chevy Chase
c. Randy Quaid
6. Which Harry Potter star appeared in a Halloween episode of The Simpsons as a mysterious character called Edmund?
a. Daniel Radcliffe
b. Rupert Grint
c. Alan Rickman
7. Name Mel Gibson's Russian ex.
a. Anna Kournikova
b. Olga Chernikova
c. Oksana Grigorieva
8. This Hollywood actor returned to Wall Street and battled throat cancer. Name him.
a. Michael Douglas
b. Charlie Sheen
c. Josh Brolin
9. What do Toy Story 3, Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender all have in common?
a. They were all remakes
b. They all starred Tom Hanks
c. They were all 3D films
10. Which Bond star landed himself a role in the Hollywood remake of smash-hit Swedish film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo?
a. Sean Connery
b. Daniel Craig
c. Roger Moore
11. Which movie won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2010?
a. The Hurt Locker
c. Up in the Air
12. His 'Crazy Heart' won him gold at the Oscars in 2010 and his 'True Grit' looks put him in contention in 2011. Name the movie veteran.
a. Brad Pitt
b. Jeff Bridges
c. Robert Duvall
13. Which Walt Disney movie became the highest grossing animated film of all time in 2010?
a. Toy Story 3
14. Which actress was jailed in July after violating probation stemming from a 2007 DUI arrest?
a. Paris Hilton
b. Lindsay Lohan
c. Nicole Richie
15. Which Pirates of the Caribbean star married his model girlfriend Miranda Kerr in July?
a. Johnny Depp
b. Geoffrey Rush
c. Orlando Bloom
16. Which Oscar winning actress surprised the world by announcing she had adopted a baby boy, just weeks after winning her first Oscar - and then leaving her cheating husband?
a. Sandra Bullock
b. Halle Berry
c. Kate Winslet
17. Hollywood legend Dennis Hopper lost his battle with prostate cancer at age 74. Name his character in cult biker movie Easy Rider.
18. Who hosted the 2010 Oscars?
a. Billy Crystal and Steve Martin
b. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin
c. Alec Baldwin and Billy Crystal
19. Which royal couple is Madonna currently making a movie about?
a. Prince Charles and Princess Diana
b. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn
c. Edward VII and Wallis Simpson
20. Seth Rogen and Ryan Reynolds both became green superheroes in 2010. Name their characters in the upcoming movies.
a. The Green Goblin and Green Lantern
b. Green Hornet and Green Lantern
c. The Riddler and Green Hornet
21. And while we're going green, which actor was named the new Hulk?
a. Mark Ruffalo
b. Brad Pitt
c. George Clooney
22. Who co-starred with Bruce Willis in the film Red?
a. Kate Winslet and Morgan Freeman
b. Helen Mirren and George Clooney
c. Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman
23. Liam Neeson portrayed John 'Hannibal' Smith in the film version of which 80's TV show?
a. The A-Team
b. Dukes of Hazzard
c. The Six Million Dollar Man
24. Which Twilight Saga star was crowned Homecoming Queen for the 2nd straight year at her school?
a. Kristen Stewart
b. Dakota Fanning
c. Ashley Green
25. Name Leonardo DiCaprio's mindbending 2010 film
a. The Last Airbender
26. Which movie star dumped a Canadian model for a French hunk?
a. Halle Berry
b. Sandra Bullock
c. Kate Winslet
27. He campaigned for Sudan, played 'The American' and fell for an Italian TV personality. Name the international movie star.
a. Matt Damon
b. Brad Pitt
c. George Clooney
28. Name John Travolta's baby son.
29. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz teamed up for which 2010 summer blockbuster?
a. Knight and Day
b. Day and Knight
c. Mission: Impossible 4
30. She teamed up with Gerard Butler in The Bounty Hunter. Name the actress.
a. Drew Barrymore
b. Katherine Heigl
c. Jennifer Aniston