Among Spielberg’s “important” films, Amistad isn’t the home run that Saving Private Ryan or Schindler’s List is, but it’s still a powerful film and one with an incredible ensemble cast anchored by Anthony Hopkins in an Oscar-nominated performance as former President John Quincy Adams.
In today’s political climate, it’s hard to imagine, but after Adams lost his bid for re-election as President, he ended up running for Congress and returned to the House of Representatives (the only former President to do so) and government service. There, he was enlisted to represent the “cargo” of the slave ship La Amistad before the US Supreme Court. The Africans enslaved by the ship, had escaped the hold and slain their captors before being apprehended when their ship arrived in America. The 1839 case hinged on whether this was a matter of kidnapped human beings rising up and shaking off their chains or human cargo that should be returned to its “owners”. Hopkins arguing on their behalf before the court with a ten-minute dissertation on freedom is one of the most riveting monologues and pieces of acting I’ve ever seen. Hannibal Lecter’s introduction may be the most obvious best scene of Hopkins’ career, but this is every bit as good.
Ok, so it’s a bit of a cheat, but it’s my column so I’ll mess with the format if I want to. X-Men in 2000 (which does not seem 16 years ago) kicked off the modern age of super hero films. It was the first film to successfully bring a team of super heroes to life. It took it’s subject matter seriously, cast amazing actors like Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart, but none of that would’ve mattered if they’d gotten Wolverine wrong. Edward Norton almost ended up playing the part, but in the end it went to the unknown, at the time, Hugh Jackman.
No one has ever owned a comic book character the way Jackman owns Wolverine. It was perfect casting of an extremely talented actor, who would go on to be Oscar nominated for his work in other films. He’s been in every X-Men movie, plus two of his own (with a final one on the way), and it’s hard to imagine what X-Men films will be like without him. He’ll have been in nine films as Logan if Wolverine 3 is indeed his last go-round, and FOX is going to recast the role at some point. Wolverine is too popular a character to sit on the bench. But I pity whoever they cast. Jackman had the audience within seconds of his first appearance in X-Men.
From the very first shot of him in a cage fight, smoking his stogie (which now he can’t do because apparently that’s worse than beheadings or nipples to the MPAA), and just emitting waves of barely contained fury, Jackman had us. All that was left was to see the claws for the very first time. Just a fantastic way to introduce the character. Bryan Singer, who directed the first two X-Men films and X-Men: Days of Future Past, is returning for his fourth film later this month with X-Men: Apocalypse (in which Wolverine will have a small role). We don’t have enough time to do all the X-films before then, but since I already did Days of Future Past (click here if you missed it), we can cover the other Singer films and X-Men: First Class before X-Men Apocalypse opens. I’m looking forward to seeing Wolverine unleashed in his third solo film, but I’ll be melancholy at the end, because we’re saying good-bye to an actor who has put a stamp on a character that may never come close to being equaled.
Following the vein of the Professor X and Magneto posters we saw unveiled earlier this week, comes a teaser poster for X-Men Days of Future Past featuring Wolverine. I really want to see Old Man Logan and Wolverine scrap. That mental image will make me happy for hours. X-Men Days of Future Past hits theaters next summer.
Vulture scored a new summary of the plot of X-Men: Days of Future Past as well as confirmed that Peter Dinklage HAS been cast as Bolivar Trask (creator of the mutant-hunting Sentinels) and Josh Helman will be playing a younger version of William Stryker (whom Brian Cox played so well in X2). This comes on the heels of Bryan Singer confirming that Lucas Till will be returning from X-Men: First Class as Havok. Vulture’s plot summary:
“Ellen Page returns as Kitty from the Brett Ratner–directed X-Men: The Last Stand, but this time she uses her powers to send Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine back into the past, where he encounters the younger mutants played by James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, and Michael Fassbender. However, something bad happens to Kitty during the time-travel trance, and while Wolverine is still under her spell, the other X-Men must race to find a mutant who can siphon Kitty’s powers and bring their friend back to the future.”
Whahuh? This hurts my mind. I’m also still kind of freaked out by how many mutants are in this cast. How can you do justice to this many characters? There are over 20 confirmed! Bryan Singer’s got a juggling act on his hands. We’ll see the results when X-Men: Days of Future Past opens next summer.