Weekly Recap: A Justice League of Our Own

It’s been a rough road for Warner Brothers as they have tried to catch up with their Marvelous competition.  After a couple of false starts with Superman Returns and Green Lantern, they finally got their superhero universe established with Zack Snyder-helmed efforts Man of Steel and Batman v Superman.  After the latter opened to blistering reviews, the studio scrambled to reverse course with their team-up movie, Justice League.  They were too late in the game to replace Snyder outright, but Avengers writer and director Joss Whedon was brought on board to handle reshoots.  Was it enough to right the ship?  We’ll talk about Justice League and more in this week’s recap.

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November 19: Happy Birthday Allison Janney and Laura Osnes


Seven-time Emmy winner Allison Janney is turning 58 today.  She studied at Kenyon College, where she was in a play directed by Kenyon alumnus Paul Newman.  She did further study at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and began her stage and screen career in the late 1980s.  She had supporting roles in a long list of 1990s films, but her breakthrough didn’t come until the end of the decade.  She starred in a 1998 Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, and received a Tony nomination.  A year later, she was cast in the role of C. J. Gregg on The West Wing, and became the breakout star of the series, winning four Emmys in its seven-season run.

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November 18: Happy Birthday Delroy Lindo and Susan Sullivan


Delroy Lindo is turning 65 today.  He was born in London, but moved first to Canada and then San Francisco as a teenager.  He studied at the American Conservatory Theater, and after a couple of film appearances in the seventies, he concentrated on his stage career in the eighties.  He made his Broadway debut in Athol Fugard’s “Master Harold”…and the Boys, and was a Tony nominee for starring in the original cast of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.

In 1990, Lindo returned to working regularly in film.  Over the next 15 years or so, he appeared in a wide variety of supporting roles in major films.  He made a number of movies with Spike Lee in the first half of the 1990s—Malcolm X, Crooklyn, and Clockers.  He had prominent roles in Get Shorty, A Life Less Ordinary, The Cider House Rules, and Heist.  Currently, Lindo is a regular on the CBS All Access series The Good Fight, which has been renewed for a second season.

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The Most Successful Person in Hollywood

How do you measure success?  In Hollywood, box office reigns supreme followed distantly by awards and recognition from critics and peers.  Odds are, if you were asked to select the most successful person in Hollywood history, Orson Welles would not top your list.  Welles spent much of his career obese and running from debt.  His financial woes forced him to accept work that was beneath him just to cash a paycheck.  But this article from the November 2002 issue of Movieline magazine argues that none of that matters.  Welles’ legacy lives on and that may be the most important measure of success there is.

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Worst To First: Ranking the Batman Movies

Batman Movie Posters

Today is the day that Zack Snyder’s Justice League disappoints audiences nationwide.  Despite the fact that the most enthusiastic reviews are the critical equivalent of a half-hearted shrug and something to the effect of, “at least it’s not Batman v Superman,” I am probably going to subject myself to this noisy spectacle at some point this weekend.  Before you make your way to the theater to see Ben Affleck’s Batman assemble a team of heavy-hitters that somehow includes Aquaman, let’s review and rank all the Bat-movies to date.

via Worst To First: Ranking the Batman Movies

November 17: Happy Birthday Rachel McAdams and Rock Hudson


It’s Rachel McAdams’s 39th birthday today.  The Canadian actress studied theater at Toronto’s York University.  She made her film debut in a Canadian production titled My Name is Tanino, and then appeared in a film adaptation of Judith Thompson’s play, Perfect Pie.  Although she was already in her twenties, her first Hollywood productions cast her as high school students.  She first played a cheerleader who somehow swaps bodies with Rob Schneider in The Hot Chick, but her real breakout came when she was cast as Regina George in Mean Girls.

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Movies that were supposed to launch franchises (but didn’t): The Punisher

This weekend, Netflix will debut their latest Marvel-based series.  This one is a solo effort featuring Jon Bernthal as the Punisher.  Prior to landing on television, Frank Castle has starred in three movies.  None of them were successful which makes pinning down the exact start and end of the Punisher series a bit tricky.  Since each of the three theatrical films was essentially its own separate entity, I am going to treat them as three failed attempts to launch a franchise.  Which one are we looking at today?  All three of them!

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Franchise Killers: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

The first-ever superhero movie franchise started with Superman: The Movie in 1978.  Producers Ilya and Alexander Salkind were so certain of its success that they filmed the movie’s sequel back-to-back with the original.  Unfortunately, the Salkinds clashed with director Richard Donner so they replaced him on Superman II with Richard Lester.  Lester took full control of the third movie in what most assumed would be a trilogy.  After Superman III proved to be a critical and commercial disappointment, Christopher Reeve announced that he was done with the character.  The Salkinds eventually sold the rights to the Superman franchise to Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus who hoped to revive the series at Cannon Films.  Instead, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace did what Lex Luthor never could.  It killed Superman.

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Charlize Theron: Bowled Over

If you make a list of today’s A-list actresses, Charlize Theron has to rank somewhere near the top.  Not only has she headlined her share of hit movies, Theron also won an Oscar for her performance in the 2003 biopic, Monster.  But twenty years ago, she was a relative newcomer.  When an injury prematurely ended her career as a ballerina, Theron turned to acting and immediately turned heads with her performance in 2 days in the valley.  In the November 1997 issue of Movieline magazine, Theron discussed her next feature, Devil’s Advocate, while bowling.

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November 15: Happy Birthday Ed Asner and Petula Clark


Ed Asner is celebrating his 88th birthday today.  He graduated from the University of Chicago and spent some time in theater in Chicago before moving to New York, where played Jonathan Peachum in the off-Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, and made his Broadway debut in Robert L. Joseph’s Face of a Hero in 1960.  He made his feature film debut in The Satan Bug in 1965, and has had prominent roles in El Dorado, Fort Apache, the Bronx, Daniel, Hard Rain, and other films.

However, Asner is best known for his television career.  He is a seventeen-time Primetime Emmy nominee, and has won seven times.  Two of his wins were for the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots.  The other five were all for playing the character of Lou Grant—three for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and the other two for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama on Lou Grant.  Asner is one of only two people to win an acting Emmy in both Comedy and Drama categories for the same role (the other is Uzo Aduba of Orange is the New Black), and also one of only two people to win an Emmy for the same role in two different series (along with James Spader).

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Lego Dimensions: Teen Titans Go! Team Pack

All good things must come to an end.  After months of speculation, Traveler’s Tales recently confirmed that they were no longer developing new expansions for Lego Dimensions.  Before we put down our controllers and move on with our lives, let’s take a look at the final wave of products for the toys-to-life game.  Since this week has a DC Superheroes theme, I thought we would kick things off with the Teen Titans Go! team pack.

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Movies that were supposed to launch franchises (but didn’t): Supergirl


Alexander and Ilya Salkind paid a pretty penny for the rights to Superman.  After three movies, star Christopher Reeve was ready to call it quits as the Man of Steel, but the Salkinds thought there might still be some money to by wrung out of their intellectual property.  So they decided to spin off Supergirl into her own movie franchise.  Unfortunately, it didn’t take flight.

via Movies that were supposed to launch franchises (but didn’t): Supergirl

November 14: Happy Birthday Veronica Lake and Dick Powell


Our headliners today were both familiar faces in the classic era of film noir.

Veronica Lake (1922-1973) became famous in the early 1940s for her “peek-a-boo” hairstyle (a very subdued version of which is in her photo above), but changed it during World War 2 after she learned that women working in factories were getting their hair caught in machinery when emulating her style.  She had moved to Beverly Hills with her family in 1938 and began working in film in her late teens.  Initially billed in films as Connie Keane, she began appearing under her famous screen name in the 1940 film I Wanted Wings.

One of Lake’s most famous roles was starring opposite Joel McCrea in Sullivan’s Travels; Lake was six months pregnant during filming; however, costume designer Edith Head came up with some ingenious ways to conceal the fact.  Her other famous roles are the films she made with Alan Ladd.  The first two of these, This Gun For Hire and The Glass Key, came out in 1942.  Later in the decade the two reunited for The Blue Dahlia and Saigon.  The latter was probably the last successful film Lake ever made; she had some serious personal problems, beginning but not ending with alcoholism, and found it very hard to get work after the late 1940s.

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