Face/Off, Blade, Oz: Weekly Round Up – If you grew up with your formative years in the 90s and you were a movie fan, like me, then chances are that John Woo’s action/thriller Face/Off was a major movie in your childhood. I myself remember watching it as a youngster and being totally blown away, perhaps in part because I was probably too young to really “get it” and perhaps in part because I’d never really seen anyone quite like Nicholas Cage before and watching the guy from Grease suddenly start acting like a psychopath was a genuine shock to my system. But, whatever your relationship with the film, you’ll likely have some sort of opinion on this week’s news that the 1997 blockbuster is being rebooted for modern audiences.
Director Adam Wingard has been confirmed as taking on the role of director for the new movie, which initially was expected to be a remake of the original Face/Off, although as has been confirmed now, the film will in fact be a sequel to the John Travolta and Nicholas Cage starring classic. Wingard, of course, is perhaps best known for his work in the horror genre, although he is also the man behind the excellent cult action movie The Guest, starring Dan Stevens, and the upcoming much an anticipated monster movie, Godzilla vs Kong.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the conversation around the recently announced Face/Off sequel quickly turned to just who would take on the Travolta and Cage roles. What made the original so great was the almost gimmick-like novelty of watching the usually calm, cool, and collected Travolta playing the wild, unpredictable, and out there Nicholas Cage and vice-versa, so whoever winds up taking the two leads will need be able to replicate, in some way at least, that kind of juxtaposition.
Of course, the original movie’s premise lends itself quite nicely to continuations, and it’s a little bit odd that a franchise didn’t spring up around it anyway, given that there’s plenty of ground to be covered just having different actors come in and play each other. What the film will actually wind up being about in detail remains a mystery at this point, but this something that, as a fan of the first movie, I’ll be watching with interest. I’m not going to make any predictions just yet, but here’s hoping this winds up being just as fun, silly, and batshit as the original.
While we’re on the subject of potential remakes, a property that seems to be getting a new lease of life in the modern movie world is Frank L Baum’s now iconic series of children’s books all set in the wonderful, magical land of Oz. Baum’s work is no stranger to Hollywood, with there being several adaptations of his work, each of them released to various degrees of success. The Wiz is oft remembered as a slightly misjudged but enjoyable cult classic, while The Evil Dead and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi took a stab at the property as recently as 2013 with Oz the Great and Powerful, starring James Franco, and I’d be remiss, of course, not to mention the woefully underseen and underappreciated nightmare fuel that is Return to Oz, a film that has recently been getting something of a reappraisal, perhaps in no small part thanks to its appearance on Disney’s streaming platform, Disney+.
But, of course, the most well remembered and influential of all the adaptations of Baum’s work is the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland. From its musical numbers to its imagery to its villain, almost everything about the film has become an integral and celebrated part of popular culture. Despite this, few of the other adaptations have ever been able to capitalize on that film’s success, since many of the most memorable aspects of it are creations of the film itself and not the original source material.
Well, this looks set to change with this week’s news that New Line Cinema are now developing an adaptation of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the same one that served as the direct inspiration for the 1939 movie. Perhaps more curious, though, is the placement of Nicole Kassell in the director’s chair. Kassell was behind several episodes of HBO’s successful TV adaptation of Alan Moore’s Watchman, and was also behind the well-received Kevin Bacon starring drama The Woodsman. This one could be really interesting.
Our final story this week details yet another reboot, although this one is perhaps a little less surprising. In 2019 we learned that Marvel Studios planned to reboot Blade, the day-walking vampire hunter made iconic thanks to the Wesley Snipes starring 1998 movie, and that academy award winner Mahershala Ali was attached to take over the role.
There has been little movement on this new take on the character in the subsequent period of time, but this week the project took a giant leap forward when it was announced that screenwriter Stacy Osei-Kuffour would be taking on writing duties for the film, which, at least according to The Hollywood Reporter, will be titled Blade the Vampire Slayer – which is just confusing because… well, Buffy exists (also, fuck Joss Whedon, I’m angry about that. I’m not going to go into great detail, although if you would like to know what that’s all about then please follow the link. Suffice it to say, I’m just really angry. And disappointed. And angry. Really fucking angry).
Back in 2019, Marvel head-honcho Kevin Fiege confirmed that Blade would be a key part of Marvel’s upcoming Phase 5, so we’ll likely have to wait a little while longer before we learn more about that, given we’ve only just started Phase 4. Still, if WandaVision is anything to go by, it looks like Marvel might be in the process of trying to shake things up a bit, and that’s a plus in my book, since the whole franchise had grown somewhat stale despite still raking in the big bucks. – Face/Off, Blade, Oz: Weekly Round Up
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