Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Film Review: Dune

 

Image Credit: Warner Bros.


As a sci-fi writer and fan, director Denis Villeneuve’s take on the science fiction classic novel Dune was one of my most anticipated movies of 2021. So it should be no surprise I went to see it opening weekend. It’s one of those tent-pole films that demands to be seen on the big screen whether you have HBOMax or not. Is it a masterpiece? No. But it kept me thoroughly entertained for the entire 2 hour 35 minute run time. Here’s my take on what it does well and where it might come up a little short.

First off, anyone who hasn’t read the book but did see David Lynch’s attempt in 1984 and walked out saying “huh?” will be happy to know Villeneuve does a much better job of setting up this complex tale so it makes sense. My wife, by no means a sci-fi fan, enjoyed the movie too and only whispered a question once or twice which I consider a huge endorsement. Dune avoids long speeches and exposition, but still throws in enough hints to keep you aware of who the players are and what their agendas might be.

Next, the visuals are amazing. The ship landings, the sandworms, the costumes, the ornithopters flying over the desert, there are so many beautiful shots that I feel like anyone who watches this on television or a mobile screen on first viewing is cheating themselves. If Villeneuve didn’t already prove it with his films Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival, he does here. The man knows how to wow.

Casting is also a major strength in this version of Dune, fixing several mistakes made by David Lynch in his earlier attempt. Timothy Chalamet is a much better match for the teenaged Paul Atriedes than Kyle McLachlan was in the mid-80s. Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac are excellent as his royal parents and Jason Momoa is a much more convincing warrior than the terribly miscast Richard Jordan. Several other actors shine as well including Stellan Skarsgard, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, and Dave Bautista.

Where does the 2021 version of Dune come up short? For starters, the book is so complex and multi-layered it probably should have been made into a mini-series rather than a feature film. Dune could easily fill 10 hours of runtime. This film only covers the first half (or less) of the original story. This means we only get the introduction of the characters, world, and dilemma. There isn’t a great deal of character development and there is little to no resolution, just a cliffhanger leaving us to wait on the recently greenlit sequel.

Perhaps less egregious, but still disappointing is the tiny amount of screen time actress Zendaya receives as Paul’s love interest, Chani. Based on how Villeneuve broke the story into two films, she appears in this one, but has almost nothing to do. I assume she’ll be a major part of the planned sequel, but for now, her fans are probably a little bummed at her lack of dialogue.

All in all, Dune is well worth the price of admission and one of my favorite films of 2021. I’m just eagerly awaiting the rest of the story scheduled to reach theatres in October 2023.


Thursday, October 7, 2021

Rambo: Last Blood and the Importance of Character Motivation

 

Image Credit: Lionsgate Films


WARNING. No Rambo film is a mind-bender full of surprises but this post does contain spoilers. If you haven’t seen Rambo: Last Blood but plan to, know that reading further will tell you more about the plot than you might want to learn. With that said, let’s continue!

 

Those of you who are writers, and my assumption is that a large portion of my blog’s audience falls into this category, may scoff at me using a Sylvester Stallone movie as a writing exercise. You shouldn’t. The man was nominated for a writing Oscar for his Rocky screenplay. The two roles he’s best known for, Rocky Balboa and John Rambo have been featured in 13 feature films. The man knows how to develop a character. Which makes it all the sadder that John Rambo seems to have finished his life story in 2019’s Rambo: Last Blood. The movie was critically panned and did less at the box office than any of its predecessors. As a fan of the series, I held off on watching it to avoid a letdown. I finally caved recently and while I tend to agree with the critics, the truth is it wouldn’t take much to make Rambo: Last Blood a better film. Sometimes the best way to learn how to be a better writer is to take a deeper look into a work that’s a near-miss.

Part of the problem with Rambo: Last Blood appears to be film executive meddling. At 89 minutes the film is too short. The Director’s Cut clocks in at 101 minutes and repairs some of the damage. The theatrical cut leaves out too much of Rambo’s motivation. He’s an old man now. The last time we saw him was 11 years ago working as a solitary boatman in the jungles of Burma. Now he’s retired on his deceased father’s Arizona farm where he lives with his niece Gabriela and her grandmother, Maria. Why did he build a network of tunnels beneath the property? How has he quelled his violent nature? How has he kept his battle skills honed despite this seemingly peaceful existence? An opening scene that’s only available in the Director’s Cut depicts Rambo saving a woman from a flood, but failing to save her friends. He then morosely compares that shortcoming to his failure to save his friends in Vietnam as he discusses the incident with Maria after he returns home. The scene isn’t perfect, but it does help fill in some of the missing backstory.

Later, Rambo suggests rather than leave to a party, Gabriela invite her friends to the farm to party in his Vietcong-like tunnels.  The tunnels full of guns, knives, and his precious war memorabilia. As a responsible parent this is obviously a horrendous idea, but it also was a screenwriter misstep. The friends never appear in the film again so this is senseless diversion from the story. Worse, it misses a golden opportunity to depict his solitude and inability to let go of his violent past. What if she had asked him if they could party in the tunnels instead? What if he’d then explained how dangerous they are? What if he’d told her he trusted no one down there but her, the most precious thing left in the world to him? Wouldn’t that create better foreshadowing of the film’s final showdown? Wouldn’t it have also helped build our understanding of how strongly he felt about her and why he’d go on a bloody rampage to avenge her? Maybe he’d suggest she have the party in the farmhouse instead? Perhaps he could lurk in the shadows of his underground lair listening to the happy sounds and lights of her life, too emotionally haunted and socially awkward to join them. How much better would that have established his mental state and her place as the love of his dark life?

We also don’t get enough of Gabriela’s treacherous friend Gizelle’s motivation. Yes, we see that she doesn’t have much money and yes, both Maria and Rambo describe the young woman as bad news, but it appears she tricked Gabriela into coming to Mexico for the sole purpose of selling her into sex slavery. That’s a pretty terrible act for a friend, even a bad one. A one or two minute scene of the bad guys beating Gizelle up, threatening a member of her family, or some similar horror if she doesn’t help them kidnap new girls would have made this terrible act much easier to believe.

Once we meet the bad guys, a pair of sex-slaver brothers named Hugo and Victor Martinez, there is another cut scene of their seemingly regular battle for who is in charge and why they need more girls as Hugo negotiates with a crime boss named Don Miguel. The scene is a good one and it’s a shame it was cut, but adding it back would have been even more useful if it was expanded a bit. After the turning point in the film where Rambo kills Victor and taunts Hugo into coming to Arizona for revenge, Hugo leads dozens of armed men to Rambo’s farm while dressed in tactical gear and using military commands. The man clearly isn’t your typical pimp. What is his background? Is he a former soldier? Where did he learn this stuff? A line or two in the scene with Don Miguel where Hugo explains why he’d make such a good partner because of his military background and government connections would have fleshed out his character and helped his turn into bad ass squad leader make a lot more sense.

Finally, there is a scene before Rambo murders Victor where he visits the intrepid reporter who nursed him back to health after his first encounter with the Martinez brothers. He asks for her help one last time. The scene is clearly just an excuse to allow Rambo his monologue about grief and wanting that grief to be the last thing Hugo sees before he dies and I don’t have an issue with that, but the screenwriter forgot to actually show us what “help” Rambo came for. Rambo already knows the location of the Martinez’s lair. The reporter doesn’t accompany Rambo there. What was the motivation for Rambo’s visit before exacting his revenge? An easy explanation might have been that he needed the reporter to tell him when Victor would be home while Hugo was out. Or maybe the brothers were at another location and Rambo needed to know where that might be. Perhaps he could have asked her to report the story of Gizelle’s role in the crime. Whatever the explanation, the scene needs one.

What I find remarkable is that none of these additions would have cost much budget. They’re just a minute of dialogue here and there, maybe 10-15 minutes total. All the expensive action scenes work just fine. Rambo: Last Blood doesn’t fail because it’s a bad action film or a poor end to John Rambo’s life story. It fails because it doesn’t take the time to show why the characters do what they do.


Thursday, September 23, 2021

Star Wars: Visions is Pretty Yet Dull

 

Image Credit: Disney

Star Wars: Visions was released on Disney+ yesterday to plenty of hype. Reviews are in and most are glowing so I spent the evening watching all nine of the short animated episodes. The concept is an interesting one; give various Japanese anime companies a shot at telling a short story set in the Star Wars universe. It comes off as Disney’s branded response to Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots – a show I’ve written about twice on this blog.

Visually, as the name suggests, Star Wars: Visions is impressive. Several of the episodes are beautifully rendered and while I’m not a fan of some of the more cartoonish styles, I’m sure they please those who enjoy the anime genre. What I noticed most about the show however wasn’t the stunning landscapes or cool lightsaber effects, but the lack of variety in the storytelling.

Personally, as much as I love the Star Wars universe (and anyone who reads this blog knows I LOVE the Star Wars universe) I think the whole Jedi/Sith angle is a bit played. There are so many incredible planets, races, and guilds in this universe, why does every story require a young person take up a lightsaber and dedicate themselves to defeating the Sith? Three of the most refreshing recent entries Disney has delivered were entertaining because they purposely distanced themselves from this storyline. Solo focused on the origin story of our favorite space smuggler. Rogue One told the tale of a group of rebels stealing the Death Star plans and delivering them to Princess Leia. Perhaps best of all, The Mandalorian follows the exploits of a bounty hunter capturing wanted creatures across the galaxies while protecting a young adoptee.

Eight of the nine episodes that make up Star Wars: Visions involve lightsaber fights. Three of them follow the inexplicable idea first seen in Rey of The Force Awakens that a person can pick up or inherit a lightsaber and immediately be capable of defeating powerful enemies without a hint of training. What I’d love to see if they follow this up with a Season 2 is a broader spectrum of stories. Off the top of my head I came up the following in about 10 minutes:

  • A protocol droid acting as translator for a negotiation between a Hutt and a bounty hunter watches it go terribly wrong.
  • A pair of bickering Gamorrean guards escalates a grievance in Jabba’s palace until one traps the other in the rancor pit and gleefully watches him meet his doom.
  • A mistreated Imperial worker on the Death Star sabotages the laser pistols he is forced to maintain then plays dumb as Stormtroopers continually find they can’t shoot straight.
  • A hermit tinkerer who lives alone in the rusted husk of an AT-AT on Hoth builds a droid out of spare parts to keep him company.
  • A Kaminoan is tricked into sharing her cloning secrets with an Imperial Officer who then steals them for the Emperor to use on himself.


That’s half a season of content right there and not a lightsaber to be seen. I’d pay to watch those stories. Wouldn’t you?

 

So should you watch Star Wars: Visions? If you’re a fanboy like me, yes. Completists must complete. If you’re a more casual viewer I’d recommend catching a few and skipping several. My brief episode guide is below.

The Duel

This is the opening episode of the series and the best of the bunch. If Akira Kurosawa did a Star Wars film, it would look something like this. A lightsaber-wielding Ronin and his trusty droid save a village from a group of Stormtroopers and their Sith leader.

The Elder

Episode 7 starts off with some cringey Jedi/Padawan dialogue ala Kenobi and Anakin in Attack of the Clones but then settles into an entertaining tale as the two explore a village then do battle with an ancient dual-lightsaber-wielding villain.

Akakiri

The final episode of the series shows us a Jedi who suffers visions of a tragic loss only to be faced with accepting that fate or joining the dark side.

The Ninth Jedi

This is where the episodes begin to get a little too cartoonish for my taste. The story of a young girl delivering lightsabers to what she believes are the last remaining Jedi is interesting enough, but every twist is seen from a mile away and the dialogue is tough to bear.

The Village Bride

Similar to “The Duel” in that a Ronin-like Jedi comes to a remote village to save it from bandits, this fourth episode just does it in a less satisfying style.

Lop and Ocho

The eighth episode of the series could have been one of the better ones if not for the odd choice of making the heroine look like Lola Bunny of Space Jam. Call me old-school but the idea of a bunny picking up her adoptive father’s lightsaber then kicking her warrior-sister’s ass with it came off as dumb.

The Twins

The third episode features two Vader-rip-off twins spitting overwrought dialog at each other as they duke it out with more lightsabers over control of a kyber crystal that can power a Death Star-like laser.

T0-B1

The sixth story tells of yet another young dreamer, this one a droid no less, who picks up his mentor’s lightsaber and immediately defeats a battle-hardened Sith in order to carry on his mentor’s legacy.

Tatooine Rhapsody

And finally the second and silliest of all the episodes, sadly this is the one tale that follows my advice and veers away from lightsabers, but comes off as if Nick Jr. took a shot at Star Wars. A rock band’s bass player is nabbed by Boba Fett and only a great performance for Jabba will set him free.


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Most Formidable Characters in Netflix's Castlevania

 

Image Credit: Netflix

I’ve been on a bit of an animation kick as of late between Love, Death & Robots Season 2, Invincible, and the final season of Castlevania. The Castlevania series was so well received that last week Netflix announced an upcoming spin-off of Castlevania that will be based on the characters from the 1993 video game, Rondo of Blood. I thought that was as good an excuse as any to delve deeper into the characters, both vampire and human, of the just-ended dark fantasy show. Which ones truly dominated the land of Wallachia and which ones ended up being more bark than bite?

Warning, spoilers ahead!


 

Saint Germain

Ostentatious and odd from the start, this traveling alchemist never amounts to much in a fight, but he still manages to make a hell of a mess by the grand finale.

The Bishop

It’s this guy who starts the whole bloody tale by burning Dracula’s human wife at the stake. He’s a religious fanatic and they’re usually dangerous one way or another.

Sala

Sala isn’t much of a warrior, but he’s definitely crazy and he’s definitely dangerous. Don’t worry; he gets what’s coming to him in the end.

The Judge

Creepy from the moment he’s introduced, you don’t find out just how bad this guy is until his final scene. Sometimes formidable isn’t obvious.

Taka and Sumi

These two attempt to seduce then kill Alucard to slake their hatred of the vampires who once enslaved them. You’ve got to give them credit for their creativity, but it doesn’t go as planned.

Hector

One of the weaker and more foolish characters in the series, Hector falls under the spell of the lovely vampire Lenore. He’s then forced to use his forgemaster skills in service to her and her vampire sisters’ cause until he finds a sad sort of redemption at the end of the tale.

Lenore

Perhaps the weakest of the four vampire sisters, she was nevertheless wily and seductive enough to entrance Hector into building an undead army that gave Isaac’s forces an entertaining fight for supremacy.

Greta

This guardian of the underground city of Danesti is self-important and more than a little deluded, but she proves her skill in battle when vampires invade in search of the means to bring Dracula back from Hell.

Godbrand

This Viking vampire deserved more screen time and a more glorious death, but what little time he did have, he made the most of with his unique style and hunger for human blood.

Morana and Striga

These two vampire lovers spend more time complaining about Carmilla’s ambition than fighting their common enemies, but Striga shows her battle skills on occasion and looks like she stepped off the cover of Arcadia’s So Red the Rose album from the 80s so that earns this pair a bit of extra credit.

Isaac

This forgemaster starts out as a servant of Dracula who is capable of making undead monsters but he soon finds his self on a journey of self-discovery, coming into a different sort of wisdom and power along the way.

Ratko

This vampire is one of the biggest, meanest, and most brutal in the bunch. He doesn’t earn many style points, but his straight-forward power is more than most characters in this show can match.

Dracula

The King of all Vampires only plays a major part in the first two seasons of this series, but he’s a force to be reckoned with. Castlevania plays up the tragic side of his persona rather than the rage, but you definitely get to see what he’s capable of when provoked.

Alucard

Not being particularly familiar with the games this series is based on, I can’t say how close this character cleaves to them, but he does a hell of a lot of cutting other vampires and their assorted undead minions into pieces. He looks more like his human mother than daddy Vlad, but he’s certainly got his father’s thirst for blood.

Carmilla

From her betrayal of Dracula to her pursuit of ruling the entire world as immortal Queen, this vampire means business. She’s one of the fiercest, cruelest characters in the series and her final battle is one of the best the show has to offer in its 32 episode run.

Dragan

This massive vampire general doesn’t get a lot of dialogue, but he more than proves his self in the siege of Dracula’s castle at the end of the series. He single-handedly takes on Alucard, Trevor, and Sypha in battle and more than holds his own.

Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades

The banter between these two lovers is laid on a little thick for my taste, but there is no doubt about their prowess in battle. Between Trevor’s ferocity and skill with weapons and Sypha’s calm mastery of magic, almost nothing can stand in their way.

Varney

Voiced by Malcolm McDowell, the early impression of this ancient creature is that he’s one of the weaker foes our heroes will need to face. Looks are deceiving. The final battle with this insidious villain in the penultimate episode of the series is one of the coolest animated fights ever.


Saturday, May 15, 2021

Love, Death & Robots – Season 2

 


Image Credit: Netflix


Yep, I’m delivering the rare “riff” twofer. New posts in back to back days! Why the sudden prolificacy you might ask? Well my 2019 synopsis of Season 1 of Netflix’s sci-fi/horror animated series Love, Death & Robots is the most read post on my blog. Naturally I’m going to follow up on Season 2 as soon as possible. Released yesterday, I binged the season last night and enjoyed it almost as much as its predecessor. The bad news is that the latest season is only 8 episodes long verses the 18 episodes of Season 1. The good news is that all 8 are entertaining. Like Season 1, there’s plenty of graphic violence, vulgarity, and sexual content so it’s not exactly kid friendly, but if you’re an adult who enjoys animation, add this season to your watch list. Season 2 includes several episodes based on short stories by well-known authors including Paolo Bacigalupi, Harlan Ellison, John Scalzi, and Joe Lansdale.

Here are my brief descriptions of each episode, from my favorite to least favorite.

 

Snow in the Desert

At 18 minutes in length this is one of the two longest episodes of the season and it’s also the best of the bunch. It feels like a spin-off from The Mandalorian and that’s high praise from as a big fan as I am of that show.

Pop Squad

This might be the darkest episode of the season despite the cute-sounding name. Imagine Blade Runner retiring unauthorized children instead of replicants and you’ve got a pretty good idea how this one goes.

All Through the House

At 7 minutes in length, this is the shortest episode of the season, but it’s a good one. Animated in traditional holiday style, the creature delivering gifts this Christmas Eve is not what you expect. Extra points go to this one for its visual references to Alien 3 and Pan’s Labyrinth.

The Tall Grass

No matter how much man strives to control his environment, some strange and ancient things will always be beyond his power or understanding. A bored passenger confronts this truth when his train makes an unscheduled stop in the middle of the night.

The Drowned Giant

Quiet, somber, and philosophical, think of this episode as Season 2’s version of “Zima Blue”. It’s a fairy tale about just how shallow man can be when faced with the miraculous.

Life Hutch

After a near fatal crash of his starship, a fighter pilot find his self in an even deadlier situation when the remote habitat he seeks refuge in turns out to be guarded by a deadly, malfunctioning robot.

Ice

I love the animation and world-building in this story of modified humans and ice-breaking whales, but the characters and story feel half-baked. Chalk this one up to having tons of potential but wanting for better execution.

Automated Customer Service

Even my least favorite episode is fun. This tale is similar to some of the more comedic stories in Season 1. A resident of a futuristic retirement community must fight for her and her dog’s survival when her house cleaning robot goes haywire.


Friday, May 14, 2021

Casting Dune Part 2

 

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Director Denis Villeneuve’s new take on the classic sci-fi novel Dune won’t hit theaters until October but that doesn’t stop me from speculating about what might come next. Frank Herbert’s tale remains one of my all-time favorite books and while I enjoyed David Lynch’s film adaptation in 1984, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t admit that movie is deeply flawed. So as much as I tend to dislike remakes, I’m excited about this one. That brings us to this post. The new Dune only covers part of the novel and that novel is only one of a series of six. Which major characters from the first book won’t appear until Part 2? Based on currently released information, several.

Full disclosure, the idea for this post is as unoriginal as it gets. I recently read an article on this same topic at The Nerdist and I disagreed with the author’s picks so strenuously, I decided to make my own. Part of that author’s perspective was to advocate for diversity in the film’s casting which I whole-heartedly agree with, but if you look at the cast for the first film, I think Villeneuve has already done a good job of it. My focus here is to offer choices that more closely align with Herbert’s original vision. The Nerdist gets something approaching 5 million hits per year while this blog receives... less than that so hopefully they won’t be too bent out of shape with me stepping on their toes this go-round. So who’s the bigger Dune nerd, me or The Nerdist? Read on and decide for yourself.

 



Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV

The Emperor is a dangerous, rather petty ruler who kicks off the story by pitting the evil Harkonnens against the virtuous but threatening Atreides. While he’s in the background all along, he doesn’t really become a visible player until the story’s final act when Paul comes to the emperor’s court to exact his revenge.

Playing a man named “Shaddam” you’re going to need someone with a certain amount of flair. As the emperor of the known universe, the actor should be comfortable acting regal as well. Who has more flair than the actor who has played such powerful characters as Dracula, Winston Churchill, and Sirius Black? Gary Oldman would make a great Padishah Emperor.

If Oldman isn’t available, a nice back-up plan would be Vincent Cassel. Handsome, exotic, and no stranger to playing bad guys, Cassel could fill this role as nicely as he did playing antagonists in such films and shows as Ocean’s Twelve, Eastern Promises, and Westworld.

 



Princess Irulan

Irulan is the eldest daughter of the emperor and as such, whoever she marries is in line for the throne. This results in her being the target of Paul’s revenge, becoming his bride so that he can take control of the universe despite Shaddam’s objection. Irulan is meant to be a blonde, blue-eyed beauty that ultimately accepts her role as an unloved but politically advantageous bride to an unloving husband to become the narrator for much of the story.

Anyone who has watched the excellent Netflix series Ozark knows Julia Garner is a fantastic actress. In my opinion, she’s the best part of a show that includes quite a few good parts. While the role of Ruth Langmore is that of an uncouth, uneducated con woman, I think Garner has the talent and natural good looks to make Irulan shine.

If family resemblance is important, you’d be hard-pressed to find an actress to better match Cassel’s stand out blue eyes than Odeya Rush. Perhaps not as well-known as Garner, Rush is probably most recognized for her roles in the films Lady Bird, Goosebumps, and The Giver.  

 


Count Hasimir Fenring

Fenring is supposed to be diminutive in stature, weasly-faced but also a deadly assassin who has helped Shaddam achieve and consolidate power over the decades. He is the man in the shadows who understands every angle and plays them to his emperor’s advantage.

If you’ve watched his performances in films such as Watchmen, Shutter Island, or Dark Shadows, you know Jackie Earle Haley can nail this role. Haley knows how to play intense and creepy. Given that the character is supposed to be similar in age to Shaddam, Haley would be particularly well suited for this role if Oldman plays the emperor.

If someone like Cassel gets the role of Shaddam, a younger Fenring candidate is Eddie Marsan. My favorite of his performances is the overmatched Inspector Lestrade in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films, but you’ve seen Marsan in a ton of productions. Gangs of New York, V for Vendetta, The Illusionist, Atomic Blonde, Marsan is one of the best character actors working today.





Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen

And finally we have Feyd, the handsome but monstrous nephew of bad guy Baron Vladimir Harkonnen who is a product of the same breeding program as our young hero Paul and who engages in hand-to-hand combat with Paul for the hand of Irulan and control of the throne in the stories’ final confrontation. This part was famously played by the rock musician Sting in the 1984 version so while it’s a relatively small part, it’s a flashy one.  

You can accuse me of being too on-the-nose with this choice, but why not Bill Skarsgard? As the son of Stellan Skarsgard, the actor playing the Baron, you won’t find a better family likeness. Bill is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Pennywise in the latest version of It so he’s certainly proven himself capable of playing a menacing villain.

If you’d prefer someone a little less obvious, how about Dacre Montgomery? His resume might be a little light, but he was fun to hate as bad boy Billy Hargrove in Seasons 2 and 3 of the Netflix retro horror series Stranger Things. He's also got the leer and ripped abs if Villeneuve dares to do a new take on Sting's infamous steam bath scene.

 

With the upcoming film including such stellar actors as Javier Bardem, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Charlotte Rampling, Timothee Chalamet, and Oscar Issac I have no doubt Villeneuve will make more great casting choices in the sequel. Here’s hoping that Dune is the rare remake that outshines the original.


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Here Come the Cereal Serials

 

Image Credit: Sporcle

With theaters still closed due to Corona, there is no doubt that premium cable and streamers like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and HBO are the current kings of content and while they do make original movies, their bread and butter are series. The Mandalorian, Bridgerton, Cobra Kai, Castlevania, The Witcher, Westworld, and Jack Ryan are just a few of the examples of shows that are currently demanding eyeballs all around the country, reaping those big subscription dollars. Everyone knows Hollywood likes nothing better than exploiting recognizable titles, characters, and storylines. Why risk a multi-million dollar budget on something original that may or not appeal to an audience when you can just produce a spin-off from a popular film (The Mandalorian, Cobra Kai, and Westworld), adapt a video game (Castlevania), or adapt a book series (Bridgerton, The Witcher, and Jack Ryan)? With that in mind, I give you the next promised land – breakfast cereal characters!

Sure, go ahead and laugh but keep in mind the Transformers toy line has churned out six feature films and god knows how many cartoon series and Johnny Depp became one of the biggest stars in the world thanks to a series of pirate movies based on a theme park ride. Are the following ideas really that far-fetched?

 

Trix

Maybe it’s just a sign of the times when cereal mascots were popular, but it doesn’t take long to notice all the best ones were decidedly male so we’re going to gender swap this one. Suzy Rabbit, known as “Tricks” around the casinos, isn’t just one of the best gamblers on the 60s Las Vegas Strip. After getting busted reaching for that brass ring, she’s now a secret agent, working undercover with the FBI to bring down the crime bosses who have taken control of the town. Evan Rachel Wood stars in this live action drama that’s violent and sexy enough that it’s definitely not for kids.

Lucky Charms

Aidan Gillen killed it as Littlefinger in Game of Thrones and again as Aberama Gold in Peaky Blinders. Now he stars as Lucky, an Irish treasure hunter who travels the wilds of his homeland at the turn of the first millennium in search of his fortune while trying to avoid marauding Vikings in this exciting live-action spin-off from General Mills’ delicious toasted oats and multi-colored marshmallow cereal.

Froot Loops

Like the main character in my novel-in-progress, Sam Toucan is a private-eye. Sam is older and wiser than my protagonist though. He always follows his nose and it never steers him wrong. Beloved Hollywood icon Jeff Goldblum hasn’t played a detective this fun since 1980’s Tenspeed and Brown Shoe but he’s back on television and better than ever in this comedic crime drama.

Cap’n Crunch

If you didn’t get enough of Russell Crowe sailing the high seas in the 2003 film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World you’ll be thrilled to know Quaker Oats has cast him as the animated Cap’n Crunch along with the whole crew as they battle for the safety of Crunch Island against the Sogmaster and of course the captain’s arch-nemesis, the dastardly Jean LaFoote as voiced by Sasha Baron Cohen.

Honey Smacks

Kevin Hart stars in this live action comedy as Frank Diggem, a streetwise inner city high school teacher who will do anything he has to in order to protect his students from the dangers of life in one of the roughest neighborhoods in New York City while also trying to raise his own precocious young daughter Honey all while negotiating a sometimes less-than-friendly relationship with his ex-wife and her new husband.

Monster Cereals

Universal’s attempt at a Dark Universe may have failed miserably with the ill-advised 2017 remake of The Mummy, but that’s no reason a similar concept couldn’t work via an animated series. This time Count Chocula, Boo Berry, Franken Berry, Fruit Brute, and Yummy Mummy star in interconnected episodes of gothic horror ala Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.

Golden Crisp

Post Cereal’s lone entrant into this new era of entertainment features the voice of Will Smith as the always loveable Sugar Bear. This animated series will tell of the ongoing efforts of this mild-mannered hero as he fights to protect neighborhood kids from the eccentric and often dangerous plans of Granny Goodwitch, a local crank voiced by Jane Lynch.

Frosted Flakes

After Dominic Toretto finally drives off into the sunset of the Fast & Furious film series, Vin Diesel will star as Tony, a troubled former pro football star for the fictional Cincinnati Tigers, who now owns a gym in his hometown of Los Angeles. There the kerchief-wearing muscle man mentors up-and-coming athletes and tries to avoid reverting into old habits from his playing days.

Cocoa Puffs

Comedy veteran Chris Kattan is back and better than ever as Sonny the Cuckoo Bird. Watch the animated hijinx of Sonny and his pals as they practice their tricks at the skatepark then get into all sorts of trouble delivering groceries via their Uber Eats-like business.

Rice Krispies

And finally the Jonas Brothers star in this animated series about the brothers Snap, Crackle, and Pop who travel the world as a groovy boy band but solve mysteries everywhere they go. You won’t catch them eating any Scooby snacks, but they do enjoy a nice bowl of rice cereal in milk before every gig.