Sunday, February 26, 2012

HOLLYWOOD SPY SPOTLIGHT ON EPIC FILMS THAT WERE NEVER MEANT TO BE: "CLEOPATRA", "THE LAST PHARAOH", "LAST BATTLE DREAMER", "ALEXANDER", "HANNIBAL", "SHANNARA", "DRAGON RIDERS OF PERN", "TEMERAIRE"

You all know that there's often injustice in Hollywood, right? Not only that mediocre actors are often bigger stars than the truly talented
ones, but often the money is wasted on bad remakes and nonsensical movies, while some promising projects are left to rot in the darkness. The recent cancellation of two big movie projects, historical epic ARTHUR AND LANCELOT (which was supposed to have Kit Harrington and Joel Kinnaman in the lead roles) and Biblical epic PARADISE LOST ( in which Bradley Cooper was to play Lucifer in the adaptation of John Milton's famous work supposed to be filled with visual effects and aerial battles) have reminded me how many lovely epics got announced but never got into production. Here are some of those I still remember.
EGYPTIAN EPICS
We really don't have much epics on Ancient Egypt, even though it's a popular part of history. As you know James Cameron was supposed to shoot CLEOPATRA epic with Angelina Jolie in the lead role
but it never happened, although there is still some hope, but not with Cameron behind the helm. Another Egyptian queen Nefertiti was about to get her film in ARMS OF THE SUN, an ambitious epic on the first royal to advocate belief in a monotheistic religion and one of the most mysterious Egyptian rulers. The film was supposed to be directed by Lucas Foster (famous for blockbusters such as EQUILIBRIUM, MR. AND MRS. SMITH, JUMPER). There was also the talk about Randall Wallace's (BRAVEHEART) THE LAST PHARAOH, which would have Will Smith (nope, I kid you not, there's no limit to his egocentricity) playing ancient Egyptian ruler Taharqa who battles with Assyrians.

DRAGON EPICS
Another thing that we don't often see in films are epics with dragons. The above mentioned Lucas Foster had a plan of making a fantasy epic TEMERAIRE, an adaptation of Naomi Novik's saga about a
British captain who captures a French ship, where he discovers an unhatched dragon egg in the hold – a gift from the Emperor of China intended for Napoleon. The project was supposed to be directed by Peter Jackson. Dragons also appear in famous SHANNARA saga, following elves trying to save their kingdom. The film was supposed to be directed by famous Mike Newell (PRINCE OF PERSIA). Also announced some time ago were DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN, the movie adaptation of famous epic saga by Anne McCaffrey, about a group of warriors who use their fire-breathing, telepathic dragons to battle a terrifying airborne threat to the exotic planet of Pern.

CONQUEROR EPICS 
 When it comes  to the biggest rulers from history, two huge epics on two equally huge conquerors are more or less still in plan, although they've been in status hiatus for many years now: back when Oliver Stone made his atrocious ALEXANDER, Buz Luhrmann (MOULIN ROUGE, AUSTRALIA) also had a plan of shooting his own epic on
Alexander the Macedonian, but instead of Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie and Val Kilmer from Stone's tragic epic, Luhrmann wanted Leo Decaprio for the lead role (I kid you not, I swear), Nicole Kidman as queen Olympia and Mel Gibson as Alexander's father crazy king Phillip. On the other hand Vin Diesel's biggest dream is to finally make his HANNIBAL epic on the most famous warrior of Carthage, which
would tell the story of the brave Carthaginian general who led a humongous army (including his beloved war elephants) across the Alps in order to destroy Rome in the Second Punic war. Vin even negotiated
with Denzel Washington to take the role of Hamilcar Barca, Hannibal's father. Click to read more on that one. Last July there were also some news on Warner Bros. and Jonathan Liebesman (BATTLE LOS ANGELES, CLASH OF THE TITANS 2)  preparing a huge JULIUS CAESAR epic about the time when Caesar was sent to Spain on a detail no one else wanted. There, he built the 10th Legion fighting force that would eventually march on Rome, overrun the forces of his rival Pompey, and establish Caesar as the unrivalled ruler of the empire. The film, which ends with Caesar's coronation, which means it could have a sequel in which he goes to Egypt, was planned with one of the biggest stars in the lead role, but we haven't heard anything about ever since.
VIKING EPICS
There has also been a number of projects announced dealing with formidable Vikings. Alexander Skarsgard was supposed to star in THE VANGUARD in which the story would  revolve around two Viking warrior brothers who toil to return to Sweden after being
banished to North America. Meanwhile, Ryan Phillipe was supposed to star in LAST BATTLE DREAMER, a love epic set in the 9th century England in the backdrop of the Viking invasion. Sean Bean and Phillipe were to play two Viking brothers invaders. And you all, probably know about Mel Gibson's plans to shoot a Viking epic, which would also describe their invasion on England in the 9th century, but would not be a love story but a very violent one (no surprise there, when it comes to Mel, yea?) with extremely brutal scenes and with actors speaking in Old Norse (no surprise there, either, yea?). But listen to this - Leo Decaprio was supposed to take the lead role. Oh, Odin is probably swearing in Valhalla right now.

52 comments:

  1. I do feel like the world needs a good Viking epic...

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  2. I love this genre! I was so pumped to hear about the Pern series! The Sword of Shannara would also have me waiting in line to see!

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    1. both of those will be huge hits if they ever get made!

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  3. I wish they had made the Song of Shannara. That was such a good series of books by Terry Brooks. I'm not sure that Hollywood would be capable of doing Alexander the Great in the right way, they'd muck up the history. And the Vikings would bother me as after they invaded England they came to Ireland. I would just get upset if the glorified them.

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    1. did you like PATHFINDER with Karl Urban? It portrayed the Vikings as they were. Quite a great film.
      Stone's ALEXANDER was truly horrid, especially Collin Farell. How can an Irish bloke be so bad? And the hairdo.... brings back nightmares :)

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    2. I haven't seen Pathfinder nor Stone's Alexander. If Collin had bad hair and looked horrible in it, I don't want to see it. I would need therapy!

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  4. The world needs a Viking epic that includes dragons. :))

    So are most of these shut down because of a lack of money, or poor scripts, or maybe market trend? It's crazy that some of these exciting sounding stories don't make it to the screen but we get remakes of Robocop and Police Academy. :(

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    1. I think we've seen that in HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON :PP
      The main problem is that fanboys (the term used for the kind that hangs around ROTTEN TOMATOES, has no taste whatsoever, has no responsibility nor ethical values, and gets orgasms watching Tarantino's and Nollan's morbid films) hate epics and love to trash them thus creating a negative marketing which then often causes most of the epics to become flops even before anybody has seen them. And plus, epics are expensive, but that's not a problem for Hollywood. I think that most people today prefer dark, pessimistic, violent movies, which is beyond sad, and thus epics, dramas and romcoms don't have enough space to shine, even though those are the only films which actually teach us something in the case of epics, or give us optimism and inspiration in the case of dramas and romantic flicks.

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    2. Okay, adding How to Train Your Dragon to my DVD list. I'm obviously missing out on something there. :))

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    3. you haven't seen HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON???? But, dahling, it's the best animated film ever :)

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  5. Pern and Shannara are 2 of my favourite series and worlds. I'd love to see those made into movies! :)

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    1. fingers crossed. PERN was announced last year, so there's hope, but SHANNARA was announced five years ago and nothing happened :(

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  6. A good viking epic does need to be done. The Hannibal one doesn't sound like it be too bad. Colin Farrell...pfffft, anything with him can bite me, rather have Leo than him. And yeah don't have to tell me about the trash remakes, that's all they do.

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    1. HANNIBAL is my dream too, would love to see Vinnzie in that role!

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    2. Surprised he can't get it made after making Universal a billion dollars easy with the Fast and the Furious movies.

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    3. ah, he is known for not having money-gathering skills :) It took him years to get money for RIDDICK even though the first two parts are sf classics :) And when it comes to Fast and the Furious, Paul Walker is the one getting the most out of it, he just signed a lucrative deal with the studio to star in produce in at least three or four new projects.

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  7. Ancient civilization craving today eh?

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  8. That Ancient Rome picture reminds me of Rory from Doctor Who.

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    1. that amazing Craig Parker from SPARTACUS and LEGEND OF THE SEEKER and LORD OF THE RINGS :) We adore him

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  9. Wow, these sure are some ambitious projects that have been axed because of money. Very sad.

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    1. you know what would be my dream project? Catherine Zeta Jones as Nefertiti :)

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    2. Oohh, I'd so be on board for that one. CZJ would totally rock the Egyptian queen.

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    3. she played an empress (Catherine the Great) and now she should play a Pharaoh :)

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  10. Ah dragon movies are always cool reminds me of the computer game Skyrim

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  11. Since I'm a big fan of McCaffrey's Dragonrider series, I hope they one day make them into movies.

    I also like Rotten Tomatoes. Saved me from seeing many bad films.

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    1. and destroyed the success of so many good ones by spreading negative marketing

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  12. Nooooooooooooooooooooo!! They HAVE to make the Dragonriders of Pern!!! They HAVE TO!!

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    1. it was only announced last year, so it might happen still. Such big epics sometimes wait for years before actually entering preproduction. And since the writers died recently, maybe that will speed up the process?

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  13. yeah, you know that was my first thought when I heard she'd died--that she wouldn't get to see her story as a movie :(

    Well, I hope it goes ahead.

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    1. ah, yes, that was horrid, I didn't think about it that way. Such sadness, to write dozens and dozens of books in that saga and than not to see it being made into a movie :(

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  14. Hi Dezzy - This is fantastic. I hope they still make the dragonriders movie. I'd also love to see THE SWORD OF SHANNARA on film. Flick and Shea deserve a great movie. Have a great one. =D

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    1. I hope all of the films mentioned above will get made, we really need more epics

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  15. yay! i've been wanting to read this post!

    some of these could have been truly great. others, *cough* jolie *cough* would likely have been crud.

    i'd really like to see more epics though. when you think of wildly popular and loved movies they are often epics... not remakes.

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    1. Don't forget to visit this Sunday too, I will have a huge huge spotlight on the upcoming TV pilots :) And plus I will have some stunning pics :)

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  16. I would love to see Vin as Hannibal that would be an Epic Film that could harken back to Braveheart.

    I would also like to see the Bernard Cornwell series on Uhtred, the Saxon warrior made into a few Epic Films. What an amazing book series.

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    1. yep, we all wanna see Vin as Hannibal, fingers crossed he makes it some day.
      UTHRED sounds great too, love medieval films too.

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  17. Sorry its been a while since I visited - but its always worth it! I love all the 'might-have-beens' and although the world definitely does NOT need another historically rubbish retelling of ANY aspect of the Arthurian legend, I am tantalized by the prospect, no matter how remote, of one on Hannibal. I reserve my judgement on Vin - as he's pretty limited in range and has made quite a few stinkers - but the idea of him as Hannibal might even work. There was a recent one made for TV that wasn't bad but if there was ever a subject for a 'sand & sandals' big budget production epic - this would be it.

    IF it ever gets made, we can just hope Hollywood doesn't do a MSU version of history (Making Shit Up). I know - Vin could always get Ridley Scott to direct! Perhaps Scott could do one on Cornwall's 'Uthred' too [sigh]

    Cheerz Bigearz

    Doc

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    1. nice to see you back, Doc
      I'm not 100% sure, but I think Vin plans to direct the film himself. Before he became the action star he was actually an acclaimed director in New York :) It's very interesting, his parents are college professors, and his life wasn't the life of a typical hunkster and hulkster ;)

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  18. The comment, in the article, about Will Smith's egocentricity in regard to him starring as Pharaoh Taharqa is interesting; because in all your other articles about white stars playing ancient Egyptian rulers, they haven't been referred to as being egocentric for being up for those roles.

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    1. what does him being black have anything to do with it? It's egocentric because he produces the movie and puts himself in the role of a pharaoh. Not to mention how he pushes his kids into acting and is one of the biggest examples of nepotism in Hollywood.

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GIVE SOME LOVE TO YOUR DEZZY :)