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Pulp Culture
Making sense of the
latest movie rumors


July 1, 1999
By Franklin Harris

Sifting through the rumors so you don't have to ...

  • NEW YORK -- Marvel Comics' hottest property is shaping into a film adaptation with potential.

    So far, the cast of director Bryan Singer's "X-men" includes fan favorite Patrick Stewart ("Star Trek") as Professor Xavier, Oscar nominee Ian McKellen ("Gods and Monsters") as Magneto, Oscar winner Anna Paquin ("The Piano") as Rogue and Dougray Scott ("Ever After," "Deep Impact") as Wolverine.

    Of course, professional wrestler Tyler Mane is slated to portray vicious bad guy Sabretooth, but, in this case, a pro wrestler may be the best casting choice possible.

    The film is based on the best-selling comic "The Uncanny X-Men," created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

    Last year gave us "Blade," the first film based on a Marvel Comics superhero to break the dismal track record such direct-to-video horrors as "Captain America" and "The Punisher" established. Hopefully, Singer's "X-Men" will join "Blade" in setting a new pattern.

    Paquin is a bit young to portray a Rogue totally faithful to the comics version, and Scott is too clean-cut to make for a true-to-the-original Wolverine, but both can at least act. And after suffering through such atrocities as "Batman and Robin" and "Batman Forever," I'll take a good film with good actors over one that tries to be too like a comic book any day.

    The crucial roles of Cyclops and Jean Grey are yet to be filled. Reports are that Keanu Reeves is interested in joining the "X-Men" cast, and I for one think he would make a decent Cyclops.

    More to come . . .

    'The Matrix' is a tough sell

  • HOLLYWOOD -- Speaking of Keanu Reeves, there is bad news concerning the video release of "The Matrix," scheduled for later this year.

    Warner Bros. is not releasing a sell-through priced version of the video, opting instead to release "The Matrix" priced to sell to video-rental outlets. So, unless you're willing to pay around $90 for the video, you're out of luck.

    Warner Bros. is foregoing the retail-priced version in the wake of the school shootings in Littleton, Colo. In case you haven't seen "The Matrix," the film features people wearing black trench coats and carrying guns -- lots of guns.

    It's always nice to know we can count on Hollywood to roll over for moralizing bullies like former drug czar William Bennett and Bill Clinton.

    On the up side, Warner Bros. will release "The Matrix" on DVD at a consumer-friendly price, which is all the more reason to buy that DVD player you've been wanting.

    Connery is out

  • NEW ZEALAND -- In other casting news, Sean Connery is officially out of the running for the role of Gandalf in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the first installment of which is slated to hit theaters next year. (Parts two and three are both set for 2001.)

    Rumors are that Sir Anthony Hopkins is under consideration for the part, but he may prove too expensive. Other rumored players include Elijah Wood ("The Faculty") as Frodo and Sean Astin ("Rudy," "The Goonies") as Frodo's loyal sidekick, Sam.

    Perhaps the wildest "Rings" casting rumor is that Tom Baker, better known as the fourth actor to portray the Doctor in the long-running BBC sci-fi series "Doctor Who," is a possibility to play Gandalf.

    Personally, I think Baker is the ideal choice, but he wouldn't bring the star power of a Hopkins or Connery to the picture.

    Some early production art for the "Rings" trilogy is online at the official "Lord of the Rings" Web site, www.lordoftherings.net.

    From the looks of things, it seems as if Jackson has a pretty good handle on J.R.R. Tolkien's epic tale of Hobbits, Elves and The Ring of Power.

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