Casting Couch: Reviewing February’s News

Written by Daniel Cohen & Justin Mathick

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The Casting Couch: Breaking Down the Biggest Hollywood Casting News in February

X-Men: Apocalypse Round Up

Rose Byrne returning as Moira MacTaggert

Ian McKellen returning as Magneto

Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler

Thumbs Up to All: I very much enjoyed Rose Byrne as Moira in X-Men: First Class, and while I didn’t love Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Kodi Smit-McPhee was solid, as was he in 2009’s The Road.  The big story here is Ian McKellen returning as the elder Magneto.  We thought for sure McKellen and Patrick Stewart (more on him later) were done, but I guess not.  Awesome!  As excited as I am to see McKellen back as this character, I’m fascinated to see how he’s used in this story.  May 27th, 2016 can’t come fast enough. (DC)

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Thumbs Up: The X-Men film series has had some great casting choices in its decade-and-a-half of existence, so whenever a cast member announces they are returning it’s always a good sign. Byrne and McKellen have been great in the past as their respective X-Men characters, so their return is more than welcome. That leaves only Smit-McPhee to judge, who takes over the role of a young Nightcrawler, previously played by Alan Cumming. Smit-McPhee has shown a lot of depth through a wide variety of roles, from the young boy in the deeply depressing The Road to the voice of Norman in the stop-motion animated ParaNorman. Nightcrawler will be his biggest role yet, but as long as he gets the German accent down pat he has my full support behind this role. (JM)

Felicity Jones as a female lead (Star Wars: Rogue One)

Thumbs Up: Eddie Redmayne may have won the Oscar for The Theory of Everything, but I was more impressed with Felicity Jones’ performance.  I have no clue who she’s playing, and I really don’t care.  She’s a great fit for this franchise. (DC)

Thumbs Up: My excitement for this is purely for Jones herself, fresh off of her Best Actress nomination at the Oscars. It would be nice to know anything at all about the film, or even the role, but I assume these things will be revealed at either this or next year’s Comic Con. Still, based solely off Jones’ casting, I have some preliminary hopes for what this movie could become. (JM)

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Neighbors 2 Round Up

Seth Rogen returning as Mac Radner

Zac Efron returning as Teddy Sanders

Thumbs WAY Down: My opinions on Seth Rogen are well documented on this site, and while Zac Efron was funny for about five minutes in Neighbors, I just don’t care.  Yeah, yeah, Hollywood’s a business, and this first movie did very well.  I get it, alright!  But seriously, how is there a sequel to this premise?  Just go away. (DC)

Thumbs Up: Neighbors was one of the nicest surprises from last year, a seemingly low-brow frat-boy comedy that wound up being much more than the sum of its parts. Rogen and Efron were excellent foils in the film, so their return for a sequel gives me hope that it will buck the trend of inferior comedy sequels. (JM)

Patrick Stewart returning as Professor X (Third Solo Wolverine Movie)

Thumbs WAY Up: Are you kidding me?  This might be the X-Men movie I’m most excited about now.  If we have Patrick Stewart returning in Wolverine 3, we can assume this will be a story centered on the Wolverine who has knowledge of the old timeline.  That intrigues the crap out of me.  These two guys together?  Hell yeah. (DC)

Thumbs In the Middle: As I said, I’m usually all for actors returning for X-Men roles, but here’s hoping that this will be a more substantial part than the previous two Wolverine films. The first Wolverine film used him only in a small appearance that utilized some terrible CGI to make Stewart appear younger, while the second only used him for a short, but memorable post-credits scene. As long as this third movie decides to make Professor X more of a minor character than a quick cameo I’m all for it. (JM)

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Marion Cotillard in an unspecified role (Assassin’s Creed)

Thumbs Up: I’m still not convinced this movie is happening, but with Michael Fassbender and now Marion Cotillard on board, this might turn out to be the first great video game movie if Warcraft doesn’t pan out.  When you get Marion Cotillard for your movie, you better not squander it.  She’s one of the elite actresses in the game, undisputed. (DC)

Thumbs Up: Cotillard is one of the best actresses working in film today, but her work with action blockbusters is limited to Christopher Nolan’s Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. An actress of her caliber can make almost any role into one of a lifetime, but the issue here lies within what role she plays, and how she factors into the rest of the story. I’m optimistic she’ll get a lot to do in this film, and hopefully turn it into another memorable performance. (JM)

Joel Kinnaman replacing Tom Hardy as Rick Flagg (Suicide Squad)

Thumbs Up: I’m not going to sit here and tell you Joel Kinnaman is at the caliber of Tom Hardy, but I like this choice a lot.  I get the sense Rick Flagg’s role has been significantly downgraded, which is why Hardy left the project.  Kinnaman really shined in the RoboCop remake, a movie I felt was severely underwritten, and that’s a tough role for any actor to play.  There’s a lot of subtlety going on there.  I’m interested to see what Kinnaman can do opposite some of these other great actors like Will Smith and Jared Leto, and with hopefully a great script. (DC)

Thumbs Down: Losing Hardy is a tough blow. He is an excellent actor who would have brought some real depth to the role of Flagg. Kinnaman’s experience is mostly in Swedish films so far except for last year’s Robocop remake. I found Kinnaman’s acting to be particularly stilted and was quite possibly the worst part of an already woeful movie. Maybe he can prove himself this time, but for the time being I’ll still just be wishing Hardy didn’t leave. (JM)

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Gina Carano as Angel Dust (Deadpool)

Thumbs Down: I don’t get the fascination with Haywire back in 2011.  I was bored out of my mind, and Gina Carano didn’t exactly help.  I’m sorry, she’s not an actress.  If Angel Dust is merely a physical part then fine, but if this is the main female role in Deadpool, we got problems.  This is the X-Men franchise, and a higher quality of acting should be expected. (DC)

Thumbs In the Middle: I’m not familiar with Angel Dust at all, but it’s nice to see the Deadpool movie involving some deep cuts from Marvel’s roster of mutant characters. Carano’s acting experience is limited with only a few bit parts and the lackluster thriller Haywire to her name. As long as this role gives more screen time to her fighting and stunt-work ability than her acting, things should be fine here. (JM)

Arnold Schwarzenegger returning as The Terminator (Terminator Genisys Sequels)

Thumbs TBD: Let’s see what happens after Terminator Genisys.  I don’t care what release dates they’ve announced – if this movie bombs, it’s bye, bye Terminator franchise, and bye, bye, Arnold. (DC)

Thumbs Down: The image of an aging Schwarzenegger stiffly forcing his way through action scenes was not exactly one of the highlights of the troubling Terminator: Genisys trailer from a few months ago. Schwarzenegger is 67-years-old, soon to be 68, and his recent resurgence in action movies after his long hiatus while Governor of California has been a string of underwhelming action movies where his age become more and more apparent with each role. With news of this Genisys sequel, we will likely be seeing Arnold playing a Terminator well into his 70s. The Terminator franchise would be nothing without him, but Schwarzenegger should have taken a page from James Cameron and left the film series before things got stale. (JM)

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Harrison Ford returning as Rick Deckard (Blade Runner sequel)

Thumbs TBD: I love Blade Runner, and when I read a potential sequel was in the works, I’ve been a negative nancy about it ever since.  I also never believed Ridley Scott would really do it.  Well, he’s actually not.  Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) is taking the helm as director, which I guess has me somewhat curious.  As far as Harrison Ford returning to a role he played over 30 years ago, let’s see how he does in another 30+ year old role later this year. (DC)

Thumbs in the Middle: I feel I should be happier that Ford is returning to one of his career defining roles in this sequel to one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time. But I can’t help but shake the image of a tired looking Ford in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, his charisma and confidence that defined a similarly impactful character washed away. I really want to have hope Ford will pull through and rekindle the role of Deckard, but part of me still feels like this could be a letdown in the making. (JM)
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