The arrival of “21 Jump Street” in theaters this week amid heaps of positive buzz has a lot of cinephiles (us included) rethinking their perspective on movies that are based on television series. Not only does the new film pay homage to its source material, but it also reinvents the original premise as a viable, modern-day concept — a balancing act that few of its predecessors were able to perform.
If the early praise for “21 Jump Street” does indeed translate to box-office success, it’s reasonable to expect that we’ll see a lot more projects like this moving forward, for better or worse.
So, with that in mind, here are ten TV series from the ’80s that are just begging for the big-screen treatment. In a few cases, we’ve even provided some thoughts on what form the movie should take when the premise makes the jump from living room to movie theater.
This late-’80s series about a guy and his super-powered helicopter was a prime example of Cold War-era entertainment, and while it might horrify purists to even consider this, a parody of the show has lots of potential for nostalgia-fueled comedy. Just imagine an “Airwolf” movie that parodies all those ’80s-era TV series and movies that featured one guy and his helicopter/jet/tank taking on the Communist threat and you’ll start to see the hook.
He’s a wise-cracking, furry alien who lives with a suburban family and is constantly trying to eat their cat. I don’t think there needs to be any more discussion regarding this show’s potential as a big-screen comedy. People love ALF. Give them more ALF.
Stunt man by day, bounty hunter by night, Colt Seavers is an action hero with a shtick that has big-screen adventure written all over it. Sure, the concept might need to be tweaked a bit (a stunt man who’s framed for a crime and uses his skills to catch the real culprit, perhaps?) but the core idea is great. Of course, any movie based on “The Fall Guy” would have to have a cameo from the original star, Lee Majors.
The Greatest American Hero
An average guy has a close encounter with aliens who give him a costume that grants him all sorts of superhuman powers, but he loses the instruction manual before he learns how to control them. The special effects in this Emmy-nominated series were cheesy even by ’80s standards, but that was part of its charm. Instead of another parody of an old TV series that makes fun of its source material, a “Greatest American Hero” movie already has ready-made comedy gold. Oh, and the original theme song, “Believe It Or Not,” needs to be heard in some form if this project is going to, well… fly.
Hardcastle and McCormick
This series might not be as well-known as some of “21 Jump street” creator Stephen J. Cannell’s other shows (“The A-Team,” “The Greatest American Hero,” etc), but it had a premise that seems like a perfect fit for the big screen. When L.A. Judge Milton C. Hardcastle retires from the courtroom, he takes along the files of 200 people who committed terrible crimes but avoided conviction due to technicalities. He recruits car thief Mark McCormick to help him track down the bad guys, and they each use their respective skills — and a fancy prototype car McCormick tried to steal — to track down the criminals. This show’s just begging for a gritty, fast-paced action film starring a hot, up-and-coming actor as McCormick. You’re welcome, Hollywood.
Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.
Posted by Emmy Potter on Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection
Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all. Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.
1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series
The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes! Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?
2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.
Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.
3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series
The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.
4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man
After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.
5. Molly/Sam, Ghost
When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.
When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.
6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black
It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.
Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.
7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings
On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.
Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?
8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood
True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).
In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.
9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series
There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.
Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!
10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who
Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.
But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.
Sometimes a situation can’t be handled by anything other than what a young man named Alex once described as a “bit of the old ultra-violence.” Grab a bottle and break it over the head of our list of great cinematic bar brawls.
“Mean Streets” (1973)
This early mini-classic from a young New Yorker by the name of Martin Scorsese (way, way pre-“Hugo”) features what might be the best bar fight of all time. “Mean Streets” is about small-time hoods, not trained assassins or martial arts experts, so there’s a raw, ragged clumsiness to their pool hall fight, as especially showcased in the extended (and rather amazing) steadicam shot that runs the perimeter of the entire room; these guys don’t know “how” to fight, but they’re fighting nonetheless. Robert De Niro has a terrific bit where he uses a pool cue as a club and takes on his attackers with a few swift kicks (that don’t really hit home, but it’s the thought that counts); the fight also ends as abruptly as it begins after the cops show up, with everyone calling a truce and having a drink — and then it almost starts back up again.
Robert Rodriguez’s rowdy sequel/remake to his stunning DIY debut, El Mariachi features the super-suave Antonio Banderas as, well, El Mariachi, a rogue musician with a guitar case full of guns hellbent on revenge against the bandito who shot his hand and killed his girl. Rodriguez’s knack for energetic choreography and bait-and-switch editing is on full display here as Banderas makes short work of a tavern full of scumbags, including Cheech Marin, who would go on to become, like Banderas, a Rodriguez Regular (or is that “Regulator?”). We especially like the bit where the guy spins like a top due to the momentum of all the bullets hitting him in his pivot points — and, really, was there a cooler actor in 1995 than Antonio Banderas?
“Road House” (1989)
“Be nice…until it’s time… to not be nice.” “Road House” is the greatest movie ever made, so of course it’s going to feature not one but multiple awesome bar fights. Patrick Swayze rules as James Dalton, a professional “cooler” who’s also got a philosophy degree from NYU to fall back on if the whole bouncer thing doesn’t work out; for now, he’s off to tame the Double Deuce, a hellhole dive in a small Southern town ruled with an iron fist by the corrupt businessman (or something), Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara, oozing smarmy evil). Sam Elliott plays the Obi-Wan to Swayze’s Luke Skywalker, who’s called in as reinforcement when the Deuce ends up being too big and bad a gig for just one man. “Pain don’t hurt” is another bit of Dalton wisdom; “This movie’s awesome” is one of ours.
“From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996)
More Robert Rodriguez, though Antonio Banderas sat this one out and George Clooney took center stage (and kicked ass) in his first major feature film role. The entire second act of this action-horror hybrid is one long extended bar fight featuring all sorts of bloody vampire mayhem, though one of our favorite moments is a brawl that almost breaks out. Sex Machine (Tom Savini) shows off some fancy mini-lasso work as he snags a dude’s drink, a trick which the thirsty fella doesn’t exactly appreciate; his unsheathed switchblade is countered with Sex Machine’s fully erect (and, we’re assuming, fully loaded) crotch-pistol, which convinces the would-be assailant to let one of the most celebrated special effects makeup artists in the industry just have his damn beer. Rodriguez completists will recognize this “codpiece gun” as a leftover prop from “Desperado.”
“The Boondock Saints” (1999)
The Brothers MacManus (Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery) answer to a higher power in this cult vigilante thriller, and there’s definitely a higher power at work in the bar fight; how else can you explain a guy being able to finish his insult to a giant Russian mobster (named Boris, notch) even though he gets punched in the face about halfway through telling him that his “pinko commie mother sucks so much dick, her face looks like an egg” (really, ADR department, what’s up with that)? We guess it’s only appropriate that the event in which the Brothers take the leap into becoming two-fisted (or, in this case, two-wine-bottled) ass-kickers for the Lord would have some supernatural elements to it; this free-for-all of Fightin’ Irish versus Russkie thugs also features an old coot behind the bar shadowboxing with enthusiasm as mayhem explodes all over the joint. Red devils, go home!
In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman faces an incredibly brutal villain named Bane, a behemoth well known to readers of the graphic novel. “He’s a big dude who’s incredibly clinical, in the fact that he has a result-based and -oriented fighting style,” actor Tom Hardy said of Bane, the character he plays, in Empire. “It’s not about fighting. It’s about carnage. The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed; it’s nasty. Anything from small-joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. He is a terrorist in mentality as well as brutal action.”
We’re so there. But all this talk of bone-crunching got me to wondering about Batman’s enemies. Some, quite frankly, are ridiculous (Riddler?), unbecoming of the world’s greatest detective. Almost all of Batman’s villains from that campy 60s TV show – Egghead, King Tut – were jokes. But as the times have gone darker, so has Batman. Batman in the 21st century, within the context of our “War on Terror” is far darker than he has ever been, even in the gritty 70s. His enemies, clearly, have also shifted towards the darker end of the spectrum. Here are five of Batman’s greatest villains:
Gotham is an impossibly creepy urban zone, the dark mirror of any glistening metropolis. So the fictional “Gotham City” needs a Batman to patrol the night, mediating the Darwinian chaos. The Bat, who rules the night in Gotham, seems to attract a larger than average share of the planet’s psychopaths, each one creepier than the last. Serial killer Victor Zsasz is definitely one of the creepiest of Batman’s enemies.
Zsasz, who keeps a running tally of all of his victims in the form of self-inflicted knife scars all over his body, has a theory about the Batman. Being something of a connoisseur of all-things-predatory himself, Zsasz believes that Batman is a super-predator, a predator that preys only on other predators a la Dexter. Zsasz believes that there is only a thin line that separates Batman from criminals like himself, namely the sanction of the police and, of course, the choice of one’s “victims.” Bradley Cooper, with those reptilian eyes, would make an excellent “Zsasz (it is not too late!).”
4. Killer Croc
The luckless Waylon Jones has a taste for supple human flesh. He is one of the many cannibals inhabiting Gotham City. A skin mutation has left Waylon, a former gator wrestler, with a reptilian appearance as well as superhuman strength and a near bulletproof hide. Jones went mad early in life (can you blame him?), turning to criminal pursuits and the art of serial killing with a ferocious zeal. It is unfortunate that we will never see what Christopher Nolan makes of Killer Croc, who would work perfectly in a tentpole feature as a nocturnal sewer inhabiting man-reptile.
3. The Joker
Joker’s fictional body count is easily in the high five figures. Batman’s arch-enemy, the Clown Prince of Crime, has taken a terrible personal toll on Batman, killing – or so we thought, at least — the second Robin, Jason Todd, and crippling Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, in front of her father, Commissioner Gordon.
Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker was as close to the comic book character as has ever been done. Heath represented anarchy, mindless violence, cruelty for the sake of cruelty, a real force in today’s world. It was once posited that the Joker might be some sort of biological mutation, a Darwinian glimpse into a possible future of mankind should he manage to thrive. Let’s hope not.
2. Ra’s Al Ghul
If the Joker represents mindless anarchy, Ra’s Al Ghul is cold, calculating efficiency. Because he is an immortal who has lived for thousands of generations with the alchemy of his Lazarus Pit, Ra’s Al Ghul – the Demon’s head – plans his capers years, sometimes decades, in advance. His plans usually involve mega deaths, the thinning of the world’s population in order to achieve some sort of self-perceived ecological balance. Ra’s is something of an eco-terrorist, a radical leftist zealot who has killed probably tens of thousands in pursuit of what he thinks is right. He is a rare treat for Batman readers, coming out from under the rocks every few years or so with another apocalyptic plan – only to be thwarted by the Bat. Al-Ghul is also internationally based, a global threat from outside of Gotham. It takes Batman and his allies all their skills to defeat al Ghul – and always only with the slimmest of margins.
Who else could be Batman’s top enemy? A single-minded superhuman military strategist weighing over 300 pounds – most of it in his neck and arms — Bane is one of the ferocious comic book villains of all time. Joel Schumacher’s mindless, semi-campy Bane was such a profound disappointment to batfans. Christopher Nolan, it would appear from the trailers, knows precisely what to do with Bane, portraying him as something of a military strategist on par with the Duke of Wellington and Alexander the Great. Bane is the only supervillain who defeated Batman cleanly, in Wayne Manor, breaking him – quite literally – over his knee during the Knightfall story arc. After wearing him out by freeing all of his twisted psychopathic enemies out of the dark Arkham Asylum, Bane stalked Batman, ultimately fighting a man at the end of his rope. Cracking Bruce Wayne’s back, Bane then took control of Gotham City.
Who are your favorite Batman villains? Comment below or on Facebook or Twitter.