Tag Archives: Ian McKellen

The Set of 400: #11 – My Favorite Breakdancing Wizard

Today! Because I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve –

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Directed by Peter Jackson (x5)

Starring Elijah Wood (x6), Ian McKellen (x7), Sean Astin (x4), Hugo Weaving (x5), Cate Blanchett (x6), Viggo Mortensen (x3), Liv Tyler (x3), Ian Holm (x5), Christopher Lee (x6), Orlando Bloom (x3), John Rhys-Davies (x4), Billy Boyd (x3), Dominic Monaghan (x3), Sean Bean (x2), Andy Serkis (x6), Marton Csokas (x3), Bret McKenzie (x3), Sarah McLeod (x2)

I was no Lord of the Rings snob going into these films. I had read The Hobbit in middle school, I want to say, and had an awareness that these other books existed, but I never sought them out to read until that first amazing trailer for Fellowship appeared around Christmas 2000. After that, though, I was quickly all in – I read one book a year as the films were released, just to keep it fresh, and like the rest of the world was generally blown away by the movies as they unfolded. I don’t think this is much of a stretch, but it has to be said – Fellowship of the Ring is the greatest fantasy film of all time, and a nearly perfect movie. The other LOTR films are great, too, and made this list, and carried over so strong that even the first Hobbit film holds a special place for me, but they all kinda pale in comparison to that first incredible film.

I said nearly perfect

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The Set of 400: #102 – My Favorite Elephant Slide

Today! Because there never was much hope. Just a fool’s hope –

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Directed by Peter Jackson (x4)

Starring Elijah Wood (x5), Sean Astin (x3), Ian McKellen (x6), Viggo Mortensen (x2), Billy Boyd (x2), Dominic Monaghan (x2), Liv Tyler (x2), Andy Serkis (x5), John Rhys-Davies (x2), Orlando Bloom (x2), Miranda Otto (x2), Bernard Hill (x3), Cate Blanchett (x5), Hugo Weaving (x4), Karl Urban (x3), David Wenham (x2), Ian Holm (x4), Marton Csokas (x2), John Noble, Bret McKenzie (x2), Sarah McLeod

This movie won Best Film Editing at the Academy Awards. Let that sink in for a minute. This movie – all 201 minutes of it, with all of those endings crashing awkwardly into each other over the last fifteen minutes of the film – won an Oscar for the film with the best editing. Like, look, I love The Lord of the Rings – it probably is the best film trilogy of all-time, and by the time it came to the conclusion it was bound to win all the awards, considering the near-perfect first film lost to the thoroughly meh A Beautiful Mind and the solid second film lost to, like, the fortieth best musical ever made in Chicago – one of the weaker film stretches ever. Still, this movie – drunk on the success of the Extended Edition DVDs I guess and flush with all the cash raked down from the previous two Decembers – chose to just go on and on and on. Maybe the Academy needed a few years to come around to the idea of awarding a pure fantasy Best Picture – it had never happened before – and maybe awarding it every statue it was nominated for seemed like a fitting tribute – it was 11 for 11 – but my God, Best Film Editing? You’re telling me every one of those 201 minutes was essential? You’re telling me that interminable ending sat perfectly with you? Okay, so 2003 wasn’t the world’s best year for movies – fucking Seabiscuit was up for Best Picture – but hell, Best Film Editing also featured Master and Commander and City of God, two absolute triumphs of editing.

And holy shit, if you haven’t seen it, go watch City of God

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The Set of 400: #165 – My Favorite Claw-Licking Cat

Today! Because I used to think you were one of a kind –

X2 (2003)

Directed by Bryan Singer (x3)

Starring Hugh Jackman (x3), Patrick Stewart (x3), Halle Berry (x2), Ian McKellen (x5), Famke Janssen (x2), James Marsden (x2), Brian Cox (x5), Bruce Davison (x2), Anna Paquin (x2), Alan Cumming, Rebecca Romijn (x3), Aaron Stanford, Shawn Ashmore (x2), Kelly Hu, Katie Stuart, Kea Wong

The last X-Men movie on this list, I swear, X2 apparently might just go by X-Men 2 now! Is this something everyone was aware of? Like how the first Star Wars movie is often called A New Hope, as though that’s its name? Or that Tom Cruise movie went from being Edge of Tomorrow to the pithier, stupidier Live Die Repeat? If you couldn’t figure it out before the release, you shouldn’t just keep hammering away at possibilities forever, folks! I was an extra in a solidly mediocre Vince Vaughn/Kevin James comedy ultimately titled The Dilemma, but when it was filming they were still calling it alternately Cheaters and What They Didn’t Know. That’s the time to sort it out! And yeah, that’s shameless promotion for my movie extra career! Send gigs my way!

I don’t have a current headshot, per se, but this pretty much covers it

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The Set of 400: #179 – My Favorite Perambulating Tree

Today! Because what we need is a few good taters –

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Directed by Peter Jackson (x3)

Starring Elijah Wood (x4), Ian McKellen (x4), Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis (x3), Christopher Lee (x5), Brad Dourif (x2), Liv Tyler, Karl Urban (x2), David Wenham, Hugo Weaving (x3), Cate Blanchett (x4), Bernard Hill (x2), Miranda Otto, Craig Parker

I don’t know that there’s a middle film in a trilogy that suffers more than The Two Towers. For all the cool stuff that’s in this movie – Gollum and the Ents and Wormtongue, I guess – very little has fundamentally advanced by the time you reach the ending, to the point that you can only look forward to The Return of the King when you’re done. It’s hard to sit back and really enjoy the hours you just killed in Middle Earth. Like, I’ve watched the first movie on its own a bunch of times, without then feeling compelled to watch the others in any near future. I don’t think I’ve ever watched The Two Towers without popping in Return of the King very soon after.

Not that it’s just a bunch of standing around, but still

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The Set of 400: #192 – My Favorite Stallone Terminator Movie

Today! Because I’m the famous comedian Arnold Braunschweiger –

Last Action Hero (1993)

Directed by John McTiernan (x2)

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O’Brien, Mercedes Ruehl, Charles Dance, F. Murray Abraham (x4), Anthony Quinn, Robert Prosky (x2), Art Carney, Frank McRae, Tom Noonan, Ian McKellen (x3), Joan Plowright, Bridgette Wilson, Tina Turner, Rick Ducommun (x4), Michael V. Gazzo, Colleen Camp (x2), Leeza Gibbons (x3), M.C. Hammer, Little Richard, Maria Shriver, Angie Everhart, Jim Belushi, Chevy Chase (x2), Robert Patrick, Sharon Stone, Jean-Claude Van Damme (x2), Damon Wayans

I would normally start by telling you all to SHUT UP, but seriously, I need some input. This movie was a famous disappointment at the box office in the summer of 1993, and critically didn’t fare much better. It’s the weird resume blip for Schwarzenegger between Terminator 2 and True Lies. But, like, I legitimately love this movie, and simply don’t understand the hatred it seems to bring out in people. Really, why don’t more people like Last Action Hero?

Was it this?

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The Set of 400: #277 – My Favorite Statue of Liberty Showdown

Today! Because the war is still coming, Charles, and I intend to fight it by any means necessary –

X-Men (2000)

Directed by Bryan Singer

Starring Hugh Jackman (x2), Patrick Stewart (x2), Ian McKellen (x2), Famke Janssen, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, James Marsden, Ray Park (x2), Rebecca Romijn (x2), Tyler Mane, Bruce Davison, Shawn Ashmore

For everyone who bemoans the epic length of today’s superhero movies, realize, large cast comic adaptations can come in under two hours, but they’re going to look a lot like 2000’s X-Men. Sure, it didn’t have a lot to compare itself to back then – it’s preceded by little more than the ’90s Batmans, the ’80s Supermans, and…Blade, I guess? So how would they know to give equal time to the characters and not have it just be, like, Wolverine and his costumed bubs? Halle Berry’s Storm has like fifteen lines in the whole movie! She would win an Oscar within a handful of years of this film, and she’s got slightly more lines than the random wrestler who plays Sabretooth!

And yeah, it has aged terribly in comparison to the films that followed – not only the Spider-Mans, the Marvel Universe, and the Nolan Bat films, but in the X-Men franchise itself. Hey, it’s still better than every stab at the Fantastic Four, anyway! And it is a pretty fun movie, if you can overlook the completely lousy non-Magneto villains, and some of that dialogue. Oh, man, that dialogue. But this was the film that pulled Jackman from the stage and made him a huge star, after the original Wolverine had to drop out, thanks to Mission: Impossible 2 running over filming – thanks, Dougray Scott! Ah, what could’ve been! Would these movies have worked without Jackman? Would we have nine of them??

He’s worked steadily since, but off the top of your head, what’s the last Dougray Scott film you saw?

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The Set of 400: #362 – My Favorite Riddles in the Dark

Today! Because if Baggins loses, then we eats it whole –

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Directed by Peter Jackson

Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Lee Pace, Bret McKenzie, Benedict Cumberbatch

Now hang on a second, I know what you’re thinking – The Hobbit? Seriously? But while the unnecessarily expanded prequel trilogy was almost the definition of diminishing returns, I still think that first movie is pretty good. Is it far too much? Yes. But hell, what were Jackson and company supposed to think people wanted, when everyone was snapping up 4+ hour versions of the original films on DVD? They figured the more the better, right? So why not turn a 300 page book into nine goddamn hours of movies? And you know what, good for them. Sure, the whole trilogy doesn’t even come close to the Lord of the Rings movies, but they sure aren’t the complete troll orgies fans made them out to be.

Sexy!

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