The lump of coal this year goes to Allen J. Schwalb of Star Partners and Bob Farnsworth of Hummingbird, who are planning on making a sequel to the 1946 timeless classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. Sixty-seven years ago Frank Capra released his iconic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, to theaters, which starred James Stewart and Donna Reed. At first, the film was not a success. The producers rushed to release the film before the year ended in 1946, so it could have a chance at the Oscars. The film premiered at Globe Theatre in New York on Dec. 20, 1946, and received mixed reviews from critics. After the film was released, it performed poorly at the box office due to stiff competition and high production cost. The film only grossed $3.3 million while its budget was $3.8 million. The film was nominated for five Oscars but did not win a single award. It’s a Wonderful Life lost Best Picture to The Best Years of Our Lives.
The late 1970s became a turning point for the film as it became a television staple during the Christmas season and has been shown every year since then. After that, it became a tradition for many families to sit down and watch the film every year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In 1998, the American Film Institute put It’s A Wonderful Life on the list of the 100 best American films ever made and placed it at No. 11. The film finally gained attention over many years and is now considered a classic. On Nov. 18, Schwalb and Farnsworth decided it would be a good idea to make a sequel and aim for it to be released during the 2015 holiday season. Karolyn Grimes, who played George Bailey’s daughter Zuzu in the first film, is supposed to reprise her role in the sequel. Grimes, 73, has not acted in decades and her last film was in 1952, Hans Christian Anderson. According to Variety, “the story will show Zuzu, now as an angel, who shows Bailey’s unlikeable grandson (also named George Bailey) what his life would be like if he had never been born.”
These are my five main reasons why the sequel is a bad idea: 1) It has been nearly 70 years since the first film, so why start now? 2) Almost all of the original actors have passed away and no one could ever replace James Stewart and Donna Reed. Even the character Zuzu has passed, but apparently comes back as an angel. Jimmy Stewart is probably rolling in his grave by now. 3) The sequel will be titled, It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story, and this is probably one of the worst titles ever given to a sequel in recent Hollywood history. 4) This sequel will most likely be in color so it will not have the same special feeling as the first film did in its classic black and white. 5) Lastly, the plot sounds lazy and unoriginal. The new story is basically the same story as, A Christmas Carol, but with the title, It’s a Wonderful Life, slapped on it. According to Grimes, “The new film will retain the feeling of the original, and it simply must be shared.”
Only time will tell. According to Times, Paramount released a statement concerning this issue, and this is good news. “No project relating to, It’s a Wonderful Life, can proceed without a license from Paramount. To date, these individuals have not obtained any of the necessary rights, and we would take all appropriate steps to protect those rights,” according to the Associate Press. Hopefully, Schwalb and Farnsworth do not get these rights and this sequel idea will be scrapped, but if for some reason it gets a green light there will be no bells ringing that 2015 Christmas season. There are some movies that should never have sequels and I believe It’s a Wonderful Life is one of those movies.
It may not be as fresh as the first installment but Thor: The Dark World is still pretty strong. Director Kenneth Branagh (Thor and Henry V) does not return to the chair this time around. Instead, Alan Taylor (director of several episodes from HBO’s Game of Thrones) takes his place to direct. Actors Tom Hiddleston, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba as well as Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins reprise their roles. The movie starts out two years after the battle in New York from Marvel’s The Avengers and Chris Hemsworth returns as The Mighty Thor. Now, Thor has a new mission to save Earth and the nine realms from the Dark Elves who predate the universe itself.
The Dark Elves want to send the universe back into darkness by using a weapon known as the aether (a creepy, swirly red gas). Christopher Eccelston (Doctor Who, Elizabeth and Shallow Grave) plays Malekith, the leader of the Dark Elves. Eccelston does a grand job as the iconic bad guy in this film. The aether is put into hiding after a fierce battle between Asgard and the Dark Elves in the past. In present day, Jane Foster (Portman) finds the aether through a wormhole after an investigation. Thor realizes that Jane has disappeared and returns to Earth to find her. After he finds Jane, he soon realizes that the aether has taken control over her. The chemistry between Hemsworth and Portman is executed as well as it was in the first installment and continues to grow in this sequel.
Thor has to battle the Dark Elves, destroy the aether, save Jane and Earth as well — not too much to ask for. Of course, it would be too easy for Thor to call in his buddies from The Avengers, so this time around he has to do it solo. The film takes awhile for things to get going but it finally picks up when Thor has to ask his brother Loki (Hiddleston), who is imprisoned from the events of Marvel’s The Avengers, to help him. Despite his little screen time, Hiddleston steals the show with his wit and charm as Loki. The action scenes and special effects are as strong as other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series. Some of the jokes work and some fall flat, but Hiddleston’s humor really shines.
The ending battle between Thor and Malekith turns out to be an epic game of portal, much different from what I was expecting but it turned out to be entertaining. Overall, Thor: The Dark World may not be Marvel’s finest film to date but it still delivers exhilarating action and witty humor (mostly from Hiddleston). Also, make sure to stay after for Marvel’s traditional after-credits scene.
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