Actor Ray Stevenson is reported to be continuing his horizontal career trajectory, netting the nefarious role of Cobra ninja Firefly, in the upcoming sequel of the movie based on the cartoon based on the comic book based on the toy, G.I. Joe: Cobra Strikes. Stevenson went from being a stand-out in HBO’s “Rome” to starring in Punisher: War Zone (or the one nobody talks about) to being the third dynamic of a comic relief trio in this summer’s Thor, so joining Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, rapper/composer RZA, Not Wonder Woman Adrianne Palicki, and the Jonathan Pryce (as the movie’s POTUS) in the cast of this inevitable guilty pleasure that is neither a step up or a step down. Adding in G.I.Joe: Rise of Cobra’s leftovers of Charming Potato, Darth Maul, and Mr. Eko, and the sequel’s level of star power reveals itself for the brilliantly nonsensical, yet soundly logical, Bizarro take on the Superman reborquel’s all-star billing. The movie, to be directed by Jon M. Chu, who directed two of the Step Up dance-off series and the Justin Bieber rockumentary, is going to be awful no matter who’s in it. But, it can’t be any worse (or, so bad it’s good, in that Syfy way) than Stephen Sommers’ original, and so far, nobody attached has anything to lose. So, tip o’ the hat for gracefully accepting your place in Hollywood, Mr. Stevenson.
Speaking of not mattering who’s in it, the casting process for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit prequels was a bit mind numbing during the dwarf section. Only a few of the actor’s being cast were noteworthy (at least to those with limited knowledge of British performers who aren’t in “Spaced” or Harry Potter movies), and the dwarves, with their rhyming names, were even less recognizable (full disclosure: I’ve only seen the Rankin/Bass, Bakshi and Jackson movies, but I did try to read the books). The images of a third of Bilbo’s dwarf party members that are now online are only moderately more interesting than the casting notes, but somewhat more intriguing than the previous photos of Martin Freeman and Ian McKellan, in their respective roles. We know what Gandalf looks like, we’ve been to Hobbiton before, and Freeman’s hobbit is too perfect to be surprising.
Turn your all-seeing eye on these bad boys (some) with battle axes:
The second is nifty if only because we get to see our first glimpse of the dwarf who begat Gimli — Legolas’ hairy, gleefully murderous pet from the Lord of the Rings. Otherwise, Oin and Gloin look just like every other artistic representation of high fantasy dwarves from all time anywhere. The first picture on the other hand, of the brothers Nori, Ori, and Dori, have a slightly more whimsical nature than their burlier, surlier-looking northern cousins. I’m sure this is appropriate to the characters, but it is nice to see some flair in the non-human races for a change. The previous dwarves were all brown and obvious, the elves were either brown and green and obvious or white and ethereal and obvious. Even if Peter Jackson is siding with Jennifer Aniston’s Office Space character, over the Chotchkie’s manager and Tolkein’s source material, that fewer tangible flair equals more flair symbolically, I’m digging on the fact that I can tell all of these hirsute adventurers apart. We’ll see if that’s still the case when the other eight dwarves pose down the catwalk.
What about you die hard Tolkein fans, how are The Hobbit films shaping up from your perspective? For that matter, what about you poor-bastard G.I. Joe-o-philes, do you even care at this point? Or, would all you like toss everything back into the fires of Mount Doom, where they belong?
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, co-hosts the internet radio show/podcast We’re Not Fanboys, and can be harangued on the Twitter @RobOfWar. He is shamed to admit so publicly that he’s never finished any Tolkein, and that he kind of likes the first G.I. Joe movie, but mostly because of how bad it is, not in spite of.