Ihad forgotten – or maybe not even fully realized – how good “Dark Angel” Season 1 (2000-01, Fox) is. When it aired, it was overshadowed by genre rivals like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” that were doing notably special work. “Dark Angel” treads more familiar ground, creating a mythology out of the old sci-fi concept of genetically engineered people – namely titular heroine Max (Jessica Alba) — who want to live normal lives. But boy does it ever create post-Pulse 2019 Seattle in convincing fashion.
Yesterday” isn’t the first movie to use Beatles songs as its foundation – see also 2001’s “I Am Sam” and 2007’s “Across the Universe” – but writers Jack Barth and Richard Curtis deserve credit for coming up with a killer hook. Struggling British singer-songwriter Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) gets hit by a bus at the exact moment of a 30-second worldwide blackout and awakens to a planet that’s the same in every way except that the Beatles never existed.
Director Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report” (2002) isn’t the most by-the-book adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story (most agree that’s “A Scanner Darkly”). But it respects the themes and messages of the 1956 short story and it’s ultimately one of the best movies inspired by his work. In addition to being a propulsive blockbuster actioner starring Tom Cruise, it’s also an irresistibly detailed vision of 2054 that lets us mull the pros and cons of precrime even as Cruise’s John Anderton tries to solve a tangled mystery.
Starting when Max heals Liz in the pilot episode, “Roswell” is a show about actions and consequences. The first tie-in novel,” “Loose Ends,” has fun with the question of “What if Liz ran into the guy who accidentally shot her?” But the second novel, Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “No Good Deed” (September 2001), is a more direct and robust sequel to a TV episode, in this case “A Roswell Christmas Carol” (2.10).
Between the “Matrix” and “John Wick” franchises, Keanu Reeves took a stab at another franchise with “Constantine” (2005), based on the DC/Vertigo comics antihero (invented in 1985) who can see demons in their true form. It didn’t launch a movie saga – perhaps because it gets overblown in the back half — but it was followed by a TV series (2014-15), and both the film and series have loyal fans.
Aneat thing about the “Charlie’s Angels” franchise is that it’s one big saga, with the 1976-81 TV series, the 2000-03 movies, the short-lived 2011 TV series and the new movie (opening Friday) taking place in the same universe. This is possible because it’s a simple premise: The independently wealthy man of the title (voiced by John Forsythe in the first two incarnations) hires out his trained-from-youth agents for missions that require them to achieve objectives and escape huge explosions by microseconds.
Philip K. Dick reworks the themes from “Radio Free Albemuth” (written in 1976, published in 1985) in “VALIS” (1978, 1981), after “RFA” was initially nixed by his publisher. The result is a rare example of a publisher preferring a less accessible, less mainstream novel when given two options. “VALIS” is the weaker book, in my opinion, but it’s still fascinating to follow PKD on an intellectual adventure that calls to mind TV shows like “Lost” and “Westworld.”
After Melinda Metz’s 10-book YA series “Roswell High” (1998-2000) handed the baton to the TV series “Roswell” in 1999, Jason Katims and his writing team took the teens in a different direction from the books. So when the book line returned in May 2001 with Greg Cox’s “Loose Ends,” it was of course a tie-in with the TV series. Written as Season 2 was airing, and hitting bookshelves during the season’s homestretch (which is also when it takes place), “Loose Ends” became the first of 11 novels that fill in gaps and ultimately take the story beyond the end of the TV series.
Blade: Trinity” (2004) gives Blade (Wesley Snipes) some friends, and what a great decision that is. Blade retains his badass loner persona, but now Ryan Reynolds is in the mix, laying down one-liners like he’s auditioning for Deadpool, and a buff and sexy Jessica Biel also signs up. David S. Goyer, the ubiquitous (some say too much so) superhero film writer who also penned the first two installments, adds director duties here and pares “Blade” down to its essentials. The wonderfully staged action sequences, snort-worthy quips and game performances combine to make this the best of the trilogy.
With Season 2 (April), which recently wrapped its free-to-all run on YouTube Premium, “Cobra Kai” has secured its spot as the best continuation of a 1980s premise (a surprisingly robust genre lately). The safe, cheesy and sometimes flat-out bad (but yes, we loved it anyway) filmmaking of the “Karate Kid” trilogy has given way to a confident, funny, epic and ultimately heart-wrenching TV series.