Tag Archive: Stephan James

Review by C.J. Bunce

For every series that exceeds your expectations–say, for example, this weekend’s premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power–a series you have hopes for disappoints.  This summer, Apple TV+ subscribers were provided with a weekly dose of what was billed as a psychological thriller.  Surface follows a woman of uncertain identity as she tries to find herself after she may have tried to commit suicide by jumping off a ship into the ocean and awakened afterward with amnesia.  A series with such a preposterous starting point owes it to viewers to provide some compelling storytelling.  With the final episode of its first season arriving this past week, the truth set in.  A payoff never happens.  Just a corporate effort to get viewers, complete with corporate logos waved at the viewer, banking on doses of cliffhanger endings, all setting up for a batch of unanswered questions for the final scene in hopes someone will pick it up for a second season?  Save yourself the time:  You have tens of thousands of other series–especially British-led series as this is–with far more compelling stories.

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Stephen Hopkins, director of The Ghost in the Darkness, Predator 2, and the reboot of Lost in Space, and TV series House of Lies and 24, is bringing to the big screen the momentous race of Jesse Owens, the black track and field gold medalist who showed-up Adolf Hitler’s racist regime by winning in the 1936 Olympics.  The cleverly titled Race stars Stephan James (Selma) as Owens, the role previously given to John Boyega, who instead left the production to take on the role of Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Race co-stars Saturday Night Live alumnus Jason Sudeikis as Coach Larry Snyder, as well as Academy Award winners William Hurt and Jeremy Irons.  Race is the kind of serious topic biopic the Academy traditionally looks for at Oscar time.  If the film is the great drama that the story deserves, this could be a breakout role for both James and Sudeikis.

Jesse Owens biopic

But can Sudeikis overcome his comedy acting past to drive this drama home?  Many ex-SNL regulars have tried to break the SNL curse and jump into drama, including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, and Eddie Murphy, along with other comedy talents like Michael Keaton, Eddie Izzard, Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Will Smith, Robin Williams, and Jonah Hill.  Will the Academy recognize Race a year from now?  Murray, Aykroyd, Martin, Brooks, Hill, Smith, Williams, and Keaton have all been nominated for acting Oscars, but no ex-SNL actor has won an acting Oscar, and only comedic actors Foxx and Williams were able to make the switch from comedy to drama and take home the big prize.

Check out this trailer for Race:

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