Category: Animation

Summary:

Summary:A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery.

Year: 2019

Australian Cinema Release Date: 3rd January 2019

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: United States

Director: Dean DeBlois

Screenwriter: Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell (book)

Cast: F. Murray Abraham (Grimmel (voice)), Jay Baruchel (Hiccup (voice)), Cate Blanchett (Valka (voice)), Gerard Butler (Stoick (voice)), Craig Ferguson (Gobber (voice)), America Ferrera (Astrid (voice)), Kit Harington (Eret (voice)), Jonah Hill (Snotlout Jordenson (voice)), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs (voice)), Olafur Darri Olafsson (Ragnor The Rock (voice)), Kristen Wiig (Ruffnut Thornston (voice))

Runtime: 104 mins

Classification: PG

 

OUR HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

Dave Griffiths Review:

 

 


 

 

 

Kyle McGrath’s Review:

 

 

Average Subculture Rating: 

 

IMDB Rating:  How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Reviews: N/A

Trailer:

The countdown to the release of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is now on and once again Sony have teased us with this sizzle reel that shows what the cast have been up to around the world. Featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage (Face/Off, Gone In 60 Seconds), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Ender’s Game), Liev Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Spotlight) and Jake Johnson (Jurassic World, The Mummy) this is the film that has the whole comic book universe talking at the moment.

Despicable Me 3

Summary: Gru meets his long-lost charming, cheerful, and more successful twin brother Dru who wants to team up with him for one last criminal heist.

Year: 2017

Australian Cinema Release Date: 15th June 2017

Australian DVD Release Date: 20th September 2017

Country: USA

Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon

Screenwriter: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul

Cast: Julie Andrews (Gru’s Mom (voice)), Michael Beattie (The Scar Faced Man/TMZ Announcer (voice)), Russell Brand (Dr. Nefario (voice)), Steve Carell (Gru/Dru (voice)), Adrian Ciscato (Niko (voice)), Pierre Coffin (Mel/The Minions (voice)), Steve Coogan (Silas (voice)), Miranda Cosgrove (Margo (voice)), Dana Gaier (Edith (voice)), Andy Nyman (Clive (voice)), Trey Parker (Balthazar Bratt (voice)), Nev Scharrel (Agnes (voice)), Jenny Slate (Valerie Da Vinci (voice)), Kristen Wiig (Lucy Wilde (voice)),

Runtime: 90 mins

Classification: PG

OUR DESPICABLE ME 3 REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

If you’ve got kids then you’ve certainly heard of the Despicable Me franchise. What a lot of people don’t realise is that while Despicable Me has become one of the most popular film franchises amongst families it also changed the entire animated film game. There was once a time when Pixar ruled that market but the arrival of the original Despicable Me saw a new challenger enter the ring and that challenger took it straight up to Pixar blowing them out of the water.

This new Despicable Me movie is technically the fourth film in the franchise (three Despicable Mefilms and one Minions films) and shows that there is certainly still a lot of life left in these films as the creative team behind it has once again found new ways to breathe new life into it and keep it interesting.

This new film sees Gru (Steve Carrell) now firmly entrenched as Lucy’s (Kristen Wiig) life and work partner. And while Lucy is having trouble coming to terms being a mother to Margo (Miranda Cosgrove – School Of Rock, Drake & Josh), Edith (Dana Gaier – 30 Rock, The Icecream Truck) and Agnes (Nev Scharrel – Fun Size Horror: Volume One, Clippings) Gru is slowly getting used to now taking down villains instead of being one… but then even he fails the test when Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker – ) steals one of the world’s largest diamonds.

The resulting stuff-up sees both Gru and Lucy fired from their jobs and while they are soul-searching at what they should do next with their lives Gru learns that he has a twin brother. Upon getting to know his brother Gru learns more and more about his life and soon finds himself wondering if turning his back on being a villain was really such a wise decision, especially when his beloved Minions leave him and start looking for greener pastures elsewhere.

Like the films before it in the franchise Despicable Me 3 has some great elements of humour that will have the whole family laughing while also touching on some very deep issues that many families have to come to grips with in everyday life – the storyline of Lucy trying to learn how to be a mother to the three girls is told in a way that many people could relate to. Likewise, the storyline of Agnes having to learn things such as unicorns not being real is something that every kid has to face at some time.

On the flipside, the film never loses site of the fact that it is also supposed to make families laugh. This is achieved in a number of different ways by the team of screenwriters behind the film, from the usual slapstick comedy of Gru and co getting hurt right through to the creativeness of the new villain – Balthazar Bratt. While the back story of being a childhood star may go right over the head of kids watching the film the great ‘music and dance battles’ that he is involved in certainly won’t. Credit needs to be paid on how creative they have been with this villain, Bratt actually ends up being memorable than any of the baddies Marvel have created recently.

Having praised the screenwriters for making Despicable Me 3 so funny I also have to point out that the film also lacks a little from the fact that the Minions don’t have such a big role this time around. Yes the Minions are around, and yes they do have their own little storyline, mainly about them leaving Gru, but that story almost feels tacked on and the film really does feel like it is lacking any brilliant ‘banana’ moments like we have had in the past… let’s hope instead that we get another Minions film sometime soon.

There is an air of difference around Despicable Me 3 to all the films in the series but this is a film that is going to be lapped up by those that have grown up watching the franchise. The film does have its laugh-out-loud moments and also contains some valuable life lessons. Yes, Gru is back and once again he is on a winner!

Stars(3.5)

 

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):  Stars(3.5)

 

 

 

IMDB Rating:  Despicable Me 3 (2017) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Despicable Me 3 Reviews: You can listen to Dave’s Despicable Me 3 review on the 15/06/2017 episode of That’s Entertainment.

Trailer:

Your Lie In April

Summary: A piano prodigy who lost his ability to play after suffering a traumatic event in his childhood is forced back into the spotlight by an eccentric girl with a secret of her own.

Year: 2014

Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A

Australian DVD Release Date: 6th July 2016

Country: Japan

Director: Takehiko Shinjo

Screenwriter: Naoshi Arakawa (manga)

Cast: Ryan Bartley (Megu (voice)), Robbie Daymond (Saito (voice)), Erika Harlacher (Emi Igawa (voice)), Carrie Keranen (Hiroko Seto (voice)), Erik Scott Kimerer (Takeshi Aiza (voice)), Wendee Lee (Saki Arima (voice)), Max Mittelman (Kousei Arima (voice)), Erica Lindbeck (Kaori Miyazono (voice)), Erica Mendez (Tsubaki Sawabe (voice)), Kyle McCarley (Ryota Watari (voice)), Stephanie Sheh (Nagi Aiza (voice)), Julie Ann Taylor (Nao Kashiwagi (voice)), Cristina Valenzuela (Koharu Seto (voice))

Runtime: 12 x 22 mins episodes

Classification: PG

 

OUR YOUR LIE IN APRIL VOL 1 REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

Harley Woods:

Your Lie In April is a Japanese animated series, based around a coming-of-age / first-love story intermingled with competitive musical ambitions. Volume One is released on DVD and BluRay in Australia by Madman Entertainment.

This series hits with immediate impact. The first thing we see is a girl, Kaori, following a cat around. This is both endearing and amusing but also features some interesting animation that already raises expectations on the quality of the series. We cut to the titles and are treated to yet another catchy theme tune – Hikaru Nara by Goose House.

Soon after, we are treated to exceptionally animated sequences done with 3D models and rotoscoping and sharp camera movements. This really livens the scene and makes it present, even as we will see sweat fly off of characters as they perform with all their might. These sequences become something you eagerly await throughout the series as they are so passionate and reflect the power of the music being played. Artistic licence is taken to colour and light the scenes so that you can follow what is happening to the colours emotionally and mentally.

In a word: impeccable.

This is one of the most engaging stories I have been privileged to watch, filled with identifiable characters and relationships. I wept several times – particularly during concert scenes where characters’ emotions come out in their music. That said, this is a complex and emotional story where layers are peeled off piece by piece, with foreshadowing of what is to come reflected in what has already been.

I have not been touched by or connected with a story so instantly as I have with this one.

Plenty of anime humour and dynamics are used throughout the story to even out the emotional intensity and balance out the high quality animated sequences. This is as much to keep the series to a deadline and budget as much as it is to entertain and not overwhelm the audience.

The characters were recognisable instantly and initially laid out simply, but layers of details and dimension show more and more with each episode. Arima Kousei is the voice and heart of the series and I could connect instantly and even see a mirror for myself. This is a highly immersive experience.

The voices are very suitable but also have that typical anime feel, but this is good to heighten things a little and ad the entertaining elements as counter for the highly internal and reflective feel that marks this series.

The production is an interesting blend and this is set-up in the first episode (showing the different elements and styles involved throughout the story). Character movements seem real, which are then raised with CG / rotoscoping for the intense musical performance scenes. Again, this is countered by the heightened moments of manga-style humour and exaggeration to lighten the drama. Beautiful music and imagery throughout the show keep you locked into this world; transfixing.

This DVD set, being only the first half of the series, is not over-endowed with features. The usual textless opening and ending credits are included (which is fine, as I had Goose House’s theme stuck in my head, and now have it on my phone). These sequences are actually quite a joy to watch in themselves, so it is forgivable not have more features included as the real experience is the story itself.

However, this leaves me really eager to see volume two and I, for one, cannot wait to grab it up as soon as I can!

I highly recommend this series, with 4.5 out of 5 stars.

(Mind you, I may only have taken half a star off as I’m dying to see the rest of the show!)

 

Stars(4.5)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):   Stars(4.5)

 

IMDB Rating:  Your Lie in April (2014) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Your Lie In April Vol 1 reviews: Nil.

 

Trailer:

Wolf Girl

Summary: About Erika who claims that popular boy, Sata is her boyfriend. She has no choice but to make him her fake boyfriend. Unfortunately,he may look like a sweet person, but he is actually an ultra sadist and treat her like a slave.

Year: 2014

Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A

Australian DVD Release Date: 6th July 2016

Country: Japan

Director: Kenichi Kasai

Screenwriter: Ayuko Hatta, Sawako Hirabayashi

Cast: Yoshimasa Hosoya (Takeru Hibiya (voice)), Kanae Ito (Erika Shinohara (voice)), Matsuoka Yoshitsugu (Nozomi Kamiya (voice)), Takahiro Sakurai (Kyouya Sata (voice))

Runtime: 12 x 24 mins episodes

Classification: M

 

OUR WOLF GIRL AND BLACK PRINCE REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

Harley Woods:

Wolf Girl & Black Prince is a Japanese animated series, revolving around an off-beat high school romance. It is released on DVD and BluRay in Australia by Madman Entertainment.

I found this series to be an enjoyable watch despite, or perhaps because of, my constantly conflicting feelings about the main pair’s romance. This romance is centred around Erika (the lying ‘wolf-girl’) and her ‘black prince,’ Kyoya.

What, at times, seems like an abusive relationship (or, at least, a pretend relationship) is complicated by sudden glimpses of care and sweetness throughout that keep you building hope in a happy outcome; just as Erika does as she realises the truth of her feelings and confesses her love to Kyoya.

By raising these conflicting feelings within its audience’s minds the story successfully manages to put us in Erika’s place. At times we want her to just end it; it’s a ridiculous situation to be in. And then we suddenly think that there’s more to it, and more to him, and maybe we want to give him another chance…

It’s just like a relationship – especially one that may not be good for us. Still, you do have to wonder why Erika does put up with it and this could be a question that makes you wonder if you want to keep watching once you are past the halfway point and our protagonist is still putting herself through emotional heartache.

However, the truth of the situation is that Erika constantly lands herself in the thick of it with her lies and exaggerations but ends up finding numerous friendships – which is what she set out to do in the first episode of the series as she starts her first day of high school. Find rewards like this is what really makes the show attractive and enticing.

A great array of supporting characters and interrelationships are shown throughout the series. Some characters could have benefited by more screentime, or a longer series, but as the story is Erika and Kyoya’s relationship this would have been extraneous to the main plot and dragged out the painful parts of the relationship to the point where you would probably stop watching.

A lot of time is spent hoping for more details into Kyoya’s past and reasons for his actions which  are hinted at but held very close to the chest until the end, unfortunately. It would have been nice to put a bit more of this information in along the way, but it is worth pursuing to the end to get more pieces of the puzzle, despite the harder moments of character ‘sadism’ in the series.

This DVD is only presented in the original Japanese audio with English subtitles (which I prefer, anyway). The characters work with suitable voices that fit the usual archetypes and stereotypes, setting suitable tones for each moment of drama, humour, romance and so on. It is this voice work and the additional characters that keep the entertainment going and lighten the more emotionally draining moments.

This is a well-made series, done in the typical style with the primary focus on exaggerating Erika’s rollercoaster of emotions and highlighting important moments such as the flashbacks to Kyoya’s childhood.

I like that the production team did not resolve every little thing for each and every character, as this is how it is in real life. Despite some heightened drama, you walk away believing in the relationships and characters’ personal / internal dramas; like a window into a single chapter of someone’s life.

Focus is given to the romance and relationships and getting that to a certain point without wholly and conveniently fixing everything in everyone’s lives.

This is a ‘lite’ DVD set, with the only features being the usual textless opening and ending credits. I like this, however, as the theme tunes got stuck firmly in my head. Being a short, complete story I did not feel the set suffered from not having further features, as the real experience is the story itself.

This series is available in stores now from Madman Entertainment.
Stars(3.5)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):   Stars(3.5)

 

IMDB Rating:  Wolf Girl and Black Prince (2014) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Wolf Girl And Black Prince reviews: Nil.

 

Trailer:

A Letter To Momo

Summary: Clinging to an unfinished letter written by her recently deceased father, young Momo moves with her mother from bustling Tokyo to the remote Japanese island of Shio. Upon their arrival, she begins to explore her new habitat, meeting local children and learning their routines and customs. However, it’s not long before several bizarre occurrences crop up around the previously tranquil island. Orchards are found ransacked, prized trinkets start disappearing and, worst of all, each morning after her mother leaves for work, Momo hears strange mumblings coming from the attic of their home. Annoyed by these creepy goings-on and her mother’s refusal to believe them, Momo embarks on a strange and supernatural adventure to discover the source of the mischief, which leads her to a trio of troublesome imps: the flatulent lizard Kawa, the childlike Mame and their hulking ogre leader Iwa. Momo also learns that her visit to the island is in some way connected to her father’s mysterious letter.

Year: 2011

Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A

Australian DVD Release Date: 6th July 2016

Country: Japan

Director: Hiroyuki Okiura

Screenwriter: Hiroyuki Okiura

Cast: Daizaburo Arakawa (Kazuo Miyaura (voice)), Frank Ashmore (Great Uncle (voice)), Bob Bergen (Mame (voice)), Kota Fuji (Yota (voice)), Kanoa Goo (Yota (voice)), Katsuki Hashimoto (Umi (voice)), Mia Sinclair Jenness (Umi (voice)), Karen Miyama (Momo Miyaura (voice)), Yuichi Nagashima (Mame (voice)), Toshiyuki Nishida (Iwa (voice)), Takeo Ogawa (Koichi (voice)), Amanda Pace (Momo Miyaura (voice)), Yoshida Sakaguchi (Great Uncle (voice)), Philece Sampler (Great Auntie (voice)), Stephanie Sheh (Ikuko Miyaura (voice)), Dana Snyder (Kawa (voice)), Ikuko Tani (Great Auntie (voice)), Fred Tatasciore (Iwa (voice)), Kirk Thornton (Kazuo Miyaura (voice)), Koichi Yamadera (Kawa (voice)), Yuka (Ikuko Miyaura (voice)), Rick Zieff (Koichi (voice))

Runtime: 120 mins

Classification: PG

 

OUR A LETTER TO MOMO REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

Harley Woods:

A Letter To Momo is a Japanese animated feature, produced by Production I.G. and directed by Hiroyuki Okiura. It is released on DVD and BluRay in Australia by Madman Entertainment.

A Letter To Momo is a beautiful story and very true-to-life in it’s character portrayal and relationship aspects. This then melds with the fantastic and supernatural as Momo meets her ‘guardian angels’ who have taken unique forms from an old comic she was reading.

Shocking and hilarious moments ensue as she tries to deal with an unreal situation on top her own emotional ordeals after the death of her father and sudden move to a new home.

As we settle into life at the same time as Momo we experience childhood again and feel her bashfulness as her mother tries to force a friendship with local children (only to embarrass Momo) and relive all of the typical moments of childhood.

The real stirring begins when we learn what has brought Momo and her mother to this new life and how deeply the impacts of recent tragedy still play on this child’s heart and mind. The natural and ‘everyday’ way that the storytelling works is something the director and writers should be commended for.

The characters are brilliant – the humans are believable and ‘true’, while the otherworldly are fantastic and engaging and lovable despite their mischief.

One cannot help but care for Momo and want the best for her in each situation. A few moments I wanted to cry for the emotional jolts and later again for the pure joy and enjoyment I took from this movie.

As usual, I watched the production in the original Japanese which I think is an absolute must for this movie. The portrayals are true for each character and not ‘hightened’ like mass media anime. This is a real character piece with honest emotion and performances which I think would be harmed by dubbing over language and mannerisms of an entirely different culture.

The honesty in which it is played makes for a unique and touching experience.

The production overall was, in a word: beautiful.

The unique style, much different than the usual anime ‘manga style’ adds to the believability and draws the viewer more deeply into the story. The production staff have made every effort to bring the audience into the story.

Beautifully painted backdrops, realistic characters and a realistic sense of movement in the animation show just how great the thought and effort has been in the making of this film. The simpler character style and painting creates a more realistic look than expected, with the more predictable and fantastic stuff left for the supernatural figures.

Great direction and storytelling has paid-off for a highly rewarding and encapsulating viewing experience.

This is a great DVD from Madman, which includes Featurettes on the making of the production (which is really great to watch to see how this splendorous movie came to life from concept to completion).

Also included are an art gallery, test clips and trailers. All of these make for a value-packed DVD and an intensely enjoyable and uplifting experience which has quickly become one of my favourite movies.

 

Stars(5)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):   Stars(5)

 

IMDB Rating:  A Letter to Momo (2011) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Black Butler: Book Of Murder reviews: Nil.

 

Trailer:

Black Butler

Summary: At the behest of the Queen, Earl Ciel Phantomhive hosts a lavish dinner party attended by several of the finest members of polite society—as well as struggling author, Arthur. But as the party reaches its high, a terrible murder takes place and none other than the Earl himself is suspected of the crime.

As a violent storm rages on outside, the death count continues to climb. The Phantomhive household and their eminent guests find they must cooperate in order to solve this mystery before they too fall prey to the mysterious murderer. However, it seems that not even the perfect butler, Sebastian Michaelis, is safe from this horror.

Year: 2014

Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A

Australian DVD Release Date: 6th July 2016

Country: Japan

Director: Noriyuki Abe

Screenwriter: Yana Taboso

Cast: Shintaro Asanuma (Arthur (voice)), Yuki Kaji (Finnian (voice)), Emri Kato (Mey-Rin (voice)), Ryohei Kimura (Charles Grey (voice)), Jamie Marchi (Irene Diaz (voice)), Mana Miyamoto (Irene Diaz (voice)), Daisuke Ono (Sebastian Michaelis (voice)), Maaya Sakamoto (Ciel Phantomhive (voice)), Shinnosuke Tachibana (Soma), Eiichiro Tokumoto (Grimsby (voice)), Hiroki Yasumoto (Agni (voice)), Koji Yusa (Lau (voice)),

Runtime: 58 mins per ep

Classification: M

 

OUR BLACK BUTLER: BOOK OF MURDER REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

Harley Woods:

Black Butler: Book Of Murder is a 2 part miniseries, originally shown in Japanese cinemas, which acts as the fourth instalment of the ‘Black Butler’ anime franchise. It is released on DVD and BluRay in Australia by MadMan Entertainment.

The story revolves around a dinner party at the Phantomhive manour, as ordered by the Queen. Ciel Phantomhive is the Queen’s ‘watchdog’ and although just a boy he always carries out his orders and protects her majesty with the aid of his demonic butler, Sebastian.

In this instalment his loyalty is under scrutiny so the Queen order Ciel to host a dinner for her cousin, where trouble is expected. The trouble in question takes the form of an old-style murder mystery, of the kind seen in classic British mystery novels of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle and Agatha Christie. This genre has been recreated particularly well, with the added twist of grand scheming and devilry that one expects from the Black Butler series.

Although this very genre-specific story is a slight departure from the usual style of the series, it is a faithful follow-on to the previous 3 instalments. A few inferences in the plot do incorporate details from the previous chapters, so knowledge of these makes for a more rewarding viewing. I found the story to be highly engaging with plot developments that keep you on the edge of your seat to discover the resolution.

Great characters fill this tale with most development being given to the guest cast, being that this is a finite miniseries. The regular cast have already been well developed so it is more important in this instance to get the bit-players across in a way that rounds their characters enough to understand their reactions and behaviours in the context of the narrative. That said, there does seem to be a little more impetus for Ciel to function on his own without relying on Sebastian.

I think the only loss in this regard is not seeing more of the Phantomhive staff have their unique character moments which usually come out more towards the end of each series as a bit of a surprise twist, but this time is incorporated from the start in more subtle ways. However, this leaves little wastage and things proceed naturally toward the ultimate resolution.

The Japanese voice cast are always impeccable and this is how I choose to view my anime. However, I did take the take to check out the American dub for the sake of this review. I don’t think a lot of the voices fit the characters too well – Sebastian for example sounds a little too old and less smooth as his character is often revealed to be.

However, props should be given to the American cast for taking the time and effort to provide suitable accents for each character and their background (predominantly British, with Chinese and Germanic characters). I appreciate that level of effort as it would be otherwise jarring to the audience who are supposed to be immersed in a drama in old England.

The art and animate was brilliant as usual, and the creators have successfully made reference to past elements and tied loose ends. This allows the series to move forward in a new chapter where they can, perhaps, create a new feel or a new beginning.

The characters are unique and their styles and those of Victorian London have been well presented and recreated, with a little bit of ‘anime flair’ to spice it up.

The settings are interesting and beautiful and help to immerse the audience in the world being presented. Action and animation are top quality and always a joy to watch. It’s always hard to look away, especially when Sebastian and the Phantomhive staff get into action.

The DVD is lite on special features, being more of a ‘special miniseries / movie collection’ rather than a full series in its own right. Included on this DVD release are the US trailer and Feature commentary on the second instalment by members of the US voice cast.

The commentary is good for those who watch the dubbed version and enjoy these performers, but for someone like me who enjoys the original soundtrack and the production as a whole it might have been nice to have a featurette or something.

On the whole, this is a very enjoyable anime, and I give it 4 out of 5.

Stars(4)

 

 

Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):   Stars(4)

 

IMDB Rating:  Kuroshitsuji: Book of Murder (2014) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Black Butler: Book Of Murder reviews: Nil.

 

Trailer: