Summary: An iconic Australian story of family, friendship and adventure, between a young boy and a scrappy one-of-a-kind dog that would grow up to become an Australian legend.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Kriv Stenders
Screenwriter: Daniel Taplitz
Cast: Josie Alec (Abby), Caitlin Berestford-Ord (Catherine), Syd Brisbane (Big John), Bryan Brown (Grandpa), Kee Chan (Jimmy Umbrella), Justine Clarke (Diane Carter), Thomas Cocquerel (Stemple), Jon Doust (McLeod), Alla Hand (Gilliam Shaw), Jason Isaacs (Michael Carter), John Jarratt (Lang Hangcock), Hanna Mangan Laurence (Betty), Steve Le Marquand (Little John), Winta McGrath (Nicholas Carter), Zen McGrath (Theo Carter), Levi Miller (Mick), Kelton Pell (Durack), Igor Sas (Dr. Samuel), Calen Tassone (Taylor Pete)
Runtime: 88 mins
OUR RED DOG: TRUE BLUE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Nobody ever expected the original Red Dog film to go onto the greatness that it did when it was released back in 2011. Somehow the little Aussie family film showed the world that the Australian film industry wasn’t dead. While the industry had seen many Aussie filmmakers try the comedy vein, it seems it was the family comedy vein that still had life in it. The film grossed over $21 million in Australia alone.
Of course, not surprisingly word of a Red Dog sequel started to seep through while the first film was still raking in money at the box office. The only man who didn’t seem interested in the concept was the director Kriv Stenders (Boxing Day) who was already busy on his next project – the cult film Kill Me Three Times starring Simon Pegg. Along the way, though something changed and now five years later we find ourselves sitting down to watch a prequel to the original – Red Dog: True Blue.
There is little wonder that Stenders was nervous about making another Red Dog film, a dud could tarnish the legacy that the first left behind. Luckily though Stenders once again teamed up with screenwriter Daniel Taplitz (Chaos Theory) and together the two men came up with a film that is different enough from the original film to give it its own identity, but not different enough to alienate fans of the first in the series.
This second film is told through the eyes of a Perth father Michael Carter (Jason Isaacs – Black Hawk Down) who after watching the original Red Dog movie in the cinema recounts the story of how he was actually the original owner of Red… or Blue as he was called back then. His story tells of his younger self (Levi Miller – Pan) being forced to leave home because of his mentally unstable mother and moving to outback Western Australia where he lived with his grandfather (Bryan Brown – Australia). On a cattle station.
The story sees Mick meet Blue and tells of the adventures that they had together including Mick falling in love for the first time, with his tutor the young and beautiful Betty (Hanna Mangan Laurence – Acolytes).
Fans of the original film will see very early on that Stenders and Taplitz are onto a winning formula when they see the creative way that leads to Michael Carter telling his story. While it seems a little strange for the film to be referencing the first film so openly, but at that same time it so creative that you can’t help but applaud at the pure genius act that the two men have managed to deliver.
While Red Dog: True Blue is creative it does lack a little of the emotion that we felt from the first film. I’m man enough to admit that I teared up twice during Red Dog, but here Stenders and co takes the film in a completely different direction, this time the film is a pure coming of age story that sees a young boy take his dog with him on the start of life’s journey. While the film does also have a few moments that are likely to make you chuckle it doesn’t have anywhere near as many comedic moments as the first movie either.
Those that benefit from Stenders work here is the cast. Levi Miller is almost unrecognisable as the younger version of Mick and he settles into the period style of the film well. It is great to see Hanna Mangan Laurence back on the big screen and hopefully, we see her there again soon while as usual Bryan Brown leads the way with a mature performance as he leads the cast despite seemingly being in auto-pilot for most of the film. The big scene stealer here though is John Jarratt (Wolf Creek) who has a cameo as mining magnate Lang Hancock… and boy is it a cameo to remember.
Red Dog: True Blue is a smooth, enjoyable ride for the whole family. It might not reach the heights that the first film did but it is still a film that holds its own and reminds audiences just how fun it still can be to watch a coming-of-age story. The fact that it is being released on Boxing Day makes it the perfect family cinema outing this holiday season.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
IMDB Rating: No rating available.
Other Subculture Entertainment Red Dog: True Blue Reviews: Dave Griffiths broadcast a Red Dog: True Blue on 2UE’s That’s Entertainment on the 8th December, 2016.
Summary: The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 17th November 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: USA, UK
Director: David Yates
Screenwriter: J.K. Rowling
Cast: Peter Braitmayer (Mr. Bingley), Gemma Chan (Madam Ya Zhou), Josh Cowdery (Henry Shaw Jnr/Senator Shaw), Johnny Depp (Grindelwald), Rudi Dharmalingham (Ranjit), Christian Dixon (Momolou Wotorson), Henry Douthwaite (Skender), Carmen Ejogo (Seraphina Picquery), Colin Farrell (Graves), Dan Fogler (Kowalski), Kevin Guthrie (Mr. Abernathy), Ellie Haddington (Mrs. Esposito), Dan Hedaya (Red), Tom Hodgkins (Barker), Denis Khoroshko (Banker Smirnoff), Zoe Kravitz (Lestrange), Alan Mandel (Mr. Goldstein), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone), Samantha Morton (Mark Lou), Wunmi Mosaku (Beryl), Jenn Murray (Chastity Barebone), Martin Oelbermann (Heinreich Eberstadt), Ron Perlman (Gnarlack), Ronan Raferty (Langdon Shaw), Eddie Redmayne (Newt), Alison Sudol (Queenie), Jon Voight (Shaw Senior), Katherine Waterson (Tina), Matthew Wilson (Sam The Obliviator), Faith Wood-Blagrove (Modesty Barebone)
Runtime: 133 mins
OUR FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Welcome back to the Harry Potter universe. Over the years many franchises have tried to tap into the young adult mark. Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent etc have come and gone, and yes they have all done well at the box office… but none quite as well as the behemoth known as the Harry Potter franchise. See where Potter could gloat over the others was the fact that its films were not only embraced by fans but also received critical acclaim as well. Yes there was more than just a few of us that were drawn into a world consisting of Hogwarts, muggles and spells a plenty.
Now J.K. Rowling takes us back into the Harry Potter with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, this time there is even a more literal sense to that statement because for the first time in the franchise’s history Rowling puts on the hat of screenwriter… something it seems she should have done a long time ago.
While Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is set in the Potter universe don’t be expecting the re-appearance of Harry, Ron and Hermoine. No this is set 70 years prior to the trio’s arrival at Hogwarts and centres on another of Dumbeldore’s students – the young wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl) who travels to New York on the simple mission of returning one of the magical creatures that he has rescued back to its rightful home.
After an innocent mix-up with a baker who has dreams of setting up his own shop, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogel – Kung Fu Panda), some more of his menagerie escape into the Big Apple. There escape catches the eye of a recently demoted Ministry of Magic Detective, Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston – Steve Jobs) who immediately reports Scamander to her bosses Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo – Selma) and Percival Graves (Colin Farrell – Total Recall). They immediately believe that he is responsible for a spate of recent attacks that have put the magic world on the brink of war with the non-magics (America’s answer to muggles) and Scamander finds himself in a battle to not only protect his creatures but also find the real culprit for the attacks.
Many fans of the original Potter franchise are going to find themselves in for a journey of differences this time around. While Rowling allows the story to share some familiarities with the original series, things such as those practicing magic not being understood or accepted by those who view them as different, an awkward young wizard out of his depth and the basic battle of good versus evil she also takes some bold steps this time around. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them sees her tackle stories as wide as police corruption and child abuse. Perhaps the biggest surprise this time around though is the scale of the events that Rowling has dreamed up. Alongside her director David Yates (The Legend Of Tarzan) Rowling has conjured up events and a plot that at times rivals the action and scale of a film like X-Men or Man Of Steel. She also allows the film to capture the class and style of 1930′s New York remarkably well too. To her credit she pulls it off so well we can only hope that we see her take on the role of screenwriter many more times in the future.
The other big surprise with this film is that despite its big scale action sequences and heavily slanted fantasy theme the film also allows for a great deal of characterisation. Without spending too much time on a tiresome ‘set-up’ of characters Rowling throws her audience in at the deep end with amazing results. You are quickly won of by the awkward Scamander while the comedic character traits of Jacob and Queenie (Allison Sudol – The Lucky One) quickly make them fan favourites. Romantic interests developing between Jacob Queenie as well as Scamander and Goldstein move the story along with the odd light moments sprinkled between the suspense around characters like Credence (Ezra Miller – The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) and Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp – Pirates Of The Caribbean) keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
This characterisation also allows some actors to step up in ways you wouldn’t expect to them in a film like this. Colin Farrell relishes being in a film of this scale again and manages to steal many of the scenes he appears in. It’s like he knows that roles such as this are rare for him these days and he excels whether he is called upon to deliver an action sequence or a more dramatic emotional scene. Eddie Redmayne also makes the role of Scamander his own but the real surprises here at the performances of Katherine Waterson, Dan Fogler and Allison Sudol who step-up onto the big stage in a huge way and really show their talents. Sons Of Anarchy fans should also look out for Ron Pearlmanin a memorable cameo as well.
While I’ll admit that I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Fantastic Beats I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. The fact that Rowling can deliver a film with this much action is a real surprise while it seems she has created more characters that are likable enough to become household names. With the other announcement that there will be four more films in this franchise all I can say is bring them on… I can’t wait.
With the lucrative Harry Potter franchise done and dusted, author J K Rowling has expanded on her Potterverse with this stand alone tale set some seven decades before the adventures of the boy wizard. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them serves as the launching pad for a new post-Potter franchise set against the world of magic and sorcery, and somewhat ambitiously another four films have been planned for the series so far.
The film follows the misadventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander (played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne) who has just completed a global excursion for the Ministry of Magic to document the varied and amazing array of magical creatures in the world. He will go on to write the fictional text book that became mandatory reading at Hogwarts.
But the time is now 1926 and the setting a pre-Depression era New York. It is also a time of heightened tensions between humans and the magical community, and suspicion, paranoia and intolerance that has driven most of the wizards underground. The magical community that keeps a low profile after the actions of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (a cameo from Johnny Depp). There is a secret society known as the Second Salemers that are leading a campaign to identify witches within the community.
Scamander has stepped off the boat for a short stop over in New York. He carries with him a battered leather suitcase that contains some samples of strange creatures great and small. He accidentally bumps into klutzy wannabe baker and no-maj (the American term for a muggle) Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), who is also carrying a battered suitcase containing samples of his pastries. They somehow manage to switch suitcases, and Kowalski accidentally unleashes some fantastic beasts onto the unsuspecting city. The release of the creatures attracts the attention of the Magical Congress of The United States of America, a sort of magic police force.
Porpentina Goldstein (played by Katherine Waterston) is an auror, a dark wizard catcher, who has fallen out of favour with MCUSA and she sets out to redeem herself by catching Scamander and his creatures before they can bring harm to the city. She teems up with her mind reading sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), Scamander and Kowalski. But there is a mysterious threat to the city from some elusive and dangerous force that is also wreaking havoc. And the uncompromising Percival Graves (a sullen, sinister Colin Farrell), the director of Magical Security with MCUSA, also has his own agenda and is involved in some shady dealing with the troubled teen and ostracised wizard pupil Credence (Ezra Miller).
Rowling has written the screenplay herself which is based on the short story she wrote in 2011 and published under the pseudonym of Newt Scamander. But it is a little convoluted and very busy with several subplots. There are a lot of ideas at play here but not all of it works. As usual Rowling has created a world that operates within its own set of sometimes flexible rules, and she has created a unique language. Fantastic Beasts has a dark and whimsical tone that is far removed from the lighter tone of the early Potter movies.
The director is David Yates, who helmed the final four films of the Potter series, so he is familiar with the demands of the material. The action is dominated and overwhelmed by the impressive array of CGI effects in an effort to distract from the lack of cohesive narrative and well defined characters. Unlike the Potter series here we don’t get as emotionally involved with the characters. There are indeed some fabulous creations here, including a kleptomaniac platypus; but there is one creature that looks suspiciously like a deflated rubber toy! And the over the top finale almost destroys as much of New York as the Marvel characters.
There are some nice performances though. Redmayne brings a boyish quality to his reading of Scamander, and he brings plenty of nervous energy, nervous tics and mannerisms to the character that are somewhat endearing. Farrell is gruff and taciturn as the sinister Graves but he also appears bored at stages. Fogler provides plenty of comic relief. Waterston brings strength and a feisty quality to her Porpentina, while singer turned actress Subol brings a perky energy to her role. Jon Voight is wasted in a small and thankless role as Henry Shaw, a powerful newspaper magnate leading a crusade against magic and wizardry.
The film offers up a visually impressive environment, and it has been superbly shot by Philippe Rousselot, whose use of sepia tones imbues the material with a strong touch of nostalgia. The authentic period detail brings 1920s New York to life. Colleen Atwood’s costumes also add to the stylish and strong visual look of the film.
The film’s themes of intolerance, paranoia, bigotry and suspicion will resonate strongly with audiences, especially given recent political events in America. But this is a flawed film, and whether Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them has the legs to support another four films in the series remains to be seen.
You can listen to Nick Gardener’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them review from The Wednesday Motley Crew right here.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, directed by David Yates and starring Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Fine Frenzy and Eddie Redmayne, being with it the return of the Wizarding world we have all grown fond of from the Harry Potter series.
I loved that this film, even while being part of the Harry Potter franchise, gave its own reputation. It didn’t rely too much on the success of Harry Potter to make this film successful. The characters were all cast perfectly, the film had some genuinely funny moments and the action, drama and of course the magic were all balanced out really well in my opinion.
It was fantastic to see magic from the Wizarding world back on screen once again and at the same time bring concepts of the Wizarding world that were never discussed in Harry Potter. I loved that they kept this fresh and interesting with a whole new story line and broad range of new characters.
In some movies I find myself getting bored towards the middle of the film but in Fantastic Beasts there was nothing that allowed me to be bored because there was constantly something interesting happening on screen. The scenery, special effects and all over direction of the film was done really well and I highly recommend going and seeing the film if you are a Harry Potter fan.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Reviews: You can also listen to our Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them reviews on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #202. You can listen to Dave’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them review on the 10/11/2016 episode of That’s Entertainment.
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.
Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A
Australian DVD Release Date: 6th July 2016
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
OUR A LETTER TO MOMO REVIEWS & RATINGS:
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.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Black Butler: Book Of Murder reviews: Nil.
Summary: Wide Open Sky follows the heart-warming story of an outback Australian children’s choir. Chronicling their journey from auditions to end-of-year concert, the trials of trying to run a children’s choir in a remote and disadvantaged region are revealed. Here, sport is king and music education is non-existent. Despite this, choir mistress Michelle has high expectations. She wants to teach the children contemporary, original, demanding music. It becomes clear for the children to believe in themselves, they all need someone who believes in them.
Summary: Sun Wukong, (The Monkey King) is a monkey born from a heavenly stone who acquires supernatural powers. After rebelling against heaven and being imprisoned under a mountain for 500 years, he later accompanies the monk Xuanzang on a journey to India. Thus, according to legend, Buddhism is brought to ancient China. This much beloved story, is as much a part of Asian culture as The Iliad and The Odyssey or The Wizard of Oz are to the West.
Australian Cinema Release Date: N/A
Australian DVD Release Date: 18th June, 2014
Country: China, Hong Kong
Director: Pou-Soi Cheang
Screenwriter: Tai-Li Chan, Kam-Yuen Szeto, Edmond Wong
Cast: Joe Chen (Princess Iron Fan), Kelly Chen (Goddess Of Mercy/Guanyin), Calvin Ka-Sing Cheng (Nezha), Siu-Fai Cheung (Heavenly King), Yun-Fat Chow (Jade Emporer), Yitian Hai (Master Puti), Peter Ho (Erlangshen), Aaron Kwok (Bull Demon King), Chung Him Law (Muzha), Cathy Yue-Yan Leung (Caixia Fairy), Gigi Leung (Chang’E), Jing Li (Green Monkey), Hua Liu (Dragon King Of The East Sea), Irene Wang (Caiyun Fairy), Zitong Xia (Ruxue), Hua Yan (Jade Warlord Guard), Donnie Yen (Sun Wukong/Monkey King), Zilin Zhang (Goddes Nu Wa)
Runtime: 90 mins
OUR THE MONKEY KING REVIEWS & RATINGS:
The Monkey King is a Hong Kong Chinese film based on classic stories most famously collected and retold in the novel “Journey To The West”, published anonymously but most commonly attributed to Wu Cheng’en. The screenplay of this film was written by Szeto Kam-Yuen, Edmond Wong, Lola Huo and Dali Chen.
The story revolves around Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, as he is raised to the Heavens to be taught higher skills and learning, including magic, and his subsequent fall and rise (and fall again). It is but an opening portion to the whole story of “Journey To The West”, but sets up and establishes the main character nicely.
The world created in the film is full of beautiful imagery and quite faithful to the legends and beliefs of the centuries these stories were told, even if being an embellished version of the origin part of Sun Wukong’s story. The CG elements were used quite successfully to realise the world and supply some great imagery. It is, however, let down a few times where modern audiences of Hollywood blockbusters might jeer, but it is not so bad as to ruin the overall aesthetic and charm of the movie. The locations created as well as the dragons we see throughout the film tend to be examples of the best computer effects work. I think the points where it falls a little flat are mostly to do with scene structure and how the elements are put together.
There is sometimes a ‘cartoony’ feel to the movie, but this does not jar with the overall tone, which is that of a grand adventure. Part of this is attributed to some of the slightly underdeveloped CG in scenes – such as the one where Sun links his tail affectionately with the vixen girl, Ruxue (Xia Zitong) – or when further animal spirit characters are introduced and they are all performers in costume rather than CG elements. The costume creations are marvellous in this movie, and for the animal spirits this works very well as you have real actors giving them character through movement and behaviour and making them interesting despite having no real development or stake in the plot.
Donnie Yen’s portrayal of Sun Wukong was exceptional, creating a whole character with well thought-out movement style for a monkey, carried right through to the development of a specific fighting style. The more subtle qualities he uses to portray the mischievous, yet good-hearted, protagonist through all of his furry make-up and costuming deserves much praise.
As something of a change to the tradition, Sun is given a love interest as a means to get him invested in the battle to come, and also as a means for the villainous Buffalo Demon King (Aaron Kwok) to manipulate the character into rash and wilful action.
It is the monkey’s impetuousness and naiveté that get him into trouble, as fundamentally he is a child character. This is essentially a morality tale with examples of our basic behaviours and what we need to learn to be better and enlighten ourselves; just as many old tales of myth, legend and religion have told us for centuries. This is an exciting action tale which subtly educates us on the way; a great and colourful adventure for children to watch but equally rewarding for an adult who can more clearly notice the depth.
For kids of the Seventies and Eighties, you may remember the Japanese TV series adaption of “Journey To The West”, titled “Monkey” (no, it’s not named ‘Monkey Magic’ – that’s just a line in the theme song lyrics!). Whether or not it is deliberate, it seems like the director may have given some nods to this famous and beloved series. Most notably was the execution of one of Sun’s tricks – the conjuring of an army (of clones of himself) created by the shedding of strands of his hair. The way it is shown took me right back to watching it in the old show, only with a bit more skill to the effects work.
On the whole, while some of these effects and the structure of the elements could have used some work, the movie itself is very well done and engaging. The end is set-up to carry on into the next chapter of the story where Sun Wukong begins the journey to the West with the boy monk, Tang Sanzang. This story begins in the sequel, released in February 2016.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Reviews of ‘The Monkey King′: Nil
Summary: Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 23rd March 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: USA, China
Director: Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Screenwriter: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Cast: Jack Black (Po (voice)), Jackie Chan (Monkey (voice)), Radzi Chinyanganya (Mi (voice)), Bryan Cranston (Li (voice)), David Cross (Crane (voice)), Barbara Dirickson (Grandma Panda (voice)), Steele Gagnon (Bao (voice)), Willie Geist (Dim (voice)), Dustin Hoffman (Shifu (voice)), April Hong (Mrs. Chow (voice)), James Hong (Mr. Ping (voice)), Kate Hudson (Mei Mei (voice)), Angelina Jolie (Tigress (voice)), Knox Jolie-Pitt (Ku Ku (voice)), Pax Jolie-Pitt (Yoo (voice)), Shiloh Jolie-Pitt (Shuai Shuai (voice)), Zahara Jolie-Pitt (Meng Meng (voice)), Randall Duk Kim (Oogway (voice)), Liam Knight (Lei Lei (voice)), Wayne Knight (Big Fun/Hom-Lee (voice)), Lucy Liu (Viper (voice)), Seth Rogen (Mantis (voice)), Al Roker (Sum (voice)), Lindsey Russell (Peony (voice)), J.K. Simmons (Kai (voice)), Fred Tatasciore (Master Bear (voice)), Ming Tsai (Ming (voice)), Jean-Claude Van Damme (Mast Croc (voice))
Runtime: 95 mins
OUR KUNG FU PANDA 3 REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Five years since he last skiddooed onto the scene, Po the Panda is back and this time, for fear of sounding like a movie poster, he’s bringing the whole family. Yes, a chance encounter at his adoptive father’s restaurant leads Po (Jack Black) to meeting up with his long lost Dad, Li Shan (Bryan Cranston). Meanwhile, the vengeful spirit of a great warrior known as Kai (JK Simmons) has returned to the mortal realm and is seeking to steal Po’s chi.
This is the second sequel to DreamWorks’s 2008 hit and it’s amazing to see the difference between this and their previous flagship series, Shrek. By the time Shrek coughed and spluttered into his third sequel, the franchise was nothing more than weak storylines on which to pin dated pop culture references and Eel songs.
Conversely, Kung Fu Panda 3 allows Po and his pals to grow organically. Despite being declared Dragon Warrior in the previous film, there’s still much for the young panda to learn. Including it seems, that of how to be a panda. With his newly found father, Po ventures to their secret village in the hills to understand panda nature (tips include that they don’t do stairs and they don’t get up before midday) and potentially learn something that can defeat Kai.
Yes, this ‘just be yourself’ through line is a tried and tested formula, but it’s yet to feel derivate in the Panda universe. Po, despite his prowess, is a still a student. He has questions about his place in the universe that he hopes to answer. Meanwhile, there is only so many ways to you teach an ogre that’s okay to be an ogre, as long as you change yourself a bit.
Kung Fu Panda 3, as has become expected, is beautiful with traditional animation – admittedly done by computers – used for line drawn flashbacks. It’s a simple trick, but one that is used to great and emotional effect. Elsewhere the vocal talent is uniformly brilliant, with JK Simmons sounding like he’s channelling the angriest of angry John Goodmans, whilst James Hong steals every scene as Po’s adoptive father, Mr Ping; who doesn’t take kindly to others cutting his grass.
Rumours are that DreamWorks’s have at least another three chapters in the story of Po, and whilst that is a tempting offer, should they never surface, rest assured Kung Fu Panda 3 is a wonderful and joyous ending to a truly enjoyable series of films.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Kung Fu Panda 3 reviews: Nil
Summary: Alvin (voiced by Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) return and this time they have a huge problem. Not only has their ‘father’ Dave (Jason Lee) put a stop to them performing live, so they can be normal kids for awhile, but his relationship with Samantha (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) is going so well it looks like they are about to get engaged.
Now the Chipmunks are happy for Dave but are concerned that if he marries Samantha that wil mean that they that are now ‘brothers’ with a boy that seems to enjoy torturing them, Miles (Josh Green). When they learn that he isn’t too happy about being related to them either the four decide to embark on a road trip to Miami to prevent the engagement from happening.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Walt Becker
Screenwriter: Randi Mayem Singer, Adam Sztykiel, Janice Karman (characters), Ross Bagdasarian (characters)
Cast: Christina Applegate (Brittany (voice)), Jennifer Coolidge (Ms. Price), Kaley Cuoco (Elenaor (voice)), Anna Faris (Jeanette (voice)), Josh Green (Miles), Matthew Gray Gubler (Simon (voice)), Tony Hale (Agent Suggs), Ellie Knaus (Anna), Jason Lee (Dave), Justin Long (Alvin (voice)), Jesse McCartney (Theodore (voice)), Maxie McClintock (Alice), Joshua Mikel (Wyatt the Pizza Guy), Red Foo (himself), Eddie Steeples (Barry), Bella Thorne (Ashley Grey), Kimberley Williams-Paisley (Samantha)
Runtime: 92 mins
OUR ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS:ROAD CHIP REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Well I guess it had to happen to one film and for most territories around the world it was Alvin And The Chipmunks: Road Chip that went up against the might of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. When you actually think about it it’s not such a bad strategic move considering that most little kids who will want to see Alvin and co will have very little interest in going to see a film about intergalactic warfare. That leaves the big questions being… is this the kind of movie that will entertain or put my children to sleep?
Anyone who has sat through all four Alvin & The Chipmunks movies will tell you that this has been a franchise that has been all over the shop when it comes to quality. The first film surprisingly had meaning taking a huge swipe at the music industry and the way it treats young artists, but from then (like most of the franchises) these days it seems to have had more lows than highs. That is where you might be pleasantly surprised by Alvin And The Chipmunks: Road Chip.
While the cast in front of the camera (and behind the microphone in some cases) haven’t changed this time around, the crew behind the scenes has. Known comedy director Walk Becker (who has previously brought us Van Wilder and Wild Hogs) steps up to the plate and is probably the reason behind a lot of the slapstick that surfaces this time around. Also new to the creative table are screenwriters who can boast films like Mrs Doubtfire and Due Date on their Resumes.
The new creative team behind the film takes this movie in a completely different direction to the last two films. Here the franchise once again finds its heart as the film explores the delicate subject of siblings being brought together as parents remarry etc. Surprisingly the film actually does that quite well, and while Miles is originally set-up as a brat you are supposed to hate the screenwriters do actually take his character on a journey that allows the audience to see how he ended up the way he did. It’s surprisingly moving.
Of course as you would expect from a movie aimed at the younger demographic there is also a lot of scenes that adults are going to find ‘silly.’ The battle scenes with Agent Suggs (Tony Hale) are over the top and too slapsticky for adults to really enjoy but you can guarantee younger kids will be in hysterics over them. Likewise the Red Foo scenes which are nauseating for anybody that has taste in music, but luckily the latter music scenes depicting the Chipmunks doing everything from playing in a redneck bar to rocking out with a brass band in New Orleans are a lot better.
As is normally the case with this franchise the actors are really overshadowed by the CGI chipmunks. Jason Lee seems to be cruise control, as is Kimberly Williams-Paisley. Tony Hale overacts constantly throughout the film, something that it is obvious he was asked to do by the creative team and for the most past it works. The biggest surprise though is the acting performance of Josh Green. The young inexperienced actor really shows that he may be an actor to watch in the future and he masterfully takes his character on a journey throughout this film. He manages to switch from comedy to moving emotionally scenes at a whim and he is one of the few actors who isn’t over-shadowed by his furry, cute co-stars.
Alvin And The Chipmunks: Road Chip has enough crazy scenes and music sequences to keep younger kids happy while the older generations will warm to the more heartfelt moments throughout the film. Yes this film isn’t the car crash many expected it would be.
Summary: 12-year-old Peter (Levi Miller) has always thought he was special despite what the nuns at the orphanage tell him. But he doesn’t realise how special he is until he is whisked away in the night and spirited away to Neverland where he is forced to work for Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) who dreams of ruling the mysterious land.
After a daring escape alongside Hook (Garret Headlund) and Sam Smiegel (Adeel Akhtar), and a chance meeting with Tigerlily (Rooney Mara), Peter learns that he is indeed special and soon sees why Blackbeard wants him dead.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th September 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: USA, UK, Australia
Director: Joe Wright
Screenwriter: Jason Fuchs, J.M. Barrie (characters)
Cast: Nicholas Agnew (Pilot Primrose), Adeel Akhtar (Sam Smiegel), Orlando Loo Alfred (Yung), Tony Allen (himself), Gabriel Andreu (Matador), Nonsie Anozie (Bishop), Jozef Aoki (Ranger Pirate ‘Wings’), Jamie Beamish (Not-Dobkins), Neil Bell (Baggy), Brian Bovell (Long John Standing), Kathy Burke (Mother Barnabas), Jack Charles (Chief), Cara Delevingne (Mermaids), Kurt Egyiawan (Murray), Salo Gardner (Older Blackbeard), Garrett Hedlund (Hook), Paul Hunter (Daisy), Hugh Jackman (Blackbeard), Paul Kaye (Mutti Voosht), Amanda Lawrence (Sister Joseph), Jack Lowden (Dobkins), Lewis MacDougall (Nibs), Giacomo Mancini (Michelangelo), Rooney Mara (Tiger Lily), Phil Martin (Goliath), Ami Metcalf (Sister Thomas), Levi Miller (Peter Pan), Aaron Monaghan (Robbins), Tae-joo Na (Kawhu), Dean Nolah (Peanut), Michael Ryan (Silverman), Julian Seager (Livingston), Amanda Seyfried (Mary), Mike Shepherd (Fernley Trebilcock), Harry Lister Smith (Pilot Parker), Jimmy Vee (Lofty), Bronson Webb (Steps), Spencer Wilding (Growler), Leni Zieglmeier (Wendy Darling)
Runtime: 111 mins
OUR PAN REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Pan was always going to be a film that came under a lot of scrutiny and was going to cop a fair whack of criticism. There are some Disney purists out there that believe once Disney has touched a story there is no need for anyone else to explore the story, and while I disagree with that I do agree with the fact that their have been some pretty dreadful movies over the years that have touched on both the Peter Pan and Captain Hook storylines. What I didn’t expect for Pan though was for it to become a film so alternative that some parents are arguing whether or not it is suitable for children to watch or not.
Now I’ll be honest helicopter parents who are too afraid to let their children play in dirt annoy me. They are normally the same kind of parents that will look for the slightest detail in a film that makes it ‘unwatchable’ for kids and then take to social media on a rant, or tell you why you liking the film is wrong! I’ll also admit that I grew up in the generation where films like Never Ending Story and all it’s magic, plus a healthy dose of monsters with chainsaws (I’m looking at you Gremlins) was considered okay for children to watch at the cinema. Having said that I do agree that Pan is not for very small children, but hey if you have older kids and teens then go nuts because the alternative feel to Pan is actually something a little bit refreshing.
Yes there are some problem scenes for small children, Blackbeard has no problem firing guns at children and natives alike while at the same time Tigerlily doesn’t mind getting a little stabby with some sharp objects but there is also a hell of a lot to like about this film as well. For starts director Joe Wright (known for Pride & Prejudice and Hanna to name a few) and screenwriter Jason Fuchs’ choice to include the songs of bands like Nirvana and The Ramones during some of their scenes came as a complete surprise while the aggression of characters like Blackbird seemed to make this feel seem a lot more ‘real’ then what your typical style of ‘slapstick violence’ would have.
Having declared that there were things about Pan that I loved I also have to admit that the film had its weak points. While the film moves along well it seems to lose a lot of its suspense once Peter, Sam and Hook are out in the wilds of Neverland and despite a relatively good flying Pirate ship chase and battle not even this scene seems to have captured the air of suspense that it deserves. It almost felt at times that Wright is the kind of director that can milk suspense out of a dramatic scene, like when Blackbeard first confronts Peter in the captain’s cabin, but is a little bit out of his depth when it comes to huge action sequences.
The same can also be said for the screenplay’s set up of characters. Peter and Blackbeard get wonderful set-ups which in turn allows Hugh Jackman to shine, but then there is the character of Hook, who any Peter Pan fan will tell you becomes a major character in the lead character’s life. Here Hook is a bit of a mystery, and strangely seems to be a nod as a tribute to Indiana Jones.
This also causes an inconsistency in the acting as well. Levi Miller announces himself as a little star with a brilliant performance in his debut lead role but even he is out acted by Hugh Jackman who relishes in the role of the ‘bad guy’ Blackbird. Jackman here puts in a performance here that we have wanted to see Johnny Depp deliver over the past few years. Jackman is completely transformed and unrecognisable and he genuinely becomes one of Hollywood’s meaner screen nasties. Sadly, the film’s poor reception means most cinema lovers will miss out on the performance.
Also stepping up here is Rooney Mara. Sure she doesn’t have anything near as dramatic to work with as she did when she did Girl With A Dragon Tattoo but she does has her moments as Tigerlily. The criticism she has copped for being a white actress playing a ‘native’ role is also ludicrous. If you look around the ‘tribe’ in Pan they seem to be made up of people of all skin colors, including an Australian Aboriginal playing the tribe’s leader, so seriously the complaints are just a few keyboard warriors with very little to do. Be warned if you’re a fan of Amanda Seyfried or Cara Delevingne just beware that their roles are very small indeed.
Pan certainly does not deserve the backlash that it has received as a film. Sure some of the action sequences do not reach the great heights that they should, but for the most part this is a well acted and alternatively fresh film aimed for teens.
Summary: Blinky Bill (voiced by Ryan Kwanten) the mischievous koala is devastated when his father, Bill Koala (Richard Roxburgh) leaves their home town and goes exploring in the outback but hasn’t returned after twelve months. Despite promising his mother (Deborah Mailman) that he won’t Blinky heads off to look for him.
Soon Blinky is joined by an accidentally freed zoo koala named Nutsy (Robin McLeavy) and a crazy filled neck lizard called Jacko (David Wenham) as he battles the dangerous outside world in a bid to find his Dad. The journey is made even more dangerous by the fact that they are being pursued by a cranky cat (Rufus Sewell) who wants to make the koalas his dinner.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 17th September 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: Australia, USA
Director: Deane Taylor, Noel Cleary, Alexs Stadermann, Alex Weight
Screenwriter: Not listed
Cast: Toni Collette (Beryl/Cheryl (voice)), Barry Humphries (Wombo (voice)), Ryan Kwanten (Blinky Bill (voice)), Deborah Mailman (Blinky’s Mum (voice)), Robin McLeavy (Nutsy (voice)), Barry Otto (Mayor Cranklepot (voice)), Richard Roxburgh (Bill Koala (voice)), Rufus Sewell (The Cat (voice)), David Wenham (Jacko (voice))
Runtime: 91 mins
OUR BLINKY BILL THE MOVIE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Blinky Bill is one of those children’s characters that never seems to go out of fashion. Created by author Dorothy Wall in 1933 generations of Australian children have grown up loving Blinky in the countless television shows, books and two movies that have told the larrikin koala’s stories over the years. Now in 2015 Blinky gets a resurgence and unlike so many other characters that have been re-invented for the kids over the years this is one character’s story that still holds up.
Aside from trying to make a character cool for the younger generation that has been around for over 80 years there are a few other hurdles that director Deane Taylor has had to overcome with Blinky Bill The Movie. First of all is trying to get kids who have grown up on the slick animation of Pixar to warm to a movie that uses some old fashioned style animation. The key it seems in this case was to come up with a story that transcends generations and here the filmmakers seem to have done that well. Not surprisingly when you consider that Taylor has worked on some legendary animation projects over the years including Popeye, Casper, The Flintstones, Pink Panther, Footrot Flats and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas the film does conjur up that simple old time animation story of a character on an adventure while being pursued by a character wanting to put an end to it – yes Sewell’s cat here is like the Will-E Coyote or Elmer Fudd characters of old.
Taylor brings a simplistic style to the film’s storytelling and it ends up working. To be honest there is nothing new here but for some reason the audience finds themselves barracking for the little koala and his friends and while some of the gags are a little childish there are some other humorous moments in there that are obviously designed to bring a smile to older audience members. Like the Ginger Meggs stories there are some things about Blinky that are a little questionable about whether today’s parents are okay with their children watching it but for the most part this is a fairly innocent film. Some serious issues around refugees and conservation does get a look in with the screenplay but just like Oddball this isn’t a film that you are going to walk out of and feel like you have been preached at with.
One of the obvious things about Blinky Bill The Movie is that this is a film that seems to be aimed at an international audience rather than just an Australian audience. The inclusion of big name actors like Toni Collette, Barry Humphries, Ryan Kwanten and Richard Roxburgh do give this film a lot of credibility while the inclusion of so many lovable forms of Australian wildlife could just give this film a life outside of Australia if it is marketed right.
Blinky Bill The Movie does nothing wrong. A simple story that has you barracking for the young koala as he outruns the villainous cat is very Looney Tunes like, while the script is smart enough to also include some touching moments about the relationship between a father and a son. Blinkey Bill The Movie is mainly for younger children but certainly won’t put an adult to sleep, it’s just innocent fun.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Blinky Bill The Movie reviews: Blinky Bill The Movie with be reviewed in an upcoming episode of The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show.
Summary: Middle Island was once a flourishing penguin population but sadly over the years the numbers have dropped from a few thousand down to around ten due to the fact that foxes have worked out how to get to the Island. This has now caused problems for Emily Marsh (Sarah Snook), Jack Jones (Richard Davies) and Zoe (Tegan Higginbotham) who have been told they will lose their jobs if the Island is no longer considered a sanctuary.
As the nearby town of Warrnambool works hard at becoming a tourist destination by having the local council including Mayor Lake (Deborah Mailman) working with an advisor named Bradley Slater (Alan Tudyk) to come up with new tourism ideas. But when Bradley’s idea means the future of Middle Island is doomed a local chicken farmer named Swampy Marsh (Shane Jacobson) and his granddaughter, Olivia (Coco Jack Gillies) decides it is up to them and a mischievous dog called Oddball to come up with a way to fix everything.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 17th September 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Stuart McDonald
Screenwriter: Peter Ivan
Cast: Terry Camilleri (Judge Burns), Richard Davies (Jack Jones), Coco Jack Gillies (Olivia), Tegan Higginbotham (Zoe), Shane Jacobson (Swampy), Dave Lawson (Sergeant Gosch), Deborah Mailman (Mayor Lake), Sarah Snook (Emily Marsh), Alan Tudyk (Bradley Slater), Frank Woodley (Dog Catcher)
Runtime: 95 mins
OUR ODDBALL REVIEWS & RATINGS:
This has been the year when the Australian film industry has hit back with vengenance. Amongst the good drama films that have surfaced Aussie cult cinema has led the way around the world with films like Kill Me Three Times and Wrymwood making the charts in America while Mad Max: Fury Road seemed to thrill action film lovers as well. Of course one of the biggest Australian films over the past few years has been Red Dog – a family film that surprised everybody. Not surprisingly many Aussie filmmakers thought they had just discovered the best way to make people watch your film and that was to create a family friendly film about dog. Several projects fitting that description have fallen by the wayside but now Oddball manages to make its way to the big screen.
Yes I’ve made the clichéd comparison between Oddball and Red Dog so now let’s take a look at whether or not the film is actually any good. The answer to that question is a solid yes because director Stuart McDonald (who over recent years has worked on all of Chris Lilley’s projects) and screenwriter Peter Ivan have been brave enough to make Oddball a little bit different to the thousands of dog movies over the years. When the opening to Oddball boasts that this is a fairy tale they aren’t joking. Yes this is a true story that saw the people of Warrnambool embrace a Maremma dog but together these talented filmmakers have told the story in a fairy tale style which incorporates a smart script with a little bit of pantomime acting, especially from comedian Frank Woodley who plays the mean dog catcher. In the past this style of filmmaking has led to some pretty woeful Australian films, I’m looking at you Welcome To Woop Woop, but here it makes a refreshing difference and makes Oddball the kind of film that could be enjoyed by the whole family.
Ironically when watching Oddball the old fart joke and over the top dog chase does have a bit of a feel of a Paul Jennings story and sure enough a quick check of Peter Ivan’s bio shows that he was one of the writer’s on Two Twisted, a show based on Jenning’s work. Somehow this script manages to incorporate that kind of humor with a dramatic storyline revolving around how greed can impeach on nature and also explores the fractured relationship between father and daughter when it comes to things between Swampy and Emily. Yes Ivan and McDonald together have somehow created a film that will actually have you laughing one moment and tearing up the next.
The key to this film working as well as it does though is through it’s casting. Shane Jacobson does a great job in the lead role of Swampy. He made the character of Kenny famous all those years ago and while his comedic talent is held back a little here he now has also made Swampy a much loved Australian character. He is well supported by Alan Tudyk who plays the pushy American but the scenes here are stolen by Sarah Snook who once again shows why she is an Australian actress on the rise and young Coco Jack Gillies who here shows the world that she is a child actress with a huge future ahead of her.
Oddball is a genuine treat. It is a film that has a strong conservational message but doesn’t get bogged down in preaching to its audience. A great script that manages to mix humor and drama together well without becoming to adult for children is a rarity these days, but here it works well and allows it’s talented cast to really show there skills. Different but smart, cute but dramatic Oddball will surprise more than a few people who take the time to watch the film.