Tagged: Harley Woods

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The Walking Dead

 

To celebrate the release of The Walking Dead Season Seven on DVD and Blu-Ray this week our friends at Entertainment One have given us 5 copies of the hit show on Blu-Ray to giveaway.

In this season of The WalkingDead Rick’s group will find out yet again that the world isn’t what they thought it was. It’s much bigger than anything they’ve seen so far. While they have a singular purpose – to defeat Negan – it won’t come easy. More importantly, victory will require more than Alexandria. They need the numbers of the Kingdom and the Hilltop, but, similar to how Rick felt, Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Gregory (Xander Berkeley) do not want bloodshed. To convince them otherwise will take more than speeches. The lengths Rick and the group will have to go to in order to find weapons, food and new fighters is nothing short of remarkable.

 

 

For your chance to win a copy of The Walking Dead Season Seven on Blu-Ray simply to listen to our special zombie episode of our Subculture radio show below and private message to our Facebook page with the answer to the question ‘Which television show does Dave G say he believes that The Walking Dead links to?”

 

 

 

In this episode of Subculture Dave Griffiths and Harley Woods take a look at what horror films they have loved over the years. They also chat to scream queen Victoria DeMare about her career to date, Demetrius Steer joins them to tell them about his new horror flick The Domicile, while they also talk to The Trash Test Dummies about their new show and Raised By Eagles stop by to talk about their new album.

So take a listen to the latest episode of Subculture right here.

 

25 Voices

Performer Jason Triggs chats to Harley Woods and Dave Griffiths from Subculture about his brand new show 25: Voices that will be held on Saturday 16th September for two very special performances as part of the 2017 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Take a listen to the interview and Dave and Harley talk to Jason about how the show was conceived and how he learnt that he could do so many impressions.

You can listen to the interview right here – Listen to “25 Voices Subculture Special” on Spreaker.

Summary: In a future where mutants are nearly extinct, an elderly and weary Logan leads a quiet life. But when Laura, a mutant child pursued by scientists, comes to him for help, he must get her to safety.

Year: 2017

Australian Cinema Release Date: 3rd March 2017

Australian DVD Release Date: 7th June 2017

Country: United States

Director: James Mangold

Screenwriter: Scott Frank, Michael Green, James Mangold, John Ramita Sr. (characters), Ray Thomas (characters), Herb Trimpe (characters), Len Wein (characters), Steven McNiven (novel), Mark Millar (novel)

Cast: Daniel Bernhardt (Bone Breaker), Ashlyn Casalegno (Charlotte), Salif Celiz (Jonah), Stephen Dunlevy (Macon), Alison Fernandez (Delilah), Quincy Fouse (Nate Munson), Rey Gallegos (Rey), Jason Genao (Rictor), Richard E. Grant (Dr. Rice), Boyd Holbrook (Pierce), Hugh Jackman (Logan/X-24), David Kallaway (Rhodes), Dafne Keen (Laura), Eriq La Selle (Will Munson), Lennie Loftin (Jackson), Parker Lovein (Lizard Boy), Stephen Merchant (Caliban), Doris Morgado (Maria), Elise Neal (Kathryn Munson), Elizabeth Rodriguez (Gabriela), Krystof Soszynski (Mohawk), Patrick Stewart (Charles), Ryan Sturz (Pretty Boy), Bryant Tardy (Bobby), Hannah Westerfield (Rebecca)

Running Time: 137 mins

Classification: R

 

OUR LOGAN REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths’s Logan Review:

Sometimes the worst thing a film lover can do is believe the hype surrounding a film before it arrives in cinemas. In the months leading up to Logan we had heard that it was stand-alone Wolverine film different to any other X-Men movie, it would be R-Rated and aimed for adults and then just to make sure that our excitement levels were at their peak the rumours started coming out of the States was that Logan was going to be the best comic book movie since The Dark Knight. Then of course came the trailer which made the film appear like it was going to have amazing similarities to The Wrestler. All of the things that I was expecting from the pre-hype went out the window just twenty minutes into the film though.

Set in the not too distant future the film finds Logan (Hugh Jackman – Eddie The Eagle) hiding just over the Mexican border. All of the other mutants are now gone – dead – and Logan is left hiding out with Caliban (Stephen MerchantThe Office) while he looks after an ailing Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart – Star Trek: Next Generation) who is suffering from dementia. Logan is a mess himself – unshaven, alcoholic and making ends meet by doing a mundane job as a chauffer.

Logan’s life is turned around though when a distraught woman, Gabriela (Elizabeth RodriguezOrange Is The New Black), turns to him saying that a young girl, Laura (Dafne Keen – The Refugees), needs his help. He refuses to but that all that changes when Pierce (Boyd Holbrook – Gone Girl) shows up trying to hunt down Laura.

The premise was there to set up an almost post-apocalyptic Wolverine film, and if the film had kept to the tone of the trailer it would have done just that, but instead director James Mangold (The Wolverine) falls into the same traps that a lot of the early X-Men movies did. In fact perhaps the most frustrating part of Logan is the screenplay. At times the film threatens to become something brilliant but then it is let down by some really lazy writing. Like so often in the Marvel universe the ‘bad guys’ are walking clichés, so much so that Boyd Holbrook is wasted playing a character that pretty much has zero characterisation. Then there are simple frustrating things like those same one-dimensional baddies pulling out ‘secret weapons’ that are never referenced to earlier. They also seem dumb enough to keep trying the same tricks to bring down Logan, normally running at him and firing wildly, despite the fact he has already created a body count mowing down the last twenty or so guys that have tried the same tactic. Then there are things such as Logan and Xavier stupidly putting innocent people in danger when they should be able to predict what is going to happen and mutants seemingly forgetting their special abilities and choosing to run from those who are pursuing them. Perhaps the biggest shock though is the screenplay treating one of the franchise’s most loved characters in a really disrespectful way that is sure to infuriate those who have grown up with the franchise.

It really does feel weird that Mangold didn’t have a better handle on the subjects at hand. The director of a film like Girl, Interrupted should have had a better grasp on how to handle Xavier’s mental decay while films like Walk The Line and 3:10 To Yuma should have a better handle on dramatic storylines that serve their characters better. Mangold is normally a good director but here he seems to too easily fall into some of the traps that Bryan Singer fell into early on in the franchise.

The shame here is that Mangold wastes the skills of two men that turned up on their set with their A-Game ready to go. Patrick Stewart delivers one of the performances of his career as he plays Charles as a man that is not only struggling with his memory but also struggling with ghosts of the past. Likewise Jackman decides to go out with a bang.  His performance as the aged and disgruntled Logan is one of his performances in the franchise and as usual his action scenes are sublime.

Logan is one of those films that any fan of the franchise has to watch. The film is a finale to two of the actors that have made this series so special and while it is arguable that the story doesn’t do their characters justice Jackman and Stewart do both step up to plate and deliver memorable performances. It’s not very often that I like to see actors go back on their word and return to a role after a finale I would find it pretty easy to forgive these two men if a better script came along for their characters.

 

 

 

Harley Woods’s Logan Review:

Purportedly the final outing of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in this latest X-Men-related movie, Logan delivers a brutal, action-intense, highly emotional conclusion to the hugely famous hero.

The unrestrained action starts right at the beginning, setting up the nature of the feral hero we’ve all come to love. Immediately, we see a darker world at a point in the future where mutants (the next stage of human evolution) have died out and Logan is scraping by on a meager existence, all so he can save for a boat and medicine for his aged and dying friend – and former mentor – Professor Charles Xavier.

We are introduced to a hopeless world where everyone Logan has known and loved have died and he’s passing time taking care of his last surviving tie to the world before he can finally die himself; his mutant healing-factor finally losing the fight to keep his body functioning while suffering heavy-metal-poisoning due to the Adamantium bonded to his skeleton and claws many decades ago.

Hugh Jackman’s performance is gripping, firmly settling into the personality of a sick, disheartened and wold-weary Logan. Having lost everything he’s cared about, the effort to take care of Charles is taking its toll, but it’s also all he has to keep him going.

The medication Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) need to keep his seizures at bay has the side-effect of keeping him in a maddened state. Failure to keep on the medication causes his mutant powers to go into overdrive when he seizures – an event which could potentially hurt and kill anyone in his vicinity.

Patrick Stewart’s performance as an older incarnation of Professor X, struggling with his own sense of self during his failing health, is perfect as the grounding and conscience for Logan. He adds life and heart and hope where Logan only sees hopelessness and is a driving force in convincing Logan to take on a final mission – to take a young mutant girl across the border to a supposed ‘mutant Eden’.

The girl in question is Laura – AKA ‘X-23’ (the last of the purpose-bred mutant children intended to be used as weapons) – whose powers are identical to Logan’s. This turns Logan’s whole view of life and apparent disconnection on its head. Dafne Keen delivers an intense performance as the desperate young Laura who distrust all around her as she fights to survive. Her skills throughout the action sequences and her ability to hold her own alongside the incredible performances of her seasoned co-stars do her great credit. She is someone whose career will definitely be worth watching.

It was great to see a live-action version of Donald Pierce and his cybernetically-enhanced Reavers, even if a little understated. Further threat comes later in the film in the form of “X-24” – the ultimate weapon who is made interesting by the fact he has an almost familial connection to his creator, Doctor Rice (Richard E Grant), whose father was responsible for bonding the Adamantium metal to Logan’s bones many years ago (and was subsequently killed by those claws).

Based loosely on the Marvel Comics’ story “Old Man Logan”, this cinematic interpretation pares back a lot of the cameo- and continuity-laden comic and injects more X-men and Wolverine-specific elements while keeping the plot very ‘tight’ and personal for our protagonist. The great strength of this film is that it is so self-contained that it could stand quite well as a movie in its own right without ever referencing Marvel’s X-Men licences, with a quality of story and palpability of its emotional content.

The production team on all levels deserve a huge applaud for their work, succeeding raising the bar from the amazing previous instalment, The Wolverine (2013). Emotionally and physically brutal, this is a piece of drama recommended for serious film lovers; equally appealing to someone looking for a dark drama or an action film.

Having exceeded my expectations, it took a day or two of thought to figure out what didn’t sit right with me. The only criticism I have is that some elements or story elements could have been expanded further, including a little backstory on how some of the characters got to where they are, or taking a glimpse into the past at the fall of the mutants; maybe even seeing a little more of Charles in his ‘demented’ state. But, the

truth is that this would have distracted from the contained story and probably would have ruined the pace of the film. To be honest, I think I just want more of a great thing!

 

 

 

Kyle McGrath’s Logan Review:

Being largely seen as the superhero film franchise which began the current age of comic book movies the X-Men series has seen its ups and downs over the last almost 2 decades. Sequels, Prequels, soft-reboots, spin offs and with the recent success of Deadpool it became clear there was an audience for adult themed comic-book films. Makes sense, anybody born when the series began would be almost old enough to drink now. With the release of Logan after fan disappointment some 3 or 4 years back after learning The Wolverine wouldn’t be receiving an adult rating after rumours to the contrary fans are joyous at the prospect of finally getting the adult Wolverine film they have wanted for a long time.
Logan tells the story of an aging and weary Wolverine (High Jackman) in the not too distant future. The mutants of the world are mostly dead and the x-men are a thing of the past, their former leader and powerful telepath Professor X (Patrick Stewart) suffers from the slow onset of dementia and must be cared for and kept medicated by Logan. Working as a chauffeur he is approached by a woman asking for his help in transporting herself and a young girl across the country. Initially hesitant Logan soon discovers the girl has powers similar to his own and is being pursued by dark forces. He must decide whether to continue on his current path or to protect the girl in a world where there kind seem to have no future.
Logan the film is a very different movie to the other films in the x-men franchise. Much more brooding and down to earth than previous instalments the film’s smaller scale and deeper focus on the title character allows for a fitting send off to the character of Wolverine (or at least this incarnation of it) in what is to be Hugh Jackman’s final performance in his career making role.
The film’s adult rating too allows for a degree of fan service which was lacking in the other portrayals of Wolverine on the big screen up till now. I still recall that while the family friendly film X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) is looked at as the single lowest point of the franchise, the tie-in video game which had much more bloody chaotic violent action was generally well received as what “might have been”. Logan is much more fitting with that vision of the character.
While the graphic depiction of bloody violence, though different, still ties in well with the other films I believe the liberal use of vulgar dialogue does not. It seems a bit like the writers decided “well it’s an adult film now so everyone should swear, a lot”. It makes sense for Logan to use an F-word now and then but when his use of the word gets more and more frequent it begins to feel a bit off. But when Professor X drops like 3 F-qbombs in the first scene he’s in its very jarring with how his character has always talked previous. It’s the only way I think the mature nature of the film hurts the movie.
The story of Logan and the details leading up to it feel a little underdeveloped. Right off the bat we’re told that most of the world’s mutants are dead or gone which is depressing enough considering canonically-wise the last film was about successfully preventing exactly that from happening. It’s a bit of a downer that a time travelling Wolverine in “X-Men: Days of Future Past” managed to save all mutant kind only for them to be wiped out again anyway.
However to make it worse we’re never given much of an explanation as to how things got this way outside of quite vague handwaves. This may be on purpose as to allow the filmmakers to focus on this point of the “X-Men Saga” more but the cynic in me thinks it also was to allow future films room in the timeline to breathe.
An issue I believe plagues the film is that for how much punch there is to the violence and how much more biting the course language is ironically many of the points in the film that were supposed to have punch to them I felt lacked impact. The main antagonist showing up halfway through the film and then being underdeveloped, the death of beloved characters happening off screen without explanation, even Logan’s story of redemption felt weak  with me because I feel like I’ve seen Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine character go through this arc several times already. There’s only so many times I can see a disenfranchised character find a sense of belonging and family only to be reverted for the sake of doing the same thing in a sequel but no THIS time it’s different for some reason.
Logan is something very different to what we’re used to seeing in comic book movies and in X-Men movies as well. For that alone it deserve credit. It’s sad to see Hugh Jackman retiring from the character, but all good things come to an end and despite the issues I believe the film had this is still a respectable way to say farewell to the portrayal of a character many of us have grown up with.

 

 

Average Subculture Rating:  

 

 

IMDB Rating: 
Logan (2017) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Logan Reviews: N/A

 

Trailer:

Rogue One

Summary: The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

Year: 2016

Australian Cinema Release Date: 15th December 2016

Australian DVD Release Date: TBA

Country: United States

Director: Gareth Edwards

Screenwriter: Tony Gilroy, Chris Weitz, John Knoll (story), Garry Whitta (story), George Lucas (characters)

Cast: Riz Ahmed (Bodhi Rook), Jonathan Aris (Senator Jebel), Derek Arnold (Pao), Geoff Bell (2nd Lieutenant Frobb), Babou Ceesay (Lieutenant Sefla), Aidan Cook (Two Tubes), Richard Cunningham (General Ramda), Ben Daniels (General Merrick), Warwick Davis (Weeteef Cyubee), Andy de la Tour (General Hurst Romodhi), Ingvild Deila (Princess Leia), Guy Henry (Grand Moff Tarkin), Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Senator Pamlo), Fares Fares (Senator Vaspar), Beau Gadsdon (Young Jyn), Dolly Gadsdon (Young Jyn), Martin Gordon (Vanee), Michael Gould (Admiral Gorin), James Harkness (Private Basteren), Wen Jiang (Baze Malbus), Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), James Earl Jones (Darth Vader (voice)), Valene Kane (Lyra Erso), Paul Kasey (Admiral Raddus), Nick Kellington (Bistan), Diego Luna (Cassian Andor), Daniel Mays (Tivik), Ian McElhinney (General Dodonna), Ben Mendelsohn (Orson Krennic), Mads Mikkelsen (Galen Orso), Daniel Naprous (Darth Vader), Geneveive O’Reilly (Mon Mothma), Alistair Petrie (General Draven), Tony Pitts (Captain Pterro), Duncan Pow (Sergeant Melshi), Matt Rippy (Corporal Rostock), Jack Roth (Lieutenant Adema), Michael Shaeffer (General Corssin), Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa), Stephen Stanton (Admiral Raddus (voice)), Jordan Stephens (Corporal Tonc), Dee Tails (L-1), Alan Tudyk (K-2SO), Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera), Spencer Wilding (Darth Vader), Rufus Wright (Lieutenant Casido), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe)

Runtime: 134 mins

Classification: M

OUR ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY REVIEWS & RATINGS:

 

David Griffiths:

 

Normally when a film isn’t shown to a majority of critics before its release it’s because it has turned into a disaster and the studio wants to keep it from negative reviews before it is released. Then came the news the film had been subject to a massive amount of re-shoots. With that in mind when I finally sat down to watch the film I was genuinely afraid of what I was about to watch. As it turned out I need not of worried – the lack of media screenings was because a large corporation was being stingy and whatever re-shoots occurred obviously only enhanced the film, because this is one gem of a Star Wars film.

The film takes place before the original three films in the franchise and centres around Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones – The Theory Of Everything) who as a girl watched as her mother was murdered and her scientist father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen – Hannibal), was kidnapped by the eager Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn – The Dark Knight Rises) who is determined to finish the Death Star for Darth Vader (James Earl Jones – The Lion King).

Now years later Jyn finds herself rescued by young Rebel fighter Cassian Andor (Diego Luna – Milk) and the re-programmed Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk – Firefly) who believe she is the key to being able to get the Alliance a meeting with rebel warlord Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker – The Last King Of Scotland) who helped raise Jyn. That meeting soon leads to Jyn being part of a rebel outfit that also includes a blind Jedi named Chirrut (Donnie Yen – Ip Man), the rugged Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang – Devils On The Doorstep) and a former Imperial cargo pilot, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler).

To be honest director Gareth Edwards’ (Monsters) handprint on Rogue One does take a little while to kick in but when it does it does it sensationally well. The opening sequences of Rogue One feel very similar to what we had already seen in The Force Awakens, but Edwards well and truly puts his stamp on the film when he has his characters escaping exploding planets and really comes to the fore when he teams up so well with cinematographer Greig Fraser (Foxcatcher) and delivers some truly memorable shots, mostly in the latter stages of the film where an epic battle takes place in a Pearl Harbour inspired location. With Rogue One Edwards goes back to that grittiness that he created with Monsters, that same grittiness that was sadly missing from Godzilla. What Edwards does here is actually a breath of fresh-air as he brings an alternative style of filmmaking to Star Wars… something I don’t believe that George Lucas would ever have been capable of doing.

That alternative style of filmmaking is also present in the film’s screenplay. While like many of the Star Wars films from the past that characters at hand are very one dimensional, and most have virtually no backstories explored at all, this is one film in the franchise that is not afraid to take risks. While some characters of old mix with the newly developed characters, a move that may turn some Star Wars’ fans offside, the film’s finale is something that turns this film on its head and separates the film from the others in the series in a brilliant way.

Together with his screenwriting team, Edwards knows how to keep an audience in the cusp of his hand throughout the film. There is rarely a let up with the suspense throughout the film, and once it is established that the filmmakers at hand are not afraid to kill any character (with some key characters dying very early on) as that suspense level is ramped right up to 11. It is things like this that make this a film that hardcore Star Wars fans are going to warm to.

The lack of characterisation doesn’t seem to hold back any of the actor’s performances in the film, though. While Felicity Jones just seems to breeze her way through her role in auto-pilot other actors step up to the fore. Diego Luna and Riz Ahmed seize their opportunities and while Mads Mikkelsen and Forest Whitaker are both under-used Ben Mendelsohn does what he does best and becomes one of the most menacing characters to grace the Star Wars universe. Of course though ever Mr Mendelsohn is out-menaced by Darth Vader when he makes his grand appearance. One actor here though does steal the show, and that is Donnie Yen as Chirrut – one of the most interesting characters to have surfaced in the modern day Star Wars films. It’s sad that Yen didn’t have more characterisation to work with because this is one character whose backstory really does deserve a film of its own.

Gareth Edwards really has delivered a worthy Star Wars film. Most people reading this will want me to compare the film to The Force Awakens but aside from their openings the two films are like chalk and cheese. The Force Awakens is a throwback to the Star Wars films of the old while Gareth Edwards brings the franchise into the 21st-century style of filmmaking with epic battle sequences in Rogue One. The film even distances itself from the movies of the past with no rolling credits at the opening and no John Williams score, which I admit I did really miss. Rogue One is one of the better films in the series, though, and we can only hope that Edwards does more in the series soon… and yes the film has an ending you will not forget for a long, long time.

Stars(4)

 

 

Adam Ross:

Stars(3)

 

 

Greg King:

 

One of the most anticipated films of the year was Rogue One, the latest stand alone spin off in the Star Wars franchise. While it doesn’t quite live up to the hype it is still a solid film that delivers plenty of action that won’t disappoint the die hard fans of the series.

This “stand alone” Star Wars film attempts to further expand on the mythology of the galaxy far, far away created by George Lucas way back in 1977. But it comes across more like Episode 3.5, as it serves as a direct prequel to the events of the original Stars Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. This latest instalment in the Star Wars saga is set before the events of Star Wars, and it deals with a group of rebels stealing the plans of the Empire’s planet killing super weapon the Death Star.
When the film opens, young Jyn Eso watches as her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen, from the recent Doctor Strange, etc), a theoretician, is captured by Imperial storm troopers under the direction of the villainous Orson Krennic (Australian Ben Mendelsohn, from Animal Kingdom, etc), who is the architect responsible for the creation of the super weapon known as the Death Star. Years later, the adult Jyn (played by Felicity Jones, from The Theory Of Evrything, etc) gathers together a motley crew of mercenaries to mount a raid on the Empire’s headquarters and steal the plans for the Death Star. She is accompanied on the mission by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna, recently seen in Blood Father, etc), a captain with the rebel alliance with an agenda of his own; Chirrut Imwe (Hong Kong martial arts star Donnie Yen), a blind Jedi warrior; a fussy reprogrammed droid robot named K 2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), who brings some comic relief to the material, but whose presence will remind audiences of C3PO.

There are numerous references and ideas lifted from previous Star Wars films that will come across as familiar to fans, and there are some exciting aerial dogfights. But a lot of the key ideas here will remind fans of both A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back in particular. Even a CGI-recreated Peter Cushing puts in a brief posthumous appearance as Grand Moff Tarkin. Somewhat disappointingly there are no light sabre duels! Also missing is John Williams’ usual iconic score, although composer Michael Giacchino’s score is bombastic and tries to replicate Williams’ theme, but he tends to overwhelm the material.

Jyn is a feisty, independent, confident and strong willed heroine in the mold as Ren, the heroine of the recent The Force Awakens, and Jones acquits herself well in the role. As Andro, Luna comes across as a pale imitation of a roguish Hans Solo-type character. Yen brings a more mystical quality to his role as the blind Jedi warrior. Mendelsohn chews the scenery here and he brings a nicely menacing quality to his role as the main villain, and he gets to go toe to toe with the series’ iconic villain Darth Vader (voiced once again by James Earl Jones) who puts in a brief appearance towards the end, which will excite the fan boys.

But much of the characterisation here is pretty slender and most of the characters are underdeveloped, and we don’t get to identify with them or feel for their fate. Forest Whitaker is wasted in a small role as rebel leader Saw Gerrera, who has practically raised Jyn since her father was taken by the Imperial forces, and Mikkelsen, who normally has a strong screen presence is likewise given little to do.

The director is Gareth Edwards, who previously gave us the low budget Monsters before being tapped to helm the big budget large scale remake/reboot of Godzilla. With this new film in the Star Wars universe he has tackled his biggest and most ambitious film to date, and he gives the material a darker feel and a grittier aesthetic. He gives the film a much darker tone, and this is not as much fun as the previous film and it moves away from the campy tone of The Force Awakens, which easily captured the spirit of the first Star Wars film. There are some superb special effects sequences, particularly with a couple of ripper outer space action scenes, and the production design in impressive.

But apparently this was also something of a troubled shoot, with veteran script writer and director Tony Gilroy (best known for writing the Bourne series of films) being brought in to reshoot some scenes and add a bit of flesh to the characters.

However, Edwards obviously loves his military hardware and he does know how to stage the big action scenes. With its epic fight between rebel forces and Imperial stormtroopers on a palm tree laden beach this has more of a feel of a war movie than other films in the franchise. The central battle sequence is reminiscent of films like Apocalypse Now and other Vietnam era films. The stormtroopers here move much more fluidly than they did in Lucas’ original film and they seem less like automatons. Cinematographer Greig Fraser (Foxcatcher, etc) does a great job of capturing the action, but he also provides some great images of the space bound action.

Overall, Rogue One is a satisfying continuation of the Star Wars universe. Although it didn’t need to be in 3D, as the process adds little.

Stars(3.5)

 

 

Harley Woods:

 

Rogue One is an example of brilliant cinematography with an alluring dark tone, which grounds it in a more realistic way than other instalments in the Star Wars universe as created by George Lucas.

We’re in a galaxy ruled by the Galactic Empire, as set-up in the beginning of the original Star Wars movie (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). The original story’s drama was lightened by the sense of hope and adventure, which made it lose a little of the darkness an menace of the evil horde lead by that movie’s antagonist. This element of threat has been reappraised in Rogue One and we are given a darker, sometimes feudal tale which really works for this story.

We are introduced to an array of new and exciting characters that really make this film appealing. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is our protagonist who we meet as a child in the story’s opening. She escapes when her father is taken to work on completing the Empire’s first Death Star. She is found by Saw Garrera (Forest Whitaker) and told they are about to go on a “long journey”. However, we suddenly jump ahead a decade or more and we don’t get much further development. It seems the journey was ‘long’ but we missed any special moments that may have occurred, leaving one feeling as if there might have been something we really missed out on.

Of all the amazing characters – Cassian Andor (Diego Luna); Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed); Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), an amazing and very appealing blind Jedi warrior; his companion Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) and a delightfully snippy droid named K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) – she has the most backstory, which amounts to almost nothing. Part of her journey is reconciling her father’s part in the creation of the massive device of death, but knowing full well that he is creating a deliberate weakness in the design. A hope of reunion with her captive father is something else to drive her on, but the eventual resolution to the situation doesn’t amount to much.

Alan Tudyk as K-2SO was a real stand-out, though. His droid character is almost a deux ex machina at times, but he gives such personality in such subtle ways and small moments that he quickly becomes one of the most successful elements of the film. Chirrut Imwe was also a great character idea and one of the coolest things in the movie. I would love a spin-off tale about him and the story behind how he got to be this way and his connection with Baze Malbus.

Ben Mendelsohn’s portrayal of Orson Krennic makes for a notable Star Wars villain who makes the most of his role. This is a character who could have been utilised elsewhere in the universe to great success. His character’s need to succeed is made interesting by the fact he really just believes in his cause, but may overreach in zeal.

For long-time fans there are lots of shout-outs and cameos of characters from the original Star Wars movie. This has been done far more successfully and sparingly than in the cluttered fan-wank of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. In fact, the saving grace is that we are not using existing characters, for the most part, but have a whole new set of people and places to learn about. Fans of the original trilogy will be excited to see a CGI inclusion of Grand Moff Tarkin, originally played by now-deceased cult legend Peter Cushing. Despite the initial thrill, I found the character had only one stance and limited facial movement which eventually left it jarring.

Despite the big draw-back of having such wonderful characters with little characterisation, the film is still appealing in the basic concept and the way it is cinematically executed. The beauty and majesty of the scenery around the planet where the final battle occurs is an amazing sight.

By the end, the majority of this film’s content seemed to be combat and space battle. The epic fight between the Empire’s star destroyers and the Rebel fleet was filmed so well it is worth a round of applause. But with scene-after-scene of gunfights, explosions and battles I would gladly have sacrificed some of this content for more character-driven content.

The eventual resolution is a dramatic and bold but a satisfying end except for the fact that building the characters further would have made the climax and triumph even more palpable.

Overall, Rogue One is a good production, which somewhat makes up for The Force Awakens, but could have been improved with more character and story elements to make it feel ‘whole’. I would happily watch this movie again.

Stars(3.5)

 

 

Nick Gardener:

 

You can hear Nick’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show

 

Stars(3.5)

 

 

Sam Gironda:

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directed by Gareth Edwards and including a star studded cast including Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Diego Luna (Captain Cassian), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe) and Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera) just to name a few. The film takes place after the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope.
Going into this film I didn’t really have any expectation for the film to live up to. I knew that it wasn’t going to heavily involve the Jedi or the traditional path the Star Wars films normally take. The one thing I was looking forward to seeing in this film though was Darth Vader. Rogue One tells the story of the rebel alliance and there mission to recover the plans to the Death Star so that they can find a way of destroying it.
For me the first two acts of this film were very slow. It felt like it took a while for things to pick up and get interesting. The score to this film also felt a little rushed or almost incomplete. This was expected as the original composer had left production before finishing the score and the new composer had only 4 weeks to complete a fully flourished score for the finale cut of the film.
There were also a few scene in my opinion where the editing felt very poor too. There were just minor things that I had scene on screen that didn’t feel very right. Other than that I felt like all the characters were great. It was great to discover who Jyn was in the film and to see her character develop. The one thing I very much enjoyed in Rogue One was the visuals. Visually it looked incredible. While some people are complaining about certain CGI aspects when it comes to motion caption and recreating past characters, I think they did very well in what they intended to accomplish.
My favourite scenes in Rogue One were the two small scenes we had of Darth Vader. While I was very curious about his roll and execution in the film I came out very happy with how they have included him within the film. There’s a scene at the end of the film where we see a side of Darth Vader that we haven’t really seen before. It’s a very brutal side where he is just completely ruthless towards the rebels and for me that made the film.
So in conclusion I think Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a decent film. A little slow for me in the first two acts but overall it was satisfying non the less.

 

 

Stars(3.5)

 

 

 

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

 

IMDB Rating:  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) on IMDb

 

Other Subculture Entertainment Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Reviews: Dave Griffiths also reviewed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on 2UE on 15th December, 2017. You can also listen to our Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #206.

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: