Today, Disney+ shared brand-new character artwork from the highly anticipated second season of Lucasfilm’s critically acclaimed series, “The Mandalorian.”
The Mandalorian and the Child continue their journey, facing enemies and rallying allies as they make their way through a dangerous galaxy in the tumultuous era after the collapse of the Galactic Empire.
“The Mandalorian” stars Pedro Pascal, with guest stars Gina Carano, Carl Weathers and Giancarlo Esposito. Directors for the new season include Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, Carl Weathers, Peyton Reed and Robert Rodriguez.
Showrunner Jon Favreau serves as executive producer along with Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy and Colin Wilson, with Karen Gilchrist serving as co-executive producer.
The new season premieres Friday, October 30, streaming only on Disney+.
Join director Niki Caro as she talks about the making of Disney’s thrilling, live-action “Mulan” in the new featurette “Epic Filmmaking.”
Starting September 4, with Premier Access, viewers can watch “Mulan” before it’s available to all Disney+ subscribers. Disney+ will offer Premier Access to “Mulan” for a single additional fee of $34.99 AUD / $39.99 NZD on disneyplus.com
Acclaimed filmmaker Niki Caro brings the epic tale of China’s legendary warrior to life in Disney’s “Mulan,” in which a fearless young woman risks everything out of love for her family and her country to become one of the greatest warriors China has ever known.
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honoured warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honoured warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.
“Mulan” features a celebrated international cast that includes: Yifei Liu as Mulan; Donnie Yen as Commander Tung; Tzi Ma as Zhou, Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan; Yoson An as Honghui; Ron Yuan as Sergeant Qiang; with Gong Li as Xianniang and Jet Li as the Emperor. The film is directed by Niki Caro from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Lauren Hynek & Elizabeth Martin, suggested by the narrative poem “The Ballad of Mulan.” The producers are Chris Bender, Jake Weiner and Jason Reed, with Bill Kong, Barrie M. Osborne, Tim Coddington and Mario Iscovich serving as executive producers.
Summary: A deranged sea captain hires a team to help him get revenge on the sea monster that killed his father.
Australian Cinema Release Date: TBA
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian VOD Release Date: 3rd August 2020
Director: Ryland Brickson Cole Tews
Screenwriter: Ryland Brickson Cole Tews
Cast: Daniel Long (Dick Flynn), Beulah Peters (Nedge Pepsi), Lucille Tews (Martha), Ryland Brickson Cole Tews (Seafield), Wayne Tews (Ashcroft), Erick West (Sean Shaughnessy)
Running Time: 78 mins
Classification: TBC (Australia), TBC (Thailand)
OUR LAKE MICHIGAN MONSTER REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ Lake Michigan Monster Review:
You never really know where a cult favourite is going to come from. Outside of the festivals where it has won a number of awards not much has been mentioned about comedy horror Lake Michigan Monster yet this is one of those gems that all cult film fans need to see in 2020.
From filmmaker Ryland Brickson Cole Tews (Hundreds Of Beavers) Lake Michigan Monster also sees Tews plays Seaford a wannabe eccentric sea captain who is still haunted by the death of his father at the hands of what he refers to as the Lake Michigan Monster.
In a bid to get revenge on the treacherous creature he puts together a super team – made up of sonar expert Nedge Pepsi (newcomer Beulah Peters), weapons expert Sean Shaughnessy (newcomer Erick West) and ex-navy member Dick Flynn (newcomer Daniel Long). However, led by Seaford whose mental health must be brought into question the group go in under-manned against a monster that they aren’t even sure is real or not.
The reason why Lake Michigan Monster works so well is because while it is over the top it doesn’t over try. The comedy flows from Tews’ screenplay nicely and whether it be a well-timed one liner or a piece of laugh-worthy visual humour everything hits its target and never, ever feels forced. The same goes for the over-the-top moments in the film as well. While you never can predict what it is going to happen next even when a character suddenly breaks out into song it seems to just fit with the film itself.
What really surprises you when you watch Lake Michigan Monster is the inexperience of the cast and crew. Ryland Brickson Cole Tews is a real find as he writes, directs and acts in a way that would normally be reserved for talented groups like The D-Gen or Flight Of The Conchords. The same could be said for the remainder of his cast. Peters, West and Long are sensational when it comes to delivering moments of true comedy while Wayne Tews who plays the drunken Ashcroft manages to steal every single scene that he is in. The fact that for nearly the entire cast and filmmaking team that this is a first time effort makes it scary just what heights they may actually be able to reach in their careers.
The other thing to note about Lake Michigan Monster is that even though it does have some absurd moments the film’s general storyline does work sensationally well and even the more theatrical moments of the film never get in the way of what it is a fairly intriguing storyline. It is also very obvious that nobody is ever going to be able to predict the ending of the film either.
You can only hope that Lake Michigan Monster is the start of an amazing career for Ryland Brickson Cole Tews. Where so many comedies these days fall flat Lake Michigan Monster keeps its audience constantly laughing while not forgetting to take a fair nod to creature features of the past.
Kyle McGrath’s Lake Michigan Monster Review:
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Summary: The owner of a luxurious resort invites a group of people to spend time at the resort and live out their ultimate fantasies with horrific results.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 13th February 2020
Thailand Cinema Release Date: 2nd July 2020
Australian VOD Release Date: 3rd June 2020
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Screenwriter: Jeff Wadlow, Jillian Jacobs, Christopher Roach
Cast: Jeriya Benn (Lila), Kim Coates (Devil Face), Joshua Diaz (Alejandro), Portia Doubleday (Sloane Maddison), Evan Evagora (Nick Taylor), Parisa Fitz-Henley (Julia), Lucy Hale (Melanie Cole), Ryan Hansen (J.D. Weaver), Robbie Jones (Allen Chambers), Goran D. Kleut (Valet Milton), Andrew Lees (Will), Edmund Lembke-Hogan (Himoff), Josh McConville (Sarge), Charlotte McKinney (Chastity), Michael Pena (Mr. Roarke), Maggie Q (Gwen Olsen), Josh Randall (Valet Chester), Ian Roberts (Dr. Torture), Michael Rooker (Damon), Nick Slater (Greg), Austin Stowell (Patrick Sullivan), Mike Vogel (Lieutenant Sullivan), Mark Weinhandl (Pig Face), Tane Williams-Accra (Fischer), Jimmy O. Yang (Brax Weaver)
Running Time: 109 mins
Classification: M (Australia)
OUR FANTASY ISLAND REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ Fantasy Island Review:
It is always a weird feeling when you like a film that other people seem to dislike. You always feel like you want to defend the film to the hilt, but the same time you can’t help but wonder if you are horribly wrong. The best way to look at it is that you like what you like and as long as you like it it doesn’t really matter what others think.
This whole scenario recently happened with me when it came to Blumhouse Productions re-working of Fantasy Island. Now I am not going to sit here and say that it is film of the year or one of the best horror films ever made, but if you’re looking for a horror film that will entertain you for a couple of hours then this is a film that will not disappoint.
For anyone who watched the original Fantasy Island television series the concept here may be a little strange. Fantasy Island never traditionally had a horror feel to it, but here director Jeff Wadlow (Truth or Dare) and his team give the story a warm welcome into the Blumhouse horror universe.
The film centres around the mystical island run by Mr Roarke (Michael Pena – Ant-Man). It is an island where people go to live out their fantasies and the latest group to have arrived includes jaded youngster Melanie Cole (Lucy Hale – Pretty Little Liars) who dreams about getting revenge on those who bullied her at school and two brothers Patrick Sullivan (Austin Stowell – Whiplash) and Brax Weaver (Jimmy O. Yang – Crazy Rich Asians) who dream of living the life of the rich and famous.
It is here where the film first runs into its major hurdle. See that list of characters above could have almost filled this page. Aside from the ones I have already mentioned there is Maggie Q (Divergent), a wannabe solider who wants to learn about his father and a crazy man who seems to appear out of nowhere but wants to warn everybody about the dangers of the island… and even then that isn’t everyone. Yes the problem here is that there are just way too many characters in this film, at times it even becomes difficult to try and keep track of who is where.
What is a shame is that when the film keeps to its horror roots it is ten time the film it is when it tries to do things a little bit differently. There are scenes that depict Melanie getting revenge on a High School bully that is reminiscent of a Saw movie and it times like that when the film works its best. When Fantasy Island sticks to the basics and remains a simple film about an island where people’s fantasies quickly become nightmares it is a film that captivates its audience and draws it in. However, when the film tries to get too smart and interweave stories while bringing in a convoluted supernatural plotline that I still can’t get my head around it trips itself up and becomes a film that is simply trying too hard.
If the film had kept to the storylines involving Melanie, Patrick and Brax it would have been an absolutely brilliant horror film. Those are the storylines that you end up being drawn to the most and seeing those fantasies become nightmares for those involved is more than enough to have the audience wondering whether Mr. Roarke has a hidden sinister, psychopathic side or if something supernatural is at work. The rest of the story threads that the writers have tried to infuse into the film are just unnecessary overkill.
Also enhancing the film are some of the acting performances at hand. Michael Pena is perfectly cast as Mr. Roarke and for all those naysayers out there who were taking swipes at the film before it was even released no he is not playing a character that is meant to represent Tattoo, the role made famous by Herve Villechaize in the original television series.
Also shining in their roles are Austin Stowell and Jimmy O. Yang who bring their A-Games to a film that you wouldn’t expect it in. As actors they are put through a true wringer of emotions as at times they become the comedic relief for the film but then at other times they are called to do some action sequences and moments of horror as well. It is a well-rounded acting performance that you certainly don’t expect in a film like this.
Last but not least there is the amazing performance of Lucy Hale. Grouped together with her performance in Truth Or Dare Hale is now rightfully considered one of the best up-and-coming actresses in Hollywood. Like some of her co-stars here she is put through a range of emotions of this film and clearly shows why she is only a few steps away from becoming an A-Lister.
Fantasy Island does have some major weaknesses but there are times throughout the film where it is a genuine popcorn horror that has the ability to entertain its audience. While one of the weaker Blumhouse films from recent years it is still certainly a film that is worth a look.
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Summary: A group of immortal mercenaries discover a new recruit just as they find themselves being ‘hunted’.
Australian Cinema Release Date: TBA
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian VOD Release Date: 10th July 2020
Director: Gina Prince-Blythewood
Screenwriter: Greg Rucka
Cast: Joey Anash (Keane), Peter Brooke (Sergeant Wright), Simon Chandler (Father Sykes), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Copley), Majid Essaidi (Sadeq), Tuncay Gunes (Nelson), Steve Healey (David Eves), Aanya Hirdaramani (Savatt), Jordan Holland (Ashton), Natacha Karam (Dizzy), Marwan Kenzari (Joe), Kiki Layne (Nile), Anamaria Marinca (Dr. Meta Kozak), Luca Marinelli (Nicky), Harry Melling (Merrick), Van Veronica Ngo (Quynh), Shala Nyx (Gita), Olivia Ross (Celeste), Matthias Schoenaerts (Booker), Orlando Seale (Jean-Pierre), Charlize Theron (Andy), Mette Towley (Jordan), Micheal Ward (Lykon), Andrei Zayats (Andrei)
Running Time: 125 mins
Classification: MA15+ (Australia)
OUR THE OLD GUARD REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ The Old Guard Review:
One of the winners out of the worldwide cinema lockdown has been streaming service Netflix. Many may have expected the service to sit back and simply count their cash as more and more people took up memberships to alleviate the lockdown boredom. Instead Netflix have decided to use this period to flex its creative muscle and once again show Hollywood that they well and truly ready to swim in the big pool now.
Of course last year the streaming platform showed that when it came to serious cinema they were well and truly in the fight when they created and released the Oscar nominated films The Irishman and Marriage Story. Then earlier this year Netflix showed it was ready to enter the blockbuster market when it released Extraction starring one of the world’s most recognisable actors, Chris Hemsworth. Now they show that was no fluke by dropping another popcorn-worthy blockbuster The Old Guard with Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road).
There is really only one way to describe The Old Guard – a thinking person’s blockbuster. Based on a four-part graphic novel series The Old Guard centres around a group of immortal mercenaries led by Andy (Theron). While the group are eagerly trying to find the whereabouts of a new ‘immortal’ Nile (KiKi Layne – If Beale Street Could Talk) they also realise that their latest mission, tasked to them by Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years A Slave), was a set-up designed to bring them out into the open. It is there that mystery begins – who is Copley working for and why does it seem that he wants them captured?
It is a pretty basic plotline but together director Gina Prince-Blythewood (The Secret Life Of Bees) and screenwriter Greg Rucka (Whiteout) have managed to create an action-thriller that goes a little bit deeper than many would have expected.
Of course you have your action scenes. And while they may lack the visual brilliance of the ones in Extraction they are more than serviceable as Theron lays waste to enemy after enemy. But where The Old Guard trumps many other films in the action genre is when its plot takes it into deep themes such as how difficult it is to live with immortality, someone facing the fact that they are going to die sooner rather later and the ethical debate of whether medical science can really ever go too far. You could also possibly argue that another major ethically dilemma raised in the film is whether the owners of pharmaceutical companies are really in the business for their consumer’s health and well-being or whether or not it is all about the mighty buck. Yes, as you can see The Old Guard does indeed raise some pretty spicy and thought-provoking questions.
The Old Guard does work as a stand-alone film you do feel that a few scenes have been included to try and kick-start this as a franchise. While Andy’s flashback memories are a great way to show how she has suffered due to persecution and her immortality over the years they also serve as a way to introduce other characters you feel will return in the sequels.
Luckily that doesn’t distract too much from what works in this film. Casting wise Theron and the actors in her crew work remarkably well. The film also showcases the talents of Kiki Layne who seems to embrace the chance to play a character torn between who she can trust while trying to get her head around a world that she never knew existed. Fans of the Harry Potter franchise will also get a pleasant surprise when they get to see Harry Melling, who portrayed Dudley in the Potter-verse, turn up as the film’s Bond-like villain.
Of course The Old Guard is not going to reach the lofty award-winning heights of its stable-mates The Irishman and Marriage Story. Aimed at a different audience this is a film that will enjoyed by those who enjoy comic-book movies while showing the cinematic world that streaming services can now hire big name stars and place them in movies that can really pack a punch.
Kyle McGrath’s The Old Guard Review
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Summary: A newly wed couples trip to India is ruined when a small time thief slips a gem into their luggage.
Australian Cinema Release Date: TBA
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian VOD Release Date: 1st July 2020
Country: USA, India
Director: Dwight H. Little
Screenwriter: Curt Allen, Nico Mastorakis
Cast: Laura Albert (Kim Chi), Charlie Brill (Inspector Ramesh), Bob Christo (Haggerty), Dhanushkodi (Maniam), Deep Dhillon (Tanjer), Marjean Holden (Shirley), Jack Kehler (Paul Lorre), Christopher Neame (Van Hoeven), Anna Nicholas (Stephanie), Rajinikanth (Shyam Sabu), Tej Sapru (Manu), Brett Stimely (Sandy McVey),Carol Teesdale (Anna)
Running Time: 91 mins
OUR BLOODSTONE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ Bloodstone Review:
There is just something about going back and exploring old cult cinema classics that you can’t beat. Of course many film lovers will write some of these films off as trash but to me I always find a special kind of magic in them that just can’t be replicated in modern day cinema.
One such film is the 1988 classic Bloodstone. Directed by Dwight H. Little (who went on to direct episodes of popular shows such as Bones and Dollhouse) Bloodstone was a pretty early attempt at marrying the American and Indian film industries while also trying to launch Brett Stimely as an action star. Stimely’s action career never really took off but chances are you have seen him play the role of President Kennedy in a number of films over the years including Watchmen and Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.
In Bloodstone Stimely plays Sandy McVey a man who has just quit as a Police Officer to enter family textile business run by his newly-wed wife Stephanie (Anna Nicholas – Remington Steele). The pair travel to India for business but their entire trip is spoiled as they happen to sit next to small-time thief Paul Lorre (Jack Kehler – Point Break) who is trying to smuggle the priceless Bloodstone back into India.
Convinced that the bumbling Inspector Ramesh (Charlie Brill – Star Trek) is waiting for him Lorre slips the gem into the luggage of the McVey’s which in turn sees rich criminal Van Hoevan (Christopher Neame – Ghostbusters) kidnap Stephanie in a bid to obtain the gem. That leads to Sandy having to team up with criminal-turned-taxi-driver Shyam Sabu (Rajinikanth – Baashi) in order to rescue her.
There is so much to like about Bloodstone. From the screenwriters attempt to make Ramesh the brand new Inspector Clouseau through to the very 80s action sequences featuring Stimely taking on any bad guy that comes his way. In typical 80s style the film tries its best to try and make Stimely memorable in the role. His likeness to Richard Dean Anderson is uncanny at times but his action sequences do work, although cult cinema fans may giggle a lit at how staged the fights are, and the screenwriters also manage to give him some memorable one liners that he delivers while laying waste to the bad guys. Look out for one little gem delivered as he ‘let’s go’ a criminal just the way the man requested.
Stimely is also well supported by Rajinkanth in one of his only English speaking movie roles. The two make a great on-screen duo and as the film goes on you realise that it is a bit of a shame that Rajinkanth never did more American films as he had the rare duo of good dramatic acting and great action skills.
Story-wise Bloodstone definitely still holds up today. The premise that the gem is passed from person to person keeps the audience constantly guessing to its whereabouts throughout the film. While the psychotic nature of the Bond like villain – Van Hoeven – also leaves the audience wondering what exactly he is capable of doing to the film’s heroes.
Watching Bloodstone in 2020 makes you realise what a hidden gem the film is. The great mix of Indian and American culture works throughout the film while the on-screen duo of Rajinkanth and Brett Stimely makes you wish that they had made more movies together especially as the film spun off into a franchise. Bloodstone captures all that 80s action magic and is well worth a re-visit again today.
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Does a good film always have to mean a pleasurable experience? That has been a question that I have asked myself a lot over the years. As a cinema lover I’ll admit that some of my favourite films can sometimes make for an uncomfortable viewing experience. Films such as Trainspotting, Baise Moi and Bully tackle some pretty invasive subjects. And yes while they are hard to watch they are films I turn to time and time again when I want to watch something decent. Now I think I will be adding new Columbian film Monos to that list.
From director Alejandro Landes (Porfrio) Monos follows a group of child soldiers who are part of a rebel alliance designed to try and take a stand against Columbia’s Government and armed forces. The group’s Commander (newcomer Wilson Salazar) runs a tight ship. He makes his troops train hard so when he gives them a mission he expects them to pull it off with ease.
The task at hand is to look after a milking cow named Shakira and to guard a young foreigner (Julianne Nicholson – I, Tonya) who has been kidnapped for ransom by the rebels. However, kids being kids things get out of hand as they celebrate the union between Wolf (newcomer Julian Giraldo) and Lady (newcomer Karen Quintero).
With the camp in disarray it comes under attack from the Army so their Commander sends them deep into the jungle to guard their prisoner in a more secure environment. However, the disturbance amongst the group leads to Bigfoot (Moises Arias – Ender’ Game) making a grab for power while the more sensitive Rambo (newcomer Sofia Buenaventura) becomes the group’s punching bag.
There was no way I was ever expecting a film about child soldiers to be something light and fluffy, but there was something about Monos that was very, very different than what I expected it to be. On the surface these kids are going through all the things that you would expect from a coming-of-age film. There is romance, bullying, drinking, drug use and even moments of sexual exploration. But when you add guns and a military regime into the mix the suspense is driven sky-high.
What I thought was remarkable about the film though was how easily you warm to group of kids who are basically putting a young girl through the most traumatic experience of her life. Somehow though the screenplay even finds a way to bring in moments of true tenderness between the group and their victim… it sounds strange but believe me it works and it is what makes this such a stunning film.
Throughout watching Monos I also found myself blown away by the natural feel that the film conjures up. Maybe it is because one of the cast was an actual child soldier in real life or perhaps it is because most of the cast have never previously acted so were easy for the director to mould to what he needed, but for some reason there are times in Monos when I felt like I was watching a documentary and not a scripted thriller.
Monos shares a lot of similar themes to Lord Of The Flies and I have to say that it could easily become a cult classic just like its predecessor. How Monos escaped Oscar attention I will never know – that is a crime in itself.