Australian animated film 100% Wolf is to be released on VOD platforms on the 29th May. The film was created by Australian company Flying Bark Productions and tells the story of a young werewolf who is surprised that on his 14th birthday he turns into a poodle.
Freddy the werewolf is voiced by actor and Triple J radio host Ilai Swindells and has a stellar supporting cast of Samara Weaving, Jai Courtney, Magda Szubanski, Jane Lynch, Rhys Darby and Akmal Saleh.
100% Wolf will be released on premium VOD on May 29th.
Today, Disney+ and Walt Disney Animation Studios launched the new, 10-episode animated short-form series and soundscape experience, “Zenimation.”
Unplug, relax, and refresh your senses for a moment of mindfulness with Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Zenimation” – an animated soundscape experience.
Whether it’s baby Moana being called by the ocean, Anna and Kristoff walking through an icy forest, or Baymax and Hiro Hamada flying over San Fransokyo, these iconic scenes become an aural experience like no other with the sounds of ocean waves, an icy forest and soaring flight.
“Zenimation” pays tribute to both the visual and sound artists who have created Walt Disney Animation Studios’ legacy of films. Created and edited by David Bess. From Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Summary: A tribe of cats called the Jellicles must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December 2019
Thailand Cinema Release Date: 3rd January 2019
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States, United Kingdom
Director: Tom Hooper
Screenwriter: Les Hall, Tom Hooper, T.S. Eliot (poetry), Andrew Lloyd Webber (musical)
Cast: Jaih Betote (Coricopat), Larry Bourgeois (Socrates), Jonadette Carpio (Syllabub), Danny Collins (Mungojerrie), James Corden (Bustopher Jones), Laurie Davidson (Mr. Mistoffelees), Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy), Jason Derulo (Rum Rum Tugger), Idris Elba (Macavity), Robbie Fairchild (Mukustrap), Francesca Hayward (Victoria), Jennifer Hudson (Grizabella), Melissa Madden-Gray (Griddlebone), Ian McKellan (Gus The Theatre Cat), Steven McRam (Shimbleshanks the Railway Cat), Naoimh Morgan (Rumpleteazer), Daniela Norman (Demeter), Bluey Robinson (Alonzo), Freya Rowley (Jellylorum), Ida Saki (Electra), Zizi Strallen (Tantomile), Taylor Swift (Bombalurina), Mette Towley (Cassandra), Eric Underwood (Admetus), Rebel Wilson (Jennyanydots), Ray Winstone (Growltiger)
Running Time: 110 mins
Classification: G (Australia) TBC (Thailand)
OUR CATS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ Cats Review:
When you look back of 2019 and think of what films made the biggest impact in cinema there were perhaps none quite talked about the way Cats was. When the trailer dropped for director Tom Hooper’s (Les Miserables, The King’s Speech) version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical it made the nightly news for all the wrong reasons. For some Hooper’s cats looked strange, not-quite-human not-quite-cat, but others (like myself) found themselves erring on the side caution wondering or not if this was going to turn out to be some kind of visual spectacular.
To be honest Cats sits somewhere in the middle. While it is not the musical masterpiece that Hooper created with Les Miserables it is also not as terrible as some would have you think. Perhaps the best way to approach Cats is to think you are about to enter a cinema to watch a theatre musical being projected onto the big screen because this feels much more like a concert than it does a cinematic experience.
Originally based on a collection of poems from T.S. EliotCats is told through the eyes of Victoria (Francesca Hayward – The Sun Is God, Extra) a young cat who finds herself dumped in a London alleyway one night. She soon finds herself making friends with a magical cat called Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson – Will, The Good Liar) who soon introduces her to the world of the Jellicle Cats.
On the night she arrives she finds that the Jellicles are eagerly awaiting the arrival of one of their oldest members – their matriarch Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench – Skyfall, Shakespeare In Love) who on this night every year choices which Jellicle will live the life they have always dreamed of. But not everything runs smoothly as the villainous Macavity (Idris Elba – The Losers, Star Trek Beyond) plans on eliminating all of his competition.
Surprisingly the plot of Cats does work on the big screen. It is extremely light on though and at times the film feels like an extra couple of songs have been added to pad it out to feature film length. Despite what many felt from when that first trailer surfaced you do also find yourself as an audience member connecting with the cats on screen. Each has their own persona and whether you want to admit to it or not you do find yourself barracking for a cat to win Old Deuteronmy’s approval.
The film’s biggest weakness though is the way it is put together. The stories and scenes are almost presented the way they would be if you were reading through the original collection of short stories. A certain cat will perform and point out their strengths and weaknesses and then they are spirited away by Macavity before they can have their time with Old Deuteronomy. The sequences though where Macavity and his right-hand cat Growltiger (Ray Winstone – The Departed, Beowulf) are keeping the other cats captive are more like you would expect from a pantomime though and never become as menacing as they perhaps should have been.
While the sequences of watching the Jellicles perform does at times seem magical there is none of the wow factor here that we got with other musicals like Les Miserables and Moulin Rouge. Les Miserables worked on the big screen because it was believable while Moulin Rouge was way over the top which suited the theatre world that it was set in. Cats has the disadvantage of not being believable and it feels like perhaps it would have worked a little better if Hooper had followed in the footsteps of Baz Luhrmann and made this film go more into the fantasy realm as well.
What does work for Cats though is the casting. Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellan (Gods And Monster, Lord Of The Rings) steal the show as they expertly lead their younger cast. James Corden (Trolls, Peter Rabbit) brings in just the right amount of comic relief while playing Bustopher Jones but it is Jennifer Hudson (Dream Girls, The Secret Life Of Bees) who shines the brightest with her amazing vocals in the role of Grizabella. The ballet skills of Francesca Hayward also allows her to gracefully float across the screen as she leads the audience through this strange new world.
Cats may not leave its audience in awe the way Les Miserables did but it does have its own special charm. The best way to approach the movie is to go into the cinema knowing you will be about to watch a theatre production rather than a big blockbuster film.
THE SECRET GARDEN tells the story of Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx – Genius, The Little Stranger), a prickly and unloved 10-year-old girl, born in India to wealthy British parents. When they die suddenly, she is sent back to England to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven (Academy Award® and BAFTA-winner Colin Firth – A Single Man, The King’s Speech, Bridget Jones’s Baby) at Misselthwaite Manor, a remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors, under the watchful eye of Mrs. Medlock (BAFTA-winner Julie Walters – Mary Poppins Returns, Harry Potter, Mamma Mia) and with only the household maid, Martha (Isis Davis – Guilt, Electric Dreams) for company.
Mary begins to uncover many family secrets, particularly after chancing upon her sickly cousin Colin (Edan Hayhurst – Genius, There She Goes), who has been shut away in a wing of the house, and through her discovery of a wondrous garden, locked away and lost within the grounds of Misselthwaite. While searching for Hector, a stray dog that led Mary to the garden walls, she befriends local boy Dickon (Amir Wilson – His Dark Materials, The Kid Who Would Be King) who, through the garden’s restorative powers, helps her to fix Hector’s injured leg. Once brought together, these three slightly misfit children heal each other as they delve deeper into the mysteries of the garden – a magical place of adventure that will change their lives forever.
For most Australians Ross Noble needs no introduction. The talented comedian has become a staple on our television and radio. Perhaps not many people would know about Noble’s rising resume as an actor as well. I’m not talking about when he presented his own shows – but rather when his acted in horror films such as Stitches, Nails and The Circle.
Now however Noble is taking a turn away from horror and has instead lent his voice to a brand new family animation called Sanctuary City: The Wishmas Tree where he stars alongside Miranda Tapsell and Kate Murphy and he plays a frill-necked lizard… yes you read that right he plays a lizard.
As it turns out playing a lizard was one of the reasons why Noble decided to take up the role. “I literally got an email saying ‘do you want to play a lizard’ and I said ‘yes please,’” says Noble delivering his warm, familiar laugh down the phone line. “You can’t go wrong with playing a lizard, can you? So yeah, I then read the script and found it was one of those films where you find that it is a proper family film and it looked like a lot of fun. So I just replied to them and said ‘yeah I am in.’”
Of course playing a lizard is not an offer you get every day and here Noble gets the chance to play Yarra, a wise old sage who just happens to be a frill-necked lizard. “Well he is a lizard but he is sort of a kind of wise guy,” explains Noble. “He is the Obi-Wan, the Gandalf kind of figure in the film, but really kind of appealed to me was that he was a bit different. Normally the wise guy in a film, that is all they are, they are just wise. They are just there to be wise but what I liked about this script was the fact that Yarra is a little bit unhinged.”
That leads to both Noble and I laughing and when he continues he says. “You know he talks to his stick. It is just basically a stick with a face on it, but he talks to it. And because of that you don’t really know how reliable he is and because he is kind of old and a bit nuts. It really is a case where he isn’t just there for his wisdom, you find yourself asking ‘should we really be following him?’”
Anybody who has ever seen one of Noble’s stage shows knows just how good he is at lending his voice to any number of characters that he is impersonating but that still begs the big question of just how do you find a voice for a wise, slightly loopy frill-necked lizard?
“With the voice I wanted him to sound old and wise but because he is cracked I wanted to be able to take a left turn every now and then,” explains Noble as he gives me a bit of a taste of Yarra’s voice. “The great thing about it being animation is that you can try something else and you can try going crazy, crazy far. You can go much further than you think you could ever go and then the guys behind the glass can say ‘try that again but make it less insane’ or ‘you know what you can be more insane.’ So yeah, during that process I was just really going for and then they would look at it.”
“There was some stuff that they looked at and they were just rolling around going ‘really?’” he says laughing again. “But then once it is all put together it becomes something where you can choose the bits where you can say ‘yeah, he is properly helping this possum on the journey’ and then there are other times where you are like ‘I wouldn’t be trusting him.’”
The process though of finding Yarra’s voice was not easy though and Noble says he had to audition a few different voices for the creators of the film. “You kind of find the way you think he would sound,” he says explain the process to me. “And then you just play with it. We recorded a lot of stuff and it wasn’t quite right so we actually went back and re-recorded it. It was okay, but it just wasn’t quite right, because the thing is at the start of the film Yarra has to be sane – he is talking about the history and you know he is basically telling the story of the legend and that has to have some kind of authority to it but with what we recorded at first he was just a little bit too off the wall. We had to bring a little more authority to it and make it a little bit more steady. You do have to think about your performance but then you really just have to trust the guys that have created it.”
The guys that have created this film have certainly created something that is going to be very special for Australian audiences, so don’t be surprised if this film doesn’t become one of Australia’s next big hits.
Sanctuary City: The Wishmas Tree starring Miranda Tapsell, Ross Noble and Kate Murphy is in cinemas on 27th February.
When Australia does animation it always does it well. Think back to when you were a child and sat down happily to watch Blinky Bill. Now think about how the new generation enjoyed films like Happy Feet. When you really think about it it is a shame that Australia doesn’t do more animation, but that is why we should all be so excited about the brand new Australian animated film Sanctuary City: The Wishmas Tree which hits cinemas on the 27th February.
One of the stars of the film is Australian actress Kate Murphy who has gained experience as a voice actress on popular animated series like Shopkins and Space Chickens In Space. She says she couldn’t have been more excited about working on The Wishmas Tree.
“Well Kerry the ring-tailed possum is the lead character, but Petra, my character, is Kerry’s older sister,” says Murphy as we talk a little bit about the character that she plays in the film. “Petra is a little bit sensible, a little bit pragmatic, she likes her space and she likes not to put herself out of her comfort zone. She has an amazing journey throughout the film though and she learns so much from her younger sister.”
“I found though that I could really relate to her as a character,” says Murphy laughing as we continue to discuss Petra. “When I was reading it I kept on finding myself saying ‘oh there are some similarities between Petra and myself’. I find that something I can be a little bit safe and sensible at times. But having said that Petra can still have some fun and silly moments. When I was working with the directors in the booth I was always trying to find that fun part of her as well. So yeah, I was stoked at being able to play Petra.”
As far as characters go Petra is a very interesting character. In one way she is very much the voice of reason in the film but at the same time she is a character that can at times crack a joke. Murphy admits that it was at times hard to find that middle ground for Petra. “I was always conscious not to try and tip it too far one way,” she explains. “I remember being in the studio when we were doing it and we were always talking about it. The director and the producer would be there with me and we would always be discussing the lines and how we wanted her to come across. It was always an experiment because sometimes I would push it really far and then we would be like ‘nope that was too funny that doesn’t work for this moment’ but we were always trying to have that lightness in there even though there are dark moments. Even though she is quite sensible we did look for moments of comedy.”
One of the most interesting parts of voice acting is how the actor or actress comes up with the voice for the character they are playing but Murphy says she settled on the voice for Petra very early on. “Usually I try to hear the voice in my head,” she says after stopping to think about the process for a moment. “ I definitely play around with it, but I guess also it changes from project to project because the process can be very different”
“For Petra I guess I was kind of lucky because I got to see the director and the producer a few times prior to recording,” she says continuing. “Aside from that I would always be recording little bits and pieces on my phone and then sending it through. However, with voice over you can always be a little bit flexible and in the booth I found that we kind of found her in the first hour or so of recording. Usually though I have a bit of an idea in my head and I guess that is part of the voice artists job – they have to come ready to experiment and explore and not just come in saying ‘this is how it is’ because you do have to be prepared to change it vocally once you are in there.”
It is obvious when chatting to Murphy that she had a lot of fun playing Petra and while she was recording for Sanctuary City: The Wishmas Tree and she says that she hopes that audiences have just as much fun watching it. “Just go and see something that is completely Australian,” she says with an excited tone in her voice. “This is completely Australian produced, completely Australian created. Just enjoy the message and just really embrace the Australianess of it all. We have such beautiful land here and such beautiful creatures and we really need to look after them, especially now more than ever… so yeah go and enjoy it.”
Sanctuary City: The Wishmas Tree starring Miranda Tapsell, Ross Noble and Kate Murphy is in cinemas on 27th February.
This June, from the biggest animated franchise in history and global cultural phenomenon, comes the untold story of one 12-year-old’s dream to become the world’s greatest supervillain, in Minions: The Rise of Gru.
In the heart of the 1970s, amid a flurry of feathered hair and flared jeans, Gru (Oscar nominee Steve Carell) is growing up in the suburbs. A fanboy of a supervillain supergroup known as the Vicious 6, Gru hatches a plan to become evil enough to join them. Luckily, he gets some mayhem-making backup from his loyal followers, the Minions. Together, Kevin, Stuart, Bob, and Otto—a new Minion sporting braces and a desperate need to please—deploy their skills as they and Gru build their first lair, experiment with their first weapons and pull off their first missions.
When the Vicious 6 oust their leader, legendary fighter Wild Knuckles (Oscar winner Alan Arkin), Gru interviews to become their newest member. It doesn’t go well (to say the least), and only gets worse after Gru outsmarts them and suddenly finds himself the mortal enemy of the apex of evil. On the run, Gru will turn to an unlikely source for guidance, Wild Knuckles himself, and discover that even bad guys need a little help from their friends.
Teeming with Illumination’s signature subversive humour, pop-culture sophistication, full-hearted emotion, bold music sensibility, and over-the-top action, Minions: The Rise of Gru features a thrilling new cast of stars, including, as members of the Vicious 6, Taraji P. Henson as cool and confident leader Belle Bottom, Jean-Claude Van Damme as Jean Clawed, Lucy Lawless as Nunchuck, Dolph Lundgren as Svengeance and Danny Trejo as Stronghold. The film also features Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario, an aspiring mad scientist, Michelle Yeoh as Master Chow, an acupuncturist with mad Kung Fu skills, and Oscar winner Julie Andrews as Gru’s maddeningly self-absorbed mom.
Steered by the franchise’s original creators, Minions: The Rise of Gru is produced by visionary Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri and his longtime collaborators Janet Healy and Chris Renaud. The film is directed by returning franchise filmmaker Kyle Balda (Despicable Me 3, Minions), co-directed by Brad Ableson (The Simpsons) and Jonathan del Val (The Secret Life of Pets films), and features the iconic voice of Pierre Coffin as the Minions and a killer ʼ70s soundtrack courtesy of legendary Grammy-winning music producer Jack Antonoff.