Summary: A young warrior sets off to find the last remaining dragon after her world faces annihilation at the hands of some dark monsters.
Cinema Release Dates: 4th March 2021 (Australia), 4th March 2021 (Thailand), 5th March 2021 (USA)
VOD Release Dates: 5th March 2021 (UK), 5th March 2021 (USA)
Director: Don Hall, Carlos Lopez Estrada
Screenwriter: Adele Lim, Qui Nugyen
Cast: Awkwafina (Sisu (voice)), Gemma Chan (Namarri (voice)), Francois Chau (Wahn), Sung Kang (Dang Hai (voice)), Daniel Dae Kim (Benja (voice)), Dichen Lachman (General Atitaya, Spine Warror (voice)), Sandra Oh (Virana (voice)), Jon Park (Chai (voice)), Lucielle Soong (Dang Hu (voice)), Kelly Marie Tran (Raya (voice)), Thalia Tran (Little Noi (voice)), Alan Tudyk (Tuk Tuk (voice)), Izaac Wang (Boun (voice)), Benedict Wong (Tong (voice)), Jona Xiao (Young Namaari (voice))
Running Time: 114 mins
Classification: PG (Australia), G (Thailand), PG (USA)
David Griffiths’ Raya And The Last Dragon Review:
It is hard to believe that it has been twelve months since Disney released a brand new film straight to cinemas… yes even the House Of Mouse was not immune from the great Covid cinema lockdown worldwide. The great news is that Disney returns to cinemas this week with a film that is arguably one of their greatest pieces of animated brilliance – Raya And The Last Dragon.
It is rare these days to find an animation that has adults staring wide-eyed and excited at the screen the way that so many of the Disney classics did when we were kids but such is the stunning artwork and captivating storyline of Raya that it certainly wakes up your inner child.
Inspired by South East Asian culture the film follows the adventures of Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran – Star Wars: The Last Jedi) a young warrior who is trained by her father Benja (Daniel Dae Kim – Hellboy) to guard the last remaining piece of dragon power contained in a magical gem stone.
They live in a world divided, a place where every tribe has fended for itself since a great war that saw the destruction of the dragon race at the hands of evil creatures known as Druuns. Since then the land of Kumandra has become separated and the various tribes do whatever they can to survive while people such as Benja do whatever they can to try and reunite everybody once again.
However, when Raya is tricked by Namaari (Gemma Chan – Crazy Rich Asians), a young warrior from another tribe, the gem breaks and each tribe takes a piece for itself at the same time the spell is broken and the Druuns once again return and begin to destroy what is left on Earth. With the world then slowly disappearing and mankind being wiped out Raya begins a journey to try and find the last remaining dragon – Sisu (Awkwafina – Ocean’s Eight).
Excuse the pun but the magic of Raya And The Last Dragon is out of this world. The storyline here is involving and creative and this time Disney have realised that they don’t need a song every five minutes to move things along a little bit. In fact this time around the screenwriters and the literal team of directors that worked on the film get everything right.
The story itself draws you in the same way as other modern day fantasy tales, such as A Writer’s Odyssey, do while the film doesn’t exactly cater for extremely young children as it mixes fight sequences with chase sequences and even finds a way to throw in some humour without it ever seeming out of place. The world created here is as imaginative as the worlds film lovers a generation ago found themselves escaping to with films like The Neverending Story and The Dark Crystal and while the story is in depth it never loses its audience and instead keeps them on the edge of their seats.
What makes Raya And The Last Dragon come together so well though is the amazing artwork with the animation. There are times with this film where you find yourself watching the screen and believing you are watching actual actors and actresses as the artwork is so realistic – the same can be said for the scenery which was inspired by the filmmakers trips to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Part of what makes the animation of this film work so well is also because the art team decided to make the characters look like the actors and actresses playing them. As soon as Benja walks onto screen the likeness he has in appearance to Daniel Dae Kim is astounding – and yes the filmmakers even find a way to make Sisu look like Awkwafina.
Raya And The Last Dragon is one of the cinematic highlights of 2021. Disney manage to bring everything together in such a way that the capture that old school Disney magic that has been missing from the company for quite awhile. This is truly a film for people of all ages as even adults are going to be captured by the magic and imagination of Raya.
David Griffiths and Lee G’s Raya And The Last Dragon Review:
Dave’s rating Out Of 5
Lee’s Rating Out Of 5:
Alex First and Peter Krausz’s Raya And The Last Dragon Review:
Alex’s Score Out Of 5:
Peter’s Score Out Of 5:
Average Subculture Rating:
Other Subculture Raya And The Last Dragon Reviews:
Summary: The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.
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
OUR ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY REVIEWS & RATINGS:
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 Warsfilm. 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.
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.
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.
You can hear Nick’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show
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.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
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.
Summary: Middle Island was once a flourishing penguin population but sadly over the years the numbers have dropped from a few thousand down to around ten due to the fact that foxes have worked out how to get to the Island. This has now caused problems for Emily Marsh (Sarah Snook), Jack Jones (Richard Davies) and Zoe (Tegan Higginbotham) who have been told they will lose their jobs if the Island is no longer considered a sanctuary.
As the nearby town of Warrnambool works hard at becoming a tourist destination by having the local council including Mayor Lake (Deborah Mailman) working with an advisor named Bradley Slater (Alan Tudyk) to come up with new tourism ideas. But when Bradley’s idea means the future of Middle Island is doomed a local chicken farmer named Swampy Marsh (Shane Jacobson) and his granddaughter, Olivia (Coco Jack Gillies) decides it is up to them and a mischievous dog called Oddball to come up with a way to fix everything.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 17th September 2015
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Stuart McDonald
Screenwriter: Peter Ivan
Cast: Terry Camilleri (Judge Burns), Richard Davies (Jack Jones), Coco Jack Gillies (Olivia), Tegan Higginbotham (Zoe), Shane Jacobson (Swampy), Dave Lawson (Sergeant Gosch), Deborah Mailman (Mayor Lake), Sarah Snook (Emily Marsh), Alan Tudyk (Bradley Slater), Frank Woodley (Dog Catcher)
Runtime: 95 mins
OUR ODDBALL REVIEWS & RATINGS:
This has been the year when the Australian film industry has hit back with vengenance. Amongst the good drama films that have surfaced Aussie cult cinema has led the way around the world with films like Kill Me Three Times and Wrymwood making the charts in America while Mad Max: Fury Road seemed to thrill action film lovers as well. Of course one of the biggest Australian films over the past few years has been Red Dog – a family film that surprised everybody. Not surprisingly many Aussie filmmakers thought they had just discovered the best way to make people watch your film and that was to create a family friendly film about dog. Several projects fitting that description have fallen by the wayside but now Oddball manages to make its way to the big screen.
Yes I’ve made the clichéd comparison between Oddball and Red Dog so now let’s take a look at whether or not the film is actually any good. The answer to that question is a solid yes because director Stuart McDonald (who over recent years has worked on all of Chris Lilley’s projects) and screenwriter Peter Ivan have been brave enough to make Oddball a little bit different to the thousands of dog movies over the years. When the opening to Oddball boasts that this is a fairy tale they aren’t joking. Yes this is a true story that saw the people of Warrnambool embrace a Maremma dog but together these talented filmmakers have told the story in a fairy tale style which incorporates a smart script with a little bit of pantomime acting, especially from comedian Frank Woodley who plays the mean dog catcher. In the past this style of filmmaking has led to some pretty woeful Australian films, I’m looking at you Welcome To Woop Woop, but here it makes a refreshing difference and makes Oddball the kind of film that could be enjoyed by the whole family.
Ironically when watching Oddball the old fart joke and over the top dog chase does have a bit of a feel of a Paul Jennings story and sure enough a quick check of Peter Ivan’s bio shows that he was one of the writer’s on Two Twisted, a show based on Jenning’s work. Somehow this script manages to incorporate that kind of humor with a dramatic storyline revolving around how greed can impeach on nature and also explores the fractured relationship between father and daughter when it comes to things between Swampy and Emily. Yes Ivan and McDonald together have somehow created a film that will actually have you laughing one moment and tearing up the next.
The key to this film working as well as it does though is through it’s casting. Shane Jacobson does a great job in the lead role of Swampy. He made the character of Kenny famous all those years ago and while his comedic talent is held back a little here he now has also made Swampy a much loved Australian character. He is well supported by Alan Tudyk who plays the pushy American but the scenes here are stolen by Sarah Snook who once again shows why she is an Australian actress on the rise and young Coco Jack Gillies who here shows the world that she is a child actress with a huge future ahead of her.
Oddball is a genuine treat. It is a film that has a strong conservational message but doesn’t get bogged down in preaching to its audience. A great script that manages to mix humor and drama together well without becoming to adult for children is a rarity these days, but here it works well and allows it’s talented cast to really show there skills. Different but smart, cute but dramatic Oddball will surprise more than a few people who take the time to watch the film.
Actor Jason Lee is one of those performers who has really become known for two of his most iconic roles. Kids (and families) will know him as the long suffering Dave who has been stuck with the task of looking after the mischievous chipmunks in the “Alvin & The Chipmunks” franchise, while adults will know him as the atonement seeking Earl in the hit television comedy series “My Name Is Earl.”
Jason Michael Lee was born on the April 25, 1970 in Orange County (California) to parents, Greg and Linda Lee. He was raised in Huntington Beach and attended Ocean View High School. It was during that period that he begun working on the skills that would see him become a household name as a professional skateboarder.
By the time he turned 18, Lee was already a popular member of the skateboarding circuit and was mostly known for his signature move – the ‘360 flip.’ It was his skateboarding career that saw him begin his film career when in 1991 he appeared in director Spike Jonze’s short film “Video Days.” Soon, Jonze included Lee in a couple of his projects including a video clip with the band Sonic Youth and giving him his first acting role in feature film “Mi vida loca,” a film that Jonze also acted in.
1995 saw Jason Lee also begin another feature film relationship when he teamed up with cult favorite director Kevin Smith who cast him in the hit comedy “Mallrats” alongside Shannon Doherty and Ben Affleck. After “Mallrats,” Smith also cast Lee in his big hit “Chasing Amy” and over time also appeared in other Smith films including “Dogma,” “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back,” “Jersey Girl,” “Cop Out” and “Clerks II.”
After the success of his roles in “Dogma” and “Chasing Amy” Lee soon found himself being cast in high profile films including “Enemy Of The State” (alongside Will Smith), “Almost Famous” and “Vanilla Sky” (with Tom Cruise).
In 2005, Jason Lee’s career really took off. First of all he was cast in the new comedy television show “My Name Is Earl,” which over the years saw him nominated for two Golden Globe awards. In the same year, Lee voiced a character in the animated short “Jack-Jack Attack” and this helped him discover a new talent. Soon, Lee was in high demand as a voice actor and after voicing a character in television series “American Dad” he soon found himself voicing characters in feature films such as “Monster House,” “Underdog” and “Noah” and the video games “Skate 3,” “Alvin & The Chipmunks” and “Disney Infinity.”
The success of “My Name Is Earle” soon saw Lee cast as the lovable loser Dave Seville in the “Alvin & The Chipmunks” franchise which has currently see Lee involved in all three films, while he is also set to star in the fourth installment due in cinemas in 2015.
Since “My Name Is Earl” wrapped production in 2009, Lee has also been involved in other television shows including “Memphis Beat,” “Up All Night” and “Raising Hope.”
Outside of his acting career, Lee still has a massive involvement in the skateboarding world. He is the co-founder and co-owner of “Stereo Skateboards” and “Stereo Sounds Clothing.” Lee is also involved in a number of charities including the Keep A Breast Foundation and also Tony Hawke’s Stand Up For Skateparks and the Tony Hawke Charitable Foundation.
When it comes to personal relationships Lee married actress and photographer Carmen Llywelyn in 1995, but the pair divorced in 2001 due to Lee’s commitment to Scientology. Lee then became involved with actress Beth Riesgraf and before they split in 2007 that had a son who was named Pilot ‘Standard’ Inspektor. On July 1, 2008 Lee married actress Ceren Alkac. They are still married and together have two children – a daughter named Casper (born on Nov. 24, 2008) and a son named Sonny Lee (born on June 16, 2012).
Jason Lee may not have dreamed of being an actor when he was younger but today he has one of the most recognizable faces in America. The next few years will see Lee turn his back on the small screen for a while and instead be appearing on the big screen in “Behaving Badly” (with Selena Gomez and Dylan McDermott), the action drama “Tell” (with Alan Tudyk and Katee Sackhoff) and of course “Alvin & The Chipmunks 4.”
Summary: Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) longs to be as beloved as his game’s perfect Good Guy, Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer). Problem is, nobody loves a Bad Guy. But they do love heroes… so when a modern, first-person shooter game arrives featuring tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch), Ralph sees it as his ticket to heroism and happiness.
He sneaks into the game with a simple plan—win a medal—but soon wrecks everything, and accidently unleashes a deadly enemy that threatens every game in the arcade. Ralph’s only hope? Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), a young troublemaking “glitch” from a candy-coated cart racing game, might just be the one to teach Ralph what it means to be a Good Guy. But will he realize he is good enough to become a hero before it’s “Game Over” for the entire arcade?
Australian Cinema Release Date: 25th December, 2012
Australian DVD Release Date: 24th March, 2013
Director: Rich Moore
Screenwriter: Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee, Rich Moore, Jim Reardon
Cast: Skylar Astin (Roy (voice)), Adam Carolla (Wynnchel (voice)), Kevin Deters (Clyde (voice)), John DiMaggio (Bear Papa (voice)), Jamie Elman (Rancis Fluggerbutter (voice)), Jess Harnell (Don (voice)), Rachael Harris (Deanna (voice)), Dennis Haysbert (General Hologram), Kyle Hebert (Ryu (voice)), Martin Jarvis (Saitine (voice)), Mindy Kaling (Taffyta Muttonfudge (voice)), Maurice LaMarche (Root Beer Tapper (voice)), Rueben Langdon (Ken (voice)), Kate Lowes (Candlehead (voice)), Jane Lynch (Calhoun (voice)), Jack McBrayer (Felix (voice)), Edie McClurg (Mary (voice)), Tim Mertens (Brad (voice)), Rich Moore (Sour Bill/Zanigef ((voice)), Ed O’Neill (Mr. Litwak), Raymond S. Persi (Gene/Zombie ((voice)), John C. Reilly (Ralph (voice)), Gerald C. Rivers (M. Bison (voice)), Horatio Sanz (Duncan (voice)), Brandon Scott (Kohut (voice)), Stefanie Scott (Moppet Girl (voice)), Sarah Silverman (Vanellope (voice)), Roger Craig Smith (Sonic The Hedgehog (voice)), Josie Trinidad (Jubileena Bing Bing (voice)), Joe Lo Truglio (Markowski), Alan Tudyk (King Candy (voice)), Cymbre Walk (Crumbelina De Caramello (voice))
Runtime: 108 mins
Dave Griffiths’s ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ Review:
According to cinema experts in the good ol’ United States ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ is supposed to be a film that bridges the gap between those who love video games and those who love cinema… ridiculous if you ask me as I don’t believe such a gap actually exists, or if it ever did then it would have been bridged about the time films like ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ first surfaced.
‘Wreck-It Ralph‘s’ central character is Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly – The Dictator, Tim And Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie), a character who through no fault of his own has become one of the gaming world’s bad guys. In the fictional game he calls home he destroys things and it is up to ‘the good guy’ Felix (Jack McBrayer – Movie 43, The Campaign) to fix it. But when the game celebrates its anniversary and the characters don’t invite Ralph he realizes how tired he is of being seen as the bad guy and decides things need to change.
When the characters decide that if Ralph wins a medal (something he can’t do in his own game) they’ll accept him into their homes and he immediately decides to game jump (a risky thing to do) in a bid to achieve his goal. He arrives in a first-person shooter game in a bid to get his medal but to the dismay of the aggressive Calhoun (Jane Lynch – Dino Time, TV’S Glee) he unleashes the game’s evil into other arcade games including a candy-coated go-kart racing game when he befriends a glitch by the name of Vanellope (Sarah Silverman – TV’S Bob’s Burgers & The Simpsons) who is an outcast in her world thanks to the evil King Candy (Alan Tudyk – TV’S Suburgatory & Robot Chicken).
When you first hear that ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ is going to celebrate video games of old you can’t help but feel a little excited, especially if you’re an old gamer at heart. But it really does seem that director, Rich Moore (TV’S Sit Down Shut Up & Drawn Together) only promises that as a way to tease audiences out there.
Yes ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ does contain so brief appearance from some characters from ‘Street Fighter’ and Sonic The Hedgehog pops up once but any references of games of old are quickly forgotten when the characters land in Vanellope’s game, a game so annoying that you can’t help but feel any serious gamer would give it a wide berth. The game is so crappy that you can’t even find yourself feeling for Vanellope, a problem considering that is something the filmmakers need you to do to make it work.
‘Wreck-It Ralph’ really falls in a hole. The references/appearance of the old-school characters are too minimal for old school gamers to love the film while you feel that modern gamers will be turned off by the ‘babyish’ game that Vanellope calls home.
Summary: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter explores the secret life of our greatest president, and the untold story that shaped our nation. Visionary filmmakers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (director of Wanted) bring a fresh and visceral voice to the bloodthirsty lore of the vampire, imagining Lincoln as history s greatest hunter of the undead..
Australian Cinema Release Date: 2nd August, 2012
Australian DVD Release Date: 5th December, 2012
Country: United States
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Screenwriter: Seth Grahame-Smith
Cast: Frank Brennan (Senator Jeb Nolan), Cameron M. Brown (Willie Lincoln), Dominic Cooper (Henry Sturges), Marton Csokas (Jack Barts), Jaqueline Fleming (Harriet Tubman), Lux Haney-Jardine (Young Abraham Lincoln), Curtis Harris (Young Will), Alex Lombard (Gabrielle), Anthony Mackie (Will Johnson), Joseph Mawle (Thomas Lincoln), Robin McLeavy (Nancy Lincoln), John Neisler (Rev. Dresser), Dane Rhodes (Captain Slash), John Rothman (Jefferson Davis), Rufus Sewell ((Adam), Jimmi Simpson (Joshua Speed), Alan Tudyk (Stephen A. Douglas), Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln), Erin Wasson (Vadoma), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Mary Todd Lincoln)
Runtime: 105 mins
Dave Griffiths’s ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ Review:
As a film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter seemed doomed before it even opened in cinemas. People judged the film by the title itself and came up with the conclusion that the film must be a comedy. Let’s be blunt the film is anything but a comedy, anyone that has seen the work of director, Timur Bekmambetov (Yolki 2, Six Degrees Of Separation) will now that he doesn’t shoot comedy. No Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is just as action-packed and just as gory as his two massive hits Wanted and Nightwatch.
Based on a graphic novel by Seth Grahame-Smith (TV’S The Hard Times Of RJ Berger & Vendettas), who also coincidentally wrote the screenplay here, the film tells the story of Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker – Westward!, Coach) in a way that the history books certainly don’t. Here Lincoln is a young man who swears vengeance on Jack Barts (Marton Csokas – Dead Europe, Dream House) a business owner who Lincoln sees kill his mother.
Through a chance meeting with the mysterious Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper – My Week With Marilyn, Captain America: The First Avenger), Lincoln learns that Barts is a vampire and that America is full of them. Sturges trains Lincoln and soon he is a vampire hunter who is sworn to protect humans from the likes of Adam (Rufus Sewell – All Things To All Men, TV’S Mystery!) who has a very nasty (and bloody) plan for America.
Of course, Lincoln chooses to ignore the ‘no friends for a Vampire Hunter’ regulation and soon his friends Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie – Man On A Ledge, 10 Years), Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson – Hello I Must Be Going, TV’S Breakout Kings) and love of his life Mary (Mary Elizabeth Winstead – Smashed, The Thing) are all mixed up in this deadly battle.
The fact that some people believe that Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is going to be a cheesy film is almost insulting as it is anything but. Bekmambetov makes this a stylish action film, that despite the fact he falls back on the slow-motion shots too much, generally looks good. His fight scenes are well chorographed and certainly don’t spare the audience from the violence at hand, while the scene of the train crash on the bridge is one of the best sequences you will see on the big screen this year.
Credit must also be made to Seth Grahame-Smith who does a sensational job with the script. His fictional part of the story fits well into the non-fiction side of Abraham Lincoln’s life and despite the fears of many it never feels like this film is insulting to one of America’s greatest leaders.
If you like well put together action films then you certainly won’t be disappointed with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Summary: Scrats nutty pursuit of the cursed acorn, which hes been after since the dawn of time, has world-changing consequences a continental cataclysm that triggers the greatest adventure of all for Manny, Diego and Sid. In the wake of these upheavals, Sid reunites with his cantankerous Granny, and the herd encounters a ragtag menagerie of seafaring pirates determined to stop them from returning home.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 28th June, 2012
Australian DVD Release Date: 28th November, 2012
Country: United States
Director: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Screenwriter: Michael Berg, Lori Forte, Jason Fuchs
Cast: Aziz Ansari (Squint (voice)), Joy Behar (Eunice (voice)), Alain Chabat (Silas (voice)), Peter Dinklage (Captain Gutt (voice)), Karen Disher (Scratte (voice)), Aubrey Graham (Ethan (voice)), Nick Frost (Flynn (voice)), Josh Gad (Louis (voice)), Ben Gleib (Marshall (voice)), George Jacobs (Beaver (voice)), Alexa Kahn (Hyrax (voice)), Queen Latifah (Ellie (voice)), Denis Leary (Diego (voice)), John Leguizamo (Sid (voice)), Jennifer Lopez (Shira (voice)), Nicki Minaj (Steffie (voice)), Heather Morris (Katie (voice)), Kunal Nayyar (Gupta (voice)), Keke Palmer (Peaches (voice)), Josh Peck (Eddie (voice)), Simon Pegg (Buck (voice)), Ally Romano (Meaghan (voice)), Ray Romano (Manny (voice)), Seann William Scott (Crash (voice)), Eddie ‘Piolin’ Sotelo (Uncle Fungus (voice)), Patrick Stewart (Ariscratle (voice)), Wanda Sykes (Granny (voice)), Alan Tudyk (Milton (voice)), Chris Wedge (Scrat (voice)), Rebel Wilson (Raz (voice))
Runtime: 88 mins
Dave Griffiths’s ‘Ice Age 4: Continental Drift’ Review:
While at times during Ice Age: Continental Drift it seems like the filmmakers behind the series have lost control of their storyline this still ends up being an enjoyable watch that will be loved by both kids and adults alike.
This time around sees Manny (voiced by Ray Romano – Sack’s West, TV’S The Middle) and Ellie (Queen Latifah – Joyful Noise, TV’S Let’s Stay Together) having some parental problems with their daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer – Rags, TV’S Winx Club). Peaches feels she is old enough to her own thing while Manny still feels that she needs her parents around.
Meanwhile poor old Sid (John Leguizamo – One For The Money, Lincoln Lawyer) is having family issues of his own when his family stop by and dump him with the ‘burden’ that is Granny (Wanda Sykes – The Muppets, TV’S Futurama).
All those problems however seem petty when Scrat’s (Chris Wedge – Ice Age 3: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs, TV’S Family Guy) love for acorns starts a catastrophic shift of Earth that soon sees Manny, Sid, Granny and Diego (Denis Leary – The Amazing Spider-Man, TV’S Rescue Me) stranded on an iceberg while Ellie is left to the save the lives of all the other creatures.
To add to the drama Manny, Sid, Granny and Diego soon find themselves upsetting Captain Gutt (Peter Dinklage – A Little Bit Of Heaven, TV’S Game Of Thrones) and his crew which includes Flynn (Nick Frost – Snow White & The Huntsmen, The Adventure Of Tintin), Shira (Jennifer Lopez – What To Expect When You’re Expecting, The Back-Up Plan) and Raz (Rebel Wilson – What To Expect When You’re Expecting, Struck By Lightning)
At times it feels like screenwriters Michael Berg (Ice Age 3: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs, Ice Age) and Jason Fuchs (Rags, Pitch) have lost their senses by bringing pirates into the Ice Age franchise. The story doesn’t fit comfortable with fans of the franchise yet the duo put so much heart into the script, and a healthy dose of thrills that at the end of the day it doesn’t seem to really matter.
These screenwriters are so talented they also infuse some great lessons centered at teaching children to respect their parents in such a way that the message gets across loud and clear but never once seems preachy.
Ice Age: Continental Drift certainly isn’t the best film in this franchise but it is still an enjoyable watch.