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:
Marvel have just released a brand new clip from their new epic blockbuster – Captain Marvel. Directed by Anna Boden (Sugar, It’s Kind Of A Funny Story) and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Gowanus Brooklyn) and starring Brie Larson (Room, Kong: Skull Island), Gemma Chan (Mary Queen Of Scots, Humans) and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, The Hateful Eight) the film hits cinemas on the 8th March.
Summary: A deadly threat from Earth’s history reappears, and a hunt for a lost artifact takes place between Autobots and Decepticons, while Optimus Prime encounters his creator in space.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 21st June 2017
Australian DVD Release Date: 4th October 2017
Country: United States, China, Canada
Director: Michael Bay
Screenwriter: Matt Holloway,Art Marcum, Ken Nolan, Akiva Goldsman (story)
Cast: Erik Adahl (Bumblebee voice)), Daniel Adegboyega (Saebert), Gil Birmingham (Chief Sherman), Steve Buscemi (Daytrader voice)), Santiago Cabrera (Santos), Jerrod Carmichael (Jimmy), Jim Carter (Cogman voice)), Gemma Chan (Quintessa), Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime (voice)), John DiMaggio (Nitro Zeus/Crosshairs voice)), Josh Duhamel (Colonel William Lennox),Dino Fazzini (Alden), Marcus Fraser (Gawain),Rebecca Front (Aunt Marie),Liam Garrigan (Arthur),John Goodman (Hound voice)), Minti Gorne (Young Viviane),Laura Haddock (Vivian Wembley), Jess Harnell (Barricade voice)), Richard Hills Jnr. (Cheldric), John Hollingworth (Tristan), Sir Anthony Hopkins (Sir Edmund Barton),Tom Kenny (Wheels voice)), Jason Matthewson (Spenser), Martin McCreadie (Lancelot), Isabela Moner (Izabella), Glenn Morshower (General Morshower), Phoebe Nicholls (Aunt Helen), Allen Phoenix (Luke Reynolds), Jade Quon (Cogman), Trent Seven (Hengist), Omar Sy (Hot Rod voice)), Stanley Tucci (Merlin), John Turturro (Agent Simmons), Mark Wahlberg (Cade Yaeger), Ken Watanabe (Drift voice)), Frank Welker (Megatron voice)), Reno Wilson (Mohawk/Sqweeks voice)), Rob Witcomb (Percival)
Runtime: 154 mins
OUR TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Kyle McGrath’s Transformers: The Last Knight Review:
Despite his negative reputation as a filmmaker I consider myself to be a fan of a lot of Michael Bay’s films. Bad Boys, Pain & Gain, The Rock, 13 Hours and even Armageddon are all films I have enjoyed. He’s drawn the ire of some film fans however with films like Pearl Harbour (which I’ve not seen) and the incredibly popular Transformers franchise.
Transformers The Last Knight is the fifth film in the live action Transformers film series. Continuing on with new series protagonist from the previous film, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), this film sees the good autobots still lumped together with the villainous decepticons and outlawed by mankind in the wake of collateral damage which they seem to have brought to earth. Leader of the autobots, Optimus Prime, upon completing his long journey back to the Transformer’s home planet of Cybertron is captured by a new enemy with plans to use him in her plan to destroy earth.
The film proceeds more or less as anyone who has seen any the previous 4 films might expect. Having not fully enjoyed the series up til now I found myself once again disappointed in the development of the story, characters and the comedic relief which still comes off as inappropriate either in timing or in content (although perhaps not quite as bad this time as cutaway shots to dogs humping or John Turturro talking about robot testicles as we saw in the franchise’s second instalment).
The over the top action which Bay and this series are both known for of course returns as well. I must say that the mixing of CGI and live action which has always been impressive still excels if you stop to appreciate the movie on such a technical level.
That is if you can actually keep track of what is going on. I’m not sure if this has something to do with the film having 6 different editors but I felt like I was inside the head of a schizophrenic at times with how the movie is shot, edited and jumps from one plot thread to another.
Something I’ve noticed with the story of each of these films is that every single one of them presents a new revelation on how long Transformers have actually been on earth. They were here building the pyramids, they were the true reason for man walking on the moon, they were here with the dinosaurs and now they were instrumental in the legend of King Arthur. I believe these revelations are to make the audience not think that the world would be a much better place, and avoid periodical catastrophic events killing thousands, if the Transformers would simply leave. Each film needs a new reason for them to be here and after a while they’re starting to pile up on each other and conflict.
On top of that it means every film feels too heavy with exposition as this new reason needs to be explained though in such a way which won’t completely bore the fans who are there for the action. This is where the inappropriate timing of humour comes in as the movie can’t go too long without the equivalent of a pie in the face gag.
Characters both human and robotic are introduced and dropped frequently. Rather than focusing more on key players we’re aquatinted with more supporting characters who don’t appear to serve much of a purpose and disappear from the film before they do. John Turturro & Josh Duhamel both series regulars who were absent from the previous film round out the cast but again don’t do much.
This wouldn’t be too much of an issue but as a result the role of major characters like Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) seem rushed or are flat out absent from most of the film in the case of Optimus Prime or the leader of the decepticons, Megatron.
Optimus in particular whom I’ve never thought was handled well in any of the films barely makes an appearance til past the halfway mark then 10 minutes later he’s back to making these forced rallying speeches to motivate the troops to go into the final battle when he hasn’t earned the right to take on that leader role.
I think a problem with the Transformers film franchise for a lot of people has been the lack of genuine passion for what was going on. The films are visually stunning and often exhausting to watch as the staggering amount of man hours which have gone into creating them is clear to see. But at the same time they can feel hollow and boring.
When the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live action films, themselves produced by Michael Bay, were announced the details of changes to the established ideas of the property caused an uproar. In time this led to the decision to shift gears and so the sequel from the ground up was crafted with die hard fans of TMNT in mind. Familiar villains, heroes, monsters and even the theme song which any fan would know off by heart were included and I believe this made a much more enjoyable film in the process.
The Transformers films have never had this reinvention because they never really needed to being the franchise was always so popular despite negativity from some audiences. This sums up my thoughts on Transformers The Last Knight. If you have enjoyed the franchise up till now then you will definitely enjoy this latest addition. However, unlike with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, I can’t think of a reason to recommend this sequel to anyone who has felt let down by the series up till now.
Average Subculture Rating:
Other Subculture Entertainment Transformers: The Last Knight Reviews: N/A
Summary: The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 17th November 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: USA, UK
Director: David Yates
Screenwriter: J.K. Rowling
Cast: Peter Braitmayer (Mr. Bingley), Gemma Chan (Madam Ya Zhou), Josh Cowdery (Henry Shaw Jnr/Senator Shaw), Johnny Depp (Grindelwald), Rudi Dharmalingham (Ranjit), Christian Dixon (Momolou Wotorson), Henry Douthwaite (Skender), Carmen Ejogo (Seraphina Picquery), Colin Farrell (Graves), Dan Fogler (Kowalski), Kevin Guthrie (Mr. Abernathy), Ellie Haddington (Mrs. Esposito), Dan Hedaya (Red), Tom Hodgkins (Barker), Denis Khoroshko (Banker Smirnoff), Zoe Kravitz (Lestrange), Alan Mandel (Mr. Goldstein), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone), Samantha Morton (Mark Lou), Wunmi Mosaku (Beryl), Jenn Murray (Chastity Barebone), Martin Oelbermann (Heinreich Eberstadt), Ron Perlman (Gnarlack), Ronan Raferty (Langdon Shaw), Eddie Redmayne (Newt), Alison Sudol (Queenie), Jon Voight (Shaw Senior), Katherine Waterson (Tina), Matthew Wilson (Sam The Obliviator), Faith Wood-Blagrove (Modesty Barebone)
Runtime: 133 mins
OUR FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Welcome back to the Harry Potter universe. Over the years many franchises have tried to tap into the young adult mark. Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent etc have come and gone, and yes they have all done well at the box office… but none quite as well as the behemoth known as the Harry Potter franchise. See where Potter could gloat over the others was the fact that its films were not only embraced by fans but also received critical acclaim as well. Yes there was more than just a few of us that were drawn into a world consisting of Hogwarts, muggles and spells a plenty.
Now J.K. Rowling takes us back into the Harry Potter with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, this time there is even a more literal sense to that statement because for the first time in the franchise’s history Rowling puts on the hat of screenwriter… something it seems she should have done a long time ago.
While Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is set in the Potter universe don’t be expecting the re-appearance of Harry, Ron and Hermoine. No this is set 70 years prior to the trio’s arrival at Hogwarts and centres on another of Dumbeldore’s students – the young wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl) who travels to New York on the simple mission of returning one of the magical creatures that he has rescued back to its rightful home.
After an innocent mix-up with a baker who has dreams of setting up his own shop, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogel – Kung Fu Panda), some more of his menagerie escape into the Big Apple. There escape catches the eye of a recently demoted Ministry of Magic Detective, Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston – Steve Jobs) who immediately reports Scamander to her bosses Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo – Selma) and Percival Graves (Colin Farrell – Total Recall). They immediately believe that he is responsible for a spate of recent attacks that have put the magic world on the brink of war with the non-magics (America’s answer to muggles) and Scamander finds himself in a battle to not only protect his creatures but also find the real culprit for the attacks.
Many fans of the original Potter franchise are going to find themselves in for a journey of differences this time around. While Rowling allows the story to share some familiarities with the original series, things such as those practicing magic not being understood or accepted by those who view them as different, an awkward young wizard out of his depth and the basic battle of good versus evil she also takes some bold steps this time around. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them sees her tackle stories as wide as police corruption and child abuse. Perhaps the biggest surprise this time around though is the scale of the events that Rowling has dreamed up. Alongside her director David Yates (The Legend Of Tarzan) Rowling has conjured up events and a plot that at times rivals the action and scale of a film like X-Men or Man Of Steel. She also allows the film to capture the class and style of 1930’s New York remarkably well too. To her credit she pulls it off so well we can only hope that we see her take on the role of screenwriter many more times in the future.
The other big surprise with this film is that despite its big scale action sequences and heavily slanted fantasy theme the film also allows for a great deal of characterisation. Without spending too much time on a tiresome ‘set-up’ of characters Rowling throws her audience in at the deep end with amazing results. You are quickly won of by the awkward Scamander while the comedic character traits of Jacob and Queenie (Allison Sudol – The Lucky One) quickly make them fan favourites. Romantic interests developing between Jacob Queenie as well as Scamander and Goldstein move the story along with the odd light moments sprinkled between the suspense around characters like Credence (Ezra Miller – The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) and Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp – Pirates Of The Caribbean) keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
This characterisation also allows some actors to step up in ways you wouldn’t expect to them in a film like this. Colin Farrell relishes being in a film of this scale again and manages to steal many of the scenes he appears in. It’s like he knows that roles such as this are rare for him these days and he excels whether he is called upon to deliver an action sequence or a more dramatic emotional scene. Eddie Redmayne also makes the role of Scamander his own but the real surprises here at the performances of Katherine Waterson, Dan Fogler and Allison Sudol who step-up onto the big stage in a huge way and really show their talents. Sons Of Anarchy fans should also look out for Ron Pearlmanin a memorable cameo as well.
While I’ll admit that I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Fantastic Beats I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. The fact that Rowling can deliver a film with this much action is a real surprise while it seems she has created more characters that are likable enough to become household names. With the other announcement that there will be four more films in this franchise all I can say is bring them on… I can’t wait.
With the lucrative Harry Potter franchise done and dusted, author J K Rowling has expanded on her Potterverse with this stand alone tale set some seven decades before the adventures of the boy wizard. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them serves as the launching pad for a new post-Potter franchise set against the world of magic and sorcery, and somewhat ambitiously another four films have been planned for the series so far.
The film follows the misadventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander (played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne) who has just completed a global excursion for the Ministry of Magic to document the varied and amazing array of magical creatures in the world. He will go on to write the fictional text book that became mandatory reading at Hogwarts.
But the time is now 1926 and the setting a pre-Depression era New York. It is also a time of heightened tensions between humans and the magical community, and suspicion, paranoia and intolerance that has driven most of the wizards underground. The magical community that keeps a low profile after the actions of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (a cameo from Johnny Depp). There is a secret society known as the Second Salemers that are leading a campaign to identify witches within the community.
Scamander has stepped off the boat for a short stop over in New York. He carries with him a battered leather suitcase that contains some samples of strange creatures great and small. He accidentally bumps into klutzy wannabe baker and no-maj (the American term for a muggle) Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), who is also carrying a battered suitcase containing samples of his pastries. They somehow manage to switch suitcases, and Kowalski accidentally unleashes some fantastic beasts onto the unsuspecting city. The release of the creatures attracts the attention of the Magical Congress of The United States of America, a sort of magic police force.
Porpentina Goldstein (played by Katherine Waterston) is an auror, a dark wizard catcher, who has fallen out of favour with MCUSA and she sets out to redeem herself by catching Scamander and his creatures before they can bring harm to the city. She teems up with her mind reading sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), Scamander and Kowalski. But there is a mysterious threat to the city from some elusive and dangerous force that is also wreaking havoc. And the uncompromising Percival Graves (a sullen, sinister Colin Farrell), the director of Magical Security with MCUSA, also has his own agenda and is involved in some shady dealing with the troubled teen and ostracised wizard pupil Credence (Ezra Miller).
Rowling has written the screenplay herself which is based on the short story she wrote in 2011 and published under the pseudonym of Newt Scamander. But it is a little convoluted and very busy with several subplots. There are a lot of ideas at play here but not all of it works. As usual Rowling has created a world that operates within its own set of sometimes flexible rules, and she has created a unique language. Fantastic Beasts has a dark and whimsical tone that is far removed from the lighter tone of the early Potter movies.
The director is David Yates, who helmed the final four films of the Potter series, so he is familiar with the demands of the material. The action is dominated and overwhelmed by the impressive array of CGI effects in an effort to distract from the lack of cohesive narrative and well defined characters. Unlike the Potter series here we don’t get as emotionally involved with the characters. There are indeed some fabulous creations here, including a kleptomaniac platypus; but there is one creature that looks suspiciously like a deflated rubber toy! And the over the top finale almost destroys as much of New York as the Marvel characters.
There are some nice performances though. Redmayne brings a boyish quality to his reading of Scamander, and he brings plenty of nervous energy, nervous tics and mannerisms to the character that are somewhat endearing. Farrell is gruff and taciturn as the sinister Graves but he also appears bored at stages. Fogler provides plenty of comic relief. Waterston brings strength and a feisty quality to her Porpentina, while singer turned actress Subol brings a perky energy to her role. Jon Voight is wasted in a small and thankless role as Henry Shaw, a powerful newspaper magnate leading a crusade against magic and wizardry.
The film offers up a visually impressive environment, and it has been superbly shot by Philippe Rousselot, whose use of sepia tones imbues the material with a strong touch of nostalgia. The authentic period detail brings 1920s New York to life. Colleen Atwood’s costumes also add to the stylish and strong visual look of the film.
The film’s themes of intolerance, paranoia, bigotry and suspicion will resonate strongly with audiences, especially given recent political events in America. But this is a flawed film, and whether Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them has the legs to support another four films in the series remains to be seen.
You can listen to Nick Gardener’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them review from The Wednesday Motley Crew right here.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, directed by David Yates and starring Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Fine Frenzy and Eddie Redmayne, being with it the return of the Wizarding world we have all grown fond of from the Harry Potter series.
I loved that this film, even while being part of the Harry Potter franchise, gave its own reputation. It didn’t rely too much on the success of Harry Potter to make this film successful. The characters were all cast perfectly, the film had some genuinely funny moments and the action, drama and of course the magic were all balanced out really well in my opinion.
It was fantastic to see magic from the Wizarding world back on screen once again and at the same time bring concepts of the Wizarding world that were never discussed in Harry Potter. I loved that they kept this fresh and interesting with a whole new story line and broad range of new characters.
In some movies I find myself getting bored towards the middle of the film but in Fantastic Beasts there was nothing that allowed me to be bored because there was constantly something interesting happening on screen. The scenery, special effects and all over direction of the film was done really well and I highly recommend going and seeing the film if you are a Harry Potter fan.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Reviews: You can also listen to our Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them reviews on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #202. You can listen to Dave’s Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them review on the 10/11/2016 episode of That’s Entertainment.