Rick Sanchez (Justin Roiland) is still living with his daughter Beth’s (Sarah Chalke) family and causing more trouble than ever. This season the rest of the family, his son-in-law Jerry (Chris Parnell), grand-daughter Summer (Spencer Grammer) and grand-son Morty (Roiland) are dragged into Rick’s intergalactic adventures, as he faces new threats and mysteries of his secret past are revealed. Can the family survive Rick’s insanity and all the chaos the universe throws at them? (official season 2 synopsis)
Dan Harmon’s envelope-pushing animation series Rick and Morty is not for the fainthearted, the easily outraged, or the creatively timid.
Much like Seth MacFarlane’s marvelously-warped creation Family Guy, it pushes boundaries so far and fast that they spring back on you before you even know what’s hit you, and goes THERE, totally goes THERE, over and over without a hint of an apology, and with a wink and a nod, and tongue fixed most firmly in mouth.
It’s gleefully politically incorrect, robustly satirical, wildly colourful, chock full of aliens with attitude, time travel galore and inter-dimensional tripping to places weird and wonderful so fabulously warped that the good men and women of Star Trek must be green with alternate universe envy.
And now, come July 26, it will be back for a second season on Adult Swim!
Now don’t just sit there! You have a universe to destroy!
Oh yeah and that thing you heard about Rick and Morty killing The Simpsons. Totally happened …
Inside Out, Pixar’s latest transcendent animation triumph, takes us, in the most gloriously poignant and colourful way possible, into the mind of an 11 year old girl named Riley, who is struggling to cope with some pretty major changes in her hitherto untroubled young life, precipitated by her family’s move from Minnesota to San Francisco.
The genius of this beautifully-made, riot of colour richly moving film is the way everything she thinks and most importantly feels represented by five key emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black) – all of whom play a key role in the way she sees the world and reacts to it.
It is well nigh impossible not identify with pretty everything that happens in the sweet, tender, funny film since who of us hasn’t felt alienated, or lost, or sad, or uncertain of what the future holds, or conversely, ecstatically happy or deeply loved by friends or family?
And now the amazingly talented folks at Poster Posse have managed to add even more lustre to the film’s already luminous, emotionally-insightful countenance by crafting a beautiful line of posters that tap beautifully into the look and feel of this most remarkable of films.
You can see more of this gorgeous artwork at Slash Film.
Movie franchises have a curiously complicated relationship with the moviegoing public.
While there is an almost universal desire to see new instalments as quickly as the slow-moving development behemoth of Hollywood will allow – the near religious mania over the upcoming new instalment in the Star Wars saga is evidence of this – the response to any new material that comes down the cinematic pike is often met with a contradictorily passionate love-hate dynamic.
This mixed response explains why movies like the recently-released Jurassic World, and now Terminator Genisys, though news of their impending existence is initially acclaimed with feverish anticipation, go on to attract so much vitriol and derision once they’re playing in front of moviegoers.
What is so interesting about fandom’s embrace, or rather non-embrace of these franchise johnny-come-latelys is that well-made, well-told films are often treated as if they are cast-offs from an amateur weekend filmmaking course in the backwaters of Alabama.
And many times that is inherently unfair as is the case with Terminator Genisys, directed by Alan Taylor (Palookaville, Thor: Dark World) which has been both hailed for its visionary, narrative-pushing premise and reviled in equal measure for what many see as an overly-complicated fifth instalment in the franchise, that struggles to make the case for its existence clear.
A retcon of sorts for the franchise, that is a film that resets the established mythos of the films, Genisys manages that enormously tricky balancing act of being both an agent of great change, shaking things up in ways that established fans of the franchise clearly find objectionable, and paying tribute to everything that has gone before it.
Arnie is of course back as the good old T-800 model, now affectionately known as “Pops”, doing double duty both as the protective Terminator of the second film, and as the newly-arrived, much-younger CGI-enhanced Model 101 of old, as much of a tip of the hat to the franchise as any fan could possibly hope for.
Pops’, ahem, chronologically-advanced appearance is explained neatly with a quick reference to the biological skin not faring as well as the mechanics within – the phrase “Old but not obsolete” is repeated over and over, as much a commentary on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s changed looks and hopefully enduring movie star appeal, as the antique nature of his Terminator model – and it’s made abundantly clear that he is more than up to the task of looking after Sarah Connor, as he did in the first films.
But this is where things get very interesting indeed.
Unlike in the first films, where all manner of time travel trickery and Skynet manipulation did little to affect the eventual outcome – Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese fight off a succession of pesky Terminators, fall in love, make a baby who grows up to be humanity’s hero, John Connor, who leads a liberating fight against the machines – in the altered timeline of Terminator Genisys, all bets are off and all the old certainties are gleefully, and largely successfully, tossed out the temporal window, to a greater or lesser extent.
While the first part of the film shows a triumphant John Connor vanquishing Skynet once and for all, events quickly take a less positive turn when Skynet pulls one last ace out of its mechanical sleeve and sends a young, muscular Arnie back to 1984 as the last of its memory core supposedly falls to the tenacious humans.
He is quickly followed by eager volunteer and John Connor’s righthand man Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) who disappears naked as the day he was born just as Skynet makes one last play to forestall its own demise by corrupting Connor into a half-human, half-machine T-3000 monstrosity ( this clanger of a spoiler is liberally folded, oddly enough, into the trailer for reasons unknown).
He arrives back in the era that was home to the original films to find Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones), all grown up and trained as a kickass fighter since the age of 9 by Pops who rescued her from another Terminator sent back way earlier than had previously been the case, a liquid-metal, shape-shifting T-1000 played by Lee Byung-hun hot on their trail and the events of 1997, when Skynet originally unleashed nuclear armageddon, pushed out to 2017.
All the old players in the franchise are presented and accounted for but all in different configurations and timelines, their motivations thrown into a blender to brilliantly refreshing effect.
Dismissed by some as over-complicated tinkering with the time line, the script by Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier, is one of those rare instances where moving the long-established chess pieces around the franchise board actually works.
Humanity is still very much in peril, Skynet, now known as Genisys, is still plotting humanity’s oblivion but it’s all taking place in the hyper-interconnected year of 2017 when the ability to have each and every device turn against humanity in one nightmarishly realised uprising is more plausible than ever.
John Connor is now very much the bad guy with Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, and the seemingly indestructible Pops, who falls and rise many times over, now fighting for the salvation of humanity’s machine-addicted soul.
As is the way of these time travel epics, there are plot holes and narrative omissions big enough to thrown multiple Arnies through simultaneously side-by-side – who for instance sent the earlier Arnie through to rescue Sarah aged 9 and why, and how did Skynet not know? – but they are largely papered over by the relentless action of Terminator Genisys which also manages to inject some real humanity into proceedings in some emotionally-evocative interludes.
Granted, this may not be your grandmother’s Terminator franchise, but then neither it is a craven, wanton reboot or reimagining, stripped of everything we remember fondly of its predecessors.
Rather, it is an imaginative, enormously clever shake-up of the franchise, a reminder for rusted-on fans of every pop culture franchise out there, that revering what we love is an admirable and understandable thing but that everything, yes even Terminators, need an injection of newness now and then to keep things fresh, appealing and relevant.
You only have to see one Wes Anderson film to know how literate his filmmaking style is and to realise how much his obvious love of literature influences pretty much every scene that makes it onto the screen.
Here is a man not only in possession of some wondrously whimsical, idiosyncratically insightful ideas but also blessed with the necessary patience and style to articulate it slowly, meaningfully and with style,much like a book, something Indiewirenotes in its piece on Bibiliophilia:
“There are no loud crashes, alarming close-ups, or slamming crescendos to grab your attention, nor is there any great rush through their narratives.”
But it’s not simply the way Wes Anderson’s films, which include Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel, feel like a book that stands out.
Everywhere you look in his films, you see books, people reading books, both real and imagined, an affirmation that literature is an enriching thing, no matter who you might be.
The fact that pretty much all of Wes Anderson’s characters are clever and fiercely capable and insightful, each in their own distinctive ways, bears that point out time and again.
And nowThe A to Z Review have gathered all of the delightfully quirky director’s bookish moments together in one video, giving us the chance to soak and luxuriate in the power of unhurried storytelling which imbues every single one of his remarkable films.
That giggling, red food colouring-powered sound you hear is my inner child doing cartwheels at the the thought of yet more animated films coming our way in the not too distant future (if you consider late 2016 the “not too distant future” which the way time is currently racing past, I most certainly do).
Oh hell, he’s not just doing those cartwheels deep down inside me where no one can really see; he’s out there laughing and having a ball for the whole world to see.
I love animated films, especially beautifully-made ones with something brilliantly worthwhile to say, and with these three films I’ve chosen to highlight, including Kung Fun Panda 3, The Secret Life of Pets and Hotel Transylvania 2, there is a lot to look forward to in that regard.
So grab some candy, chug-a-lug down some Kool-Aid and let your inner child run free!
When Po’s long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters. But when the supernatural villain Kai begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible-learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas! (official synopsis via IMDb)
The reason why the Kung Fu Panda franchise has struck such a chord with the moviegoing public is because we all appreciate a story where the underdog, the put upon little-train-that-could that doesn’t quite make it over and over, finally achieves success, discovering in the process who they really are and that they naturally have far more value than they were ever given credit for, by themselves and others.
Yes, it is beautifully animated, funny and cleverly-written, but it’s the empathy at the heart of the two movies so far, and the third instalment which arrives in cinemas in 2016, for the loveable loser, the adorable lacking in confidence “loser”, that really stands out when you watch the films.
This is the franchise for anyone who ever wished with a passion that life could be a million times better than it is, and it looks like Kung Fu Panda 3 is continuing that tradition – it’s Po against an arch-villain, saviour of all China! – as well keeping up the silliness quotient to a highly pleasing degree.
The scene where Po faces off with the older Panda who is quite clearly his dad is a gem and a harbinger of an hilarious movie to come.
Kung Fu Panda 3 opens in USA on 29 January 2016 and in Australia on 24 March.
For one bustling Manhattan apartment building, the real day starts after the folks on two legs leave for work and school. That’s when the pets of every stripe, fur and feather begin their own nine-to-five routine: hanging out with each other, trading humiliating stories about their owners, or auditioning adorable looks to get better snacks. The building’s top dog, Max (voiced by Louis C.K.), a quick-witted terrier rescue who’s convinced he sits at the center of his owner’s universe, finds his pampered life rocked when she brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet), a sloppy, massive mess of a mongrel with zero interpersonal skills. When this reluctant canine duo finds themselves out on the mean streets of New York, they have to set aside their differences and unite against a fluffy-yet-cunning bunny named Snowball (Kevin Hart), who’s building an army of Ex-Pets abandoned by their owners and out to turn the tables on humanity…all before dinnertime. (official synopsis via Coming Soon)
I knew it!
I knew deep down inside that the moment I walked out the door my cat, asleep in the corner of the room after inexplicably rejecting his favourite brand of fish-flavoured food, would shoot up Ninja-like and head to the fridge to find food more to his extraordinarily persnickety tastes and now I have proof in the form of highly amusing, sweet and utterly relatable teaser trailer for The Secret Life of Pets.
We have a good while to wait for this animated gem but based on just this brief glimpse alone, I am prepared to book tickets to the Gold Coast in southern Queensland a year ahead so I can take my animal-loving niece to see it.
She loves her pets – a chihuahua who barks like crazy much like the dog in the trailer, and a cat whose bowl kicking skills when her meal doth not amuse her, are damn near legendary – as do I and this looks like the perfect film for anyone who’s ever suspected the pets have got it better than we do.
I mean we know they do but now we have PROOF.
The Secret Life of Pets opens in USA on 8 July 2016 and in Australia on 8 September.
Drac’s pack is back for an all-new monster comedy adventure in Sony Pictures Animation’sHotel Transylvania 2! Everything seems to be changing for the better at Hotel Transylvania… Dracula’s rigid monster-only hotel policy has finally relaxed, opening up its doors to human guests. But behind closed coffins, Drac is worried that his adorable half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dennis, isn’t showing signs of being a vampire. So while Mavis is busy visiting her human in-laws with Johnny – and in for a major cultural shock of her own – “Vampa” Drac enlists his friends Frank, Murray, Wayne and Griffin to put Dennis through a “monster-in-training” boot camp. But little do they know that Drac’s grumpy and very old, old, old school dad Vlad is about to pay a family visit to the hotel. And when Vlad finds out that his great-grandson is not a pure blood – and humans are now welcome at Hotel Transylvania – things are going to get batty! (synopsis via official Hotel Transylvania 2 website)
I love postmodernism.
I adore the way it takes characters from a slew of different genres, books, films and TV shows and throws them all together into a melting pot that celebrates who they are, but also has some fun redefining them in modern terms.
Hotel Transylvania accomplished that most wonderfully in its first outing throwing together vampires, werewolves, mummies and yes blobs to hilarious effect and now they’re back at it again in the upcoming second instalment.
The sense of whimsy and the cracking oneliners are very much in place as is the exploration of what it means to be family, albeit an extremely unorthodox The Addams Family-esque one.
Add in a very postmodern redefining of what it means to be a vampire, or any kind of “monster” in the 21st century, a theme explored by a lot of TV shows and movies like Grimm for instance, and you have a movie with heart-and-soul and nice little message for the kiddies, and yes big kids like me, to take away.
Hotel Transylvania 2 opens in USA on 25 September 2015 and Australia on 26 November.
Losing someone you love deeply is never, ever easy.
No matter how much positive thinkers encourage us to celebrate life, look on the bright side of things, and believe life will go on and be even better than it was before our great loss, the reality is a good deal of grieving, deep down in the trenches of sadness grieving, must happen before all those oft-promised rainbows and glittery unicorns of future possibility can manifest themselves.
That’s the way of things, and hard though it is, if we are move on in any meaningful way – itself a loaded concept since part of you will always be rooted back when you heard the news about your loved one’s loss – we have to let the sadness run its course.
That and all the other stages of grieving which don’t always play out as people expect, something that What Cheer? by New York-based Five Eyed Films, a most imaginative and poetic representation of one man’s journey through enervating grief, makes clear in the most poignant and touchingly-offbeat of ways.
Starring the always wonderful Richard Kind, an actor of singularly distinctive presence and voice, the film is, notes Laughing Squid, an amazingly rich, unique story of the way grief and loss can affect of each of us in wholly individual ways:
“What Cheer?, a short film by Five Eyed Films that features actor Richard Kind as a bewildered man who’s being followed around by a relentless marching band, played by the What Cheer? Brigade, after his wife dies unexpectedly. At first he is in denial of his wife’s death but becomes fascinated with the band before becoming annoyed, frightened and bewildered by the constant noise. It’s when he finally reaches a point of acceptance that the music quiets down, as if it were playing out each stage of his grieving process to the end.
Take the time to watch it alone or with someone you love, and be ready to be reminded that feeling sad and bereft is as valid an expression of our lives as human beings as the joy that will inevitably follow it when we’re ready to receive it.
In Boulevard, the routine of everyday life quietly peels away to reveal the struggle of a loving husband in conflict with his inner-self. Nolan Mack (Williams) and his wife Joy (Baker) wake up under the same roof each morning, their separate bedrooms underscoring the disparate worlds they’re living in. Nolan’s disconnection carries on in his job at the bank, where even a promotion cannot seem to lift the emptiness that permeates his life. His emotional journey begins to unfold when Nolan encounters a troubled young man (Aguire). Nolan finds himself forced, for the first time, to confront the loneliness of his longtime marriage. While bravely risking every relationship in his life, Nolan opens himself to an incredible opportunity where desire might find its way back into his heart. (official synopsis via Coming Soon)
Coming to terms who you really are is never an easy thing, largely because it can often mean drastic changes in the life you lead, and often, the people with whom you live it.
That is quite often the case with coming out, a process which I can attest from personal experience is both joyously liberating – finally being able to yourself is an absolute joy beyond words – and frightening beyond belief.
You know you need to make the move, to tell the world all about your authentic self but even knowing what you will gain, and those gains are considerable, it’s often still hard to look past what you will lose.
However, in the end life has a way of upending the apple cart whether we’re aware it’s happening or not, the pressure of being someone you are not becoming too much to bear, which is the case with Nolan Mack, played with a poignant resonance by Robin Williams in his last onscreen performance, who realises late in life that his homosexuality is a reality which can no longer be denied.
Coming to terms with that unleashes a long stopped-up can of worms that upends everything Mack has ever known, but once the process has begun, one set in train by a random late night drive down an unfamiliar street, there is no stopping it and no one’s life, most of all Mack’s, will be the same once the dust has settled.
Given Williams’ well-regarded performances in serious dramas such as The World According to Garp, One Hour Photo, Insomnia, and of course, Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting, and a handful of positive reviews following the film’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, there’s every reason to believe Boulevard will be a final worthy entry in the actor’s highly admirable, but lamentably cut short, canon of work.
If you add to this final touching dramatic performance, Williams’ voice work as a wise cracking dog in upcoming comedy Absolutely Anything, you have, as Screenrant sagely pointed out, “as good an encapsulation of what made Robin Williams great as any.”
The series will star Cliff Curtis (Missing, Gang Related), Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, Sons of Anarchy), Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and Alycia Debnam Carey (Into the Storm). It will take place far away from the Atlanta, Georgia setting of The Walking Dead in the streets of Los Angeles, amid the early days of the infection.
Series creator Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero and David Alpert from The Walking Dead are executive producers of the new series, which is being produced by AMC Studios. Dave Erickson (Marco Polo, Sons of Anarchy), who co-created and co-wrote the pilot with Kirkman, is an executive producer and showrunner. Adam Davidson will direct the pilot episode.
Among the many questions that have preoccupied the minds of fan of The Walking Dead since it’s premiered five eventful, bloodthirsty, undead seasons ago is how it did begin, what caused it and will a decent barber/hairdresser ever join Rick’s group so they can get decent haircuts every once in a while?
The third question seemed to find some resolution in the Alexandria Safe Zone (ASZ) in season 5 when everyone in Rick’s bedraggled group of survivors got cleaned up, had their dirty locks shorn, and were dressed up in pretty, new clean clothes.
Answers to the first two questions have proved more elusive however.
Until now … well partially.
While Robert Kirkman is adamant he has no plans to reveal what caused the zombie outbreak that has so devastated life as everyone knew it, new series Fear the Walking Dead promises to show us the beginning of the end of the world in all its civilisation-falling-apart-at-the-seams horror.
Focusing on one family, we will see how reports of a “flu virus” gradually give way to something far more awful and terrifying, a scenario so beyond anyone’s experience that people struggle to react in any kind of meaningful way at best.
Except of course to try to survive, which is what we see Nick Curtis (Frank Dillane) doing in spectacularly fleet-footed fashion as he runs from an unseen pursuer, who might be human – it won’t take long for Lord of the Flies everyone for themselves rule to kick into high gear so a very much alive attacker is a real possibility – or frighteningly, most definitely not.
Either way, there’s a lot more to worry about in this brave, new, wrecked world than paying your bills and catching the morning train, and as the poster – which plays on everyone’s fear of scary things lurking at the end of darkened corridors – and teaser trailer attest, you would do well to Fear the Walking Dead.
If you’re a parent, or frankly anyone closely related to or looking after a child under five – guilty as charged; I’m the happy uncle to four adorable nieces and nephews – there is a better than average chance the only song that has been lodged in your earworm since about Christmas 2013 is Frozen’s stellar centrepiece song “Let It Go”.
There is of course a very good reason for that – it’s a beautifully-written, Academy Award- worthy song that literally hits all the right notes and then some; but if you have watched more than one Disney film, and again, given how much kids love to watch multiple movies multiple times, there’s a better than average chance you have, then you’ll know how many brilliant songs Disney has in its extensive musical repertoire.
And now one very talented entertainer, Texan Todrick Hall, who first came to prominence in 2010 when he appeared on the ninth season of American Idol where he reached the semi finals, and now works on Broadway as well creating viral YouTube videos, has brought together a dizzying array of those songs in a medley that takes you through what he has termed The Evolution of Disney.
Kicking off with “Whistle While You Work” from 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and ending with, you guessed it, “Let It Go” from Frozen, he sings his way with every bit as much animation and joie de vivre as any of Disney’s beloved animated characters through all the songs you know, and the kids in your life love (go on, admit, like me, you do as well).
It’s bright, colourful, fun viewing, made all the more wonderful by the way Hall interacts seamlessly with the four filmed versions of himself that make up each shot, reminding us all the way why Disney is the master of animated and the incandescently catchy songs that go with them.
In the wake of a nuclear war, a young woman survives on her own, fearing she may actually be the proverbial last woman on earth, until she discovers the most astonishing sight of her life: another human being. A distraught scientist, he’s nearly been driven mad by radiation exposure and his desperate search for others. A fragile, imperative strand of trust connects them. But when a stranger enters the valley, their precarious bond begins to unravel. (synopsis via Coming Soon)
You could be forgiven for thinking that humanity as a whole is really jonesing for the world to end, and to end very soon.
Our current fascination, some might say obsession, with zombie apocalypses, virulent epidemics, climatic disasters, alien invasions and nuclear annihilation might suggest a hankering for the civilisation’s quick and dramaticallu-potent demise.
Lest you think that this is a recent thing, you may want to harken back to the Biblical book of Revelation, or the ancient Egyptians obsession with world-ending vampiric pestilence or Ragnarök, the idea that a great battle will end with the submersion of the world in water.
Or if you don’t want to venture too far back, you could start with Z For Zachariah, a posthumously-published novel by the family of Robert C. O’Brien (real name Robert Leslie Conly), which focused on one young girl alone in a verdant valley, the last outpost of the world that once was.
Cocooned in this perfect world within a ruined world, religious Ann is joined by a mysterious radiation-suited stranger, an atheist named Loomis, and all looks well, and a whole lot less lonelier, until things go pear-shaped as is the way of apocalyptic things.
In the film version of the book, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, she is joined by not one but two other people, complicating things even further for the young survivor, and amping up the tension still further.
Far more than a simple love triangle, it is an exploration of what happens when humanity, even at the end of the world when the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been, can’t quite shake off the lesser angels of its nature.
While most reviewers have noted, including Rodrigo Perez of The Playlistthat it is not a perfect movie:
“Easily Zobel’s most accomplished work with a self-assured simplicity that marks every frame, Z For Zachariah is nevertheless still uneven. Its craft can be impressive: Zobel’s film possesses a searing, slow burn tone that’s beautifully controlled. The movie is admirably patient and gives breathing room and space for these relationships to bloom believably and organically. But the build to a climax is far too slow and with little emotional payoff.”
It nevertheless looks intriguing for me to give it a go, emotionally-uncertain payoffs be damned.
After all, the world has ended – you can’t expect perfection can you?
OK well maybe you can with a film about the end of the world, but there looks to be enough going for Z For Zachariah to at least see what happens when humanity’s fate rests on the three last people left on Earth.
Z For Zachariah, which premiered at Sundance in January 2015, opens in USA on 21 August.