Family

Woody Woodpecker (2017)

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The latest in a classic cartoon going to live-action form, the lovable but mischievous woodpecker’s adventure has its moments.

Lance Walters is a lawyer who just lost his job because of an interview he made going viral. He has learned that his grandfather left him a major piece of property among the Canadian border. He decides to build an estate and flip it for a profit. He takes his gold-digging fiancé Vanessa and his son Tommy, only after Lance’s ex-wife must visit her dad in the hospital. Lance and Tommy do not get along and Vanessa can’t stand Tommy as well.

When Lance begins his project, Woody Woodpecker learns of what has happened and decides to try to stop Lance at all costs. However, Woody also befriends Tommy, who feels like he doesn’t belong. That is, until he meets local teens Jill and Lyle and the trio decide to form a band. However, Lance is the least of Woody’s problems as two brothers, who have been poaching animals in the area, want Woody, who is the last of an endangered species.

The first announcement of this live-action adaptation of the classic Walter Lantz novel was a Brazilian trailer, due to the fact that the film was marketed to Brazil. The character, a mischievous woodpecker who has a distinct laugh (made famous by Lantz’s wife Grace Stafford, who voiced the character for a whopping 4 decades before her passing in 1992), is huge in the South American country. So how does the film fare out in terms of American family films? It’s what one would normally expect.

The film seems to have taken a page from the Furry Vengeance book of rules in terms of “don’t mess with mother nature”. Galavant star Timothy Omundson plays the former lawyer who still looks for a good deal and decides to make an estate on land left to him by his grandfather. Of course, he’s the one who “has to learn a lesson” and changes himself in the process. He goes from being quite overbearing to someone who learns the true relationship not just with nature, but especially with his son Tommy, played by Graham Verchere.

As mentioned the Brazilian market was key for this film so what better way than to bring a Brazilian actress to the mix. Thaila Ayala is that actress, who plays the gold-digging Vanessa, who goes to admit she never liked kids especially when she was one, this causing loads of friction between herself and Tommy. However, it is Vanessa who gets more of the hijinks caused by Woody not so much Lance. While Lance may get the occasional hit, it is Vanessa who truly gets the brunt of it. Scott McNeil, a respected voice actor, and Adrian Glynn McMorran play the hillbilly poachers who play the typical stereotypes and like Vanessa, get a brunt of Woody.

The major issue is that Woody’s voice, done by voice actor Eric Bauza, is not so much as high-pitched as Stafford’s. It is was one of those things one would have to get used to when it comes to going through the film. It’s not that Bauza is a good voice actor, because he is. It is just that he just didn’t seem to mesh when it came to voicing Woody Woodpecker at first and it does improve very little as the film runs.

Woody Woodpecker has its moments, and it is what you would expect in a family film based on a classic. Just try getting used to the new voice of Woody and you just may end up really enjoying it with the kids.

WFG RATING: C

A Universal 1440 Entertainment production. Director: Alex Zamm. Producer: Mike Elliott. Writers: William Robertson and Alex Zamm; story by Robertson, Zamm, Daniel Altiere, and Steven Altiere; based on the character created by Walter Lantz. Cinematography: Barry Donlevy. Editing: Heath Ryan.

Cast: Timothy Omundson, Thaila Ayala, Graham Verchere, Jordana Largy, Scott McNeil, Adrian Glynn McMorran, voice of Eric Bauza.

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Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997)

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In 1997, the series Power Rangers Zeo was coming to an end. What better way to kick off the next Power Rangers series with a full-length feature film that has a very shocking twist and the return of an original Ranger without her powers.

Angel Grove has been the home of the Power Rangers, protectors of the Earth against the likes of Rita Repulsa, Lord Zedd, and even Ivan Ooze. Their latest challenge comes in the form of Divatox, an evil space pirate hellbent on releasing an ancient warrior known as Maligore from his imprisonment in a volcano on the island of Maranthias. In order to complete her mission, Divatox must kidnap the kind alien warrior Lerigot, who has the key to release Maligore. It is up to the Rangers, Red Zeo Ranger Tommy; Green Zeo Ranger Adam; Yellow Zeo Ranger Tanya; and Pink Zeo Ranger Katherine to protect Lerigot from Divatox and her minions.

During training for a martial arts competition, Blue Zeo Ranger Rocky injures himself and is deemed unable to assist the Rangers. The Rangers soon learn that in case Maligore is released, the Rangers’ Zeo powers will be useless. Therefore, they must now gain new powers and become the Turbo Power Rangers. Still wearing their Zeo colors, the Turbo Power Rangers have new vehicular Zords and now much head to Maranthias to stop Divatox. Meanwhile, Rocky’s replacement as the Blue Ranger has arrived in the form of pre-teen youngster Justin, which shocks everyone.

Divatox has kidnapped former Power Rangers Jason and Kimberly during a diving expedition along with resident airhead bullies Bulk and Skull in exchange for Lerigot. Duped into thinking the exchange will take place, Divatox has everyone under her grasp and she intends to release Maligore and weark havoc on the world.

This action packed sequel is a step up from the original in terms of mainly its action sequences. The plot is still pretty much child’s play, but this is a children’s action film we are talking about. The Ranger characters are derived from the 1996 Super Sentai series Gekisou Sentai Carranger.

While the original Power Rangers Zeo team appear in the film, one can’t help but be stunned at the injury sustained by Steve Cardenas’ Rocky character. As the original replacement for Austin St. John as the Red Ranger, Cardenas has superb martial arts skills, and his absence may have made the film somewhat inferior. However, 11-year old Blake Foster, a martial artist who was discovered while training, takes over suitably as the new Blue Ranger. He is obviously doubled when he is in Ranger form (a cue from the Kibaranger of 1993’s Gosei Sentai Dairanger, in which Kibaranger was actually a kid as well), but Foster gets to strut his martial arts skills in one fight scene.

This time around, replacing veteran Jeff Pruitt is Alpha Stunts co-founder Koichi Sakamoto heading the fight choreography this time around. Bringing his unique style of costumed combat that helped make the sequel Guyver 2: Dark Hero a more exciting sequel than its predecessor, Sakamoto and the Alpha Stunts team did a great job with the fights much like the way Pruitt unleashed his excellent choreography skills in the original film.

However, the kicker here as to why this may be seen as a more superior sequel is the finale, pitting the oversized Maligore against the new TurboMegazord. Where the first film had ridiculous looking computer effects to showcase the Megazord, in this film, the producers decided to do it in true Japanese tokukatsu form. It truly works here as it does with the Power Rangers universe and is far better to see than the cheesy computer graphics that could have potentially ruined the PR world.

In the end, Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie is a superior sequel over its predecessor, especially with the true form of tokukatsu replacing horrific CGI effects.

WFG RATINGB+

20th Century Fox presents a Saban Films production. Directors: Shuki Levy and David Winning. Producer: Jonathan Tzachor. Writers: Shuki Levy and Shell Danielson; based on the television series “Power Rangers” created by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy; based on “Gekisou Sentai Carranger” by Toei Co. Limited. Cinematography: Ilan Rosenberg. Editing: Henry Richardson and B.J. Sears.

Cast: Johnny Yong Bosch, Nakia Burrise, Steve Cardenas, Black Foster, Jason David Frank, Catherine Sutherland, Jon Simanton, Hilary Sheperd-Turner, Austin St. John, Amy Jo Johnson, Paul Schrier, Jason Narvy, Ed Neil, Carla Perez.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)

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In 1993, the world was introduced to the Power Rangers, an Americanized adaptation of the Japanese annual Super Sentai series. With the success of the television series, 20th Century Fox unleashed the first of two feature-length films that combined elements from three Super Sentai series.

In the city of Angel Grove, a construction site becomes the home of an unearthed artifact. A claw with a huge purple egg is unleashed. That night, Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa open the egg and a mysterious alien named Ivan Ooze appears with plans of world domination. He has learned that Zordon, his one-time nemesis, is still alive and that he will have to deal with the Power Rangers.

The Rangers are Red Ranger Rocky, Blue Ranger Billy, Yellow Ranger Aisha, Black Ranger Adam, Pink Ranger Kimberly and White Ranger Tommy. When they learn of Ivan Ooze’s appearance, they try to fight off Ooze’s goons but it proves to be too little too late. Ivan has destroyed the Rangers’ command center and has put Zordon on life support, causing the Rangers to lose their powers.

In a last ditch effort, the Rangers must travel to a distant planet where under the watchful eye of Dulcea, they must train in the art of Ninjetti and find “The Great Power”. Meanwhile, Ivan Ooze is planning to take over Angel Grove by turning the residents into zombies and digging up his master creation, a giant sized-robot monster.

In 1993, producer Haim Saban unleashed the phenomenon known as the Power Rangers to children everywhere…at least in the United States. Two years after its inception and a roster change on part of three actors, the feature film finally was released. Yes, it is a kids’ action film and yes it can be very cheesy…but this is cheesy in a very fun way.

Complete with the colorful costumes that the kids love (based off 1992’s Super Sentai series Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger and 1993’s Gosei Sentai Dairanger) plus the rigorous action sequences choreographed by martial arts expert Jeff Pruitt, the comic relief lies in the all too sarcastic villain.

Veteran actor Paul Freeman hams it up as the sarcastic Ivan Ooze, an evil mutant whose plans on world domination even gets the best of series villains Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd. The duo get ample screen time, but most of it is spent in a snowglobe. Meanwhile, Australian actress Gabrielle Fitzpatrick  plays Dulcea, the Rangers’ mentor in the art of Ninjetti, which takes a page from the 1994 Super Sentai series Ninja Sentai Kakuranger.

Of course, aside from the Rangers and Zordon, along with automated sidekick Alpha 5, school bullies Bulk and Skull return to the big screen as well. They are more throwaway roles for the most part, but they do try to help the Rangers out during the very bad CGI-filled finale. The finale is perhaps the worst part of the entire film due to its lack of good CGI effects to represent the Rangers’ Zords not to mention Ooze’s combining of himself and robot monster.

While this is considered a campy look at the Power Rangers, the sequel, Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie fares just a tad better, but give them credit. After all, this is a kid’s movie we’re talking about here.

WFG RATING: C+

20th Century Fox presents a Saban Films production. Director: Bryan Spicer. Producer: Suzanne Todd. Writers: Arne Olsen and John Kamps. Cinematography: Paul Murphy. Editing: Wayne Wahrman.

Cast: Karan Ashley, Johnny Yong Bosch, Steve Cardenas, Jason David Frank, Amy Jo Johnson, David Yost, Paul Freeman, Paul Schrier, Jason Narvy, Gabrielle Fitzpatrick, Nicholas Bell, Peta-Marie Rixon, Mark Ginther, Julia Cortez

Midnight Madness (1980)

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Five teams are in for the night of their lives in this Disney film that would mark the debut of two familiar faces today.

Leon, a college student, has come up with an idea for an all-night scavenger hunt which he calls “The Great All-Nighter”. He has picked five of his classmates to play the team leaders of this game. They are debate club leader Wesley, sorority leader Donna, football team captain Levitas, lazy rich boy Harold, and student counselor Adam. At first, the five laugh off Leon’s idea for the game. However, Leon is convinced that they will end up playing the game and his premonition proves correct when a series of events cause the five to become the leaders.

Harold looks to get even with Adam because Harold’s father is tired of his lazy son being upstaged by him. Wesley and Donna find a common enemy in Levitas, whose football team has caused ire with both of them. Adam is unconvinced until his fellow counselor and crush Laura thinks it would be a good idea for Adam to play the game. As the game begins, Leon finds himself in hot water with his landlord, who despises him because of his being a student and vows to evict him if there is one more complaint. However, soon enough Leon’s determination leads his neighbors to join him and root for the teams as this is one night nobody will ever forget.

Who would have ever thought Disney would have released a film about an all-night scavenger hunt between college students? Well, take the notion that for some of their live action films, the use of college students would have adventures in the form of the Dexter Riley trilogy starring Kurt Russell in the seventies, it was time to update to the eighties, where Disney began making PG-rated films such as The Black Hole and the live action Popeye movie. Written and directed by the duo of David Wechter and Michael Nankin, the film is actually a fun adventure that will make you root for basically one team while the story does focus on all five teams.

The title not only refers to the madness the five teams endure as they play the game, but in a bold move, the film also shows the craziness and support from game master Leon. At first, it looks like Leon may have had his number up when his neighbors start to complain about the noise from his apartment. However, once they learn what he is doing, they are not only supportive, but it gets to a point where the neighbors all go to Leon’s apartment and get involved in the game, which incurs the wrath of the building landlord. It gets to a point where even the police find themselves involved with what Leon is involved with in a positive manner.

Before his breakout role as the titular American Werewolf in London, David Naughton plays the good-natured Adam, leader of the Yellow team. He serves as a mentor to teammate Flynch, a nerdy freshman played by Joel Kenney. However, Adam shows while he has good intentions, he does have a bit of a dark side when it comes to his relationship with little brother Scott, played by Michael J. Fox in his film debut. Meanwhile, Stephen Furst’s blue team leader Harold has every intention of getting the best of Adam and also incurring the wrath of his girlfriend when he hides food to break his diet. A special kudos goes to future director Andy Tennant, who is hilarious to watch as Harold’s best friend and comic relief Melio.

What’s better than one Eddie Deezen? What about four near-lookalikes of the nerdy-like actor, who make up the debate team, who sport white while future Simpsons voice actress Maggie Roswell’s red team leader Donna finds herself at times in trouble with her twin teammates but find support with martial arts fighting Beryl, played by Robyn Petty. As for the green team, who dub themselves “The Meat Machine”, Brad Wilkin does well as team leader, but the highlight comes in Dirk Blocker’s Blaylack, who is at his funniest when the teams go to the Pabst Blue Ribbon factory as part of the game.

Aside from Michael J. Fox, the other familiar face making his film debut is Paul Reubens, who gained fame in the 80’s as the childlike Pee Wee Herman. Reubens has a small role as the cowboy-sporting proprietor of a local video game arcade. The film would go on to become an influence on various cities as to this day, people actually have their own “all-night” scavenger hunts.

Midnight Madness is truly a fun adventure that not only shows the players in the game, but even the people who come in full support of their neighbor, the game master. A wonderful young cast drives the film and makes this one Disney film worth checking out.

WFG RATING: B+

A Walt Disney Pictures presentation. Directors: David Wechter and Michael Nankin. Producer: Ron Miller. Writers: David Wechter and Michael Nankin. Cinematography: Frank Phillips. Editing: Norman R. Palmer and Jack Sekely.

Cast: David Naughton, Debra Clinger, David Damas, Michael J. Fox, Joel Kenney, Stephen Furst, Andy Tennant, Patrice Alice Albright, Brian Frishman, Sal Lopez, Maggie Roswell, Robyn Petty, Betsy Lynn Thompson, Carol Gwynn Thompson, Eddie Deezen, Marvin Katzoff, Christopher Sands, Michael Gitomer, Brad Wilkin, Dirk Blocker, Curt Ayers, Trevor Henley, Keny Long, Alan Solomon, Irene Tedrow, Deborah Richter, Kirsten Baker, Paul Reubens.

Surviving the Wild (2018)

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A teen decides to brave the odds to grant his grandfather’s final wish in this great family film featuring Jon Voight and Jamie Kennedy.

Shaun is a 13-year old who is saddened when his grandfather Gus has died. Gus was considered Sean’s best friend due to his parents’ separation, which has since gotten very bad. However, Shaun is the only one able to see the ghost of Gus. When Shaun comes up with the idea of going to what Gus called “Mount Delilah”, Shaun’s mother Rachel and father Kristopher decide not to take him. That night, Shaun comes up with a plan to take Gus’ ashes and play his parents against each other so he can make the journey himself.

Shaun finds himself, aided by Gus, on the journey to “Mount Delilah” with Gus’ dog Riley. As Shaun begins to enjoy the long journey to reach the top of the mountain, he slowly begins to find himself facing numerous challenges. They include a bear coming up to the tent, two crazy hunters in the area, and the ill-health of Riley. When Kristopher and Rachel learn of Shaun’s ruse, the estranged couple decide to work together to find their son. Will Shaun be able to face the challenges that come ahead of him to grant his grandfather’s final wish?

This family adventure film is quite a surprising film that brings together a variety of genres. They include the teen in the wilderness film, the ghost film, and the family drama film, all brought together in a nicely paced 87-minute film. The story of a teen determined to grant his late grandfather’s final wish with the help of said grandfather’s ghost may sound a bit farfetched upon hearing it. However, seeing the film takes on a more positive meaning, especially with this film, thanks in part to Patrick Alessandrin’s direction, the beautiful cinematography by R. Michael Givens (which includes some nice aerial sites of the forests and mountains), and the true driving force of the film, the cast.

Jon Voight is great as late grandfather Gus, who not only serves as the ghost of our hero Shaun, but brings some hilarious comic relief to the film with some funny one-liners when it deems fit. He truly brings that grandfatherly-best friend nature to the role and his chemistry with newcomer Aidan Cullen couldn’t be better. As for Cullen himself, he has this natural talent as a rising star in his role of Shaun, who must overcome the odds in both the wilderness as well as his life to become his own person. Shaun a kid who loves his technology, but also appreciates the world outside of that technology, by enjoying the confines of being in the forests, caves, and the rivers, all to grant his grandfather’s final wish to scatter his ashes on top of the mountain.

Another surprising performance comes from Jamie Kennedy as Shaun’s father Chris. The one time comic fodder of the early 2000’s with films like Malibu’s Most Wanted, Kickin’ It Old School and the very horrific Son of the Mask, Kennedy truly has matured into a serious actor and brings that to the role of the embittered Kristopher, who is seen as a workaholic whose only connection with his son is technology. Vail Bloom seems like she has a constant chip on her shoulder as embittered mother Rachel, who is constantly at odds not just with Kristopher, but before that with Gus as well. The worse is that Rachel seems to vent out her issues to Shaun, refusing to pretty much let him do anything. While it may seem like Kristopher and Rachel may not be Parents of the Year, it is when they work together to find Shaun that redemption for these two in terms of their relationships with both Shaun and each other may seem imminent.

Surviving the Wild is a pretty good family film that truly takes the negatives of life and turns in truly into a positive. The story of overcoming the odds in life is truly one adventure for the family.

WFG RATING: A-

A SP Releasing Production. Director: Patrick Alessandrin. Producers: Steven Paul, Patrick Alessandrin, Mark Hefti, Vail Bloom, and Kyle Otto. Writer: Mark Hefti; story by Steven Paul. Cinematography: R. Michael Givens. Editing: Robert A. Ferretti.

Cast: Jon Voight, Jamie Kennedy, Vail Bloom, Aidan Cullen.

SP Releasing releases this film in select theaters today.

Surf Ninjas (1993)

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It’s time to ride the waves of destiny in this family action comedy that highlights the talents of young martial arts legend Ernie Reyes Jr.

Johnny and Adam are brothers who don’t care about much about school as much as they do about surfing. Raised by Mac, Johnny learns both he and his brother are adopted, but have no idea where they came from. They soon learn the truth about their birth right when they are approached by Zatch, the one-time guard of the Kingdom of Patusan. At first Johnny and Adam find the claims ridiculous. That is, until Mac is kidnapped by the forces of Colonel Chi.

Colonel Chi was responsible for the death of Johnny and Adam’s birth parents, but had become disfigured as a result of his ego. When Zatch leads the boys and their friend Iggy to Little Patusan, Johnny and Adam soon learn they are not just the princes and heir apparent, but the duo have certain skills. Adam is a seer, which he can see things through his video game system while Johnny finds his destiny as the warrior prince. With their newfound skills, they are ready to take on Chi and his team with the intention of bringing peace to Patusan once and for all.

With the success of his career as a kid in 80’s films like Red Sonja and The Last Dragon, alongside having his own TV series, Ernie Reyes Jr. once again got know when he did the fighting in the Donatello suit in the 1990 live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. This would lead to him having a supporting role in the 1991 sequel. To capitalize on this somewhat of a resurgence for his career and it leads to this film. While the premise is cute family fun in an era where the family film and martial arts genre meshed well, this is quite a fun film with a few ridiculous overtones.

The first of the ridiculousness of the film is the fact that Adam’s power as a seer shows him using those powers through his portable video game. Why they opted to go this route may not make sense but perhaps it is used to appeal to the young gamer crowd to bring more of an audience. The number two factor of ridicule in the film is that Leslie Nielsen’s character is that of Colonel Chi and on top of that, he’s not exactly the most intimidating villain. He is seen either complaining on a phone call or worrying about getting wet due to his robotic implants.

While the comedy is really at times juvenile (and that’s forgivable considering the audience this is geared towards), the martial arts action is actually pretty exciting. Choreographed by Ernie Reyes Jr. and his father (the taekwondo legend who also plays Zatch), the action is quite impressive here. To add a comic effect, the song “Ode to Joy” is hilariously played when Johnny’s skills are revealed and even he is in for a surprise. The finale does add some of the ridiculousness but still is okay and of course this being a family film, one knows how this will end.

Surf Ninjas is a fun yet at times ridiculous family film that has some great martial arts action and some mixed comic relief. Leslie Nielsen plays a ridiculous villain and the use of a video game as a seer’s tool is somewhat not appealing, but overall, not a bad film.

WFG RATING: B-

A New Line Cinema production. Director: Neal Israel. Producer: Evzen Kolar. Writer: Dan Gordon. Cinematography: Arthur Albert and Victor Hammer. Editing: Tom Walls.

Cast: Ernie Reyes Jr., Nicholas Cowan, Rob Schneider, Ernie Reyes Sr., Leslie Nielsen, John Karlen, Kelly Hu, Nathan Jung, Tone Loc.

Cars 3 (2017)

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Lightning McQueen returns as he is on the brink of being forced into the last thing he ever expected in this third installment of the hit Disney/Pixar film series.

He has conquered many races over the years but it looks clearly that Lightning McQueen’s time as the hottest racer on the track is coming to an end. Newcomer Jackson Storm has become the rookie of the year as he hands McQueen his first loss in years. Despite McQueen’s determination to end the current season on a high note, McQueen’s overzealousness lands him to crash hard on the final race of the season.

Four months has passed and McQueen has suffered greatly, living like a recluse in Radiator Springs. However, when some words from longtime friends Sally and Mater inspire Lightning to give it one more shot, he finds himself going to the Rust-eeze Training Center. He has learned that the company is now owned by Sterling, a longtime fan of McQueen. McQueen’s new trainer is Cruz Ramirez, whose methods don’t go well with McQueen at first. However, McQueen makes a deal with Sterling involving an upcoming race in Florida. If Lightning loses, he will retire. However, if he wins, he will retire when he is ready to do so. Will Lightning be able to go on the comeback trail?

It has been eleven years since the first film and six years since the second film and it is clear that Lightning McQueen is truly on the brink of being forced to retire. In an age where technology in cars have shot up to an all-new high, McQueen’s old school tactics don’t seem to work out for him as it used to be. Directed by Brian Fee and written by the trio of Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, and Mike Rich, the film takes a somewhat Days of Thunder approach with a twist where a champion racer is clearly finding himself under threat from a newcomer and goes on the comeback trail for one last race.

Owen Wilson once again voices Lightning McQueen, but a welcome addition to the team is comedienne Cristela Alonzo as Cruz Ramirez, who is an expert in the new technology and attempts to help Lightning understand the rigorous and necessary training needed to compete in today’s age. Alonzo does get to pull off some hilarious moments during the first training scenes but eventually warms up to McQueen, forming a bond that truly will develop from a trainer-trainee relationship to a friendship that will make an impact in the film.

Armie Hammer’s Jackson Storm is reminiscent of Parker Stevenson’s Aubrey James in Stroker Ace. The character is a smarmy, arrogant newcomer who knows he can retire all the veterans, but does it by playing mind games with those he comes across. Many of the original cast members return but seem to have more of extended cameos, from Larry the Cable Guy as Tow Mater and Bonnie Hunt as Sally. Nathan Fillion is another welcome addition as Sterling, the new Rust-eze owner who has a fixation for McQueen as a fan who sees him as the face of Rust-eze, with a possible price. Chris Cooper is great as Smokey, the mentor of Doc, “The Hudson Hornet”, who in the original film as immortalized by the late Paul Newman, was Lightning’s original mentor.

Cars 3 is a film full of driven (pun intended) performances by the cast with a meshing of Days of Thunder and Stroker Ace in terms of certain characters and themes involved in car racing. It’s clear that Lightning McQueen is not going anywhere anytime soon.

WFG RATING: B+

A Disney/Pixar Production. Director: Brian Fee. Producer: Kevin Reher. Writers: Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, and Mike Rich; story by Brian Fee, Ben Queen, Eyal Podell, and Jonathan E. Stewart. Cinematography: Jeremy Lasky and Kim White. Editing: Jason Hudak.

Cast: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Armie Hammer, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, Nathan Fillion, Lea DeLaria, Kerry Washington.

“The Lion King” Remake Cast Confirmed!

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Pictures are worth a thousand words and Disney has just proven it with their official cast for Jon Favreau‘s upcoming live-action take on The Lion King.

While it has been rumored, the major news involves Beyonce Knowles-Carter‘s confirmation to play Nala, the childhood friend turned love interest of the titular character, Simba, played by Donald Glover.

The only one returning from the 1994 original film is James Earl Jones as Mufasa’s Simba’s father…and why not?

With the likes of Alfre Woodard, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, and Eric Andre in the cast, this is surely to be one special treat. Especially since Favreau will be making the film in the same vein as the hit live-action take of The Jungle Book.

The Lion King comes to theaters in the summer of 2019.

H/T: Variety

Bay to Bring “Dora” to Live-Action Form

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Yeah, this may seem like an early April Fool’s joke, but it’s not!

Michael Bay‘s Platinum Dunes has scored the rights to bring the Nickelodeon character of Dora the Explorer to life. Yes, Dora is going in a live-action form courtesy of Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller as producers with Neighbors director Nicholas Stoller writing the screenplay.

Adapting the character from her recent spin-off Dora and Friends: Into the City, the film will follow a teenage Dora as she will move to New York City and live with her cousin Diego, who was the star of his own spin-off series, Go, Diego, Go! from 2005-2011.

The film is still going through the development phases and is scheduled for a 2019 release date.

H/T: Dark Horizons

Sakurai Joins “Fantastic Beasts” Sequel

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Gellart Grindelwald is getting a heck of a henchman in the upcoming sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Japanese-Danish born actor David Sakurai, who recently appeared on Marvel’s Iron Fist and the Japanese martial arts action film Karate Kill, has signed on to join the cast of the upcoming sequel. Sakurai will play the role of Krall, one of the ambitious and sulky henchman of Grindelwald. Grindelwald himself will be played by Johnny Depp.

Jude Law has signed on to play the young Albus Dumbledore while Eddie Redmayne will return as series protagonist Newt Scamander. David Yates is also returning to direct the film.

The film opens in 1927, a few months after magizoologist Scamander helped to unveil and capture the infamous Grindelwald in the first installment. As he promised he would, Grindelwald has made a dramatic escape and has been gathering more followers to his cause. The only one who might be able to stop him is the wizard he once called his dearest friend, Albus Dumbledore. But Dumbledore will need help from the wizard who had thwarted Grindelwald once before, his former student Scamander.

As for Sakurai, he will next be seen in Stoic, starring Antonio Banderas and is currenly filming the sequel Unbroken: Path to Redemption, starring Samuel Hunt.

More as this develops.

H/T: Deadline