live action

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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Liu Yifei is the New “Mulan”

Disney’s live-action take on Mulan has found its lead.

Chinese actress Liu Yifei (The Forbidden Kingdom) has been cast as the titular role in Disney’s upcoming live-action take on the animated classic, based on a true legend of a young woman who poses as a man to join the Chinese army for her ailing father. She would go on to become a general for the Army against the Huns.

Liu, a popular actress in China, won a worldwide search involving 1,000 applicants for the role. Niki Caro has signed on to direct the film.

Mulan is the latest in-development title in Disney’s live-action adaptation of some of their animated hits, which include Cinderella, Maleficent, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, and the currently in-production Aladdin and The Lion King.

More as this develops

H/T: New York Daily News

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

Anime Hit “Your Name” to Get Live-Action Treatment

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A monster anime hit film will be getting a live-action treatment…in Hollywood.

The sci-fi drama Your Name, which was written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, had become a major hit in Japan, raking in $190 million US dollars, making it the second highest grossing animated film there, behind Hayao Miyazaki‘s Spirited Away.

The story involves two young people discover the power of swapping bodies with each other. However, when they separate and a comet is approaching, the two must find a way to find each other once again before it is too late.

Now comes word that Paramount Pictures has received the rights to a live-action treatment of the story and the team of J.J. Abrams and Eric Heisserer will be behind the screenplay. Heisserer will write the screenplay with Abrams serving as producer under his Bad Robot company with Lindsey Weber and Genki Kawamura, who produced the original anime film. Toho Company, who produced the animated film, will be co-producing the film with Paramount and Bad Robot.

More as this develops.

H/T: Variety

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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2017, Disney/Mandeville Films

Director:
Bill Condon
Producers:
David Hoberman
Todd Lieberman
Writers:
Linda Woolverton (original 1991 animated screenplay)
Stephen Chbosky (screenplay)
Evan Spiliotopoulos (screenplay)
Cinematography:
Tobias A. Schliessler
Editing:
Virginia Katz

Cast:
Emma Watson (Belle)
Dan Stevens (The Beast/The Prince)
Luke Evans (Gaston)
Kevin Kline (Maurice)
Josh Gad (LeFou)
Hattie Morahan (Agathe/The Enchantress)
Ewan McGregor (Lumiere)
Ian McKellen (Cogsworth)
Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts)
Nathan Mack (Chip)
Audra McDonald (Madame Garderobe)
Stanley Tucci (Maestro Cadenza)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette)

The 1991 Academy Award-winning Disney film gets a live-action treatment that is just as good as its animated counterpart, with a few new twists and turns that actual mesh well.

When an arrogant prince drew the ire of an old hag during a costume ball, the old hag is revealed to be an enchantress and she turned the prince into a beast and turned all the servants into household objects. The only way the beast could be turned back to normal along with the castle, is to find true love and to ensure it will happen, the enchantress puts a rose in a glass case and the beast must find true love before the last petal falls.

Belle is a young book-loving woman whose father, Maurice, is an inventor. Belle has been the object of affection of Gaston, who has returned from the war and is a very arrogant and cocky fellow. Gaston is always refuted by Belle, but he is still determined. However, a fateful night where Maurice meets the Beast, Belle arrives and offers herself to be the prisoner in place of her father. The Beast agrees and keeps Belle in his castle. Belle and the Beast soon learn that even in their situation, there is a chance for these two to actually fall in love. That’s if the Beast can learn to be tamer and not continue his animalistic ways.

With Disney’s recent takes on turning some of their beloved animated classics into live action features, after the success of Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, and Pete’s Dragon, this latest live action adaptation, of the 1991 Academy Award winning film, is truly one of their best films let alone a live action masterpiece from the Mouse House. The elaborate set pieces are just the beginning and staying true to the musical masterpiece of its animated original, Bill Condon once again shows why he is a top director of this genre of film.

The film’s driving force is the ensemble cast led by Emma Watson as Belle and a mo-cap Dan Stevens, who also provides the voice of the Beast. The CGI looks quite convincing that one may at first think it is Stevens under make-up but surprisingly that’s not the case. Their chemistry is ecstatic in the film from their bickering to love story with the great dance scene that is the highlight of the film.

The cast of eclectic characters within the castle are quite a hoot as well, notably the bickering Cogsworth and Lumiere, played by Ian McKellen and Ewan McGregor. In a twist to the story, a new character, Cadenza, is a grand piano voiced by the always great Stanley Tucci. Emma Thompson truly lives up to Angela Lansbury’s legacy in the iconic role of Mrs. Potts, especially when she belts out the titular song.

Luke Evans is quite fun to watch as the arrogant Gaston and seems to be having fun with a role that requires someone of Evans’ “tough guy” role character with Josh Gad as LeFou, whose revelation caused some controversy. However, Gad, like Evans, is having fun with the role and the so-called “controversial scene” literally lasts two seconds, so even if it is considered controversial, it is really no big deal in today’s world. Their rendition of the “Gaston” song is quite fun to enjoy watching. Kevin Kline makes the most of his role as Maurice, even when it is minimal like its animated original.

The live-action version of Disney’s take on Beauty and the Beast truly is as good as its animated original. With some great chemistry between Watson and Stevens and the very great ensemble cast, it is truly a wonderful film for all to enjoy…in other words, “be their guest” and see this film!

WFG RATING: A

Otomo Gives Word on Live Action “Akira”

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If you are an anime fanatic, chances are you know the name Katsuhiro Otomo, whose 1988 classic Akira is still hailed as one of the greatest of all time.

For many years now, Warner Brothers has been developing, or rather, try to develop a live-action version of the classic anime, based on Otomo’s manga. In the story, motorcycle gang leader Shotaro must stop his subordinate Tetsuo from using his newfound powers to release the titular “esper”.

Many names have been considered over the years. Recently, Jordan Peele, David F. Sandberg, and Daniel Espinosa were considered for directing, but those talks have fallen through. However, speaking with Forbes magazine, Otomo revealed that as the creator of the property, he will allow a live-action to be made, but he gets final say in whether the script is worthy enough:

“While I haven’t seen the new live-action ‘Ghost in the Shell,’ when it comes to ‘Akira’ I have already finished the original manga and my own anime version, too. So in that sense, I am basically done with ‘Akira’.

If someone wants to do something new with ‘Akira’ then I am mostly okay with that. As I accepted the offer for a live-action ‘Akira’ to be made, so I am generally okay with whatever they want to do with it. However, I did give one major condition to a live-action version and that is that I had to check and approve the scenario.

As always, the fundamental question on adapting anything is whether you follow the host work strictly or do something new with it, that is a never-ending discussion I think. This is especially true for film-based adaptations from novels, as the reader has to use their own imagination to bring it to life.

Readers inherently have their own interpretation. That often means a movie’s production has more creative freedom. That said, with things like manga it means the story already comes with very specific visuals. That makes it much harder for a film’s production to go their own way with it.

Personally, I think being entirely bound to the original manga of something like Akira would not make any sense as a movie. As for what I would do in terms of adapting Akira into my own live-action movie, I really don’t want to do that. I would much rather do something entirely new and separate.”

Akira celebrates its 35th anniversary this year of Otomo’s original manga, which will be released in a boxset later this year. As for the anime, it is available on DVD and Blu-Ray. Will we see a live-action Akira? At this rate, the answer truly lies within…

H/T: Dark Horizons

Peele To Take on “Akira”?

After the possibility of either David Sandberg or Daniel Espinosa, it now looks like Warner Bros. Pictures have found a new contender to take on the long-gesturing live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo‘s groundbreaking anime Akira.

And his name is Jordan Peele. The comedian turned horror filmmaker really proved himself with his directorial debut Get Out, which has been scoring major rave amongst both critics and fans. And Warner Bros. is currently in talks with Peele and it looks like the talks are going quite well and it looks like Peele is a major contender and could be the one to take on the live action film.

In Akira, a motorcycle gang leader in a dystopian future must stop his superpowered subordinate from using his powers to unleash a deadly psychic whose name bears the title.

More as this develops…

H/T: /Film

Will Espinosa or Sandberg Take on “Akira”?

On Friday, fans will get a chance to see a live-action adaptation of the anime classic Ghost in the Shell. It is believed that should this film do well enough, the long gesturing live-action adaptation of one of the greatest sci-fi anime films made, Akira, will finally come to light.

Having been in developmental hell for well over a decade, Katushiro Otomo‘s classic anime film remains one of the best ever made. The story, which revolves around a motorcycle gang leader who must stop his superpowered subordinate from releasing a deadly imprisoned psychic whose name bears the title of the film.

Two names have come up in contention to become the director of the live-action film and both come from Sweden. They are Daniel Espinosa (Easy Money) (top right) and David Sandberg (Lights Out) (top left). Warner Brothers Pictures have retained the rights of the film since 2008 and to this day, it is still in development.

The next few years will have many live-action adaptations of manga and anime. Japan will have Blade of the Immortal, Hurricane Polymer, Gintama, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable and Fullmetal Alchemist on their slate this year while Hollywood will have Death Note on Netflix later this year and Alita: Battle Angel next year.

More as this news develops.

H/T: Dark Horizons

TEASER: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Diamond is Unbreakable

The teaser to Takashi Miike‘s live-action adaptation of Hirohiko Araki‘s hit manga and its well-known fourth arc has arrived.

Kento Yamazaki takes the lead of the poofy-haired protagonist Josuke Higashikata, whose family have supernatural powers in which they use against their adversaries. The fourth arc, titled Diamond is Unbreakable, revolves Jotaro and his family having to track down a serial killer. Jun Kunimura, Arisa Mizuki, Masaki Okada, and Yusuke Iseya co-star in the film.

Miike, originally known for controversial films such as Audition and Ichi the Killer, has been delving lately in live-action adaptations of manga and anime. Terra Formars was released last year and before that, he released Nintama Rantaro, aka Ninja Kids. His next adaptation will be April’s Blade of the Immortal, starring Takuya Kimura.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable is set for an August 4, 2017 release in Japan by Toho and Warner Brothers Japan.

 

Yen to star in “Dogs” Adaptation

Major news has arisen in the form of a live-action movie adaptation of one of my favorite video games.

It has been reported that Hong Kong superstar Donnie Yen, who made a welcome return to Hollywood with his pivotal role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will be headlining a live-action adaptation of Square Enix’s Sleeping Dogs.

Yen will play Wei Shen, a Hong Kong cop who returns from the United States and goes undercover in the Triads to uncover his sister’s death and discovers a major conspiracy as the lines blur between going undercover and being a real life gangster.

In the video game, Wei Shen was voiced by Will Yun Lee. The game also featured the voices of this year’s Oscar winning best actress Emma Stone, action stars Robin Shou, Conan Lee, and Ron Yuan; actresses Lucy Liu, Celina Jade, and Edison Chen. The Fast and Furious film series producer Neal H. Moritz is planning to produce this adaptation, which will follow suit and be set in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, one of Yen’s most recently completed films, Chasing the Dragon, has been picked up by Well Go USA for release.

Perhaps we may see Sleeping Dogs in 2018. More as this develops.

H/T: Deadline