The story: Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in …
In Coco, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez), despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to …
There have been many reincarnations of Ben-Hur since the 1907 short to 2010 TV mini-series, from animation to live action. But the two best-known ones are the 1925 Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ that starred a Latino in the lead, Ramon Novarro, and many future Hollywood stars as extras (Janet Gaynor, John Gilbert, Carole Lombard, Myrna Loy, John,Lionel Barrymore, and many more) in the background. The second film is the better-known 1959 Ben-Hur starring Charlton Heston. I’ve seen both of them and I do have to say, I enjoyed this new Ben-Hur more than the 1959 version.
This version is based more on author Lew Wallace’s original 1880 novel, “Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ” and this film is directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Wanted).
This Ben-Hur has a nostalgic feel for people of a certain age, who grew up watching big spectacular films that had nothing to do with CGI or green screens. And it’s also a film that you can take what you want from, an adventurous story about, love, deceit and redemption or for some, a religious calling for others.
Boniadi & Santoro
For those of you not familiar with the story, here’s a bit of the synopsis: Ben-Hur is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his title, separated from his family and the woman he loves (Nazanin Boniadi), Judah is forced into slavery. After years at sea, Judah returns to his homeland to seek revenge, but finds redemption. Also starring Morgan Freeman, Rodrigo Santoro, and Pilou Asbæk.
Asbæk & Kebbell
Downey & Burnett
We got to sit down with the above cast and producers, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. They all talked about their approaches to the roles they had to play, Morgan Freeman had us laughing from the beginning to the end. And now you can listen in, too.
Kubo and the Two Strings is like watching a book come to life. I love folklore stories and this interpretation of a Japanese story flows so nicely. I applaud Laika Studios (Coraline, ParaNorman, Boxtrolls) for another wonderful animated feature.
Kubo and the Two Strings is Travis Knight’s directorial debut. He has said, “Stop-motion has this sort of weird, magical charm and energy that reminds us what it was like when we were kids, I still have that feeling to this day.” The voice actors are Charlize Theron, Mathew McCoughey, Art Parkinson, Brenda Vaccaro, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, and George Takei.
Here’s a little about the film: Kubo’s quest stretches far and wide through the mystical realm of the Vastlands. With his protectors Monkey and Beetle by his side, Kubo unlocks more of his powers at every challenge, racing toward an epic clash with the dark side of his magical family.
Director & Cast
Kubo and The Two Strings is LAIKA’s most ambitious film to date—a stop motion samurai action film with an unprecedented scope.
We got to sit down with the director and a few of the actors, who spoke about their adventures making the film, which opens on August 19 in 2D and 3D. Now sit back and listen in on the conversation.
I can’t wait til the blu-ray comes out; I want it in my collection. — A.O.
L-r: Andrew Jacobs, Angela Ortíz, Gabrielle Wals, and Jorge Diaz Photos: Wendy Pineda
Another first for me this year, I attended my first Scare L.A. festival and it was fun! It was interesting to see all the cosplay roaming the halls, talking to interesting people and checking out all the festival had to offer its attendees.
This Pete’s Dragon is nothing like the cherished 1977 film with Helen Reddy, Mickey Rooney, and Sean Marshall. This one is a reimagining of the movie by Disney, directed by David Lowery and starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, and Robert Redford.
The plot: for years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham (Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales…until she meets Pete (Fegley) and the adventures begin.
Bryce Dallas Howard
Laurence & Fegley
We got to sit in on some great conversations with four of the stars and director of the film. They all gave us some fun anecdotes about doing the film, childhood favorites, and shooting in New Zealand. We were treated to some New Zealand goodies too! And now, you can sit back and listen in on the conversations.
I personally got lost in the fantasy of this film. And I think families will enjoy it.
Disney’s Pete’s Dragon opens in nationwide on August 12. — A.O.
Angela Ortíz and Louis Love Photos: Jose Ángel Torres Reyes
I had the fun pleasure to co-host a couple of podcasts’ with The Nerd Report, Louis Love and Lisa “Grywuff” Grayson.
Some of the things we’ve talked about have come and gone, some did well and others didn’t. Here’s some of the topics we covered in this second one, George Lopez, The Nice Guys, Alice Through the Looking Glass, X-Men: Apocalypse. TV Shows (The Flash, Arrow, Bates Motel, Fear The Walking Dead, and Preacher), Batman V Superman Ultimate Edition trailer, World of Warcraft, and much more!
The Nerd Report Podcast
Now you can listen in on all the talk on the following podcast and I should be doing more with The Nerd Report soon. And you can check out more of their podcasts here.
We had the great pleasure of checking out the “First-Ever West Coast National Tour Debut Blasts Off,” that started on July 14 in the Los Angeles area. And you have a few days left to check it out at the Honda Center/Anaheim until August 7. Check out what you’ll experience below. — A.O.
Families will be amazed by the cosmic voyage storyline exploring extraordinary new worlds and captivated by the twinkle in their child’s eyes as they visit far away planets of ice, fire, sand and water inhabited by gravity-defying acrobats, orbital aerialists, majestic animals and fearless daredevils that will ignite wonder with Children Of All Ages ®. The newest edition of The Greatest Show On Earth ® features several unique performances throughout the story including:
Some of the performers
Simet Family Astronauts–the only-one-of-its-kind aerial “spacewalk” with three astronauts balancing zero gravity maneuvers on a spinning wheel
Heilongjiang Provincial Acrobatic Troupe–original presentation for the first time in America showcasing the mastery of skilled Chinese acrobatics (such as an 11-person human pyramid and hoop diving)–all performed on ice!
Thrill Skaters–introducing a new genre of ice skating, combining lyrical figure skating with energetic freestyle skaters performing tricks and stunts on ice.
Sway Pole–clown entertainer Davis climbs a 47ft pole to complete a handstand 5 stories above the audience as he sways and tumbles around with a surprise ending.
Additional “Out Of This World” show performance highlights include tigers & lions presenter Alexander Lacey; edge-of- your-seat Cossack Riders equestrian stunts; Globe of Steel motorcycle daredevils; awe-inspiring trapeze artists (performing the Ringling Bros. exclusive dual triple somersault routine with two flyers attempting the trick at the same time); unicycle courtside comedy routines from the King Charles Troupe; the hilarious antics of the Ringling Bros. Clown Alley and more!