Towards the end of January, Disney and Square-Enix finally released a game that has kept fans waiting for a decade and a half: “Kingdom Hearts III”. So long had been the gap between this and “Kingdom Hearts II” (despite the latter getting remixed several times until 2014) that some gamers who got this last month actually mourned online the fans who passed away before its time.
And indeed, what transpired in this epic action RPG title was something of a grand enough conclusion to the saga that began with the first installment from 2002, even if it left room for continuing the story even afterwards.
“Kingdom Hearts III” sees the final struggle between the righteous wielders of the Keyblades against the sinister Organization XIII and its leader Master Xehanort (voiced by Rutger Hauer following the death of Leonard Nimoy), over who shall control the power of the titular Kingdom Hearts.
Over the preceding games, a number of characters possessing Keyblades stood out to confront the plans of Xehanort and Organization XIII to prevent Kingdom Hearts from falling into Darkness in “Kingdom Hearts III.” They are:
Sora – franchise main hero since the first game, his quest becomes the driving narrative of the “Kingdom Hearts” series
Riku – franchise secondary hero; antagonist during much of the first game and supporting character for most of the rest; his nature would prove the interdependence of Light and Darkness on one another; he was the original wielder of the Kingdom Key Keyblade until his emerging darkness made it seek Sora instead
Kairi – franchise main heroine since the first game; a damsel in distress for most of the games she appears in, until receiving a Keyblade from Riku due to having “inherited” worthiness to wield from Aqua
King Mickey Mouse – King of Disney Castle; originally fighting as a Keyblade Master to eliminate Darkness and preserve Light, he learned from Riku that neither cannot exist without the other and thus decides to fight for their balance
Terra – Keyblade Master and former apprentice to Eraqus; became host to his mentor’s heart and was also briefly possessed by Xehanort; Riku passed on the ability to wield Keyblades to Riku before the events of the first game
Aqua – Keyblade Master and former apprentice to Eraqus
Ventus – Keyblade apprentice under both Eraqus and Xehanort prior to the latter’s evil turn; left comatose after his darkness was separated from him to create Vanitas
Roxas – the Nobody of Sora that came to be when Sora opened his heart with a Keyblade to free Kairi’s heart; having come from a Keyblade wielder, he retains the same ability; originally part of Organization XIII, he became fed up with the constant manipulation and reunited himself with Sora, only to gain his own complete being via the Organization’s Replica ability
Xion – the 14th member of Organization XIII and a Replica of Roxas; this enabled her to wield Keyblades as well; her close bonds with Roxas and Axel eventually proves her salvation
Axel/Lea – a member of Organization XIII and their designated hit-man; became close with Roxas and Xion, eventually becoming a whole being and gaining the ability to wield Keyblades himself
“Kingdom Hearts III” is available on the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.
As everybody who follows the Disney hype train knows, there are a series of films coming out in this year alone that are all live-action remakes of their celebrated Animated Canon. Taking after the frenetic production and release pace of its sister film franchise the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no less than three of these “conversions” will hit theaters before 2019 is out.
First the wonder of the flying elephant “Dumbo” in March, Disney will follow up in July with “The Lion King”. And between them is the magical remake of the 1993 classic “Aladdin”; at least that’s how Disney wants the movie to come across.
So far, many fans are unconvinced. The major sticking point of course has been the casting of Will Smith as the Genie of the lamp – a role many insist can only be performed by the original 1993 voice actor, the late Robin Williams. Disney must have hoped that finally showing Smith in CGI as the live-action Genie will quell discontent. But as BBC goes, opinion may have only gotten worse.
A new teaser from Disney was put up by Will Smith himself on Instagram, re-spinning visuals already shown in its predecessor and adding new sequences: Aladdin in the collapsing Cave of Wonders, the “Prince Ali” entrance number, and finally Aladdin rubbing the lamp to release Will Smith as the Genie.
“I told y’all I was gon’ be Blue!!” Will wrote on his Instagram page. “Y’all need to trust me more often!” His Genie self says on his first scene in the trailer, “You really don’t know who I am? Genie? Wishes? Lamp? None of that ring a bell?” While some of his comments there are somewhat supportive, the rest of social media is just up at arms with the depiction.
It turns out that Will Smith’s #Aladdin Genie will haunt my nightmares
Several of the Twitter rants on Genie Smith paint his CGI look as the stuff of nightmares. Others on the other hand are willing to be patient until the “Aladdin” remake release this May, in the hope that Disney will clean up the special effects. Until then, it looks like this blue guy has also become the stuff of memes.
Visuals look good and I'm glad they made Genie blue. Of course Will Smith has some big shoes to fill but I'll wait to see the film before casting any judgements! #filmtwitterhttps://t.co/aSRlLXNA2u
The release of a major blockbuster movie based on a “child-friendly” property like superheroes is bound to come with some tie-in merchandise. And if it’s from a powerhouse studio like Marvel Studios (under Disney), then you can expect many toy brands partnered up to bring quite the variety of products.
For instance, Captain Marvel which premieres March next year has just been announced to be having tie-ins coming out from Diamond Select Toys, the toy-making sister company of Diamond Comics Distributors. Thus far they have two products announced, but they sound quite impressive. Let’s put them in a nice list.
Marvel Movie Minimates: Captain Marvel Box – 2-inch DST “minimate” minifigures with articulated and exchangeable body parts; SRP $24.99 due to release in spring 2019
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel
Kree Soldier Att-Lass
Kree Sniper Minn-Erva
Skrull Agent Nuro
Marvel Select: Captain Marvel (Starforce Uniform) Action Figure – 7-inch fully articulated (16 points) action figure of Captain Marvel in her Kree Starforce uniform; facial likeness of Captain Marvel film lead actress Bree Larson; SRP $24.99 due to release in summer 2019
Captain Marvel arrives in cinemas just over a month before the premiere of Avengers: Endgame, late April 2019.
Certain Starbucks locations often have on offer a variety of “You Are Here” souvenir mugs for tourist customers, the better to commemorate having a Starbucks coffee when travelling. As Starbucks also has branches in Disney theme parks, it’s only natural that they have “You Are Here” mugs to sell there.
But! Now Disney fans who can’t make a trip to any park soon (and have a serving of Starbucks while they’re at it) can now order a Starbucks Disney mug online, at shopDisney no less. They now carry mugs for all Starbucks locations on both Disneyland and Disney World. Here’s what they have in store:
Disney California Adventure
Walt Disney World
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
In addition to the actual drinking mugs, shopDisney also has Starbucks “You Are Here” mug ornaments to hang on your Christmas tree. And while smaller, they can still be used for drinking if you want to. All the above have ornament variants except for Magic Kingdom. The mugs cost $16.99 on shopDisney while the ornaments are $12.99, so visit their website for details and online purchases.
It goes without saying that the films which comprise the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) from Marvel Studios are nigh-guaranteed magnets for the movie-watching crowds. It’s gotten to the point that the very trailers for MCU films also draw plenty of viewers, to the point that they are among the most-watched videos on video-sharing site YouTube.
With the recent release of the trailer for next year’s Avengers: Endgame, the closing chapter of Phase 4 and the first ten years of the MCU, here now are the Top 5 most-watched trailers of the MCU franchise on YouTube:
Avengers: Infinity War trailer 1 (November 29, 2017) – 216+ million views, also all-time most-viewed trailer
Avengers: Infinity War trailer 2 (March 16, 2018) – 90+ million views, ninth overall most-viewed
Avengers: Age of Ultron teaser (October 22, 2014) – 86+ million views, 14th place overall on YouTube
Avengers: Endgame (December 7, 2018) – 72.1 million views as of Monday, the new all-time most-viewed trailer within a 24-hour period (289 million cumulative views); will soon surpass the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice SDCC trailer which is the 20th place all-time with 72.8 million.
The fourth Avengers movie for the MCU will premiere with an “ultimate game-changing showdown” on April 26, 2019 and “will end with a bombastic bang”.
It won’t be coming out until next year, but already Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel, starring Bree Larson, is already racking up some awards. News has it that last Sunday, December 16 it received some accolades from the California on Location Awards (COLA), which honors film professionals and public employees that help movie crews shoot and do production in the state.
So it’s not an award for the actors or anyone on the main production credits, but Captain Marvel, during its location shooting in California, saw, the area get a boost of 11.7% in on-location feature film production at the start of 2018, a double-digit increase not seen since late 2015. Captain Marvel was shot in Los Angeles, Oxnard and Fresno.
Here are the COLAs won by the MCU’s Captain Marvel:
Location Manager of the Year (Studio Feature Film) – Ilt Jones
Location Team of the Year (Studio Feature Film) – Captain Marvel location team (10 members)
Teamsters Local 399 Assistant Location Manager of the Year (Studio Feature Film) – Lee David Lee
Captain Marvel is the 21st feature installment of the successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. It will arrive in theaters on March 2019.
After percolating for several years following the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney, a major live-action Star Wars TV series has been announced this year to arrive with the upcoming launch of the Disney+ streaming service. Entitled The Mandalorian, the show would take place between the Original and Sequel Star Wars trilogies, it would follow a lone gunfighter from the mercenary planet from which Boba Fett is reputed to hail from.
With Jon Favreau as creator along with a list of notable directors from film and TV being in charge of episodes, Star Wars: The Mandalorian is to be headlined by Pedro Pascal of Game of Thrones fame accompanied by Gina Carano. More names have been added to the cast since. Here is an updated list:
Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones)
Gina Carano (Angdel Dust from Deadpool)
Nick Nolte (Lt. Col. Tall from The Thin Red Line)
Giancarlo Esposito (voice of Akela in 2016’s The Jungle Book)
Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed from Rocky films)
Werner Herzog (filmmaker-actor)
Omid Abtahi (Homes from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2)
Emily Swallow (Amara/The Darkness from Supernatural)
Aside from this series about The Mandalorian, another Star Wars show for Disney+ still being conceptualized involves the other adventures of Rebel Alliance spymaster Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna) before the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
When Disney began pulling out its content on the online streaming giant Netflix, followed by the eventual announcement of their own digital streaming platform Disney+, it seemed to signal to everyone that the entertainment juggernaut will in future offer streaming of their movies and shows only within its own backyard.
But this latest development seems to debunk that theory. Disney has apparently stuck a new deal with a streaming service based outside the US. This is Stan, one of Australia’s homegrown streaming platforms, and the first to have an original program to score a nomination at the Logies (Aussie Emmys).
This partnership will see Stan carry an astonishing number of films and TV series from Walt Disney and its various subsidiaries. Here’s the full list:
Toy Story trilogy
The Lion King
Cars (1 and 2)
Monsters (Inc. and University)
Big Hero 6
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
The Little Mermaid
A Wrinkle in Time
Iron Man trilogy
Captain America (First Avenger and Winter Soldier)
Avengers films (up to Infinity War)
Guardians of the Galaxy
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Sofia the First
The Lion Guard
Tangled: The Series
Star Wars Rebels
All these Disney goodies should already be available on Stan throughout Australia by December 14. So no, the House of Mouse isn’t hogging all its media for streaming yet.
Over the decades that films of the Star Wars saga has been released, the production teams has sometimes sneaked in some notable people in cameo appearances: one-off characters ranging from background bar patrons to Rebel and Empire officers. That latter faction is something of a favorite for having helmeted Stormtroopers.
As a nod to some of its production team, and later to prominent celebrities, Lucasfilm has brought them in to cameo as Imperial stormtroopers, either suiting up in costume or having them provide voices. What we have here is a short list of famous celebrities that made cameos as stormtroopers:
A New Hope
Joe Johnston (effects artist under George Lucas, later major film director) – voice for three stormtroopers
The Force Awakens
Michael Giacchino (film/TV composer and collaborator of J.J. Abrams) – voiced First Order trooper FN-3181, part of the unit that captures Resistance pilot Poe Dameron; he also reprises the role in Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet in an appearance at the Oh My Disney website.
Nigel Godrich (music producer for rock band Radiohead) – voiced First Order trooper FN-9330, part of the Starkiller Base garrison; killed by Chewbacca
David Accord (supervising sound editor of the film) – voiced First Order trooper FN-2199, who calls defector Finn “traitor” on Tadokana and fights him until killed by Han Solo; fans jokingly call him TR-8R
Kevin Smith (filmmaker, “Silent Bob”) – voiced an unnumbered First Order stormtrooper in the battle of Tadokana, who notices the incoming Resistance X-Wing fighters
Daniel Craig (“James Bond” actor) – portrayed First Order trooper FN-1824, assigned to guard Rey only to be subjected to her first use of the Jedi Mind Trick; fans also give him a joke serial number, JB-007
The Last Jedi, or What Could Have Been (scene cut in theatrical release, but restored on DVD)
Tom Hardy (actor) – portrayed First Order trooper FN-926, part of the complement of the Supremacy, flagship of First Order Supreme Leader Snoke, recognizing the undercover Finn
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and…
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex – both portrayed First Order troopers in scene with FN-926
Star Wars Episode IX, or What Comes Next (a rumor for now)
Ed Sheeran (music artist) – announced to cameo in the film as a First Order trooper; whether he will only voice or portray the character in costume has yet to be determined
After months of having nothing to call the final installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 – and fourth Avengers film – but simply Avengers 4, we now know the movie’s subtitle with the recent release of the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame. It certainly sells the ending vibe of this first decade of the MCU.
While it’s a no-brainer that the plot of this direct sequel to the tragic events of Avengers: Infinity War earlier this year, would be the heroes that survived the Decimation (aka cosmic finger-snap) of Thanos assembling to take him down once and for all, were’ still short on specifics regarding how the survivors are doing before Endgame begins. We’ll enumerate the statues of characters seen in the trailer so far:
Tony Stark/Iron Man is adrift in space after using the Guardians of the Galaxy’s ship to escape Thanos’ home world. Losing power and air supply, he records a poignant message to Pepper Potts on his armor, not knowing if he’ll make it to Earth alive. Nebula, daughter of Thanos and “sister” of the fallen Guardian Gamora, is apparently accompanying him.
Thanos, triumphant in his quest to use the Infinity Stones to reduce all life in the universe by half, is in retirement at a rural world, his armor set up as a scarecrow in an alien field (a direct reference to the original Infinity Gauntlet storyline in the comic books).
Surviving Avengers on Earth – Steve Rogers/Captain America, Natasha Romanov/Black Widow, Bruce Banner/Hulk, and Thor – take stock of the Decimation in their HQ, including making records of prominent heroes and associates listed as missing: Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Princess Shuri of Wakanda.
Clint Barton/Hawkeye, unseen since Captain America: Civil War, resurfaces under a new masked identity, known in the comics as Ronin.
Speaking of Scott/Ant-Man, he shows up unexpectedly despite being stuck in the Quantum Realm at the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp, with Cap and Black Widow wondering just how.
Avengers: Endgame is due to premiere on April 26, 2019.