Friday, October 21, 2022


In 2016, streaming giant Netflix threw its hat into the historical drama ring with an epically sweeping biopic. The subject: Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, aka Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, starting from her marriage to Philip Mountbatten and later coronation. While positively received at first, later seasons brough ever-increasing scrutiny and pushback, especially from the real-life Royal Family, as the storyline began delving into more recent elements like Princess Diana. Criticism of the series’ portrayal of Her Majesty intensified this year with Elizabeth’s death last month. Even so, Netflix is all in with promoting the fifth season of their show, with its initial trailer.

Entertainment Weekly tells us that the official trailer for Netflix’s “The Crown” season 5 hit the internet this past Thursday, October 20. This preview picks up from the tense conclusion of season 4 last 2020 and ratchets up the tension into what trailer dialogue describes as an “eruption”. And indeed, viewers will get a tease of what the now controversy-ridden show as it depicts the final disintegration of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s “fairytale” marriage, just one of many appalling events that would bring the House of Windsor to its lowest in the public eye.

The trailer also serves to ease the new casting choices into the roles of the older principal characters of “The Crown”. Imelda Staunton (Umbridge of “Harry Potter”) and Jonathan Pryce (“Evita”) take over from Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Elizabeth Debicki replaces Emma Corrin as Princess Diana and so intensely takes up the role in what scenes featured her. Dominic West and Olivia Williams are the new Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, whose star-crossed love becomes the catalyst for Diana’s growing refusal to toe the Royal line of family loyalty and dignified silence.

Other key events in the reign of QEII also feature in brief flashes during the fifth season trailer. It actually starts with the aftermath of the 1992 Windsor Castle fire. That part of the decade also saw the secret interviews with Diana that led to the publishing of a tell-all book which caused the aforementioned (media eruption). Also caught is a scene from what appears to be the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China. That year also happens to be when Diana had her fatal accident, although producers note that the Princess’ actual death might be put off until the sixth and final season.

“The Crown” season 5, blessed with media awards even as it is savaged by critics in the wave of the passing of its principal subject, is due to premiere on Netflix streaming come November 9.

Image courtesy of People

Friday, October 7, 2022



Over a year ago, Japanese videogame giant Nintendo announced a cinematic project based on one of their most celebrated electronic franchises. “Super Mario Bros.” has seen its fair share of adaptations in past decades, from an animated series in the late 1980s to a lackluster 1993 live-action movie. The new project would be an animated film, which put fans who remember the previous outing at ease, at least until they learned of the voice cast. Chris Pratt has built up a good voiceover resume since “The LEGO Movie”, but to voice Mario? The apprehension last until this week when Nintendo and Universal Pictures finally released its first “Super Mario” trailer.

Indeed, the first good peek into the visuals of “The Super Mario Bros. Movie”, co-produced by Nintendo and Illumination for Universal Pictures. The trailer was simulcast Thursday, October 6, from a Nintendo event along with the 2022 New York Comic Con (NYCC). It gave fans waiting for more than a year their first experience of the animated treatment of the “Super Mario” universe, as well as how the cast of primarily live-action stars sound as their characters. Thus far, the reaction has been very good, and the reception also positive.

The “Super Mario” movie trailer begins with a cold open action sequence, depicting franchise bad guy King Bowser of the Koopas attacking a castle in a snowy field from his fire-spewing floating fortress. With his army and fire-breathing abilities, Bowser defeats the castle’s penguin denizens and claims a Star of Power, gloating how there is nobody who can stop him. Jack Black also got some derision when announced as the voice of Bowser back in 2021, but now his menacing growl has gotten franchise fans excited. And of course, the hero of the story will be popping up soon enough.

Enter Mario (Chris Pratt), a plumber who somehow gets transported to the Mushroom King via a telltale green sewer pipe. He meets a mushroom retainer named Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) who bids him go to the castle to help the kingdom defend itself against Bowser and his Koopa Army. Key’s Toad voice also go nods, but Pratt’s reception as the main character remains iffy in social media reactions, due to his more subdued accent compared to the game-version Mario’s prominent Italian tone provided by Charles Martinet. Martinet himself is part of the cast, although his role has yet to be revealed.

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” also stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Mushroom Princess Peach, Charlie Day as Mario’s brother Luigi, and Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong. Produced by Nintendo bigwig Shigeru Miyamoto and Illumination’s Chris Meledandri, and co-directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic from a screenplay by Matthew Fogel, the film is expected to premiere next year on April 7.

Image from The Hollywood Reporter

Thursday, September 29, 2022



Perhaps, if the heyday of your life was in the 1990s, you might have encountered a drama film in 1995 produced by now-dormant Disney label Hollywood Pictures. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, “Dangerous Minds” is a loose adaptation of the memoirs of ex-Marine-turned-high school teacher LouAnne Johnson, and her experiences teaching in a low-income and racially-tense setting. If you know nothing else about this movie, you probably at least heard its theme song “Gangsta’s Paradise”. This rap anthem, vibrant in spite of its bleak subject, was performed by rapper Artis Leon Arvey Jr., better known as Coolio. He has just passed away.

Entertainment Weekly reports to us that recording artist Coolio has died Wednesday, September 28. He was 59 years old. The news was broken by his manager Jarez Posey, who related that Coolio was found unresponsive by responding paramedics at the bathroom of a friend’s house in Los Angeles. Although an official cause of death has yet to be revealed, Posey opines that it may have been a cardiac arrest and that no foul play was suspected. Another manager of Coolio’s for Trinity Artists International released a statement confirming the death.

"We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend and client, Coolio, who passed away this afternoon,” Sheila Finegan of TAI announced. “He touched the world with the gift of his talent and will be missed profoundly. Thank you to everyone worldwide who has listened to his music and to everyone who has been reaching out regarding his passing. Please have Coolio's loved ones in your thoughts and prayers."

Born 1963, Coolio joined the rap scene in the 1980s, eventually becoming a prominent voice in the gangsta rap subgenre. He first drew the spotlight in 1994 with the album “It Takes a Thief”, headlined by the single “Fantastic Voyage”. Only a year later, his song “Gangsta’s Paradise” spent three weeks atop the Billboard Top 100, eventually eclipsing the movie it served as theme to. Other notable soundtrack contributions during 1996 were “Aw, Here It Goes” for Nickelodeon sitcom “Kenan and Kel” and “Hit ‘Em High” (alongside B-Real, Busta Rhymes, Method Man and LL Cool J) for Warner Bros.’ “Space Jam” starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny.

Coolio also became a reality TV regular. His participation in “Celebrity Big Brother 6” (UK, 2009) revived popularity for “Gangsta’s Paradise” there, like its global peak in the US, Europe and Australia/New Zealand. He is survived by six children from a 1996 marriage, which ended 2000 in divorce.

Image courtesy of NY Times