Each week on the nationally syndicated Richard Crouse Show, Canada’s most recognized movie critic brings together some of the most interesting and opinionated people from the movies, television and music to put a fresh spin on news from the world of lifestyle and pop-culture. Tune into this show to hear in-depth interviews with actors and directors, to find out what’s going on behind the scenes of your favourite shows and movies and get a new take on current trends. Recent guests include Ethan Hawke, director Brad Bird, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, Eric Roberts, Brian Henson, Jonathan Goldsmith a.k.a. “The most interesting man in the world,” and best selling author Linwood Barclay.
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Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Disney’s animated action flick “Raya and the Last Dragon” (Disney+ with Premier Access and theatres), the long awaited sequel “Coming 2 America” (Amazon Prime Video) and the look at the war on drugs “Crisis” (on digital and demand).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including Disney’s animated action flick “Raya and the Last Dragon” (Disney+ with Premier Access and theatres), the long awaited sequel “Coming 2 America” (Amazon Prime Video), the biopic “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday” (VOD), the legal drama “The Mauritanian” (premium digital and on-demand), the coming-of-age story “My Salinger Year” (VOD) and the look at the war on drugs “Crisis” (on digital and demand).
If you look on IMDb, there are dozens of titles containing the phrase “dragon slayer.” Movie dragons, by and large have been of the Smaug variety, a beast “The Hobbit” author J.R.R. Tolkien described as “a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm.”
There are exceptions of course, like the “How to Train Your Dragon” creatures and the wyvern in “The Reluctant Dragon” who would rather recite poetry than cause havoc. “You’ve got to be mad to breathe fire,” he says, “but I’m not mad at anybody.”
This week we can add Sisu the self-deprecating water dragon voiced by Awkwafina in Disney+’s animated “Raya and the Last Dragon,” to the happy dragon list
Five hundred years ago humans and dragons happily co-existed in the Five Lands of Kumandra—Heart, Talon, Fang, Spine and Tail—the fantasy land (inspired by several Southeast Asian cultures) Warrior Princess Raya (Kelly Marie Tran), Guardian of the Dragon Gem, calls home.
The dragons were fierce warriors, the only creatures capable of defeating the Druun, the nasty neighbors who turn everything they touch into stone. To save humanity Sisu the dragon imbued a gem with magic powerful enough to drive away the interlopers and bring the folks who had been turned into pillars back to life. With the work done, Sisu disappeared, leaving behind the gem and a deeply divided nation.
In an effort to bring the warring tribes together Raya’s father Benja (Daniel Dae Kim), head of the Heart Tribe, leaves the gem vulnerable and soon it is smashed, split into pieces, leaving the land open to further attacks from the Druun.
If the Druun are to be defeated once and for all Raya must track down the last dragon. That would be Sisu, a quirky pink and turquoise dragon with self-esteem issues. “I’m going to be real with you,” she says. “I’m not like the best dragon. Have you ever done like a group project, but there’s like that one kid who didn’t pitch in as much, but still ended up with the same grade?”
Disney’s first original princess movie since 2016’s “Moana,” “Raya and the Last Dragon” is a feast for the eyes. The backgrounds are beautifully rendered, with particular attention paid to the details that differentiate the five clans. The animation will make your eye balls dance, and perhaps leave you wishing this could be the big screen experience it was originally meant to be.
The clever backgrounds are populated with nicely realized characters. As Raya, Kelly Marie Tran plays the first Disney princess who is as good with her fists as she is with her wits. The combat scenes, including a fistfight with Fang Tribe meanie Namaari (Gemma Chan), sword fights and chases, are well presented, always allowing for the viewer to follow the action and not get lost in a blur of glinting swords or flying fists. In a film populated with lots of secondary characters, she holds her own with determination and a heap of spunk.
Awkwafina has more to work with character wise. As the quirky dragon she’s a scene stealer, bring humour and heart to Sisu. The movie wants you to root for her and you will.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” is meant for kids, so the main character’s journey isn’t overly complicated, but it does contain poignant, joyful messages of the importance of togetherness and trust. In an increasingly divided world comes a movie that promotes trust as a key to human relationships. Disney isn’t blazing new ground with the moral, but it’s not such a bad thing to be reminded of from time to time.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about movies on VOD and in theatres to watch this weekend including the animated stone age family flick “The Croods: A New Age,” the slice-of-David-Bowie’s-life movie “Stardust” on VOD and “Belushi,” the Crave doc about the rise and fall of the beloved “Saturday Night Live” comedian.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the animated comedy “The Croods: A New Age” (theatrical), the David Bowie biopic “Stardust” (In theatres and digital and on-demand platforms), a pair of docs, “Belushi” (Crave) and “Zappa” (Apple TV app and everywhere you rent movies), the new one from Mel Gibson “Fatman” (VOD) and a remake of “Black Beauty” (Disney+).
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the animated comedy “The Croods: A New Age” (theatrical), the David Bowie biopic “Stardust” (In theatres and digital and on-demand platforms), the new one from Mel Gibson “Fatman” (VOD) and a remake of “Black Beauty” (Disney+).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the animated comedy “The Croods: A New Age” (theatrical), the David Bowie biopic “Stardust” (In theatres and digital and on-demand platforms), a pair of docs, “Belushi” (Crave) and “Zappa” (Apple TV app and everywhere you rent movies), the new one from Mel Gibson “Fatman” (VOD) and a remake of “Black Beauty” (Disney+).
Seven years after DreamWorks’ “The Croods” reinvented and recycled “The Flintstones,” minus the brontosaurus ribs, for a new generation comes a sequel, “The Croods: A New Age,” now in theatres, available soon as a digital rental.
At the start of the new movie the Croods—Grug and Ugga Crood (Nicolas Cage and Catherine Keener) and their kids daughters Eep (Emma Stone) and Sandy (Randy Thom), son Thunk (Clark Duke) and Gran (Cloris Leachman)—have outgrown the cave. In the search for a new, safe home they come across a colorful paradise with walls to protect them from attack and plenty of food. “It sucks out there,” says Ugga (Catherine Keener). “It’s so much better here. Out there if no one has died before breakfast it’s a win.”
As they settle in they find they’re not alone. The Bettermans, Phil (Peter Dinklage), Hope (Leslie Mann) and daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran), a family a rung or three up on the evolutionary ladder already live. They have modern conveniences like windows, irrigation, separate bedrooms and more. “It’s called a shower. You should try it!” The modern stone age family looks down on the Croods. In fact, they’d more rightly be named The Betterthans.
When peril comes their way the Croods and the Bettermans, despite their differences, learn they have more in common than they thought. In this story there’s room for both brains and brawn.
“The Croods: A New Age” hasn’t evolved much since 2013. Like the first movie it is still jam packed with loads of caveman comedy and Paleolithic physical action. The new one has a strong message of female empowerment and the recycles the original’s theme of adversity actually bringing people closer together. It’s a winning, if familiar, combo until the noisy, frenetic ending that, while eye popping, is all sound and fury without much payoff.
The voice cast gamely delivers the story. It’s fun to hear Cage as Grug Crood actually have some fun with a role these days. It’s a welcome step away from his direct-to-the-delete-bin action movies he’s been choosing lately. Stone brings a spirited and adventurous edge to cavegirl Eep, and Reynolds, as the romantic lead, proves that his comic timing translates very well from live action to animation. They trade the often-ridiculous dialogue with ease, milking maximum humour from the script.
“The Croods: A New Age” is chaotic fun, a movie aimed squarely at kids with just enough jokes about raising a family to keep parents interested.