‘Bumblebee’ acclaimed by US critics as best ‘Transformers’ movie ever

Paramount Pictures’ new action-adventure Bumblebee has been hailed by US critics as “best Transformers movie ever,” boasting a certified fresh 93% in Rotten Tomatoes’ scale.  This thanks to director Travis Knight who’s added charm, playfulness and a big heart to a coming-of-age story.

Check out the film’s trailer below and watch Bumblebee in Philippine cinemas Tuesday, January 8.

A producer, director and animator, Knight’s 2016 film, Kubo and the Two Strings, had won multiple awards, including a BAFTA for Best Animated Feature Film, and nominations for a slew of others, among them two Oscars® and a Golden Globe®.

“Travis is a very skilled filmmaker,” says producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. “When you look at Kubo and the Two Strings you see original story telling and visual execution that make it a stand out film, that’s what we wanted for Bumblebee.”

More than anything, the project required someone with an original vision and the confidence to back it up, explains producer Mark Vahradian. “Taking a franchise in another direction after it’s been successful for more than a decade can be daunting, but Travis wasn’t afraid of the challenge.”

Knight’s experience leading his company to the top echelon of animated filmmaking was an important element in the decision as well, says di Bonaventura, who compares directing a big-budget movie to running a successful corporation. “Travis has such a calm and confident demeanor that it makes you feel assured,” the producer says. “And these movies aren’t easy to wrangle. You face inevitable storms. He had what it takes to handle it all. He also understood the exact direction and emotion we wanted from the script.”

Knight remembers playing with Transformers action figures as a child in the 1980s. An avid fan of the animated television series, he is also a devotee of classic motion pictures of the era, including Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the films of John Hughes. “The titans of ’80s cinema approached adolescence with great sensitivity, warmth and humor,” the director says. “It’s a universal struggle we all go through, whether to fit in and seek acceptance or to stand out and forge one’s own identity. All these moments, sometimes conflicting, merge into the swirling roil of adolescence.”

Knight was especially excited to enter the expansive world of the Transformers and focus on a tiny corner of that universe to tell a more intimate, character-driven and emotional story. “At Laika, we try to find an artful balance between darkness and light, intensity and warmth, humor and heart. The idea of bringing that philosophy to this franchise was really exciting to me.”

Bumblebee is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures. #BumblebeeMovie

About Bumblebee

On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.

Bumblebee is produced by Transformers franchise veterans Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Michael Bay, along with executive producers Steven Spielberg, Brian Goldner and Mark Vahradian. Chris Brigham (Argo, Inception) will also executive produce. The screenplay is written by Christina Hodson.

Directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings, Coraline), the film stars Hailee Steinfeld (Edge of Seventeen, Pitch Perfect 2), Pamela Adlon (Better Things), John Cena (Blockers, Daddy’s Home 2), Stephen Schneider (Comedy Central’s Broad City) and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Spider-Man: Homecoming).

‘Moana’ songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda stars in ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

He earned an Oscar® nomination and a GRAMMY® Award for the composing the original song, “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s Moana.  Now, Lin-Manuel Miranda stars opposite Emily Blunt in Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns.

Miranda plays Jack, an old friend of Mary Poppins (Blunt) and is a charming and eternally optimistic lamplighter. Together, they take the Banks’ children on a series of whimsical adventures and introduce them to colorful characters, bringing life, love and laughter back into their home.

“We created this character of Jack the lamplighter, who literally—and metaphorically—lights up London in a dark time,” says director Rob Marshall. “He is an optimistic guy who sees light, even in darkness, and he holds onto that wonderful child-like spirit.”

“One of the most exciting things for us was casting Lin-Manuel Miranda in the role of Jack,” Marshall continues. “He brings such an exciting, contemporary sensibility to the film. Everyone knows he’s a brilliant composer and writer, but he’s also a great actor and a wonderful singer and dancer with an authentic and pure spirit that is very rare.”

Best known for his multi-hyphenate roles on stage (“Hamilton,” “In the Heights”), the Pulitzer Prize- Tony Award®- and GRAMMY®-winning actor was thrilled by the opportunity to create a role on screen. “There’s something very magical about this character,” says Miranda. “Jack takes care of the lights in London, but he also goes on these incredible adventures with Mary Poppins and brings light to all those around him, especially children.”

In the ’30s, lamplighters like Jack were responsible for dimming the gaslights in the morning and turning them back on in the evening, all across London. These lamplighters, or “leeries” as they were referred to at the time, traveled by bicycle with ladders for use when climbing the lampposts and poles to reach the gas igniters. As of 2016 when the film was in production, there were still over 2,500 gas lamplights in service in London.

“Lin is awesome,” says Blunt. “He is incredibly confident and has an infectious personality that is a joy to be around, and he throws himself head first into any situation he’s given. Whether it’s sliding down ladders or climbing Big Ben or hanging upside down, he’s just very gung-ho about everything, and we needed that for a character like this, who has a sense of magic to him.”

She concludes, “Jack and Mary Poppins are sort of in cahoots with each other. Even though he’s not quite of her world, he gets it and understands it, and he’s great at cajoling the kids to come along with her, so it’s a great chemistry to play because there’s not anything romantic—they’re just sort of kindred spirits.”

Mary Poppins Returns opens in Philippine cinemas nationwide on Tuesday, January 8. Join the conversation online and use the hashtags #MaryPoppinsReturns and #DisneyPH.

About Mary Poppins Returns

In Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” an all new original musical, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. Emily Blunt stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin-Manuel Miranda plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London.

“Mary Poppins Returns” is directed by Rob Marshall. The screenplay is by David Magee and the screen story is by Magee & Rob Marshall & John DeLuca based upon the Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers. The producers are John DeLuca, p.g.a., Rob Marshall, p.g.a. and Marc Platt, p.g.a. with Callum McDougall serving as executive producer. The music score is by Marc Shaiman and the film features all new original songs with music by Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman.

The film also stars Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks; Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks; Julie Walters as the Banks’ housekeeper Ellen; Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and introducing Joel Dawson as the Banks’ children, with Colin Firth as Fidelity Fiduciary Bank’s William Weatherall Wilkins; and Meryl Streep as Mary’s eccentric cousin, Topsy. Angela Lansbury appears as the Balloon Lady, a treasured character from the PL Travers books and Dick Van Dyke is Mr. Dawes, Jr., the retired chairman of the bank now run by Firth’s character.

VST Productions’ first feature film ‘Boy Tokwa’ stars Jose Manalo

Comedian and Eat Bulaga dabarkads Jose Manalo stars in VST Productions’ first feature film presentation “Boy Tokwa: Lodi ng Gapo” directed by Tony Y. Reyes.

Based on a true story, from the accounts of Rodrigo Morelos’ (aka Boy Tokwa) friends, the movie sees Boy’s grandson, Andy Morelos Woods, head back to the Philippines to search the truth about his grandfather.

Andy soon learns that his grandfather’s greatest dream is to go to USA.  Boy’s dream led him to Olongapo where his wit, ability and skills in card games became his tools for survival in the town.  Boy becomes a con artist that only targets foreigners and is well-loved by the community because of his loving nature, generosity and loyalty to friends.

During his stay in Olongapo, Boy met and courted Naval officer Anne McArthur, granddaughter of Gen. Douglas McArthur but was turned down.  His journey eventually led him to meet Patricia Woods who is also a Naval officer whom he married and was blessed with a child. But Boy soon finds himself in the midst of conflict within the community he considers his family.

“Boy Tokwa” also stars  Joey Marquez, Karel Marquez,  Allan Paule, Buboy Villar and Gian Sotto.

“Boy Tokwa” opens January 8 in cinemas to be distributed by Axinite Digicinema.