Whether you enjoy “Two Worlds” or “A Whole New World,” there is something for every Disney fan at D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event.
During the three-day spectacular, which takes place August 23–25 at the Anaheim Convention Center, guests will have the chance to enjoy the 20th anniversary of Tarzan, take part in a musical celebration of Aladdin, explore the world of Avatar in exciting new ways, and honor Disney heroines. Plus, the Walt Disney Archives will once again host three days of historical presentations on its own stage. And the “Ultimate Fan Street Party” returns for its daily parades through the show floor—with a special twist.
Mousequerade – Presented by Raw Threads
Friday, August 23, 11 a.m., Stage 28
Mousequerade, the fan-favorite costume competition that invites participants to create their own Disney-inspired designs, returns to D23 Expo 2019. Join judges Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars Rebels), Yvette Nicole Brown (Disney’s upcoming live-action Lady and the Tramp), Jennifer Leonard (owner and designer of Raw Threads), and the contest’s host, Disney’s Jim Babcock, to watch dozens of finalists compete in five exciting categories for the $2,300 Best in Show Prize!
Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series – Episode II First Look
Friday, August 23, 2 p.m., Stage 28
Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series lets you become the hero of your own personal adventure as you step into the role of a Force-sensitive smuggler recruited by Darth Vader himself. Director Ben Snow, Senior Experience Designer Jose Perez III, and Lucasfilm Story Group Creative Executive Matt Martin take the stage for an in-depth discussion about the upcoming second episode, including an exclusive sneak peek that will be available only to those at D23 Expo.
A Musical Celebration of Aladdin
Saturday, August 24, 5:30 p.m., D23 Expo Arena
To celebrate the in-home releases of the all-new live-action Aladdin and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Aladdin Walt Disney Signature Collection, hosts Scott Weinger (“Aladdin”) and Linda Larkin (“Jasmine”) take us on a musical-magic-carpet ride through your favorite tunes from Aladdin both on stage and on screen. Special guests include Brad Kane (“Aladdin” singing voice), Deedee Magno Hall (“Jasmine” in Disney’s Aladdin—A Musical Spectacular), Jamal Sims (Choreographer, Aladdin live action), Clinton Greenspan (Broadway’s next “Aladdin”), Lillias White (Hercules), and Norm Lewis (Scandal, The Little Mermaid on Broadway). You never know what surprises the Genie may conjure up.
Heroines of the Disney Galaxies – Presented by BoxLunch
Sunday, August 25, 10 a.m., Stage 28
Join Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, creator of Her Universe) and some very special guests—including Sana Amanat (VP of Content & Character Development, Marvel), Ally Maki (Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, Toy Story 4), and Christy Carlson Romano (Kim Possible, Even Stevens, Big Hero 6: The Series)—for a celebration of some of the most inspiring and empowered heroines from the worlds of Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and more!
Disney Character Voices, Inc: The 30th Anniversary Celebration
Sunday, August 25, 3 p.m., D23 Expo Arena
For 30 years, Disney Character Voices has kept the voices of Disney characters alive and well for fans through toys, games, apps, theme park attractions, and much more. Take a journey with Rick Dempsey, SVP of Character Voices, and many of those beloved voices—including Tony Anselmo (“Donald”), Jodi Benson (“Ariel”), Bill Farmer (“Goofy” and “Pluto”), Bret Iwan (“Mickey Mouse”), and Linda Larkin (“Jasmine”), with more special guests to be announced—as they step out from behind the microphone to celebrate this joyous anniversary through stories and amazing voices!
Two Worlds, One Family: The Making of Tarzan
Sunday, August 25, 5:30 p.m., D23 Expo Arena
Twenty years later, the team who brought the animated classic to life “swings” into the D23 Expo to give a behind-the-scenes look at how the Walt Disney Animation Studios film came to be! Guests include directors Chris Buck (Frozen 2) and Kevin Lima (Enchanted); animators Bruce W. Smith, Ken Duncan, and Disney Legend Glen Keane; and producer Bonnie Arnold, as well as a very special performance by Matthew Morrison (Glee) from his forthcoming Walt Disney Records album.
The Art of Disney Storytelling
Sunday, August 25, 6 p.m., Stage 28
A panel of master storytellers—including Disney Legends Tony Baxter and Floyd Norman, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Paul Briggs (head of story, Frozen and Big Hero 6), and legendary producer Don Hahn—discuss Walt Disney’s impact on their careers and the entertainment industry, highlighting the ways they leverage those lessons to spark creativity today.
Also coming to D23 Expo…
Inside the World of Avatar
The astonishing world of Avatar is one of the most indelible ever created in film and a celebration of all that is possible in cinema and storytelling. Avatar’s visionary director, James Cameron, has created a spellbinding, immersive world that transports audiences to a never-before-imagined place inhabited by jaw-droppingly original characters. At D23 Expo 2019, the spectacular world of Avatar comes to life once again with rarely seen props, costumes, and models used in the making of Cameron’s groundbreaking film, paired with the iconic movie moments where they are brought to life. Fans will also get a glimpse at the making of Pandora – The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World Resort, making this one-of-a-kind exhibit, located on the second floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, a must-see stop for anyone who appreciates the very best in movie and theme park storytelling.
Walt Disney Archives Stage
The popular Walt Disney Archives Stage returns, hosting 16 panels and presentations throughout the weekend. Disney notables, such as Disney Legend Bill Farmer, author J.B. Kaufman, designers Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily, Walt Disney Archives director Becky Cline, Walt Disney Imagineering president Bob Weis, and Imagineers Daniel Jue and Kevin Rafferty, plus many more, will offer peeks “behind the magic” throughout the weekend. Fans will enjoy exploring many of Disney’s worlds, from holiday magic in the Disney Parks and secrets of Walt Disney’s Fun and Fancy Free to a celebration of 50 years of Haunted Mansion collectibles and a preview of the final book by Disney Legend and Imagineer Marty Sklar with his friends and family. Visit D23expo.com for the complete schedule.
Located in Hall A, Center Stage will once again be the heartbeat of the Expo and a hub of activity throughout the weekend. K-pop star Tiffany Young will celebrate the launch of her new single and upcoming music video. Radio Disney Presents will bring some of today’s hottest talent to the stage, including Booboo Stewart, Meg Donnelly, and Asher Angel. Disney on Broadway stars will drop in to reminisce about bringing some of Disney’s most beloved tales to the stage. And, back by fan demand, Bill Rogers, the “voice of Disneyland,” will be on hand each day to record fans’ outgoing voicemail messages in his signature dulcet tones. The complete lineup will be available on the D23 Expo app.
D23 Expo’s Ultimate Fan Street Party – Presented by Alamo
D23 Expo’s one-of-a-kind street party returns to the show floor with a disco twist! Twice each day the cavalcade will travel down Mickey Avenue, with a live band, beloved Disney characters, high-energy dancers, and celebrity grand marshals! In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Mickey Mouse Disco album, Mickey, Minnie, and several of their friends will be wearing their disco duds as they delight guests along with Disney stars. Newly inducted Disney Legend Kenny Ortega will lead the 4:30 p.m. parade on Friday, August 23, and Peyton Elizabeth Lee (Andi Mack) and Skylar Astin, who star together in the Disney+ film Secret Society of Second Born Royals, lead the 2 p.m. Street Party on Saturday, August 24. Additional talent and times to be announced in the coming weeks and will be available on the D23 Expo app.
Midnight Mass: The Blood of Life
The isolated island community of Crockett receives a mysterious new head priest, full of secrets and a brand new testament under a very unusual Messenger of God.
Meet poor Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), freshly released from prison and wracked with guilt over what got him there, a stupid drinking accident that caused the death of his ex-girlfriend. The last thing he wants to do is go back to Crockett and the judgment of the mostly religious community there, his disappointed family, and the nightmares of his ex’s death that plague him. But where else would have him? Resignedly on the ferry, he goes.
Riley’s dad Ed (Henry Thomas) isn’t the kind of man who talks very much at all, much less about his feelings, or his very real disappointment in his elder son. Riley’s teen brother Warren (Igby Rigney) has no idea what to say to him either, and just generally keeps mum. Riley’s mom Annie (Kristin Lehman) is accepting and loving, hesitant in how to help her eldest son but never wavering in her faith in the help of our lord Jesus. Mom seems to think a good heaping dose of the Church would set Riley right but is surprised to learn that the old priest of the Parish, Pruitt, has taken an extended leave of absence from the island, and his newcomer replacement Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) is young, charismatic, and bursting at the seams to tell the whole island about the gifts he brought them, most especially what he claims as a new testament under a messenger of God.
We’ll get back to that whole ball of issues in a moment, the other interesting characters of Crockett Island. Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan) is the nightmarish overly polite and gently, almost lovingly condescending neighbor Christian woman you’ve ever loathed, the kind of person who explains away every last thing her Church may do wrong or contradictory because, after all, God works in mysterious ways. Pfft. Of course, Bev immediately ingratiates herself as the second to the new Father Paul in their services and is the first to start covering up his transgressions as they become more rampant.
Newcomers to Crockett Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli) and his son Ali (Rahul Abburi) present a burgeoning problem to the plans of Father Paul and his shadowy companion, for they are both practicing Muslims. The practical side of investigating these so-called ‘miracles’ and strange happenings falls on Hassan’s shoulders, as he already struggles with barely-concealed racism and suspicion from his fellow islanders, and of course his son is being wooed away from him by the promise of actual, tangible miracles, but from a different whole faith and God. Father Paul definitely does not practice a traditional Christian faith and relies far too much on making use of the eucharist, the ceremony of the blood and flesh of Jesus Christ turning into bread and wine and, well, consumed.
Wade (Michael Trucco) and his wife Dolly (Crystal Balint) are lifers of the island and both in general interested in one thing, the advancement of their own family, specifically their daughter Leeza (Annarah Cymone), who happens to be in a wheelchair. And that happens to be the canny Father Paul’s first real miracle-with-a-cost that he demonstrates to the astonishment of the parishioners, after a heartfelt and rousing sermon, Father Paul commands Leeza to rise, to stand, and to walk. And lo, she does. What parents wouldn’t wholly dedicate themselves to a cause after seeing this happen to their beloved precious daughter? The fringe benefits of healing, and power, the ones that come at a mighty, currently unnamed, cost, are simply a nice bonus.
Joe Collie (Robert Longstreet) is the town drunk, and while his reasons for drowning his sorrows in the sauce might be understandable, absolution wears a very different face when it comes from Father Paul. While Leeza might be willing to forgive Joe, and even as Joe begins attending the newly-formed Al-Anon meetings on the island of course hosted by Father Paul, redemption might’ve been better sought from medical professionals, and not this newfound method of religious worship.
Dr. Sarah Gunning (Annabeth Gish) is the islands’ kind of all-around medic, and this is how she and Riley’s old friend Erin (Kate Siegel), also newly returned to the island, a few months pregnant but traveling quietly alone, met when Erin comes to the Doc for obstetrics. Sarah’s older mother Mildred Gunning (Alexandra Essoe) has many medical and mental issues, and Sarah struggles in their shared home, to take care of her addled mom and balance her own life. Then Father Paul takes it upon himself to visit one of his oldest parishioners, bringing the sacred host and wine with him to give directly to Mildred, who starts looking and acting so much better under his loving care.
The show is very much a slow slow burn, with a lot of the actual action taking place in the last two episodes. Much of the beginning and middle episodes feature two people just sitting alone, having quiet and seriously in-depth conversations about heavy subjects – grief and repentance, what happens when we die, the disasters that come as a result of addictions, how our actions’ consequences reverberate to those we love around us, faith and the foibles of man, and of course, the giving of oneself over to a higher power, for strength, and guidance, and love.
Except, for the higher power that Father Paul brought back with him, to share with his beloved flock of Crockett Island, while it may be extremely powerful and full of what could be considered miraculous magic, everything comes at some kind of a cost. And when the Messenger of God is finally revealed to the shocked denizens of Crockett at Easter Mass, with Father Paul rapturing on about rebirth as the bloody massacre begins in earnest, it’s faith, not in any kind of God or religion, but faith in each other, that may save a few hardy souls.
Question the wisdom of your religious leaders along with the rest of us in a fine slow-burn addition to the Flanaverse, Midnight Mass is on Netflix now!
Saw X: It ain’t brain surgery!
Legendary executioner Jigsaw returns to exact revenge on a cadre of scam artists who promised him a bogus cure for his cancer!
First off, be aware, that this is what I call an interleaved sequel, a movie set between previous films in the franchise. In this case, Saw X occurs after the events of the very first Saw film, and before Saw II. Everybody got where we are? Good! Into the madness, we dive!
So, as we all know, John Kramer’s been diagnosed with cancer, very aggressive brain cancer, and likely doesn’t have much time left. And he’s tried everything under the sun, doing a ton of meticulous research, we’d expect nothing less from our master of the art of murder, and not one thing has worked. Yet one man from the support group for cancer sufferers, Henry (Michael Beach), offers an off-the-books supposed miracle cure, and John jumps at the chance.
Why does this nonsense always sound too good to be true? Because it is. Deleted scenes from the first Deadpool movie already told us why traveling to Mexico for any kind of medical cure is a sublimely stupid move, but Kramer is desperate. And while he might be sick and dying, John Kramer has never been what anyone could call stupid. So the villa out in the Mexican countryside, the affable cab driver Diego (Joshua Okamoto) professes surprise at Kramer being highjacked for his good, the nervous muttering from assistant Valentina (Paulette Hernandez), the side-eyeing from little housekeep Gabriela (Renata Vaca) and her tequila, and most especially the smooth and smarming reassurances of head “doctor” Cecilia Pederson (Synnove Macody Lund), all leave a kind of sour taste in John’s mouth.
The whole cluex4 scene is done in the style that the Saw films are known for, where we the audience are treated to cut-together explanatory scenes in a flip-flash fashion of usually about two minutes, for poor John when he realizes he’s been hoodwinked and just how badly, seems a little contrived. But then it’s entirely possible that we the audience truly expected our genius mastermind of the infamous Jigsaw murders to have realized what was happening sooner, and got enraged along with Kramer. And cheered as he prepared to take his bloody and ultra-violent revenge!
First up in our grand guignol of executions is the return of Jigsaw’s first protégé, Amanda (Shawnee Smith). And despite her avowed reverence for Jigsaw and his proven “therapy”, Amanda does waver a bit when the scammers are put through the paces of their specially-made Saw traps, and they shriek and blubber and bleed out. The appearance of the ringer of the bunch, Parker (Steven Brand), doesn’t even slow our beloved engineer of the damned down, because we knew Jigsaw would have his other apprentice waiting just off stage, the deliciously vicious Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). Even the monkeywrench of involving little-boy soccer fan Carlos (Jorge Briseno) in the traps, is just another cog in the machine that is the brilliantly plotting mind of John Kramer.
A fine addition to the Saw legends, showcasing a return to the beloved style and panache of the original Tobin Bell-starring Jigsaw films, Saw X is splashing gore and gallons of blood in theaters now!
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off,” Netflix’s latest series, is a rollicking journey through the world of video game culture, blending nostalgic references with a fresh narrative twist. Centered around Scott Pilgrim, portrayed with magnetic charisma by Michael Cera, the show skillfully integrates gaming elements into its storytelling, creating a delightful homage to the video game subculture.
The series cleverly employs pixelated graphics, power-up animations, and game-like sound effects to bring the virtual world to life. These visual cues, reminiscent of classic video games, enhance the storytelling and resonate with audiences familiar with the gaming landscape. The attention to detail in recreating iconic gaming moments is commendable, creating a visual and auditory treat for enthusiasts.
The exploration of video game culture goes beyond mere aesthetics; it becomes an integral part of the characters’ identities and interactions. The script intelligently weaves gaming terminology and tropes into the dialogue, effectively blending the real and virtual worlds. The series navigates the challenges and triumphs of the characters through the lens of gaming, making it a unique and engaging experience for both gamers and general audiences.
The ensemble cast, including standout performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, and Chris Evans embraces the gaming theme with infectious enthusiasm. The chemistry between the characters is palpable, adding emotional depth to the series.
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” successfully taps into the zeitgeist of video game culture, offering a nostalgic yet contemporary take on the gaming phenomenon. It’s a must-watch for those who cherish the pixelated roots of the gaming world while providing an accessible and entertaining narrative for a broader audience. The series takes off not only in its title but also in its ability to soar within the ever-expanding realm of Netflix originals.