This week there are three new releases: King Richard, the true story of two of the world's greatest sports legends; Demonic, Neill Blomkamp horror-thriller with a high-tech twist; and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the next chapter in the original Ghostbusters universe.
Based on the true story that will inspire the world, King Richard follows the uplifting journey of a family whose unwavering resolve and unconditional belief ultimately delivers two of the world’s greatest sports legends.
Armed with a clear vision and a brazen 78-page plan, Richard Williams (Will Smith) is determined to write his daughters, Venus and Serena, into history. Training on Compton, California’s neglected tennis courts – rain or shine – the girls are shaped by their father’s unyielding commitment and their mother’s balanced perspective and keen intuition, defying the seemingly insurmountable odds and prevailing expectations laid before them.
Aunjanue Ellis (If Beale Street Could Talk) plays the girls’ mom, Oracene “Brandy” Williams, Saniyya Sidney (Hidden Figures) stars as Venus Williams, Demi Singleton (TV’s Godfather of Harlem) stars as Serena Williams, with Tony Goldwyn (the Divergent series as coach Paul Cohen and Jon Bernthal (upcoming The Many Saints of Newark and Ford v Ferrari) as coach Rick Macci.
The film is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men) from a screenplay by Zach Baylin.
For star and producer Will Smith, the story of King Richard is a story of "the impossible dream". For the most part, we all have impossible dreams. We have things that we would do if we felt that they were possible, things we would do if we believed. The story of Richard and this family is largely the American dream. There are very few places on earth where Venus and Serena could happen.
At the core, this is about wanting to be the best versions of ourselves and sometimes our circumstances may not line up with that, and it’s up to the strength of the human spirit to overpower circumstances. It’s wish-fulfilment for all of us. “I think the beauty of this story and this family is that at the heart of it is faith.”
An old-school possession meets modern technology, Demonic is South African writer-director Neill Blomkamp’s first foray into the horror genre where a young woman unleashes terrifying demons when supernatural forces are at the root of her childhood trauma.
When Carly Spenser (Carly Pope) learns that her estranged mother Angela (Nathalie Boltt) has fallen into a coma, she reluctantly agrees to take part in a cutting-edge therapy that will allow her to tap into Angela’s still-active brain and communicate with her. Observed by physician Michael (Michael J. Rogers) and neuroscientist Daniel (Terry Chen), she enters a harrowing simulation of Angela’s mindscape where she discovers the powerful supernatural force that drove her mother to commit unspeakable acts of violence nearly two decades earlier.
Afterwards, haunted by terrifying visions, Carly joins forces with her old friend Martin (Chris William Martin) as she desperately tries to fend off the monstrous demon before it can enter a new host and inflict more pain and suffering on the world.
Demonic is written and directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium).
From director Jason Reitman and producer Ivan Reitman comes the next chapter in the original Ghostbusters universe.
Jason Reitman was just six years old when his father, the director Ivan Reitman, brought him to the set of Ghostbusters in 1984. That six-year-old boy grew up to go into the family business and became an acclaimed filmmaker with his Oscar-nominated direction for Juno and Up in the Air. As director and co-writer he now brings us the next chapter in the original Ghostbusters universe: Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
At the centre of Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a small family: single mom Callie (Carrie Coon), her 15-year-old son Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), and her 12-year-old daughter Phoebe (Mckenna Grace). After they are evicted from their Chicago apartment, the family moves into a ramshackle Oklahoma homestead – a dirt farm, really – that had been owned by her recently deceased father, a man she had no memory of.
As it turns out, that father was none other than Egon Spengler, who had mysterious reasons for moving from his Manhattan home to rural Oklahoma. They begin to discover their connection to the original ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.
When Jason approached his father with the idea, the elder Reitman embraced the approach as a perfect hybrid of their sensibilities. “Jason has a great love of the film and all of its iconography – that came through in every word on the page,” says Ivan.
“The script made me cry the first time I read it. It captured the spirit and joyfulness of the first movie. He had a real sense of where he wanted to go with it – his idea to bring his vision to a scale movie like Ghostbusters, to funnel a family story through the large, world-saving concept of Ghostbusters, seemed like a good thing.”
Daniel Dercksen has been a contributor for Lifestyle since 2012. As the driving force behind the successful independent training initiative The Writing Studio and a published film and theatre journalist of 40 years, teaching workshops in creative writing, playwriting and screenwriting throughout South Africa and internationally the past 22 years. Visit www.writingstudio.co.za