After the success of the first season of the mystery thriller podcast Passenger List, Radiotopia from PRX and Peabody Award-winning creator John Scott Dryden have announced the launch of season two starting May 10. The eight-episode season will be released on Mondays through June 21.
With Raya and the Last Dragon out for about a week now, there are many thoughts and opinions being shared across the Internet about it. While a few of us here at The Nerds of Color have written extensively about Disney’s first Southeast Asian film, I thought it would be appropriate to gather together the Southeast Asian Nerds of Color writers and discuss it. Together with Laura Sirikul, Mike Manalo, and Patrick Michael Strange, in a conversation about as long as Raya and the Last Dragon itself, we go in-depth on everything from the film’s plot, how it tackled the topic of trust, the characters, the majority East Asian cast, the lack of Filipino culture and actors, and more.
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers from Raya and the Last Dragon.
Dominic, Keith , are joined by new recurring co-host (and friend of the NOC) Britney Monae! Together, they break down the series finale of WandaVision, review Disney’s latest animated adventure Raya and the Last Dragon, and more!
Today, I’m beyond thrilled that I get to say that we finally have a Southeast Asian Disney Princess! That’s right! Raya and the Last Dragon is officially hitting cinemas and Disney+ via Premier Access today, and we couldn’t be happier. In fact, if you want to take a look at what we thought of the film, check out our review here.
Having said that, here at The Nerds of Color, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing may talented and wonderful actors of color; each one doing their part to further the cause of shining a light on the underrepresented. However, to me, this 10 minute interview may top them all!
There’s no question the global pandemic has affected the lives of many within the United States having the highest COVID-19 cases and death rate. The previous administration under President Donald Trump blamed China for the deadly coronavirus, labeling the disease as the “China Virus” and, more broadly, putting targets on the backs of Asian Americans by fellow citizens who are angry by the economic and social impact of the pandemic. Since then, there has been a rise in Anti-Asian hate crimes throughout the U.S. After multiple attacks on the elderly Asian population, the media started to notice, thanks to the help of Asian American advocates and allies pushing for these stories to be shared. Multiple brands, including Disney, Nike, and Apple, began releasing statements condemning the attacks on Asians and where people can donate and show support.
It seems like the perfect time to release Raya and the Last Dragon, a Disney film inspired by Southeast Asian cultures and traditions. Raya and the Last Dragon is set in the fantasy world of Kumandra where humans and dragons lived together in harmony. That sadly ends when the Druun, an evil entity, threatens the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, the Druun have returned and Raya (Kelly Marie Tran), the lone warrior princess, must find the last dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina), to stop the Druun and save the world. The film’s theme is centered around trust and how Raya must learn to trust in order to achieve saving the world.
In 1937, Walt Disney debuted something that changed the history of cinema — the release of the first full length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This in turn gave birth to Walt Disney Animation Studios and a long history (at times problematic) of classic stories and adventures involving dragons and princesses that has, for the most part, arguably withstood the test of time from generation to generation. But generations change. Art and time change the world and, in turn, the world and time must also change art. Our expectations on the types of stories we can tell, and the cultural sources of those stories must evolve and expand, because life has become more complicated since 1937. And thus today (or rather this Friday), the world will see how far we’ve come since Snow White, when Disney introduces the world to it’s newest game-changer Raya and the Last Dragon. Now you’re probably thinking, “C’mon. Is it really a game-changer? How? Why?” And if you are thinking that, first off, that’s just rude (just kidding). And second, if you’ve been reading my reviews long enough I’m sure you’re used to my dramatic flair for hyperbole. However, to answer your question, yes. I believe it is.
Raya and the Last Dragon is being celebrated for being the first Southeast Asian-inspired story produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. Set in the fantasy world of Kumandra, where long ago humans and dragons coexisted in harmony. After an evil force called the Druuns threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity with the creation of the Dragon Gem. Raya’s family are the Guardians of the Dragon Gem and must protect the gem at all costs. When conflict arises within the clans, the same evil returns and causes a path for destruction. It is up to Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) to track down the legendary last dragon Sisu (Awkwafina) to restore the fractured land and defeat the evil surrounding it.
During a special presentation with select press last Tuesday, the creative team behind Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon revealed the rest of the ensemble that joins Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina in the first Southeast Asian-inspired fantasy animation set to release this March. Set in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons coexisted in harmony. But when an evil force called the Druun threaten their world, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, the Druun have returned and it is up to Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) to track down the last dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina), and find the missing pieces to the Dragon Gem to rid their land of evil and unite its divided people.
When I first saw The Force Awakens after a fully funded summer media apparatus of hype in the winter of 2015, I remember the following Christmas morning my mother turned the corner, threw me a Force Awakens pillow, and coldly chuckled “Merry Christmas.” It was a good joke — like many the Force is moderately strong in my family — but it left me to wonder, what Christmas spirit at Walmart possessed my Mom to buy me this gift? I suspect my mother may have unknowingly become a Disney market research statistic. But after the last five years and our predestined Rise of Skywalker, I am largely left to ask the same question.
After 42 years, the Skywalker Saga comes to a close with the release of The Rise of Skywalker. Keith was joined by Jamie Noguchi to screen the movie at Baltimore’s historic Senator Theater. Here are their instant reactions. SPOILERS!
Let’s be honest. The reason you, the skeptic who hated on The Last Jedi for two years (not me, but you know who you are!), went on this site and clicked on this review is to find out whether or not Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is any good. But the answer to this isn’t a simple one. Now before the cynic in you dismisses the movie entirely just because it’s not an overwhelmingly positive “yes,” just know that it’s not terrible either. To put it simply, in a year where we had Avengers: Endgame and the finale of Game of Thrones, The Rise of Skywalker, the conclusion to the 40 year Skywalker saga, is squarely in between: neither as amazingly uplifting and universally praised, nor as abysmally disappointing and anticlimactic as some other fantasy finales that pissed me off.
With Rise of Skywalker and the end of the Skywalker Saga at the end of the month to look forward to, Hard NOC Life is going to be a Star Wars podcast for the month of December. Because there aren’t enough Star Wars podcasts on the internet! Each week, Dominic and Keith will be breaking down a different trilogy that make up the beloved Star Wars franchise.
Finally, after weeks of anticipation — and one half of terrible football (unless you were a New England Patriots fan) — the world finally got to see the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and ultimately, the final trailer of the Skywalker Saga. And it did not disappoint!
That’s right, you do not have to wait ’til December’s release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to hear from Kelly Marie Tran, because she stars in Passenger List, a new mystery thriller podcast arriving today from Radiotopia! Our favorite Space Asian actor voices the lead character Kaitlin Le in this fictional narrative involving “a missing plane, a cabin full of suspects, a search for truth.”
We held our second annual “Rally For Rose” during San Diego Comic-Con on July 20. Even though we were competing with Marvel Studios’ Hall H panel, we were able to turn out several supporters and raise some money for both Alliance San Diego and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. The rally — which, this year, consisted of a march (or a “Rose Parade,” if you will) that started at the IMDboat and made its way to the Hilton Bayfront and was covered by Variety and NPR. All the while drawing attention to the importance of representation for all marginalized communities.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of San Diego Comic-Con, and the one-year anniversary since a crowd of Rose Tico cosplayers gathered at Bayfront Park to show their support for Kelly Marie Tran. And we’re doing it all over again! This time, we’re planning to march in a “Rose Parade” from the Convention Center to the NOC Meetup at the Hilton on Saturday, July 20. Let us know you’ll be part of the parade on Facebook!