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A Cheat Sheet For The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers

Sarah Casserley

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Mighty Ducks Game Changers Emilio Estevez image
Disney Plus

A few weeks ago, the long-anticipated full trailer, and date, for the new Disney Plus The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers series finally dropped. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here.

The series will go live on 26th March. Which gives us plenty of time to catch up on the best sporting Disney trilogy to come out of the 90s. All three films are on Disney Plus for our viewing pleasure. But, other than Emilio Estevez, it looks like it’s a completely new cast. Understandable, as most of the original Mighty Duck members are now in their 40s and ineligible to play in a peewee hockey team.

But, we thought we’d give you a recap of the films anyway. A cheat sheet of sorts to refresh your memory of The Mighty Ducks past before we get into the present.

So, grab the popcorn and get ready to look back. Back at a time when Joshua Jackson was better known for being a cute child star and not one of the horny teenagers from Dawson’s Creek.

Go Ducks!

SPOILERS below, but if you’ve never seen the films before, what have you been doing?

The Mighty Ducks

In 1992, we got the first instalment of The Mighty Ducks, which brought in a massive $50,752,337 worldwide at the box office.

In this film, we follow Gordan Bombay (Estevez) who gets sentenced to community service. This after being caught driving under the influence. Let’s be honest here, it’s not a bad community service sentence. Instead of picking up rubbish or removing graffiti for hours on end, he’s asked to coach a peewee ice hockey team. They’re called District 5 (D-5 for short), deemed the worst hockey team in the league.

It’s a good job Bombay used to be an ice hockey player, right? But, his memories of being the star player on the championship peewee team, The Hawks, is haunted. Haunted by the moment he missed a championship goal, which led to the loss of the game. Then the disapproval of his coach, Coach Reilly (Lane Smith), and the end of his hockey career.

Unfortunately for Bombay, the first game of the series is against The Hawks. They’re still coached by Reilly, a demanding, unforgiving coach and, all in all, not a very nice man. As you can imagine, the uncoached D-5 lose by a country mile. With this, and some added jibes from his old coach, Bombay starts to get frustrated. Instead of training D-5 to get better, he teaches them how to cheat and dive for penalties. But, after a lot of disapproval from the players and their parents, plus a strong pep talk from his old mentor, Hans (Joss Ackland), Gordan gets back out on the ice himself. He finally starts to coach the team properly.

Throughout the film, three new players are added to the team. Figure skaters Tammy and Tommy (Jane Plank and Danny Tamberelli) and the misunderstood Fulton Reed (Elden Henson). As the team’s skills and bonds develop, so does the bond between Bombay and Charlie’s mother, Casey (Heidi Kling). This turns into the film’s romance story, of course!

Before the next match, Bombay announces to the team that they are being sponsored by his law firm. Plus that they have a new name, The Ducks, named after his boss Gerald Ducksworth (Josef Sommer). At this point, the team isn’t too thrilled with the name. But, after yet another pep talk, they agreed to it, starting the game with a united ‘Quack, Quack, Quack’.

With their new skills, The Ducks are soon on a winning streak. Due to district lines, Bombay adds another new member: The Hawks star player, Adam Banks (Vincent LaRusso). Due to both Banks and the team not being happy with this decision, and a minor misunderstanding, the team storm off and forfeit a game. This is soon sorted though. The team go from strength to strength, straight to the Championships, against, you guessed it, The Hawks.

Obviously, this is a problem for Banks who has just moved teams. Especially as Coach Reilly and a few of his ex-teammates engage in some dirty tactics. This leads him to getting injured and sent off. With this, The Ducks are even more determined to win and, like all good Cinderella stories, they do win with Charlie, who’s known for missing shots, scoring a penalty.

The message behind the film: Winning isn’t everything, but having fun is!

D2: The Mighty Ducks

Two years after the original in 1994, D2: The Mighty Ducks, arrived at the cinemas and bagged $45,604,206 at the box office.

Once again, we are led by Bombay, who was back playing ice hockey for a minor league. But he had to leave due to a knee injury.

Fear not, though! Don Tibbles (Michael Tucker), head of Hendrix Hockey, a highly corporate hockey company, hires Bombay to be the new coach of Team USA for the Junior Goodwill Games in California.

Luckily for Bombay, he knows most of the players, as they are mainly from The Ducks with a few added players from around the country. They also have a tutor for the team: Michele (Kathryn Erbe).

The old and new players take a hot minute to get along. But after some unorthodox training techniques, involving the whole team being tied together and being rounded up like sheep, they start to bond, and quickly get the swing of things.

As the team gets ready for the Goodwill Games, Mr Tibbles starts to load team USA with merchandise. Including a breakfast cereal named after them and a brand-new kit. With no mention of the Ducks. Bombay takes the ‘corporate’ life in his stride, even accepting a swanky apartment in Hollywood. However, it starts to bother captain of Team USA Charlie.

Once in Hollywood, Team USA win their first game and meet enthusiastic spectator, Russ (Kenan Thompson). They also encounter the very intimidating Iceland team, led by the formidable Coach Wolf Stansson (Carsten Norgaard).

As they go through the competition, the team get a little cocky and Bombay even starts wearing a suit to games, instead of the normal hockey jacket. During their first game against Iceland, they predictably lose and star player Banks is injured (again). Bombay also gets a bit of a talking to by Mr Tibbles- he is not a fan of losing.

One loss away from elimination, Bombay decides to take out the fun and push the team harder. Which as you can imagine, does not end well. It ends up with the whole team, including Bombay, getting fed up with each other. Russ, once again makes his presence known, and takes the team to his brother’s street hockey team where they learn some new moves. The team is soon back in shape and ready to face the next game, but Bombay is nowhere to be seen. So, teacher Michele, a hockey novice, has to step up and pretend to be coach.

Fortunately, Jan (Jan Rubes), Bombay’s new mentor turns up with yet another pep talk, and after a little memory interlude, Bombay turns up to the game. The team and Bombay sort their issues and win the game.

Unfortunately, due to his arm injury, Banks has to stop playing. But luckily, the team’s captain, Charlie, who is inspired by Bombay, decides to introduce Russ to the team. Team USA go on to win their remaining games and it gets to the final against… once again… you’ve guessed it… Iceland.

Just before this game, a rejuvenated Banks turns up but as they already have Russ as fill in. Charlie decides that he will step down and help coach the team instead, so Banks can play.

Not to be totally predictable and like the first film. This time Team USA must work a little harder to win the game and it goes down to penalties, but they only go and win the cup title… Hazar!

The message behind the film: Teamwork makes the dream work.

D3: The Mighty Ducks

The third and final film instalment, D3: The Mighty Ducks, was released in cinemas in 1996. Bringing in a slightly lower income of $22,936,273 at the box office.

This time, Bombay isn’t the lead, and only has a few cameo parts, mainly to bail The Ducks out with his law degree.

In this film, The Ducks find themselves gaining scholarships to a private high school. The Eden Hall Academy, but without some of the other members. Most notably missing is Bombay, as he has been offered a swanky new job, and Portman (Aaron Lohr), one half of the Bash brothers, who bailed when he heard Bombay did.

The Ducks quickly realise that they are not in their comfort zone anymore, as they meet Dean Buckley (David Selby) and their very intense teachers. But none are as intense as Coach Orion (Jeffrey Nordling), who gives them a whole new set of rules. Including keeping a B average and staying clear from the varsity team, until they play them in the varsity playoffs. There’s also a change in the line-up, Charlie is no longer Captain – in fact no one is . Goldberg (Shaun Weiss) is swapped out of goal with Julie (Colombe Jacobsen-Derstine), and star player Banks is moved to the senior team. They are also stripped of their Duck name and are now known as The Warriors junior team. They also run into trouble with the senior varsity team, who would rather The Ducks weren’t there.

With guidance from their mentor, Hans, Charlie and the team push forward at the new school. However, an outspoken and, dare I say it, brat-ish Charlie gets increasingly frustrated with the demanding Coach Orion. Tensions rise between the senior and junior teams.

After a positive start in their first game of the season, the team ties. But, after some unsportsmanlike conduct and selfishness by Charlie. Dean Buckley and the other members of the school’s board are nervous about the scholarships that they gave out. They start to think about revoking them. On top of this, there is a prank war rising between the junior and senior teams, which starts with kits being soaked and frozen, and ends with an $800 dinner bill being dumped on Charlie and the team. So, to settle the score, they schedule a secret varsity game against Coach Orion’s wishes. Charlie and the team lose, and when Coach Orion finds out, he reprimands the team, which ends with Charlie and Fulton leaving the team.

Hans tries to give Charlie a pep talk, but a defiant Charlie just walks away. Unfortunately, that night, Hans dies. As a result, Fulton returns to the team. After Hans’ funeral, Charlie gets an even stronger pep talk from the visiting Bombay, and so he also returns to the team. Before he leaves, Bombay has one more thing to sort out as it looks like Charlie and the team could seriously lose their scholarships. Yet, after some legal rambling’s courtesy of Bombay, the team gets to keep their place at the school.

Charlie and the team, along with a returning Banks, bounce back and get ready for the varsity game against the seniors. As they improve, Coach Orion realises that he can’t make them into good Warrior players as they are already great Duck players and gives them back their old Duck name for the varsity game.

During the game, it looks like The Ducks might lose again as the senior team is handing out some hard-playing techniques that the Ducks are finding hard to keep up with. But, at half time, it looks like Bombay had pulled even more strings, as Portman shows up with full scholarship papers, and joins Fulton to reunite the Bash brothers. This puts a new energy into the team, along with Coach Orion reinstating Charlie’s Captain badge, and The Ducks go on and win the game and become The Eden Hall Ducks.

The message behind the film: There’s more to Hockey than just playing the game.


So, there you have it, a quick cheat sheet of what happened to get you up to speed and ready for 26th March. We hope you are as excited as we are for The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers. Let us know your thoughts on the films and the new series int he comments below.


Check out the trailer for The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers HERE.

Read IMDB information on The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers HERE.

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Comics & Literature

Shadow And Bone: Books vs. Series

Victoria Newell

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Shadow and Bone Season One image
Netflix

With the release of Netflix’s new fantasy series, Shadow and Bone, I utter words that I never thought would come out of my mouth “The screen adaptation was better than the book.”

While the Netflix adaptation did change some things in the book, they actually enhanced the story. All while adding a richness to the world. It kept with the integrity of the book, and met my extremely high expectations as a massive fan of the Grishaverse. But what did they change from the books? What changes were better, or fell flat? Here’s my spoiler-abundant review of Shadow and Bone.

Adaptation: Which books were included?

Shadow and Bone is based on a book trilogy by the same name written by Leigh Bardugo. She was also an executive producer and writer for the show. It tells the story of the mythical country Ravka which has been split in two by a mysterious swath of darkness populated by monsters called the Shadow Fold. It’s foretold that someone with the ability to summon light, the Sun Summoner, will one day destroy the Fold. When her best friend is in danger, Alina Starkov reveals the ability to summon light. This puts her on a collision course with some of the most powerful people in Ravka.

The show also included a prequel story to the Six of Crows duology, which is a series that takes place in the same world. But in a different country with different characters two years after the last Shadow and Bone book. Where Shadow and Bone is an epic story of good vs. evil, literal light vs. dark, Six of Crows is about a group of teenage gangsters committing felonies. It’s grittier, darker, and objectively better and has a large fan base. The show took three of the principal Six of Crows characters. It sent them after Alina Starkov for a cool million kruge.

The Sun Summoner

Let’s discuss our principal Sun Saint, played by Jessie Mei-Li. Alina feels as though she stepped right out of the book. Mei-Li did a fantastic job portraying her. The way that she feels lost and out of place in her world, her sense of humour, her charming dumb decisions. She’s earnest and kind, while subtly foreshadowing the greed for more power that comes into play in the later books.

One major difference from the show to the book is the anti-Shu (East Asian) racism at play in the show. In the mythical world of the Grishaverse, Alina’s country Ravka is at war with Fjerda in the north and Shu Han in the south. While Ravka is inspired by Russia, Fjerda by Germany/Scandinavia, Shu Han is inspired by East Asian cultures. Mei-Li is half Chinese, and therefore show Alina’s mother was Shu and her father was Ravkan. It makes sense that Ravkans would be hostile towards someone who looks like they come from a country they’ve been at war with for over a century. The change works well in the story’s favour. In the books, Alina always felt lonely and out of place. Adding this extra level of isolation drives home the feeling that she doesn’t know where she belongs.

Another major change comes in the way the story ended. At the end of the story, General Kirigan uses Alina’s power against her will to expand the Shadow Fold and use it as a weapon, killing hundreds of people. In the show, Alina is able to escape the Fold on their skiff with the help of several other characters. But in the book, Alina realizes her power in the same way she does in the show. But she uses it to jump off their skiff and run away with Mal, leaving everyone on the skiff to die. Living with the knowledge that she caused about a dozen deaths is definitely something Alina deals with in later books. The fact that she didn’t do that in the show might affect her character’s development moving forward.

But all in all, Jessie Mei-Li’s portrayal of Alina was perfect.

The Tracker

Alina’s best friend, Mal Oretsev, played by Archie Renaux, is disliked by a lot of book readers. Renaux’s portrayal of Mal, however, flipped a lot of people’s opinion on the talented tracker. In this fictional world, there are people known as Grisha who have the ability to manipulate things around them. In Ravka they are treated very well, and before Alina was discovered to be one, both of them had a certain level of disdain for Grisha. Mal and Alina are orphans who grew up together, in the show they call each other their “true north;” their home. He’s one of Alina’s prominent love interest’s and they have a close relationship.

In the book, Mal preferred Alina weak and without her power. He was more of a playboy, a little more selfish and arrogant, and less understanding. In the show, he spends a great deal of time being beat up and shot at in an attempt to get back to Alina. Seeing him track down the Stag for her, listening to letters he wrote to her that never got delivered really helped in understanding Mal’s character. And making him more likeable. In the show, he is principally concerned with protecting her and getting back to her, and Mei-Li and Renaux’s chemistry is off the charts. Renaux took a character that a lot of people have mixed feelings about, and made him into a fan favourite.

The Darkling

The Darkling, or General Kirigan, played by Ben Barnes, faced the most book to screen changes. The biggest being that in the book, he is referred to as only the Darkling. Whereas in the show he’s referred to as General Kirgian and “Darkling” is used as a slur. For reference, Kirgan is a powerful Grisha who has the ability to summon darkness and use it as a weapon.

It was a strange change, and I’m not sure why they did it, but it didn’t bother me too much. It took the mystery of his character away a little bit, but it’s something I can overlook. But there is one change to Kirigan’s name that truly bothers me. Kirigan’s back story and real name was revealed way too early. In the books that doesn’t happen until book three, Reign and Ruin. But we get his real name as an offhand comment in Episode Four and then his backstory in Episode Seven. General Kirigan is a fantastic villain but revealing his backstory this early waters down his character.

However, Ben Barnes understood the assignment. He portrayed Kirigan perfectly, really driving home how manipulative a villain he is. You want to like him, you want to trust him. The twist that he is the man who created the Shadow Fold and has no intention of destroying it stung even for book readers who knew it would happen. He’s likeable and hateable at the same time, and fans of the show are in the same boat as Alina. As in they have no idea whether to kiss him or kill him.

The Crows

By far the best addition to this show was including the Crows; our principal criminals from Six of Crows. The Six of Crows book follows Kaz Brekker, a rising star in the criminal underworld of Ketterdam, as he is hired to break a man out of a high security Fjerdan prison. He establishes a crew of Inej, Jesper, Matthias, Nina, and Wylan and they go have a heist.

The Crows have a lot of fans, so show-runners decided to twist the plot a little bit to include them. Six of Crows does do some groundwork in explaining where these characters are during the events of Shadow and Bone. From there it was finding ways for these two books to bump into each other. And they did it perfectly without making as many major plot changes as I thought they would.

Wylan is the only Crow missing from the line up in the show. But it should be noted that show-runners have said that he will be in Season Two.

Six of Crows outlines how star-crossed lovers Matthias and Nina meet each other, and the show follows that plot for the pair. Nina (Dannielle Galligan) is a powerful Heartrender, which is a Grisha who can control the body. Matthias (Calahan Skogman) is a Druskelle, a witch-hunter from Fjerda who had dedicated his life to hunting down and burning Grisha.

Shipwreck

After fate pulls Nina and Matthias together through a shipwreck, they have to rely on each other to survive. They fall in love in spite of their differences. But to save Matthias from her Grisha comrades, Nina gets Matthias arrested, claiming he’s a Kerch slaver. This destroys Matthias’ trust in her despite Nina still loving him and sets them on a course for Ketterdam. Both actors do a great job setting up their relationship in only a few short scenes. And showrunners set them up to join Kaz’s crew in the next season.

But the real stars are Kaz (Freddy Carter), Inej (Amita Suman), and Jesper (Kit Young). The three of them get just as much screen time as Alina, Kirigan, and Mal. Their story begins when they get a hit on a job to go to Ravka, cross the Fold, and bring back the woman who claims to be the Sun Summoner.

Six of Crows

Reading Six of Crows definitely makes the Crow plot more enjoyable, as it is teeming in Easter Eggs. But everything with the Crows in this show is prequel and therefore new. Kaz is still building a reputation in Ketterdam, Inej still belongs to the Menagerie, and Jesper is pretty much the same.

One complaint I’ve seen fans have is that Kaz is not violent enough. In the books, we’re talking about a man who ripped a guy’s eyes out. And convinced a man that he buried his toddler alive. He’s also smarter in the books, always has a plan, and is maybe the most intelligent character in the Grishaverse. Yet, in the show, he doesn’t win many fights and pushes himself into a corner. But I still think that Freddy Carter was the perfect Kaz.

Book order

Fans of the book should note that this story is two years before Six of Crows. He’s not the Kaz we know and love yet. He definitely lays crumbs down for him to become that, and there are scenes in the show where Kaz shows just how ruthless he can be. There were also complaints that he was too outward with his emotion. But everything that makes Kaz sympathetic in the book comes from that we can read his internal monologue.

If Carter and script writers portrayed Kaz like how he is in the book to a fault, we would have no reason to sympathize with him. In my opinion, Carter, who is openly a massive fan of Kaz Brekker, did a fantastic job with the character. Portraying a younger, less experienced Kaz.

They also did a fabulous job of setting up Kaz’s heart-wrenching back story without spoiling it too early (take notes Kirigan). They put emphasis on his cane, his gloves, his relationship with Barrel King Pekka Rollins, and his inability to touch people. Kaz is a disabled character, having to walk with cane, and suffers from extreme PTSD and touch aversion. Carter did an amazing job of portraying those things and how they make Kaz stronger. Kaz embraces every part of himself to the point that they truly do make him a force to be reckoned with, and the show did an excellent job with that.

Relationships

Another thing to note is his relationship to Inej. Inej was kidnapped from her home when she was fourteen and illegally sold to a brothel in Ketterdam. But Inej has some skills in terms of espionage as she was trained as an acrobat as a child.

So Kaz buys her indenture, setting up a payment plan to pay for the massive sum, and Inej works for Kaz. Inej can’t leave Ketterdam without her previous owner’s permission, so Kaz puts up his gambling hall as collateral and a promise to pay off her indenture in full when they return. Inej has also expressed that she has never killed anyone and doesn’t want to, but when Kaz is in mortal danger, Inej makes her fist kill. These two characters are never going to admit that they love each other, but they repeatedly show that they do through their actions, and in the end, Kaz begrudgingly admits that he needs her. Inej is also the most religious character in the show, and going after the Sun Saint definitely provides some conflict in her heart.

She’s an assassin who is full of compassion and is incredibly pious and complex. Suman did an amazing job bringing this complicated character to life, and Carter and Suman have wonderful tension in their scenes.

Kit Young

And here to steal the show is Kit Young as Jesper Fahey. He does a great job as comic relief, releasing tension in high-stress scenes and being the comedic break-out of the show. But even through that, he alludes to Jesper’s crippling gambling addiction, his desire to be validated by Kaz, and his tender friendship with Inej.

All three of these actors embody the Crows perfectly. They simply stepped off the pages, and seeing them cross paths with Shadow and Bone characters feels natural and exciting. They definitely stole the show and my heart.

Overall

All in all, there is way too much to discuss in this series vs. the book, so I’ll boil it down to this, Shadow and Bone was perfect. The casting was phenomenal, the plot changes were natural and bettered the story, the inclusion of the Crows was genius, and everything about it was incredible. It set up the Crows to be united as the six of them and set them up for future heists, and it propped up the Shadow and Bone arc for book two. The show has not been announced for another season yet, but Bardugo has stated that she wants five, and I’ll be praying to the Saints for as much as I can get.


What did you think of Shadow and Bone the series vs. the book? Let us know in the comments below.


Whilst on Netflix check out the best of British movies HERE.

Read IMDb information on Shadow and Bone HERE.

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