Tag Archives: Disney movie

Lightyear Movie Review

Every narrative and IP has its limits. Though a movie studio may want to test its limit, the audience may feel differently.

The new Disney/Pixar movie, Lightyear, is an origin story/prequel within the Toy Story franchise. After being stranded for years on a mysterious planet, Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans, taking over from Tim Allen) is looking for a way to return home. His friend and co-pilot, Alicia Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), tries to be supportive while also being realistic.

As Buzz continues in his efforts to get his crew home, time moves on. When he finally achieves his goal, he discovers that it has been sixty years since his first attempt. An army of robots led by Zurg (James Brolin) is doing everything they can to steal his power source. Leading a small band of misfits that includes Alicia’s granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer), Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi), Darby Steel (Dale Soules), and the animatronic cat Sox (Peter Sohn), they must save the day and stop Zurg.

I have mixed feelings about this film. As a standalone narrative, it’s not bad. I appreciate the diversity and representation of the characters. But I also feel like Disney and Pixar are perhaps becoming a little too reliant on a known quantity instead of trying out something new. The lessons within the story are universal and ageless, but that does not take away from the fact that this is the fifth time that we have seen Buzz on the big screen.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

Lightyear is presently in theaters.

Toy Story Pixar GIF by Disney - Find & Share on GIPHY

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Thoughts On the Hocus Pocus 2 Trailer

When Hocus Pocus premiered in 1993, critics didn’t have a high opinion of the film. Almost thirty years later, it has become a cult classic and a staple of the television schedule in the fall.

The teaser trailer for Hocus Pocus 2 was released this week. The story as we know it to be (as of now) is as follows: three young ladies light the black flame candle and bring the Sanderson sisters back to life. Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary (Kathy Najimy) are once more eager to wreak havoc on the residents of Salem.

Though it is not clear if the original child actors (Omri Katz, Vinessa Shaw, and Thora Birch) will be returning, it looks (as of now) to be a perfect follow-up to one of my favorite childhood films.

Hocus Pocus 2 will be available for viewing on September 20, 2022, on DisneyPlus.

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Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers Movie Review

There seems to be a rule that in every generation, Hollywood looks to the past and uses nostalgia as a reason to reinvigorate old IPs.

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is one of the newest releases from DisneyPlus.Thirty years after the original series has ended, they are living far from the limelight. Chip (John Mulaney) has a desk job. Dale (Andy Samberg) is still trying to cling to his past. When their old teammate Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) is kidnapped, they have to put their animosity aside to work together. Assisting them is Ellie (KiKi Layne), a cop who is determined to solve the case.

First of all, shoutout to the homage to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It is a subtle touch, but if you know, you know. I loved that Chip, who is the straight man is still in traditional 2D animation while out there Dale is in the form of modern animation.

The best thing about the film is that it appeals to both adults and kids. For those of us who remember the cartoon back in the day, there is humor that the grownups will get but might go over the heads of younger audiences. There are also easter eggs and cameos that may require repeat viewing to catch. It has the flavor of its predecessor while also standing on its own as a sequel.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

Chip N Dale Smile GIF by Disney+ - Find & Share on GIPHY

P.S. The show’s theme song is a total earworm. Just an FYI in case it gets into your head as it is now in mine.

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I Love When Purim and International Women’s Month Collide

History is full of brave and badass women who did not shy away from speaking up when it counted. Unfortunately, most of their stories have either been reduced to the footnotes or lost entirely to the sands of time.

On this very short list of females whose names and narratives that we know is Queen Esther. During the Jewish holiday of Purim (which started last night and ended tonight), we remember her because she saved the Jews of Persia from the antisemitic pogrom that was being planned by Haman.

Being that March is International Women’s Month, I can’t think of a better reason to celebrate the legacy of Queen Esther. It took courage and a belief in knowing that she was doing the right thing, even when she knew that her life could be forfeit.

It is for this reason that she is remembered, revered, and respected to this day.

P.S. The newest Maccabeats video (We Don’t Talk About Haman) is out and it is brilliant.

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Jungle Cruise Movie Review

When a company such as Disney chooses to make a movie based on one of the rides in their theme parks, the requirements for a successful adaptation are different than another IP. The writer(s) are only limited by their imaginations. However, there must also be some adherence to the original context, even if it comes out of an unorthodox direction.

The new Disney movie, Jungle Cruise premiered this weekend on DisneyPlus. Taking place during World War I, Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) desperately wants to be accepted by the scientific community. But because she is a woman, her work means nothing. Wanting to prove the naysayers wrong, Lily and her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) travel to the Amazon. Her goal is to prove that a centuries-old curse is not a myth, but the truth. Their guide is the smartass Captain Frank Wolff (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), whose boat looks like it could sink at every turn.

As they get deeper into the jungle, the secrets and dangers slowly reveal themselves. On their heels is Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons), who has his own reasons for wanting the magic that is supposedly promised in the stories.

This film is an interesting hybrid of The Mummy and The African Queen. Blunt and Johnson have decent chemistry. I appreciated that Blunt’s character. She certainly breaks the mold in terms of how women in his genre are seen and treated. I also appreciated that one of the main characters is LGBTQ and while they may seem to neatly fit into a stereotype, they don’t.

Overall, it was enjoyable. But I wouldn’t call it completely memorable. For an action/adventure, it was decent, but not as thrilling as it could have been.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Jungle Cruise is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

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Cruella Movie Review

The question of nature vs. nurture is a tempting one to ask. Does our upbringing dictate who we are and what we believe? Or is it our perception of ourselves and the world around us?

Cruella was released yesterday on DisneyPlus. Estella/Cruella De Vil (played by Tipper Seifert-Cleveland as a child and Emma Stone as an adult) has been a rebel and an outcast since she was young. Raised by her single mother, she is left parentless at 12. Arriving in London with only her dog as a companion, she finds family in the form of thieves Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) and Jasper (Joel Fry). Ten years later, they have become a trio.

But Estella wants more out of life than petty thievery. She wants to be a fashion designer. Fate sends her the opportunity she is praying via the Baroness (Emma Thompson). The Baroness is the queen of the English fashion scene. She is also self centered and selfish. What starts out as a door opening to the job of her dreams turns Estella/Cruella into a version of the person she wants to destroy. The question is, can our heroine keep up with the image she has created while being true to herself or will she sell her soul in the process?

Cruella is one of the best films of 2021. It is so much fun to watch. The music (classic 1960’s and 1970’s tunes) is perfectly chosen. Both leading ladies are at the top of their game. The introduction to Thompson’s character is only bested by Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) in The Devil Wears Prada.

What I loved is that this movie it proves that a female led movie does not require a romantic narrative to be successful. There are male characters who have a significant role in the narrative, but their relationships with the Baroness and Estella/Cruella are of a professional and/or plutonic nature.

Among the Disney prequels that have come out as of late, this is the best one. Though there is the argument of an easy cash grab, there are more than enough Easter eggs to keep fans of the original film happy. Expanded beyond the original narrative, it is a loving homage to its predecessor while standing on its own two feet.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Cruella is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

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Throwback Thursday: D3: The Mighty Ducks (1996)

When a film series reaches its finale, it has to have to important narrative aspects. The first is it own unique challenge to the characters. The second is that the ending must feel right.

D3: The Mighty Ducks premiered in 1996. The third film in the trilogy, it takes place several years after The Mighty Ducks (1992) and D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994). The team is now in high school. They are freshman at an elite private school in which they are strangers in a strange land. Their antagonist is the varsity team, who are not exactly welcoming to the latest additions to the student body with open arms.

Looking back, the problem with this particular film is that it feels like the screenwriters didn’t give it their all. It feels like for the most part, it is a carbon copy of the previous movies in the trilogy. Some aspects were changed, but the changes are almost cookie cutter. The unique energy that the first and second films had is not completely diminished, but it is not as bright as it could have been.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Flashback Friday: D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)

Success breeds success. But that does not mean that there will be a few bumps and bruises along the way.

The sequel to The Mighty Ducks, D2: The Mighty Ducks was released in 1994. After the success of his underdog team in the first film, Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) has returned to rink playing for a minor league team. When a knee injury sidelines his career, he is hired to coach the Team USA for the Goodwill Games held in Los Angeles. Taking most of the original Ducks with him and adding a few new players to the roster, it looks like they are heading to an easy win. But when Hollywood comes calling and Team Iceland stands in the way of their championship, the Bombay and the Ducks realize that they have work to do.

As sequels go, this film is pretty good. Granted, I haven’t seen it in a very long time, but based on what I remember, its not bad. The bar is that might higher, forcing to the characters to deal with new challenges in order to reach their goals. I also appreciated the additional diversity of the newer cast members.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Raya and the Last Dragon Review

Emotional growth and maturity does not appear out of the blue. It requires us to step out of our comfort zone and be willing to go on a journey that by definition is never easy

The new Disney movie, Raya and the Last Dragon, premiered earlier this year. In the ancient realm of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. When the Druun threatened it’s inhabitants, the dragons stood between the invaders and humanity. But as much as they tried, the dragons were not able to protect themselves or their human neighbors.

500 years later, Kumandra is now split into five different kingdoms. Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) is daughter of Benja (Daniel Dae Kim), who is chief of the Heart kingdom. He believes in peace and is eager to return to the days when everyone lived together, but his dreams are just that. Benja brings together the leaders of the other four kingdoms, hoping that it will generate some sort of good will towards one another. What starts out a lovely afternoon turns into terror.

Years later, Raya is searching for a way to fulfill her father’s dreams. She has become a cynic, unwilling and unable to trust almost everyone she meets. On her journey, she releases Sisu (Awkwafina), the only dragon to have survived the massacre. Sisu has an open heart and believes in the good of humanity. This odd couple will have to work together to undo the past and return Kumandra to what it was.

As Disney movies go, it was pretty good. Raya is a real and relatable heroine. Her story, unlike her Princess sisters, is of self discovery and learning to trust. There is not even a mention of a romantic relationship. The closest parallel, if there is one, is the love between Raya and Benja. In most fairy tales, the father of the female protagonist is either dead or emotionally absent. It was lovely to see a parent who loves and supports his daughter beyond the traditional “find a man and settle down” narrative. I also loved that the filmmakers let Awkwafina be her full comedic self and that it felt authentically Asian without pandering to anyone.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Raya and the Last Dragon is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

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Flashback Friday: Fantasia (1940)

When a brand is successful, the easiest thing to do is to create factory line like replicas of the product that created that accomplishment. The harder thing to do is try something new.

In 1940, Disney temporarily broke away from what decades later would be their princess narratives and released a film that was and still is completely novel. Fantasia is a series of short films set to the music of classical composers.

What I like about this film is that it is different. The risk paid off. Though each individual narrative is able to stand on its own, it is the music that ties them all together in a seamless and entertaining fashion.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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