*I apologize for the delay in posting. I should have written this before New Year’s Eve.
Loki: Tom Hiddleston shines once more as Loki, the complicated immortal who has become much more than the standard antagonist. Forced into new circumstances, he goes on a journey that forever changes him.
Ordinary Joe: This new NBC series is the story of one man and three distinct life paths before him. Told concurrently and using different colors for each decision, is is a reminder of how one choice can affect the rest of our lives.
The Book of Boba Fett: This latest entry into the Star Wars universe from DisneyPlus just premiered on December 29th. Though only two episodes have been released, it is already asking questions that are begging for answers.
Behind Her Eyes: Based on the book by Sarah Pinborough, this six part Netflix series about a married man’s affair with his secretary has a delicious ending that is jaw dropping and completely out of left field. Few endings have wowed me as this did.
Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) is a young lady from a small village in Colombia. Everyone in her family was born with a unique gift. The only exception is Mirabel, which is often pointed out in a less than sensitive manner. When she starts to sense that her home will be destroyed, no one believes her. This may be connected to her Uncle Bruno (John Leguizamo). Bruno is the black sheep of her family tree. He is not spoken of and has not been seen for years.
Mirabel appears to be the only one who can save the day. But first, she will have to get past her grandmother, Abuela Alma (María Cecilia Botero).
I loved this movie. It is funny, enchanting, and charming. In making Mirabel ordinary in both physical appearance and abilities, she has universal appeal. The fact that she has glasses, short curly hair, and is not a size 2, is more than overdue. With a Latinx cast and the creative fingerprint of Lin-Manuel Miranda, it is a joy to watch.
When we last saw Boba Fett (Temeura Morrison), he had been swallowed by the Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi. The opening shot of the series reveals that Boba is still alive. After fighting to get to the surface and to civilization, he takes the throne and the power from the deceased warlord Jabba the Hutt. Unlike Jabba, Boba does not want to rule via fear, he wants to rule via respect from the local communities. Beside him is his second in command, Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). Though it appears that he and Fennec are welcomed by the locals, there are some who would prefer to eradicate them.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
The Book of Boba Fett is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.
*I know nothing of the content of the original comic book that Hawkeye is based on. This review is strictly based on the television series.
After a long-running movie or television series has run its course, it is not surprising if fans need a break. If the narrative is to continue, it is important that the writer(s) and creative teams find new plots that they might not have considered before.
Earlier this week, the MCU/DisneyPlus, Hawkeye premiered. In the opening scene, young Kate Bishop (Clara Stack) is witness to the destruction of New York City during the first Avengers movie. Losing both her home and her beloved father, Derek (Brian d’Arcy James) will forever change her life. We then flash forward to the college-age Kate (Hailee Steinfeld). She returns for winter break after accidentally destroying a building on campus and is unhappy that her mother Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) is engaged to Jack Duquesne (Tony Dalton).
Meanwhile, Hawkeye/Clint Black (Jeremy Renner) is in the city with his kids to enjoy the Christmas season. He hopes that his only interaction with his superhero past is a dreadful musical adaptation. It’s supposed to be an ordinary family vacation. But fate, his past, and Kate Bishop force him to pick up his bow and arrow once more.
So far, only the first two episodes have been released. What I have seen so far, I like. There is a nice balance of action and comedy. Clint’s reluctance to become Hawkeye again is the yin to the yang of Kate’s eagerness to show that she can be as badass as he is. The emotional hook is not the physical aspect of the story, but how both Kate and Clint have to deal with the issues in their personal lives.
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.
The beauty of a world like the MCU universe is that the number of stories that can be told is nearly endless. Over the last year or so, DisneyPlus has released four different series that extend the narrative beyond the ones that exist on the big screen. The list below is my ranking of the existing series.
Loki: Tom Hiddleston shines once more as the trickster g-d turned hero. With Owen Wilson as a mid-level bureaucrat and Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie/the Variant, the program takes one of Marvel’s most beloved and iconic characters in surprising directions.
WandaVision: A loving rip-off of the family sitcom over the decades, Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany returned to the roles of Wanda Maximoff and Vision. An allegory of grief and loss, it speaks to how difficult it is to lose the ones we love. The highlight at least for me, was Kathryn Hahn as nosy neighbor/baddie Agatha Harkness. That is a character for the ages
What If…: This animated series takes the narrative into new directions, introducing new storylines and mixing characters in ways that do not fit into the big screen timeline. From a writing perspective, this program is completely unique and a lovely way to take this world to places where it had not been before.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Taking place after Avengers: Endgame, this is sort of a buddy comedy meets series with a not-so-subtle political message. Though it was did not quite hit the mark as other series did, it was still relatively engaging. The addition of Erin Kellyman’s character, who turns from baddie to hero was a nice twist that I happily did not see coming.
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?
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.
The question of what if is a powerful one. We make choices and live with the consequences, for better or for worse. But what would happen if we had said or done something differently? Or if things did not go as they had?
This is the premise of the new DisneyPlus animated Marvel series. Premiering last Wednesday, it takes the narratives we know and flips them on their head. The first episode focuses on Captain America. When Steve Rogers (voiced by Josh Keaton) goes into the machine to become the super soldier that will end World War II, the end result is not as expected. A glitch causes it to temporarily break down. Jumping into action, Peggy Carter (voiced by Hayley Atwell, reprising her role from the live action films) becomes Captain Carter and leads the fight against tyranny and destruction.
The first episode is incredibly good. It was everything I expected it to be and more. I loved the twist that it was Peggy Carter who became the super soldier and not Steve Rogers.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
What If…? is available for streaming on DisneyPlus. New episodes premiere every Wednesday.
Audiences love a good antagonist. They have the ability to make the narrative more interesting and challenge both the protagonist and the audience.
The new DisneyPlus series, Loki, premiered on Wednesday. It start where Avengers: Endgame left off. When Loki (a glorious Tom Hiddleston) is able to get his hands on the Tesseract, he evades justice. But it is a short escape. Captured by the Time Variance Authority or TVA, he is accused of changing the timeline. His minder, Mobius (Owen Wilson) is in charge of building the TVA’s case against the prisoner. But when a greater evil emerges, Loki may turn from villain to hero.
What a way to kick off a new series. Hiddleston, Wilson, and company are having fun and it shows. I loved the transition from Loki being a straight up baddie to a complicated character who you want to root for, in spite of his past. Kudos goes to the production design team who created a set colored by shades of 1970’s brown and burnt orange. It is a nice change from the bright and colorful world that the Avengers live in.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
New episodes are released every Wednesday on DisneyPlus.
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.