Disenchanted Movie Review

Most fairy tales end with the words “happily ever after”. While this is certainly a satisfying conclusion, there is always room for more.

The new DisneyPlus movie, Disenchanted, was released last weekend. The sequel to Enchanted, it has been fifteen years since the first film ended. Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and Giselle (Amy Adams) are happily married and have a baby girl of their own. Robert’s daughter Morgan (played by Gabriella Baldacchino) from his previous marriage is now a teenager and dealing with what we all went through at that age.

The story starts when the family leaves New York City for the suburbs of upstate NY. The nice way of describing their new home is that it is a fixer-upper. While Giselle tries to make friends with Malvina (Maya Rudolph), the town’s unofficial social queen, they are visited by Edward (Jason Marsden) and Nancy (Idina Menzel).

The gift they bestow leads Giselle to make a wish for her previous fairy tale life. As usually happens when this kind of yearning, it all goes to h*ll in a handbasket. It is up to Giselle and Morgan to save the day and return their world to what it was before.

I loved the movie. It was entertaining, funny, and the perfect follow-up to its predecessor. The easter eggs are fast and furious in the best way possible. As with Enchanted, Disney is lovingly mocking itself while recreating a narrative that fans know and love. My favorite character is Malvina. Rudolph is clearly having fun with the role, hamming it up to the nth degree.

All in all, it was a blast to watch and well worth the fifteen-year wait.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I would also not be surprised if it was on any top ten lists at the end of next month.

Disenchanted is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

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Hocus Pocus 2 Movie Review

Movie sequels have a tenuous reputation. They can either further a beloved narrative (i.e. The Empire Strikes Back), or they can be a supposedly easy cash grab that nearly destroys the reputation of its predecessor (i.e. Independence Day: Resurgence).

Last weekend, fans of Hocus Pocus were finally rewarded for our patience. The long-awaited sequel, Hocus Pocus 2, was released on DisneyPlus. Nearly thirty years after the Sanderson sisters, Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) were vanquished, they are brought back again by a couple of teenagers.

This time it is Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) who light the black flame candle. The only way to stop the witches is with the help of their friend, Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), who has been spending all of her free time with her boyfriend. Working with the sister’s fanboy Gilbert (Sam Richardson), they know that Winifred, Mary, and Sarah must be stopped for good this time.

I could not help but smile during the film. The wait was worth it. It is as if the last 29 years have not existed. Midler, Najimy, and Parker slipped back into their roles as one would put on a beloved piece of clothing. The narrative is an organic continuation of the 1993 movie, taking the story in new directions in regard to the main characters.

The new characters also work well and are a nice extension of the original teenage protagonists. Becca, Izzy, and Cassie are an interesting mirror image of Winifred, Mary, and Sarah. For his part, Gilbert represents the myth of the witches that have grown within this world and within the fanbase.

It is a fun, exciting ride that takes the audience on a ride and ends in a manner that is lovely and unexpected.

The only thing that would have made it better would have been cameos from the original kid actors.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Hocus Pocus 2 is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

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Andor Review

There are two arguments when it comes to a prequel. One is that it allows a formerly minor character to get a little bit of time in the narrative spotlight. The other is that it is a cheap copout by the studio. Instead of giving voice to new stories, they are relying on a known (and perhaps too reliable) IP.

Andor premiered last Wednesday on DisneyPlus. In short, it is a prequel of a prequel. Five years before the events of A New Hope, it follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) as he becomes the rebel that we know him to be in Rogue One.

While getting on the bad side of bureaucrat Syril Karn (Kyler Soller), he joins the rebellions by way of Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) and Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona).

So far, the first three episodes have been released. The connective tissue between the boy he was and the man he has become is starting to come together in a way that feels right for the character.

My favorite character so far is Maarva Andor (Fiona Shaw), Cassian’s adopted mother. She is not blind to what is happening and though she does not appear to have one, she has a spine made of steel.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of Andor are released every Wednesday on DisneyPlus.

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Pinocchio Movie Review

Within every fairy tale is a morality tale. The purpose is to teach our children (and our adults) how to behave.

The new film, Pinocchio is a live-action reboot of the 1940 film of the same name. Based on the story by Carlo Collodi, Geppetto (Tom Hanks) has one wish: for a child of his own. He gets his wish when the Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo) brings Geppetto’s newest creation, a puppet to life. Named Pinocchio (voiced by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), he wants nothing more than to be a real boy and make his father proud.

But like any child, temptation pulls him in other directions. Jiminy Cricket (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tries to guide his charge to do the right thing, but he can only do so much. Will this puppet become a real child or is his fate to be just pieces of wood that only slightly resembles a human?

There is a nice balance of updating the narrative for our time while remaining true to the original cartoon. As usual, Hanks is the MVP, playing a complete 180 from his last film.

I noticed a couple of things that I obviously would not have seen as a child. The first is praying to a higher power or the universe (whichever one believes in), may actually bring in the desired results. The second is that you have to work for what you want. Pinocchio was not automatically turned into a human being, he had to earn it.

I haven’t seen the 1940 film in decades, but the message came through loud and clear. Though the story could be seen as slightly moralistic, the idea of listening to your gut applies to anyone of any age.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Pinocchio is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

P.S.: Keep an eye out for easter eggs.

Light & Magic Documentary Review

When we think of films or TV shows, we often think of the boldface names at the top of the credits: the director, the actors, the producers, the screenwriter(s), etc. For every name that is in large letters, there are many others whose work is important, but unknown by the audience.

Light & Magic is a new six-part documentary about the creation of Industrial Light & Magic, otherwise known as ILM. Started by George Lucas, the company started out as a way to create special effects for Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. In the beginning, they were a bunch of young rebels living off of dreams, hard work, and a limited budget.

Over the decades, ILM would not just become the pioneer for special effects. The company would also be behind the success of some of the biggest movies of our era, creating visual imagery that has caused multiple generations of fans to ask “how did they do that?”.

I enjoyed this documentary. It proves that determination, creativity, diligence, and coloring outside the box can change the world.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Light & Magic is available for streaming on Disneyplus.

Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation Movie Review

Summer vacations, in their many forms, should be simple. A chance to get away from the every day, see something else, and generally take a breather. But anyone who has ever gone away will tell you that it can be far from simple.

Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation recently dropped on DisneyPlus. In this 45-minute kid-friendly film, Finn (voiced by Omar Miller) is more than excited to get away with his friends for a little while. But then they all scatter and Finn is left to wonder if his expectations were just a little too far from reality.

This movie is so much fun. it is adorable and fans of all ages will love it. The humor is mostly directed at a younger audience. However, there are a few easter eggs that the adults will recognize and get a chuckle out of.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Review

*I know nothing about the original comic book on which the show is based. This review is strictly about the series.

In life, and in writing, when one door closes, another opens. Just because one storyline has been completed does not mean that there is room to take a connective narrative in new directions.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law premiered a few days ago on DisneyPlus.

Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) is a thirty-something lawyer who is doing her best to get ahead in her career. Then she gets into a car accident, which changes everything. In the passenger seat is Jennifer’s cousin, Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

As a result of this accident, Jennifer turns into a She-Hulk, creating new problems. In addition to her job and her personal life, she is now officially a superhero and must save the world.

So far, I really like this series. It is funny, action-packed, and Maslany as the title character is fantastic. It speaks to the fact that many women (regardless of their romantic or familial status) are balancing multiple aspects of whatever is part of our daily lives.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

New episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law will be released on Thursday on Disneyplus.

P.S. There is a post-credit scene that is worth waiting for.

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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Ms. Marvel Review

*This review is solely based on the series as I have never read the original text.

For far too long, the majority of superheroes have been white and male. Thankfully, things have been changing to include women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community.

Ms. Marvel premiered last Wednesday on DisneyPlus. Based on the comic book of the same name, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) is a Pakistani-American teenager who is going through the same growing pains that we all went through at that age. Her parents are overprotective, she is unpopular at school, and desperately wants to spread her wings. She is also also a Captain Marvel Superfan.

Living in Jersey City, New Jersey, Kamala is torn between her own needs and being true to the family /faith that she was raised in. When she unexpectedly gains superpowers, she must use them to save the world.

Like Peter Parker before her, it is her ordinary ness that makes her stand out. What I have watched so far, I like immensely. As the child of immigrants, she speaks to and represents the mindset of many children and grandchildren who chose to leave the land in which they were born and make a new life in the US. I love that she is a nerd and proud of it. I love her imagination and I love her spirit.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

New episodes of Ms. Marvel are released every Wednesday on DisneyPlus.

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I Stand With Moses Ingram

The world of Star Wars stands for everything that racism and hate are against. Diversity, inclusion, respect, democracy, etc are ingrained into this world. That does not mean, however, that everyone in the fandom is immune from the hate and racism in the outside world.

Earlier this week, Obi-Wan Kenobi star Moses Ingram spoke out about the racist messages she has been receiving via social media from a small group of fans who are unhappy with her character’s place in the universe.

Ingram is unfortunately not the first SW actor of color to have this experience. Both John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran were also verbally attacked by online trolls. They could not fathom that there are more non-Caucasian characters than Lando Calrissian.

Thankfully, both the upper echelons at Disney and her colleagues have spoken up. Ewan McGregor, as both the lead actor and executive producer of the series, released a video in support of his co-star.

As a performer, Ingram is completely new to me. But in the three episodes that have been released so far, I have become a fan. Her performance is brilliant and I cannot wait to see where she will go in future episodes.

The haters can suck it for all I care. I stand with Moses Ingram.

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