Disney Plus & I want Cupcakes

I have spent a chunk of this year with November in my calendar as the time when Disney Plus will enter my life and give me a new slew of content to dive into. It’s recently come to pass that it is not launching in the UK the same time as the in the US, and I am not happy about it. The only reasoning, I have seen comes from a Wired article in September stating it’s most likely to do with existing deals with Sky across Europe that their newly acquired 21st Century Fox already had in existence. 

I understand the reasons for that causing an issue with some of the content that’s supposed to be there, but I don’t understand why they cannot launch Disney Plus in other territories and just have the content that is allowed in that region. Netflix does it, Amazon Prime does it, but Disney seem reluctant to spend the time needed to make this a possibility. Whilst I admire the ambition to have everyone everywhere have access to the same collection, this doesn’t make any sense to me. They are launching a brand-new platform that will be wanted around the world, but they are leaving money on the table in regions.

I am not savvy with the technical side of launching a streaming service, in fact I know nothing, but I can’t understand what the issue would be with launching worldwide with region locked content like every other platform. If this isn’t the case, and the platform will be region locked with different content in different places, then the staggered launch makes even less sense unless they’re simply not adequately prepared, which is a failure of planning and implementation.

Am I bitter that other places get to enjoy The Mandalorian before I do? No, because this situation means it’s probably going to end up forcing me into getting a VPN and watching it anyway. When it comes to content on the internet, there is always a way to watch. Most shows and films you think of are on one of the multitudes of streaming services now, and if they’re not, you can rent them via Amazon or even Sky Movies.

Disney Plus staggered launch could also lead to another problem for them, Piracy. When I was younger, I would spend hours downloading a song via the incredible slow and inefficient LimeWire, which was almost certainly illegal. You could even download Movies, although that would take days of your PC being on and constantly plugged into the internet. Yes, that’s right, plugged in. I used to have to run a cable from my living room, up the stairs and into my bedroom to use the internet. Ah what I used to do to get onto Habbo Hotel.

Anyway, my point is, Piracy now is a different game. I am sure there are a host of sites ready and waiting to do that voodoo that they do to get that content available in terrible quality for people. I stay away from it normally, if I am going to watch something, most of the time I watch it on a streaming service I pay for because I want to be able to see what’s happening, and also because I want to support good work. With Disney Plus, I am hoping I can use a VPN to watch it through my own Disney Plus account, I am not sure it’s going to be possible, but I will burn that bridge when I get to it.

Basically, I want to watch Mandalorian, I want to give Disney my money and bow down to the corporation and pledge myself to them, and they don’t want me. It’s like a beautiful girl, the girl of my dreams, that’s sleeping with everyone except for people in my country. Perhaps that’s not the best analogy. It’s like a cake, a delicious one, we are talking a moist Red Velvet cake. Maybe it’s the Red Velvet Oreo’s, which are the best biscuit in the world but are only made for America because I think our laws prevent them being sold for less than like £8 per pack. Honestly, they’re worth it, they’re like eating a cupcake in Oreo form. If you haven’t tried Red Velvet Oreo’s you really need to, they’re the best.

In summary, I want some cupcakes.

‘Til tomorrow!

ChAzJS

 

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Aladdin (2019) Review

I am back after a few weeks off writing other things (maybe one day you will see what) and to get me back in the saddle I had a choice of John Wick 3, Rocketman, Brightburn or Aladdin. As you can tell from the title of this post, I went for the re-imagined Disney classic. My memories of the original Animated Aladdin are a little hazy, but A Whole New World is a certified banger and you all know the words, and that alone puts it high on the list of all time Disney movies. 

Of course a huge part of the animated film was the Genie, brought to life by great animation and arguably the greatest comedic voice acting performance ever given by Robin Williams. I think a major concern everyone has with the new Aladdin is that Will Smith, even with all his charisma, couldn’t possibly be up to that historic performance. I am so glad to report that he gives a brilliant performance as the Genie, and does it completely in his own way. Much like the 1992 Genie was a vehicle for Robin Williams’ improvisational personality, this 2019 Genie is gives Will Smith the same platform for letting his own brand of entertainment ensue.

I’ve started with the Genie because he is a huge part of the film, and every scene with him in he owns the screen and you could watch him having fun with his unlimited powers all day. Smith shows that the Genie isn’t a character who can only be played by Robin Williams, just that it’s a character that needs to be played by someone with a huge personality and Will Smith certainly brings that in spades. As entertaining as he is, he is by no means the only star in the show.

As a complete newcomer to my eyes, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed Mena Massoud in the title role. He is great casting for Aladdin, and he plays the role with the right amount of cheek and wit. Him and his monkey Abu have a somewhat believable bond, even if the monkey does seem a little too smart at times. I found it hard to have any real problems with him though and there was enough chemistry for me to buy into the budding romance between him and Jasmine.

Power Rangers star Naomi Scott plays Princess Jasmine, and I personally liked a few of the new choices they made with the character this time round. Her desire to be a good ruler for the people is a little bit heavy handed at times but I liked the idea they were going for. The new solo song “Speechless” is heavy handed in a lot of ways but again, I appreciated the message even if it was hammered home a bit too much. Outside of the singing, I think she did a great job playing the princess as a strong character, with her own ambitions beyond just the love of a prince.

I like all of the protagonists a lot, and I wish I could say the same for antagonist Jafar. Marwan Kenzari is fine in the role, but he did become a bit too over the top at times, and he didn’t bring that menacing presence I was hoping for from the character. This kind of makes some parts of the film, mainly the scenes involving Jafar being intimidating, fell a bit flat for me. His sidekick Iago always felt like an evil version of Zazu in Lion King in the animated version, but here he is a relegated to just being a super intelligent parrot, similar to the role Abu plays for Aladdin.

Aladdin doesn’t break any new ground beyond a few lines of Jasmine’s dialogue, and in terms of the plot there is nothing new. If you have seen the ’92 film, you know what is going to happen. The enjoyment I derived from this was seeing a new vision of that story, with a new genie and for me it was a really entertaining film. To some, this film could feel like nothing more than a well funded tribute act, but for me it was like a great band did an awesome cover. This is the movie equivalent of the Fall Out Boy cover of Michael Jackson’s hit Beat It. It’s not the original, but it’s pretty damn good, and you can sing along to every word.

Good: Will Smith crushes it as the Genie, Great breakout performances from the two leads, and the songs are brilliant.

Bad: Jafar underwhelmed me, and if you have recently watched the ’92 Aladdin, it may well give you Déjà Vu.

8/10 – Not a whole new world, but an entertaining one. 

Christopher Robin Review

When this was first announced, I could not understand why you wouldn’t lead with the character everyone has fond memories of. In my memory, Christopher Robin was normally the least interesting part of the stories compared to Winnie the Pooh and the other characters. The trailer looked weird, and I’m not 100% sure if I like the animation style of the animals even after watching the film.

What I am sure of though, is that my memory of Christopher Robin being the least interesting part, as distant as it is, still stands correct. Ewan McGregor’s natural charm is discarded for the majority of the first act in the film. After being introduced to the story with a short few scenes with young Christopher Robin, we are thrown straight into Robin’s life which has become obsessed with work.

This first part of the film, from the moment we leave the animals in the opening to when we go back to the 100 Acre Wood, the movie slowly plods through a fairly basic set up for the title characters redemption arc. Ewan McGregor is always entertaining to me, even in the serious scenes that feel a little jarring he gives a good performance. Hayley Atwell has little to do as his wife, but her disgruntlement towards Robin being work obsessed is something I felt reflected the audience’s emotions.

The animals are brought front and centre for the second and third acts and that is where the entertainment is in this film. Eeyore and Tigger are both the main support acts, with Piglet, Owl and the other animals given the back seat. The obvious stand out is of course Winnie the Pooh. The Bear whose love affair with Honey is legendary is simply really fun to watch. His innocent optimism towards everything is heartwarming and funny, even if at times he does overstep the line on how cheesy the dialogue gets.

This is a film aimed at kids of course (I watched it in a cinema full of nostalgic adults but still) and I really think kids will love this. I would have as a kid, I was a tubby kid and Pooh’s constant hunger is extremely relatable for my inner fat boy.

It’s message about growing up not meaning you have to lose your imagination and stop having fun is heavy-handed to say the least. It may as well say it directly to the audience, as there is no subtlety here. Very early on you can see where the story is going and sure enough it goes there with no threat of a twist or surprise. It’s simple and it gives the characters a reason for what they’re doing but there is not much to it beyond that.

Christopher Robin makes an attempt at being a kid’s film whilst still pulling on the nostalgia adults will feel seeing these old characters. The pacing issues and at times unlikable character of Christopher Robin took away from the film for me and I think I’d have liked it more if it was more about Pooh than Robin. It’s hard to criticize too much, as it’s very sweet and entertains when Pooh is involved, for me it could have done more with what they had.

Good: Pooh, Eeyore and the wonderful thing about Tigger’s.

Bad: Even McGregor couldn’t make Robin likeable through the first half of the film. Boring first act drags along.

6/10 – A sweet film but not much more.