Tag Archives: disney plus

Movie Review – Cruella (2021)

Hey 3.5 readers. Your old pal BQB here. Just wanted you to know I just finished my screenplay for “Jeff!” a villain origin story about the fun adventures that Jeffrey Dahmer went on as a kid. What? No one wants to see a movie that would glorify a man who kidnapped and cannibalized a bunch of poor unsuspecting victims? Got it. That makes sense.

Whew. Good thing you warned me, 3.5 readers. I would have been very embarrassed if that movie had been made. But it’s not like Hollywood would have made such drek anyway, right? I mean, it’s not like they once greenlit a trio of films about the childhood and early adulthood of the man who would go on to be Space Hitler, the idea being that sure, he killed a lot of people but hey, he used to be an adorable little pod racer and what? They made it. Yeesh.

OK but surely, Hollywood would NEVER and I mean NEVER make a movie that glorifies a villainess who runs around trying to kidnap a bunch of Dalmations so she can skin them and turn their hides into coats and fashion accessories and wait…they’re doing it? THEY ALREADY DID IT?

Huh. OK then. BQB here with a review.

Part of me gets why Disney makes movies like this. They have a great big catalog of characters that fans love and the more media they make about these characters, the happier the funs are and besides, if they don’ t keep whipping out schlock based on their IP, then some other rival studio might make something similar. No, some other studio couldn’t make their own film about Cruella, but give Cruella enough time in the vault and out of the public’s eye and some other studio might just get away with making a film about their own villainous fashionista and we can’t have that now, can we?

Part of me doesn’t get it. Villains are bad and to make movies about their early years, the ones that molded them into the evildoers they are today seems to send the wrong message. I suppose it’s silly to read too much into it, though these films sort of suggest that evil adults are allowed to justify their misdeeds of the present as long as they had rough childhoods in the past and if that’s true, then I guess we all get away with being supervillains, don’t we?

Not quite.

At least in Maleficient (spoiler alert) we learn that we’ve been misunderstanding Disney’s favorite witch and secretly, she was trying to protect the princess all along. DOUBLE SPOILER ALERT – here in Cruella, we learn that Cruella doesn’t really have a penchant for turning puppies into coats (her villainous behavior is an act to attract publicity for her fashion label). Even so, if you watch the original 101 Dalmatian films, it doesn’t seem like an act. It seems like she really wants those puppies to become designer handbags.

But movies are all about the suspension of disbelief I suppose.

The plot? It’s a battle of the Emmas as Emma Stone plays the titular Cruella, born Stella to a kind mother who tries her best to parent Stella out of her evil ways. When said mother dies tragically, young Stella is orphaned and hits the streets of London, meeting the dudes who would become her henchmen, the trio becoming grifters and living off the spoils of trickery, fraud and petty crime.

Eventually, Stella is taken under the wing of London’s then leading fashionista, The Baroness (Emma Thompson), and it seems like all of Stella’s dress designing dreams will come true until she learns that the Baroness is actually a horrible person whose comeuppance is due. Enter Cruella, Stella’s secret (and eventually, only) identity who lives to upstage the Baroness at every fashion show at every turn.

Were there a lot of people clamoring for what ultimately boils down to a Disneyfied version of The Devil Wears Prada? Probably not and there’s the problem with this film. Most of these Disney flicks depend on cute animals. Readers, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but kids really like cute animals. Adults like cute animals too but are savvy enough to understand that cute animals poop and pee and love to chow down on expensive furniture and so on.

In other words, the main selling point of 101 Dalmations were, you guessed it, all the adorable puppies. Dogs are part of the act here, but not as prominently. If you were hoping for lots of cute canines in every frame, you’ll be disappointed. The point of Cruella was to just put the puppies in peril so you, the viewer, end up with a better appreciation for the puppies upon their inevitable rescue…so take away the puppies and you’re left with…dueling fashionistas? Yes, I know. Every kid is dying to rush out and see movies about fashionistas.

I do have to give the movie points for great costumes, some funny moments, and a fantastic soundtrack, basically a sampler of 1960s and 70s counterculture songs. The film spans both decades, from Cruella’s 1960s youth to her young adulthood in the 1970s as sort of a punk rock type figure. Yes, the great irony of Disney making a punk-ish, counter-culture film.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy but I’m not sure who the movie is for. Adults who are into fashion have more choices for media about fashion. Kids who love puppies have more choices when it comes to movies that feature puppies. That’s mainly my chief complaint about this movie – it needed more puppies. Otherwise, Emma Stone provides a fabulous Cruella impersonation.

Is it worth the $30 rental fee on Disney Plus? Unless you’re really dying to find out how Cruella became Cruella, I’d say you could wait until this one’s streaming for free or at least for the regular Disney Plus subscription price.

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TV Review – WandaVision (2021)

Wanda + Vision = WandaVision!

BQB here with a review of Disney Plus’ foray into Marvel based TV.

At first, I thought this show was a gimmick. It begins with Wanda Maximoff aka The Scarlett Witch (Elisabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), basically the two lowest ranking Avengers, on a 1950s era sitcom. In each episode, the sitcom shifts a decade – i.e. Brady Bunch style for the 1970s, Growing Pains style for the 1980s, Malcolm in the Middle style for the 90s, and everyone stops once in awhile to give a documentary style interview ala the office for the early 2000s.

How the heck did this happen? For those who forgot the last Avengers film, Vision croaked so its a mystery as to how he’s alive and of course, there’s the greater mystery of how these two are living in a sitcom world.

Where was I? Oh right. Why did I think this was a gimmick? I thought it was just a set-up where Olsen and Bettany stopped by to do a few sitcom skits while lesser knowns do all the non-sitcom action. While Vision and Wanda hang out in the sitcom world, Avengers sidekicks like Monica Rambeau (i.e. Captain Marvel’s BFF’s all-grown up daughter), Jimmy Wu, the FBI agent who kept tabs on Ant-Man or Darcy Lewis, Jane’s intern from Thor) investigate, setting up shop outside the town that has been taken over by the sitcom world.

So admittedly, I groaned at this. It reminded me of the disappointment that was Agents of Shield. I thought that show was going to be awesome but it was just like, an occasional Avengers sidekick would stop by and be like, “Ha ha, I just talked to Thor” but then you never see Thor.

Spoiler Alert – I was wrong. As the series progresses, you get a lot of Wanda and Vision action and a lot of movie quality effects, fight scenes and superhero action. So I take it all back. This show is worth a watch.

I am curious as to where the Marvel cinematic universe is going next. The last Avengers films were great but they wrote themselves into a corner, with the main avengers riding off into the sunset. Sometimes it feels like they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. I mean, Wanda and Vision are great here but then again, come on Vision is a freaking red robot man and that’s kind of silly, isn’t it? Then again, if you think about it, it’s all silly.

Bonus points that Kathryn Hahn, criminally underutilized by Hollywood, really gets a chance to shine here.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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The Mandalorian – Season 2, Episode 3 Review

Oh Mando. You came and you murdered some fish men. They no longer want to be your friend. Oh Mando.

BQB here with a review of the latest episode of The Mandalorian. Check out IGN’s review below:

It’s pretty great how this show packs a lot of action into an hour. Here, Mando has fulfilled his quest to locate other Mandos to assist him in his journey to give The Child (Baby Yoda) to the Jedi.

But there’s a hitch. In quite a harrowing action scene, Mando must help his fellow Mandos hijack an Imperial freighter full of weapons that these sect of Mandos want to use to take back their home planet of Mandalore. I just hope that these Mandos will be good to all the Mandos of the Mando world.

Katee Sackhoff, aka every nerd’s favorite sci-fi fantasy babe, appears as Bo Katan, head of a sect of Mandos who believe it is OK to take their Mando helmets off. This disgusts Mando, who belongs to a sect that believes that all Mandos must leave their Mando helmets on. Luckily, they are able to work out their differences and back each other up during the Mando attack.

Ultimately, I like to say Mando over and over again. Mando.

Nerds who dive deep into Star Wars canon will be happy to know that a live action Ashoka Tano will likely appear in the next episode, she being teased as the Jedi who will help Mando in his quest to put The Child into Jedi hands. Tano was a character in the animated Clone Wars series so it will be interesting to see how she comes across as a live action character.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Stream on Disney Plus.

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The Mandalorian Review – Season 2, Episode 1

Hey 3.5 readers. BQB here.

I have been remiss in posting about The Mandalorian, and Disney Plus in general.

First, is Disney Plus worth it? When it first came out last year, yes. I had a great time streaming all the Marvel and Star Wars movies…until I got sick of them and never wanted to see any of them again. Well, at least not without a break.

As for original content, Disney Plus has a lot of catching up to do if they want to go head to head with the head honcho of streaming, Netflix.

If you have a kid, the service is probably worth it. You’d go broke buying all these movies on demand when you can have them all there for a monthly fee.

For me, the Mandalorian has made a subscription worth it. Sadly, Disney has lost its way when it comes to Star Wars. It seems that Luke vs. Vader collection of stories were really the only thing that was interesting and attempts to branch out i.e. with the past in the prequels or in the future with the sequels were lackluster.

The Mandalorian is a rare diamond in the modern Star Wars rough though. You’ve got a bad ass bounty hunter, so that satisfies the adult nerds who want to see battles and mayhem. You’ve got an adorable sidekick so that satisfies the kids as well as the execs who want to make bank on stuffed animal merch.

And you actually have a story line. Whereas JJ Abrams just pulled stuff out of his butt with the recent sequels only to go nowhere, this series feels like it is going somewhere, albeit I’m not sure if the writers know exactly where as of yet.

The Mandalorians are…well, are they people, a race, are some of them aliens and some humans, I don’t know….but it’s fair to say they follow a religion of sorts. After suffering all sorts of alluded to past war atrocities and carnage, they make their way through the galaxy as bounty hunters, refusing to ever remove their helmets so that they conceal their identities, for they often have to do illegal and immoral stuff to catch their prey and collect their money.

It’s probably all just a ruse to allow for a Boba Fett-esque character while we know Boba Fett was (as for as we know) eaten by the Sarlacc pit monster in Return of the Jedi…or was he?

But the ruse works.

Anyway, last season, “Mando” was, at a time post the fall of the Empire, hired by Imperial loyalists to find and bring back a bounty. Mando has done this thousands of times, catching scum and bring said scum to other scum. Beings that are wanted. Beings that owe money to criminals. Etc. No biggie.

Ahh, but this package is a “The Child” or a cute little Baby Yoda. Mando grows a conscience, escapes with the kid and thus the series formula is born. Mando and the Child travel the galaxy, going from planet to planet to evade capture and along the way, there is almost an A-Team like vibe as Mando uses his mando skills to help people and or aliens in need.

In the season 2 premiere, Mando visits Tatooine in search of other mandos who might help him protect Baby Yoda and return him to his race of aliens, whoever they are. Hearing tell of a mando here, he investigates, only to find that it is merely Timothy Olyphant wearing mando armor that he bought off some pesky jawas.

Mando demands the armor returned, for according to mando law, mando armor may only be worn by other mandos. Timbo says the problem isn’t so easy, for he has only been able to protect his city with the use of the mando armor. He’ll give it back, but only if Mando helps kill a massive underground worm like Krayt dragon thats about to come up under the town and eat everyone.

Mando agrees but to bring the beast down, they’ll have to make friends with the dreaded sand people.

It’s a fun episode and as an Olyphant fan it was nice to see him shine here.

Overall, this show seems to be keeping SW alive. I’m not sure the wonder of the originals can ever be recaptured, but all nerds asks for is at least an attempt to adhere to rules and past canon…and have some semblance of a story…i.e. when you are handed a trail of bread crumbs, you will be able to follow it to something. This and Rogue One did that so that’s probably why both have faired well.

I’ll say this. It’s the first show in awhile, since the end of Game of Thrones, that I consider appointment watching. Coming home Friday nights and switching it on after a long week is my new favorite pass time.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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