Review: Disney+ Brings A Whole New World Of Disney Shows

reviewing two shows and two movies on new streaming service, Disney+

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Review: Disney+ Brings A Whole New World Of Disney Shows

Photo Courtesy of Disney

Photo Courtesy of Disney

Photo Courtesy of Disney

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On Nov. 12 Disney introduced its new streaming service, Disney+, and it has already garnered plenty of praise. 

The streaming service includes all of the Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, and National Geographic content, and has everything from movies and original TV shows to documentaries and short films. It’s also worth mentioning all classic Disney movies will be able for viewers to stream. 

In honor of Disney+’s debut, here’s a review of two new shows and two new movies.

The Mandalorian 4/5

First up is the newest addition to the Star Wars universe, “The Mandalorian.” Two episodes of the first season have been released, with the second episode coming to the platform on Nov. 15.

 “The Mandalorian” is a Disney+ original TV show that takes place after 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.” It follows an unnamed bounty hunter, played by Pedro Pascal, known simply as The Mandalorian. 

In the first episode, a mysterious character named Greef Carga, played by Carl Weathers, tells the bounty hunter of a potential client who may be interested in hiring him for a job. Upon hearing this, The Mandalorian goes and meets the client, played by Werner Herzog, (who actually goes by The Client) and is immediately hired to complete a bounty and bring him back dead or alive.

Like most TV shows, “The Mandalorian” has its highs and lows. One of the highs is its set design and cinematography. When I was watching the show, I really felt like I was immersed in the same universe as the characters. The designs were very realistic and not in a cheesy science fiction way. Mixed with excellent special effects and good costumes, “The Mandalorian” may be worth watching just for it’s stunning visuals.

The show, however, is not perfect. The beginning is a bit slow, with action mixed in every now and then. The dialogue can be somewhat confusing at times. There’s also very little information on the characters, so it takes some effort to piece everything together. 

One thing I did enjoy was the western feel of the show. It’s obvious the creators took inspiration from classic westerns and incorporated it into a Star Wars setting. This was ultimately executed perfectly and gives audiences a good balance of western and science fiction elements.

Although “The Mandalorian” is a show that all types of audiences can enjoy, it felt particularly geared for Star Wars fans. Because of the many nods and references to other Star Wars movies in the show, it may either confuse viewers who aren’t familiar with the movies or just go over their heads. As someone who’s already seen all of the Star Wars movies, it made sense to me, but not all people like watching a show with references they don’t understand.

Overall, “The Mandalorian” is a pretty decent show. It’s not amazing, but it’s also not something worth scrolling past. It’s nice to see something new and creative from Star Wars that isn’t repeating the same story over and over again. Give it a chance. It may not be for everyone, but with good visuals and a fairly interesting storyline, it’s not half bad.

Photo Courtesy of Disney

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series 3.5/5

Next is another Disney+ original TV show that is a spinoff the much loved High School Musical movies. Like “The Mandalorian,” only two episodes have been released but will be followed by more to come. 

The first and most important thing to know about this show is that it is in no way a sequel or a prequel. The original characters from the movies do not make an appearance, so the show introduces audiences to new ones.

The story is set at the same high school where “High School Musical” was shot, but it has never put on a musical production. The new drama teacher, Miss Jen, played by Kate Reinders, plans to change that and declares the students will put on the musical. 

There’s also a subplot to this show revolving around the love triangle between Nini, played by Olivia Rodrigo, Ricky, played by Joshua Bassett, and E.J., played by Matt Cornett. Ricky broke up with Nini at the beginning of the summer but now realizes he wants her back. He finds this won’t be easy though when he discovers she is now dating jock and theater enthusiast, E.J. 

One good thing about this show is the cast. The majority of the actors are under 18 and bring a fresh perspective to the show. Each of them fit their character very well and put just the right amount of energy into their performance. 

The characters themselves were also one of the show’s successes. I found it interesting that everyone had a different backstory to help explain their motives. For example, Gina is a highly competitive and rather arrogant student who is vying for the lead role in the musical. Later in the episode she explains that her mom constantly tells her that “if you can’t be number one at something, it isn’t worth doing,” giving us a reason for her behavior. 

Of course, no show can be perfect, and this one isn’t an exception. While the dialogue can be funny at times, there are moments where it comes off as just plain corny and even a little cringey. 

It was also a little disappointing that nothing truly exciting happened in the first episode. Besides the fact the students found out what role they had been cast in for the musical, the first half of the episode was mostly Ricky complaining about how he let Nini go. It’s obvious that adding a little something more would’ve changed the show for the better. 

In short, this is the kind of show one might want to watch when they feel like staying in for the night and are in the mood for something light. It’s a fun watch that may or may not end up being something special but has a good message about having confidence in yourself. 

Photo Courtesy of Disney

Lady and the Tramp 4/5

Moving on from TV to movies, next is “Lady and the Tramp.” This is a remake of the 1955 animated film and the latest addition in Disney’s current trend of remaking their classics. 

The film follows the same story as the original. Lady, voiced by Tessa Thompson, is a refined dog that lives happily with her family, while Tramp, voiced by Justin Theroux, is a vagabond type of dog that lives on the street trying to outrun the local dog catcher. Eventually they meet and share adventures together and end up falling in love.

One of my favorite things about this version of “Lady and the Tramp” was the use of real dogs instead of the usual CGI ones. It made the movie more true to life and was entertaining to watch the dogs act on screen. 

While the movie stays true to the original, there are some pretty significant changes that tended to bother me. For one, the gender of the Scottish Terrier, Jock, has been switched in this version. In the original, he was a male, but in this one, his gender is now female. Ultimately, this change felt odd and very unnecessary. 

Another disappointment was the fact the “Siamese Cat Song” was left out. Since the original movie’s release, people have said the song is “racist” and “offensive” to Asian culture. In response to this, Disney changed the species of the cats and included a new song. This, however, ended up being a major failure as the song was not catchy at all and extremely forgettable. 

Aside from these flaws, pretty much everything else in the movie was a success. The iconic spaghetti dinner scene was shot beautifully and was absolutely perfect. Matched with the “Bella Notte” song, it was so wonderful that it left me smiling at the end.

The “He’s a Tramp” song was also performed well in the movie. Performed by Janelle Monáe, she gives it the same jazzy feel as the one in the original but also maintains her own flair and style.

Casting was another one of the movie’s triumphs. The actors’ voices fit each of the characters well and reflected the personality of each one. Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux’s performances in particular were outstanding and perfectly captured the chemistry between Lady and Tramp.

The ending is what really got me though. It brought back memories of watching the original “Lady and the Tramp” when I was little, and I appreciated the director decided to stay true to its charm. 

It’s clear that “Lady and the Tramp” is one of the better Disney remakes because of all it has to offer. Sure there are some things about it that could’ve been left out or changed, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives in this case. In the long run, it’s a sweet movie that keeps the charm of the original one.

Noelle 2.5/5

Last is the Christmas comedy, “Noelle.” It was originally scheduled to be released in theaters, but it was decided in February 2018 that the movie would be on Disney+.

“Noelle” tells the story of Santa’s daughter, Noelle, played by Anna Kendrick, who loves everything Christmas but feels that she doesn’t play an important role in making the holiday special. When her father dies, the role of Santa is passed on to her older brother, Nick – played by Bill Hader.

 Even though it’s an honor to be Santa, Nick doesn’t feel ready to take on the big role and continuously messes up his duties. Noelle then suggests to Nick he take the weekend off to relieve his stress. When Nick doesn’t return to the North Pole, Noelle is blamed and puts it upon herself to get him back.

I really wanted to like this movie, but it had too many imperfections. One of them was the awful CGI. All of the animals, particularly the reindeers, were poorly animated and made it hard to take the movie seriously. You would think Disney would be able to deliver some pretty decent CGI as they’ve done in the past, but this was definitely not the case.

The scenes that took place in the North Pole had impressive set design, and the costumes themselves were well crafted with vibrant colors and intricate designs. Unlike the CGI, these aspects of the film felt life like and gave off a Christmas feel. 

There were a lot of elements of “Noelle” that were very similar to the 2003 movie “Elf,” especially the scenes where Noelle was looking for her brother in Arizona, acting as the definition of a “fish out of water.” That being said, this movie was a lot cheesier than “Elf” and nowhere near as memorable.

I did enjoy some of the humour in the movie. Most of the dialogue is quick and witty with a lot of jokes about today’s fast technology (think Amazon Prime) that was very relatable. Anna Kendrick also delivers a pretty funny performance as the main character and basically carries the movie.

Although I appreciate the effort put into making a movie with an original plot, “Noelle” falls short, ending up as an unforgettable movie. While it has a nice message about the importance of being selfless and thinking about others instead of yourself, it ends up being just another story about losing Christmas spirit and then finding it again. It’s worth watching if you’re interested in seeing what it’s like, but it turns out to be a bit of a disappointment. 

***

For more commentary on Disney+ and other streaming services, check out our latest print issue of The Bagpipe.

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