Tag Archive: Disney


Review by C.J. Bunce

Two episodes in and it seemed like some kind of con, a Jedi mind trick perpetrated by Disney.  Six episodes in and you’re left asking “what was the point?”  That’s the Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, which arrives as the least of the 21st century Star Wars television efforts, and after six episodes, probably falls short of Revenge of the Sith and The Last Jedi.  Why was this an important story to tell?  What entertainment value did it provide?  In the end, the only thing the series served to do was give actor Hayden Christensen a chance to make up for George Lucas’s dismal script for Anakin Skywalker in the prequels.  Other than that, it was like watching an assemblage of deleted scenes left on the director’s cutting room floor from the making of Revenge of the Sith.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you have any doubt young actress Iman Vellani was destined to be the next Marvel Comics superheroine, just watch her in the first episode of new series Ms. Marvel, and watch the short background feature that follows (A Fan’s Guide to Ms. Marvel).  Her character is similar to Hailee Steinfeld’s Hawkeye, who we only met last year in her new series.  Both grew up admiring Avengers in a world where Thanos ruined five years for so many, and both take actions to become those superheroes.  Both actresses have created characters with a respect for their family, culture, and upbringing, but both want to be themselves, too.  Vellani’s character, a 16-year-old named Kamala Khan, faces the same teen angst issues of most American teens, and her choice is to distract herself with other things.  Primarily that’s marveling at Carol Danvers’s Captain Marvel, who she admires from afar (actor Brie Larson is not expected in this series, but both will appear together in the forthcoming Captain Marvel movie The Marvels).  This coming of age story has much going for it in only its first 47-minute opening episode, premiering this week on Disney+.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Aligned with the year’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California, Disney+ began its latest Star Wars series this week, Obi-Wan Kenobi Or did it?  Maybe they uploaded a Young Princess Leia series and inadvertently swapped the reels?  The choices of subject matter to feature for the story are certainly interesting, as director Deborah Chow and the writing team take some surprising turns, especially with its focus not on Kenobi, but the Skywalkers again.  With two short episodes past us–of only a six-episode series–as with the original Star Wars movie and the prequels, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a secondary character.  Sure, he’s the glue that holds things together, but not the character who drives the action.  Will we ever see that story?

But two camps should love this series:  If you are a fan of the prequels and the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this is your series.  Also, if you like Disney fairy tales featuring the latest version of Ariel or Belle or Elsa this is also your series.  As a pure Disney family show it works, and it works as a continuation of The Clone Wars as a “sequel to the prequel trilogy” mixed with significant elements and characters from the Dave Filoni-verse.

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Another May the Fourth came and went this week and with the annual Disney-marketing Star Wars Day a new trailer and poster arrived featuring the return of Ewan McGregor in the forthcoming six-episode Disney+ mini-series Obi-Wan Kenobi.  The first teaser-trailer for the series (discussed here at borg) revealed Lucasfilm’s decision to lean hard on the aftermath of Revenge of the Sith and the prequels style of storytelling instead of the look and feel of Alec Guinness’s character in the original trilogy.  If you were a fan of the prequels and the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this seems made for you, as the music and characters new to the live-action side of the franchise are firmly seated in that source material.

Check out this trailer for Disney’s Obi-Wan Kenobi:

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After much speculation about this summer’s big Star Wars event–the return of Ewan McGregor in a painfully short six-episode mini-series for Disney+ titled simply Obi-Wan Kenobi–the first teaser-trailer for the series reveals Lucasfilm’s decision to lean hard on the aftermath of Revenge of the Sith.  This is the still blonde, 50-year-old Kenobi shortly after the prequels as opposed to the wise old Jedi wizard portrayed by gray-haired Alec Guinness at age 63.  If you were a fan of the prequels and the animated Star Wars Rebels, this seems made for you, as the music and characters new to the live-action side of the franchise are firmly seated in that source material.  From John Williams’ score from The Phantom Menace to the Inquisitors from Star Wars Rebels, there’s a lot to wrap your head around, but it’s clear this is going to be a dark, bleak look at the franchise, complete with a villain that looks like he was plucked from Hellraiser.

We finally got to see Luke Hamill as Luke Skywalker in full Jedi mode in The Mandalorian and Darth Vader saber-waving in Rogue One, will we finally get to see Obi-Wan let loose on the Empire?

Check out this first look at Disney’s Obi-Wan Kenobi:

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After the first of our two pandemic years, when we created last year’s preview of 2021 movies we admit we thought the year was looking iffy from a movie standpoint–so many films delayed or held back, others expected but canceled early in production, etc.  All year we wondered what we’d get to see and what we wouldn’t–and thanks to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vudu, and similar streaming services, a smaller but still impressive array of movies kept us entertained, especially by way of genre content.

GenredomAs always, we’re after the best genre content of the year–with our top categories from the Best in Movies.  There are thousands of other places that cover plain vanilla dramas and the rest of the film world, but here we’re looking for movies we want to watch.

Come back tomorrow for our best print media picks and our annual borg Hall of Fame inductees.  And if you missed it, check out our Best Kick-Ass Genre Heroines of 2021 here and Best TV of 2021 here.  Wait no further, here are the Best Movies of 2021:

Best Superhero Movie  Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Sony). Overlooked like the original Venom, sharp writing and faithful adaptation of the comics made for the best, most fun superhero movie of 2021.  Runner-up: Black Widow (Disney).  Despite the delays it was worth the wait, and it stands as a rewatchable and fun movie. Honorable mention: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Disney), a great tie-in to characters from throughout the MCU.

Best Action/Adventure Film, Best Visual Effects: Jungle Cruise (Disney), another Disney rollercoaster ride translated to the screen; a film that surprised us as the next incarnation of a Raiders of the Lost Ark-level adventure.  Runner-up: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Disney).  A solid martial arts adventure, a bus scene out of Speed, and great finale action.

Best Film, Best Drama, Best Director (Simon Stone), Best Cinematography (Mike Eley) – The Dig (Netflix).  A powerful film, exploring life at the precipice of change, missed and almost missed opportunities, the fleeting nature of life, and the survival of humanity through what we leave behind.  Runners-up for Best Film: The Courier (Amazon), Black Widow (Disney), one of the MCU’s best contributions.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Some movies are exactly as advertised.  Count Jungle Cruise in that category.  And yet–it’s bigger and bolder and braver than you might have guessed from its trailers.  Comparisons to the likes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean, Romancing the Stone, and African Queen are all completely warranted.  Jungle Cruise is a big, sweeping adventure–and visual amusement park ride–that draws out the best of stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt.  First previewed in autumn 2019, it’s another pandemic delay that has the scope and spectacle that would have made it the perfect box office hit in a normal year.  But at least now audiences can see what they’ve been missing as Jungle Cruise arrived this past weekend on the Disney Plus streaming service.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

As much as any movie has been able to keep its secrets in the past few years, it’s hard to beat the surprises in the epic fantasy film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the first film of Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe without an Avengers headliner.  And when I say fantasy, I mean it–it’s got it all, a combination of the magical realm of Doctor Strange, the ancient, secret country hidden from the rest of the world like Black Panther, a mix of Asian lore, Shakespearean family squabbles (including a famous, Oscar-winning Shakespearean actor), and a plot–and dragons–right out of The Lord of the Rings (after all, Ten Rings are better than One Ring, right?).  It has action, it has ties to the old and new, and, thanks to co-star Awkwafina, it’s the laugh-out-loud funniest of all the Marvel movies.  And it’s finally arrived on Disney+ so mass audiences still staying away from movie theaters finally have a chance to see what they missed.

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Two movie trailers in and it still is difficult to understand what Eternals will be about.  It still looks like a cross between X-Men: Apocalypse, Jupiter’s Legacy and Inhumans.  The final trailer from Marvel Studios for the third movie of Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (on the tail of both Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) doesn’t look like any other Marvel movie.  Eternals has a cast of familiar names–the central character fan-favorite actress Gemma Chan, who wowed us in Humans and Shetland, and created a great villain in Raya and the Last Dragon.  She also played a friend turned enemy in Captain Marvel, as the alien Minn-Erva.  And it features actors most wouldn’t think to cast for an MCU movie, like Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, and Kumail Nanjiani.  But the strange takeaway from the first trailer (seen here) and second (and final) trailer is it doesn’t look like any other Marvel movie–there’s no hook, no exciting or funny element to reel in viewers after such a successful Phase III.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Following up on The Toys That Made Us (previously reviewed here at borg), Netflix’s surprise hit documentary series leaning on viewers’ nostalgia with a look behind toys of the past, in 2019 the streaming service added a new series based on the same formula, The Movies That Made Us.  The series took a new look at four movies in four hour-long episodes in its first season, including Die Hard, Ghostbusters, Home Alone, and Dirty Dancing, followed by two holiday episodes featuring Elf and A Nightmare Before Christmas.  The Movies That Made Us isn’t really about the movies and their impact so much as what strange stories lie behind how the movies were created, from idea to release, including production foibles and hurdles.  The show is trying to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers, and it’s done it again with four new installments for its second season, featuring Back to the Future, Pretty Woman, Jurassic Park, and Forrest GumpAnd new episodes are on their way featuring Aliens, Coming to America, and RoboCop, and October staples A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th,and Halloween.

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