Tag Archive: Disney


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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What If…? is a range of comic book series featuring more than 200 stories that allowed creators to jump outside the usual and let their imagination take over.  What if Jane Foster (or Loki? or Rogue?) had found the hammer of Thor?  What if Doctor Strange was a disciple of Dormammu?  What if Phoenix had not died?  What if Vision had destroyed the Avengers?  What if Venom had possessed the Punisher?  What if Silver Surfer (or the Green Goblin) took the Infinity Gauntlet?  What if Legion had killed Magneto?  What if Jessica Jones joined the Avengers?  What if Hank Pym replaced Stark?  What if Disney hadn’t purchased Marvel?  Almost all of these questions have been answered in the pages of the comics.

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Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues with an animated anthology series based on the classic comic.  Jeffrey Wright stars as The Watcher, your guide through all ten episodes, who MCU audiences saw at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy 2–in a Stan Lee cameo.  Chadwick Boseman’s last performances as T’Challa appear in four episodes.  Hayley Atwell returns as a different version of Peggy Carter.  Samuel L. Jackson is back as Fury.  Sebastian Stan is Bucky Barnes.  Dominic Cooper returns as Howard Stark.  Djimon Housou is back as Korath.  And Michael Rooker’s Yondu returns from the dead.  Plus lots of superheroes you know with other actors substituting voices for those you know from the MCU.  And it all begins tomorrow, August 11, on Disney+.  A few more trailers/features have been released in the past week, and we’ve bundled them with the previous trailers:

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Ten Rings

“Why are they advertising that Suicide Squad movie now?  Didn’t it come out 5 years ago?”

A major gap in the now enormous industry of producing nine-figure, blockbuster superhero movies is that the movie studios are missing an opportunity to retain audiences.  No doubt more than half of the audience for Avengers: Endgame, which earned nearly $2.8 billion at the box office, was from moviegoers that were merely passing fans of the MCU.  Maybe they accompanied a spouse or a kid to the movie.  Most probably had never read a comic book before or since.  Studios today assume audiences will just show up for the spectacle.  But are they right?  Take the trailers for competing superhero movie studio DC Entertainment’s The Suicide Squad.  Nothing in the movie trailers–the only glimpse most prospective moviegoers will see via their TVs–explains why there is another movie called The Suicide Squad.  Do they think most TV viewers catching the commercial notice the addition of the “The” in the title?  Do they assume everyone still reads a newspaper or online entertainment source and is going to make an effort to understand that this new movie is different than the universally panned Suicide Squad of 2016?  Do they really think most prospective movie ticket buyers know or care who the director is?

Which is why it’s refreshing, and a wise move, to see Kevin Feige, mastermind behind all the Marvel Cinematic Universe, discussing the background for the latest new Marvel superhero in a new short feature clip for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.  

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Watcher pic

Two from Netflix, two from Disney+.  Fans of 1980s cartoons will get their fix this summer with four animated shows from some of the biggest genre franchises Phase IV of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues with the anthology series based on the classic comic What If…?  Star Wars expands into new animated territory with the anime Star Wars: Visions.  And both 1980s kid favorites Masters of the Universe and Transformers continue into their fourth decade with two Netflix series–Transformers: War for Cybertron already underway.

Check out trailers for each new show streaming this summer below.

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Today we have two new trailers for the younger set.  One is based on a beloved story book from the 1960s, the other a spin-off of a modern animated classic from 20 years ago.

Clifford the Big Red Dog was written and illustrated by Norman Bridwell about a puppy that always appeared larger than life, colored bright red.  Kids ever since have added this to their Scholastic book orders, and there may be a reason for that: it was the success of the book that practically made Scholastic a big publishing house, and Clifford has long been its company mascot.  Now it’s heading to theaters in a live-action version (with lots of CGI visual effects) starring young actress Darby Camp (Benji, The Christmas Chronicles) with John Cleese playing a character named Bridwell in homage to the author.  It’s silly, it’s cute, it’s targeted at the right audience.

CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG

The characters made famous by Billy Crystal and John Goodman in Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University are back, bringing some new funny monsters into the story and new circumstances.  This time it’s in the form of a TV series called Monsters At Work on Disney+, including familiar voices like Henry Winkler and Mindy Kaling.

Enjoy these trailers:

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Shang Chi pics

We got our first peek at Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings here at borg this past April.  The new, full-length trailer reveals a plot that has the feel of Wu Assassins, and only a few days since the Snake Eyes trailers, with Raya and the Last Dragon in theaters and on video, and a new Kung Fu series airing on TV, audiences are getting new opportunities to watch AAPI actors shine.  While you’re in the vibe, don’t miss the live-action Mulan, the historical horror zombie series Kingdom, the action movie The Night Comes for Us, the fantasy wuxia series Legend of the Condor Heroes, the animated movie Over the Moon, the supernatural graphic novel Ghost Tree and Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, the overview of martial arts in the movies in Iron Fists and King Fu Kicks, and the Bruce Lee documentary Be Water Long-time comics readers will know Shang-Chi as the Master of Kung Fu from the pages of 1970s Marvel Comics by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin.  Originally the son of Fu Manchu, the character was an attempt by Marvel to create a monthly like the Kung Fu TV series after they failed in their bid to get the adaptation rights.

Check out the new trailer below for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings:

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