Soul (2020) – Soulful

Released: 25th December
Seen: 25th December

Sometimes I wonder exactly what devil Pixar made a deal with in order to produce its films, because it’s getting to the point where their output is just consistently great. Even their worst film (The Good Dinosaur, I will not be taking arguments at this time) is better than what a lot of their competitors make and when they hit something out of the park it turns into one of the best films of all time. This year they already made one great film with Onward, which got shafted due to the pandemic, and were meant to release Soul in June. That pandemic made them pull Soul and then they had to rethink its release… enter Disney+, which now houses the best Pixar film of the year in Soul.

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Mulan (2020) – I’ll Make A Film Out Of You

Released: 4th September
Seen: 23rd December

Mulan Info

I’ve made it no secret how I feel about Disney remakes, I hate them, I hate them on a fundamental “These have no reason to exist beyond capitalism gone amuck” level. Sure, in a very real sense every remake is kind of pointless in some way, but the recent batch of Disney remakes seem to be extra pointless since they’ve taken to remaking some of their absolute classics. They don’t bother remaking things like The Black Cauldron or Oliver and Company, films that didn’t exactly do well. No, instead let’s remake classics like Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King… you know, that trilogy of remakes was so awful that I gave them all a joint place on my worst of 2019 list. Well, this year we add another film to the list of remakes… Mulan.

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Magic Camp Promo Image

Magic Camp (2020) – Abraca-NO!

Released: 14th August
Seen: 16th August

Magic Camp Info

Disney+ original movies are what we will kindly call a mixed bag… unkindly we can say I’d like to put a mix of them into a bag and then throw that bag in a river. They aren’t good, and today I will be talking about another not good one because apparently somehow we started with a movie called Magic Camp that was meant to be written and star the iconic Steve Martin and ended up with a discount TV movie starring Jeffrey Tambor… fun.

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Howard (2020) – Lyrically Beautiful

Released: 7th August
Seen: 8th August

Howard Info

Were it not for Howard Ashman, there’s a chance that Disney studios wouldn’t be the behemoth that it is today. The legendary lyricist is partially responsible (in conjunction with his friend Alan Menkin) for the songs from  The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin which would be the three films that began the Disney Renaissance and, effectively, saved the  company. He also wrote one of the greatest musicals of all time with Little Shop of Horrors, a masterpiece no one expected to work. His career was the stuff that icons are made of but judge as Howard was reaching his peak, he was taken from us. Now, in this hell year, we are given a documentary to honour a legend who should never be forgotten.

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Artemis Fowl (2020) – Artless and Foul

Released: 12th June
Seen: 16th June

In 2001, Eoin Colfer released Artemis Fowl which was the first in a series of eight novels surrounding the adventures of the titular Artemis as he fights fairies, tries to save his father and… uh… do his taxes? I’ll be honest, I never read the Artemis Fowl book series as around that time I was just getting into the Harry Potter series (Yes, I’m aware that I bet on the wrong horse there. Sure Harry Potter had a good run of movies but… well, now I have to deal with liking the work of a transphobe so the Artemis Fowl fans won this in the long run) and didn’t have time for another book series about a 12-year-old in a battle with fantastical creatures stories, When I heard there was going to be a film of Artemis Fowl released this year I was mostly just happy to see Disney making a film that wasn’t just a remake of their earlier work. Then the apocalypse happened and Disney seemed almost eager to move this film to their streaming service… and having seen it, I can see why because oh god this one isn’t good.

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Stargirl (2020) – Aggressively OK

Released: 13th March
Seen: 26th April

Stargirl Info

In 2000, Jerry Spinelli released the novel Stargirl to critical acclaim. The book was a New York Times bestseller, won multiple awards and even had a sequel called Love, Stargirl. It even got adapted into a stage play and has led to the creation of groups known as Stargirl Societies, designed to encourage young people to be themselves. With all this acclaim and cultural impact, a film adaptation was somewhat inevitable and since Disney is a mega-corporation with a streaming service in search of original content it seems only logical that they would be the ones to take the ball and run with it… or, in this case, take the ball and casually walk down a footpath with it while whistling music by The Go-Go’s.

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Z-O-M-B-I-E-S 2 (2020) – Braaaaiiiiiinnnnss

Released: 18th April
Seen: 20th April

You know, I’ve tackled a fair few streaming networks over the years. I’ve dealt with Netflix originals, Stan originals and Shudder originals but I’ve somehow managed to avoid Disney Plus originals because none of them really leapt out at me. I almost watched that Lady and the Tramp remake but… well, I suffered through three Disney Remakes in one year, I’m allowed to skip one of them. There are a few original films on there but I figured they weren’t going to be that important for me to need to look through… and then the world decided to malfunction and every cinema closed, so I may as well throw the Disney Plus originals into my diet because why the hell not?

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Onward (2020) – Spellbinding

Released: 26th March
Seen: 21st March (Advance Screening Weekend)

Onward might go down as one of the unluckiest movies in recent Disney history since its release just happened to fall when the coronavirus pandemic basically shut down everything, including most theatres. Normally a Pixar film is basically guaranteed to make 100 million in the first week, get its budget covered in the second week and be on the way to one of the highest grossing films of the year. That’s now not happening, thanks to corona. If you want to be in genuine shock at just how suddenly this hit, go look at the box office of Onward. Onward is still technically the top grossing film in America and yet it’s barely cracking a thousand bucks a theatre. I bring this up because it explains why they made a pivot and released this one straight to VOD in the states and why it’ll be on Disney+ soon. So now the question becomes “Is this film worth a slightly higher than normal rental price to stream at home” and honestly? Yeah, because it’s a pretty great film.

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Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil (2019) – Thankyou Mistress

Released: 16th October
Seen: 18th October

In 2014, Disney (the dark overlord of entertainment that will one day consume us all) released Maleficent. Maleficent was their version of a “What If” story that featured one of their most iconic villains of all time and asked the question “What if the Mistress of all evil was good?” Asking that question netted them over $750 million worldwide and an Oscar nomination, though it received mixed critical praise. This was a film I saw long before I started reviewing so here is a short version of my thoughts of the original film… I hate it with every fibre of my being and cast it into the fiery pits of hell where it belongs. 

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The Lion King (2019) – The King Is Dead

Released: 17th July
Seen: 17th July

The first film that I have any memory of seeing in a cinema is the 1994 animated classic The Lion King. While my memory is a little sketchy (because I was 6) I still remember how enthralling it was, this glorious creation that was chock full of drama and laughs and bright glorious colours that just seemed to leap off the screen. I remember the legendary stampede and my mother crying at Mufasa’s death. Truly it was the film that started me on a journey to loving cinema and of all the movies that I could’ve seen as my first theatrical experience, I’m glad it was that one. Now, here we are, 25 years later and I’m angry and bitter and hate everything and have to watch as the first film I remember seeing is slowly sucked dry right before my eyes and all I’m left with is a withered husk of a film… I’m not going to be happy during this review, just so we’re clear.

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