A Look Back on Oliver & Company – Oliver Twist, but with Strays

My introduction to Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist was Disney’s Oliver & Company, though I was unaware of the source at the time. I saw it as a fun little musical about a cat and some dogs (with one being voiced by none other than Billy Joel). Yet as I got older, I noticed that it was a much darker story than I was led to believe. Underneath its jazzy musical numbers, singing dogs, and New York atmosphere lied a story of crime and survival. The story of Oliver Twist was never really lighthearted to begin with, yet the slums of London are replaced with the streets of New York City as people hustle about getting from one place to the next, while the lowest live in the slums. Also, put in a mafia boss setting a race against time, and you have a recipe for what may be Disney’s grittiest film in animation history.

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Disenchanted – Film Review

Enchanted was a delightful, charming film in Disney’s live-action library, poking fun at all the tropes that the brand has cemented in its familiarity, while also having the magic of a Disney film. Its sequel, Disenchanted, may not have much of the cleverness of its predecessor, but it definitely injects more of whatever Disney magic is left, with more musical numbers and fairy-tale pizzazz that kids and fans of the original will definitely enjoy. Yet if there is anything that Enchanted taught me, it’s that less is more. As with most sequels of today, Disenchanted‘s sole reason of existence is because of how many people love the original. It doesn’t particularly rely on nostalgia or fan-service, and has potential for a continuation. In fact, Disenchanted has a bit of delight going for it, but I cannot help reminiscing how truly special Enchanted was.

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Hocus Pocus 2 – Film Review

After 29 years, we finally get a sequel to Hocus Pocus, Disney’s little movie that could. While the original film wasn’t a huge success at the box-office (a major factor being that it was released in the Summer of 1993), it managed to become a staple of Halloween movie nights, thanks to being shown on the Disney Channel and ABC, where it has achieved a cult following, eventually being a juggernaut for the month of October. With all the nostalgia for Hocus Pocus, a sequel was indeed inevitable, with Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy returning to reprise their roles as the devilish Sanderson Sisters, as they wreak havoc in the sleepy town of Salem, Massachusetts, yet again.

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‘Pinocchio’ (2022) Film Review

Pinocchio is one of the most beloved movies in Disney history, and the latest to get a live-action remake. Brought to us by director Robert Zemeckis (who gave us his version of The Witches two years back), and starring Tom Hanks as Geppetto. Zemeckis’ Pinocchio tries to be the same as the original 1940 animated film, from the look and feel of the characters, yet falls short in terms of heart and soul. From the start, it seemed like a live-action remake of such a beloved classic like Pinocchio was a bad idea. What with all the different versions of Carlo Collodi’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio out there (plus Guillermo Del Toro’s stop-motion feature set to be released on Netflix sometime this year). Disney also wants a piece of the wooden pie as the studio has been known to keep churning out those remakes. Yet this version looked to be the Disney-est of them all. For some reason, however, I do not hear people clamoring to check out the latest in Disney’s live-action remake roster, despite being dumped on Disney+, where families can check it out for free if they have the service.

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‘Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers’ Film Review

In a world filled with sequels, prequels, reboots, remakes, and the like, we get a film that manages to point out everything wrong with the film industry and more. Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is that kind of film! Brought to you by the music comedy team that is The Lonely Island, and director Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping), Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers sets out to poke fun at Hollywood’s need to turn beloved IPs into full-fledged reboots for the sake of money, er, I mean… nostalgia in a clever meta adventure, starring our favorite high-pitched gumshoes. Though in this case, the chipmunks are actors, and their voices are that of comedians John Mulaney and Andy Samberg.

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‘Cruella’ Film Review

Cruella (2021) - IMDb

As of late, villain origin stories have been on the rise, giving us a chance to sympathize with characters known for nothing more than being truly evil. Films like Disney’s Maleficent and DC’s Joker have shown us that these natural born monsters are just broken beings who have been pushed past the edge to the point where acts of cruelty are their way to get back at the injustices and/or tragedies placed upon them. If done right, these backstories can be compelling and may help us appreciate or hate them more. Cruella de Vil is the latest baddie to get an origin. The real question is: Why? There are so many other Disney villains out there with more tragic backstories that deserve to be told; Scar from The Lion King or Ursula from The Little Mermaid have compelling reasons to be who they are rather than being just pure evil, while Cruella is known mainly for wanting to skin dalmatians to use them as fur coats. What is to humanize about that? Maybe if we looked into her past, there could be an excuse for this sort of sympathy.

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‘Soul’ Film Review

Soul (2020) - Movie Posters (1 of 3)

The best type of movies that Pixar makes are the ones that are the most meaningful. It is clear that the studio known for making films like Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and The Incredibles know a thing or two about what speaks to people. Sure, their films are kid-friendly, but the thing that makes Pixar the gold standard in animation, besides the beautiful animation that gets better with each entry, but the themes that resonate with the oldest of viewers. Soul is no exception. While it may be as fun as a Pixar film should be, it ranks along the likes of Up, Inside Out, and Coco as one of the studios most emotional, deep, and mature efforts.

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‘Mulan’ (2020) Film Review

Grade: C+

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The latest in Disney’s slate of live-action remakes, Mulan, is now available to watch, free, on Disney+, after months of waiting for a release. Niki Caro’s feature was supposed to be premiere in March of this year, but as we all know, circumstances beyond our control got in the way, which is a shame, because this remake seemed destined for the big screen, especially with all the effort and money put into it. Yet, there is not much we can do but accept the gift that has been bestowed upon us by the “House of Mouse”

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‘Artemis Fowl’ Film Review

Grade: F

 I have never seen a book-to-film adaptation so flimsy, chaotic, and silly in its execution such as Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Artemis Fowl’. Keep in mind! This is coming from someone who has never read the books by Eoin Colfer, let alone even aware of its mythology. All I knew about it was that it was centered on a child thief named Artemis Fowl and the secrets he has to unlock. I am sure that it was one of the books I have wanted to read in my childhood, but never had a chance to. A feature film was inevitable and was in development since 2001, but never saw the light of day until its first teaser hit in 2018. Though, it had been pushed back from August 2019 to August of this year, only to be released just yesterday on Disney+ due to the Coronavirus.

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‘Onward’ Film Review

  Grade: B+

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, John Ratzenberger, Tracey Ullman, Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna, Wilmer Valderrama, Catherine Apple, Sharon Calahan, Grey Griffin, Chris Pratt, Kori Rae, Mel Rodriguez, Dan Scanlon, Octavia Spencer, Keith Bunin, Kyle Bornheimer, Noah Klocek, Lena Waithe, Adam Habib, Jason Headley, Tom Holland, Ali Wong, and George Psarras in Onward (2020)   With the Coronavirus epidemic hitting the United States as of late, and movie theaters closing up shop as a result. Films that have been released in the past few weeks have made the move from big screens to smaller, digital formats. Pixar’s newest feature, ‘Onward’ is one of those films. However, it is streaming on Disney+ as of Friday, April 3rd, which means if you have a subscription, you do not have to purchase it on your phone. Families can sit around the TV and watch the tale of two elf brothers as they go on a quest to bring back their father for a day.

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