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The Disney Movie Review

The Disney Movie Review takes a 360 degree look at recent Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm movies to give a more complete look at what’s going on in the wonderful world of Disney. We dive into the news and rumors and tell our readers and listeners which movies are worth your time and money–and which ones aren’t.
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The Disney Movie Review is your source for news and reviews on Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm movies. If you love all-things Disney, you've found the place to geek out over Disney movies. Connect with us online on Facebook, follows us on Twitter @DSNYMovieReview, and at our website www.TheDisneyMovieReview.com.

Nov 12, 2018

The next time you're in a store to buy the latest Disney movie, you might want to double check the labels to make sure you are getting a digital copy along with your blu-ray and DVD combo pack. Some Disney fans are finding that the newest movies do not have a digital download code attached to their purchase. 

Two Good Reasons to Get Rid of Digital Codes

There are two good reasons Disney would make this change. This first is due to the ongoing feud with Redbox. Ever since Redbox started re-selling digital download codes to Disney movies, Disney has been searching for a way to keep the codes from falling into the wrong hands. Removing digital download codes from certain combo packs could be a direct assault on Redbox. This would make sense as some retailers have begun to implement a limit on how many products customers can buy.

Some retailers are limiting the amount of movies customers can buy.

The second reason Disney could be pulling download codes it due to the streaming service it will launch next year. Disney could want to move customers away from buying physical disks and towards buying only digital copies. If it works, it could be vastly more profitable for the company.

One Bad Reason to Get Rid of Digital Codes

That said, it looks like most of the 4K - Blu-ray combo packs have maintained the digital codes. Those are also the most expensive combo-packs Disney offers and the profit margin on those packs is likely much higher than the DVD - Blu-Ray combos. So Disney could be removing digital codes from Blu-ray and DVD combo packs to pad their profit in retail.

I hate to say it, but this feels like a potential Bob Chapek move. The Disney executive is over consumer products now and is excellent at coming up with ideas that are profitable for the Disney company and a pain in the Eeyore for Disney fans. This may or may not be his brain child, but we'll keep an eye on it as the year progresses.

Nov 12, 2018

In the battle for the future of digital streaming, Disney is losing. U.S. District Court Judge Dean Pregerson was disinclined to acquiesce to Disney’s request to block Redbox from selling download digital codes. Basically, Disney asked the court to block Redbox from selling codes until this case was finished. Pregerson said “no.”

In an opinion released on Tuesday, Pergerson said Disney failed to meet the requirement that “A private party seeking a preliminary injunction must show that [the court case] is likely to succeed on the merits.” In addition, he said Disney’s actions have pushed the company into Copyright misuse.

"The terms of both digital download services’ license agreements purport to give Disney a power specifically denied to copyright holders....This improper leveraging of Disney’s copyright in the digital content to restrict secondary transfers of physical copies directly implicates and conflicts with public policy enshrined in the Copyright Act, and constitutes copyright misuse.”

You can read the full opinion here.

Why Did Disney Sue Redbox?

Back in Episode 159, this seemed like an open and shut case. Redbox was buying Disney Blu-Rays and DVD’s and offering the accompanying digital download codes at a significant discount. Redbox does not have a distribution agreement with Disney so it is forced to buy the movies to fill its kiosks. The download codes are just a bonus.

Disney sued in December saying that Redbox was violating the terms of sale of the combo packs, which usually include a warning that “Codes are not for sale or transfer.” Redbox struck back arguing that the codes should not be treated any differently than the physical discs and, for now, it seems like the judge agreed.

There Is No Way Customers Come Out As Winners On This

The Redbox legal team may have got the jump on Disney, but there is no way Disney loses a copyright battle with their other big L team: Lobbyists. If -- or more likely when -- Redbox wins this case, Disney will do whatever is necessary to protect its profit and intellectual property.

At best, Disney will add legal language to its Blu-Ray and DVD packaging so that anyone who opens the package is agreeing to unseen terms and conditions. If they wanted to take it a step further, Disney could lobby congress to make a few changes to copyright law -- which they’ve done for several years.

What’s more likely is a nightmare scenario where Disney stops including digital codes with its combo packs and only releases digital copies through the streaming app it is launching in 2019. Microsoft, Adobe, and several other companies have gotten onto the subscription train and Disney is already headed in that direction. It’s only a matter of time.

Nov 11, 2018

It was a week of groundbreaking announcements for Disney. First, people “familiar with the situation” said Disney Parks chief Bob Chapek is first in line to be the next Disney CEO. Then Marvel released the Avengers: Infinity War trailer, breaking records and the internet. Disney Pictures announced that it has found the actress who will play Mulan in the live-action movie. If that weren’t enough, Disney announced it is suing Redbox, and they’ll probably win big. Let’s get into it.

Why Fans Should Worry About Bob Chapek

No matter what fans think of Bob Chapek or the reports that he could be the next Disney CEO, there are two facts Disney fans cannot dispute.

  1. Nearly every decision Bob Chapek has made as a leader has made Disney more profitable.
  2. Nearly every decision Bob Chapek has made as a leader has made the customer experience worse

Chapek has a microbiology degree from Indiana University Bloomington and later earned an MBA from Michigan State University. He worked at Heinz and J. Walter Thompson before becoming Disney's home-entertainment marketing director. Chapek is responsible for taking Disney from DVD to Blu Ray. It’s a slow process that has seen Disney rack up the profits while fans have had to scurry around for blu rays of their favorite movies.

Chapek then went on to head consumer products in 2011.He led the division to double-digit profits by cutting jobs and focusing the business on brands (like Disney Princess) rather than specific lines of merchandise (like shoes). Disney fans will remember this as the period where “grown-up” merchandise disappeared from the Disney store. If you have Frozen fatigue, it’s probably a direct result of decisions from Bob Chapek, who is reportedly a big fan of Disney's big-budget movies that spawn sequels, toys, and theme-park attractions.

That’s all a little annoying, but Chapek took cost-cutting and profit-making to the next level when he became the head of the parks division. The tiered system of tickets that cost more during peak times is a Chapek product. He eliminated some annual passes and consistently introduces new ways to get patrons to pay extra for perks such as nighttime events and passes to get to the head of the line.

Make no mistake, if Bob Chapek happens to be named as the next Disney CEO, it will be bad for fans. 

Star Wars Wants To Be Avengers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZfuNTqbHE8

There was a time when no movie could match the anticipation fans felt for any movie named “Star Wars.” Avengers: Infinity War is here to bring balance to the universe.

Infinity War became the most-watched trailer within a single day of release, racking up more than 200 million views in 24 hours. According to Marvel Studios, the Infinity War trailer has accumulated 230 million views across all forms of media.

This was to be expected. For 17 films and 9 years, fans have been waiting for Thanos, the ultimate villain, to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, it is finally time.

But this moment is bigger than this. Disney has seven of the top 10 most viewed trailers in the first 24 hours. Three of those are Marvel films (4. Thor: Ragnarok,10. Captain America: Civil War). In fact, Infinity War more than doubled the number of trailer views of the The Force Awakens.

As Star Wars becomes more common at the box office, you can bet Lucasfilm will look to Marvel to keep audience attention and excitement for their movies.

Disney Suing Redbox for selling Digital download codes for Disney Movies

Disney is suing Redbox over digital codes. If that sounds weird, it’s because it is.

These days a lot of Disney blu rays come with a code to allow fans to download a digital movie. Every Disney digital code comes with a statement in bold that reads “not for sale or transfer.” Apparently Redbox thought that was just a suggestion. Redbox has been selling the code directly to customers for a fraction of what the digital copies cost on iTunes or Amazon.

Redbox has distribution deals in place with major studios like Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, but not with Disney. That means Redbox has to purchase retail copies of the studio’s titles so customers can rent them. Now Redbox has been illegally selling the digital codes that come with those physical copies.

This seems like an open and shut case but maybe Redbox has a card up its sleeve. We’ll soon see.

Disney finds its Mulan Lead

Chinese actress Crystal Liu Yifei has been cast as the leading actress in Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan, set for 2019. The casting announcement has been received positively in both China and in the West.

Liu has been acting for more than a decade. Her breakout role came in 2003 and she has starred in Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan and Jet Li. She has been nicknamed “Fairy Sister” for her elegant style and angelic appearance, on and off screen.

The casting directors went on a year-long search to find the leading actress, looking for someone who could meet three criteria: English-language ability, martial arts skills and, star quality.

Nov 5, 2018

If Disney was hoping to create the "definitive version of The Nutcracker," they've got a lot more work to do. The Nutcracker and The Four Realms plays like the first draft of a script from a college senior submitting her final project. In fact, the Four Realms is close to being a really good movie, but it falls short in so many ways.

Let's start with the good parts. Mackenzie Foy and Matthew Macfayden add a lot of emotion to their characters of Clara and Mr. Stahlbaum respectively.  Costume designer Jenny Beavan should win an Oscar for her creativity in this film. Ballerina Misty Copeland treats all of us to an amazing performance that most of us could not afford to see otherwise. It's cliche to say the best part of a movie is the end credits, but Disney allows Misty to freely dance — which alone might be worth the ticket price. The video below has bits of it.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iz1J_mwnMQc&w=560&h=315]

Where Nutcracker Goes Wrong

There is so much wrong with Four Realms that it is hard to know where to start. The biggest weakness of the film is the story. It tries to take viewers down the well-trodden path of uncertain young girl who becomes a strong character by the end. (Think Mulan, Casey Newton, etc). The problem is that Clara is never uncertain, so moments that should carry weight never seem to quite get there. Her growth as a character is minuscule at best and non-existent at worst.

Meanwhile, the main twist in the story seems completely manufactured for the sake of having a twist. Disney is currently so hooked on trying to subvert audience expectations that if Snow White were made today, Dopey would turn out to be a master villain. There are plenty of ways to tell an exciting story even when the audience knows how it will end. The live-action version of The Jungle Book didn't need Bagheera to join Shere Khan for it to be a great movie. 

If you can get past the story — and that's a big if — you then contend with a few disjointed acting performances. To be fair, this duality is likely due to the fact that one part of the movie was directed by
Lasse Hallström and all of the reshoots were done by
Joe Johnston. Still Nutcracker Captain Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight) is sometimes stiff and other times loose, while Sugar Plum (Kiera Knightley) is borderline inappropriate in the way she provides a double entendre for some of her lines. Even Helen Mirren, who does a good job as Mother Ginger, can't rescue the doomed script.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Disney was very close to adding another strong female character to the Disney canon, but Four Realms falls short. The costumes and set design are inspiring, but in the end the story is too big of a nut for this film to crack.

Oct 29, 2018

This week we got the first reviews for the test screenings Aladdin...and viewers weren't too impressed. Lucasfilm killed a joke about Kylo Ren in Ralph Wrecks the Internet because it struck a little too close to home. Plus, Disney is looking to reboot the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and Captain Jack probably won't be back. That and much much on episode 205 of The Disney Movie Review

Not a Diamond, Just Rough.

Early reviews are in for Aladdin and it looks like test screeners weren't entirely impressed. The movie, which is slated to be released in 2019, is credited as being "Pretty Okay" by those in the know. Others have said it is "swell, but not super memorable."

I’ve heard it’s swell but not super memorable. https://t.co/h4l9EulDHn— ViewerAnon (@ViewerAnon) October 25, 2018

Of course, this is all hearsay at the moment and the movie has several rounds of editing to go through before it gets to a mass audience. That said, there are two things that may stand in the way of the live-action Aladdin being a great film.

First, Disney isn't breaking new ground with Aladdin. We're likely to get a movie that is closer to Cinderella than to The Jungle Book. I doubt they will change the story significantly like they did for Maleficent and judging by the early trailer the special effects won't be a talking point. That doesn't leave a whole lot for audiences to get excited about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g5knnlF7Zo&t=1s

Second, Disney has placed Aladdin in its "cursed" time period – Memorial Day Weekend. The last film to actually succeed in that time slot was Maleficent in 2014. That story that significantly changed the path of the title character and was one of the first live-action films in this new age of live-action. Unless Jafar ends up winning or Aladdin doesn't set the Genie free, this movie won't have that kind of shock value.

So right now it looks like Aladdin might be in a bit of trouble, but there's a long time left. We'll see if he can improvise his way out of this sticky situation.

Disney Censors Itself

Turns out that Kylo Ren is even more sensitive than we thought. So sensitive in fact that Lucasfilm killed off a joke about him in Ralph Wrecks the Internet

“At one point we had a joke about Kylo Ren being kind of a spoiled child,” said Ralph Wrecks the Internet Co-Director Rich Moore in an interview with IGN. “We went to Lucasfilm and said, here’s what we’re doing. And they said, well, we’d prefer that you don’t show him as a spoiled child. You know, he is our villain, and we’d prefer you don’t do that. So we were respectful of that.”

In general, this is a little disheartening. Knowing that Disney is about to control roughly half of Hollywood's content, it is terrifying. Disney has always been  very protective of its characters, but in recent years it has become more lighthearted in the way it references them in other movies. (I credit Marvel with that growth, but that's another story for another time.)

Now the central question becomes, what else is Disney willing to censor? Now that Disney owns Fox, there are going to be fewer places for audiences to view different ideas and fewer places for artists to express them. And now we now know Disney can't take a joke.

'Pirates' Gets Re-booty

Disney is working on rebooting the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Disney will be working with the producer that started it all – Jerry Bruckheimer – to breathe new life into a franchise that some have tired of. Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick were tapped to write the script for the new franchise.

Here's the kicker, Captain Jack will not make a return in this one. Screenwriter Stuart Beattie confirmed that Johnny Depp will no longer be apart of the series. It seems odd that Disney would reboot the franchise without its most popular character, but Depp has become toxic after allegations or domestic abuse surfaced.

The Pirates series has been in rough waters since the second movie came out. Even though the second and third movie were profitable, domestic fans appeared to have abandoned the series after that. Meanwhile, Chinese fans became so enamored with the series that it warranted its own land in Shanghai Disneyland. With a new series, Disney might be able to get east and west back on the same page.

Oct 22, 2018

It's not unusual for Disney Princesses to catch the ire of those looking for an easy target, but this time the call is coming from inside the house. Kristen Bell, the voice of Princess Anna in Frozen, recently gave an interview to Parents Magazine where she discussed her feelings on Disney's first princess.

Why Kristen Doesn't Like Snow

“Every time we close ‘Snow White,’ I look at my girls and ask, ‘Don’t you think it’s weird that Snow White didn’t ask the old witch why she needed to eat the apple? Or where she got that apple?’" Bell said during the interview. "I say, ‘I would never take food from a stranger, would you?’ And my kids are like, ‘No!’ And I’m like, ‘OK, I’m doing something right.'"

Bell went on to say that she also wants to make sure her kids know it is not okay to kiss sleeping people. So there's that.

On the one hand, it's hard to criticize Bell. She is using the story exactly the way it was intended. Most of the fairy tales that Disney movies are based on are designed to teach children something about life. As a parent, it is her job — not Disney's — to teach her kids lessons that she feels are appropriate. That's exactly what she is doing. She's also picking an easy target.

Why it's Easy to Pick on the Princesses

These fairy tales are hundreds of years old and, put simply, they haven't aged well in the age of #LeanIn. Still, many of the current movies have some of the exact same themes as the older ones.  I highly doubt Bell pauses Frozen to ask her daughters if it's weird that Princess Anna gets engaged to Hans after one day. 

A few years ago a BYU Study made a lot of noise by claiming that Disney Princess movies magnified stereotypes in girls. You probably don't need a study to see that, since fantasy movies tend to magnify everything about the lead characters. In addition, men and women are scientifically different, which affects the way they tend approach situations. The princess movies tend to amplify that, so they are easy targets in 2018. Bell's comments are just a little friendly fire.

DC Hires James Gunn for Suicide Squad 2

One studio's controversy they refuse to touch is another one's treasure. Especially when that treasure is James Gunn and the studio getting him has struggled to create a popular cinematic universe to rival the MCU. Gunn could change all of that.

Warner Brothers just did not find Gunn as toxic as Disney did, after those old inappropriate tweets resurfaced in a political hit job. DC appears to have accepted Gunn's apology for his past behavior, while Disney was a little less understanding. That lack of understanding could come back to haunt them if Gunn becomes a linchpin in the DC Universe.

Oct 8, 2018

This week a new study shows that Russian Trolls were behind much of the negativity that hit The Last Jedi. Plus, it happens every year. Disney World changes its pricing and fans complain that Walt's Florida project is no longer affordable for the average family. That and much more on episode 203 of The Disney Movie Review.

Oct 1, 2018

This week Disney World introduced a new way to buy tickets that has some fans up in arms. Meanwhile, Disneyland is slowly getting rid of benches to make way for Star Wars land. On the media side, Disney agreed to sell its stake Sky to rival Comcast, which possibly makes the future of Hulu a little more clear. Plus, someone had the nerve to ask Terrence Howard if he would ever return to Marvel as War Machine. It's all on this week's podcast.

Sep 24, 2018

This week we break down all of the new trailers Disney released, including Mary Poppins Returns, Captain Marvel, and Ralph Wrecks the Internet. Plus Bob Iger gave an interview to the Hollywoood Reporter and he talks about James Gunn's firing for the first time. And Disney is going to reanimate Princess Tiana in Ralph Wrecks the Internet.

Sep 10, 2018

This week Disney released the final trailer for Nutcracker and the Four Realms, but we still aren’t sold. Captain Marvel gets on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and something seems off. And we celebrate our 200th Podcast Episode by teaching you how to name more than 200 Disney characters in alphabetical order in under 2 minutes. That and much, much more. For the week of September 10 (my birthday!) this is episode 200 of the Disney Movie Review.

Sep 3, 2018

Disney is being accused of discrimination after it cast a straight actor into the role for its first openly gay character. Meanwhile, we found out the new streaming service will not be called Disney Play. And the minimum wage for cast members in the park is going up, but Disneyland is no longer going to be receiving tax breaks from the city of Anaheim. We'll dive into what will surely become a case study in future economics textbooks.

For the week of September 3, this is episode 199 of the Disney Movie Review.

Aug 27, 2018

This week we take a bit of a detour from our usual show to go into the Disney Parks. We recently got the chance to speak with Kim Hanley (@_kimhanley), a Senior Systems Engineer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Design and Engineering Department. She takes us back stage to reveal the stuff we don't even think about as Disney guests. To put it mildly, every Disney Parks fan needs to listen to this episode.

In this episode we find out:

  • The difference between a Disney Parks and Resorts Engineer and a Disney Imagineer
  • Kim's thoughts on Disney getting rid of classic rides to make way for new attractions.
  • What is taking so long for the Yeti to get fixed?
  • How she became one of the rare outside hires in Disney's engineering department.
  • What makes Disney engineering so unique.
  • Why Disney will never build a robot.

That and much, much more. For the week of August 27, this is episode 198 of The Disney Movie Review. 

Aug 20, 2018

This week Disney dug its heels in and said it will not rehire James Gunn to direct Guardians of the Galaxy 3. It ruins the MCU in more ways than one. Some Wreck-it Ralph 2 Fans are getting a little too into new images that feature the princesses. And we talk about why Consumer Products has passed ESPN to claim the title of Disney’s weakest business unit. Plus, we give Disney a grade on the movies that have been released so far this year and we can finally spoil things in Avengers: Infinity War! That and much much more.

Aug 13, 2018

This week, Disney asked the Oscars to make the awards show more relevant, and the academy ended up creating an award for the "Most Popular" movie...the same year the most popular film was Black Panther. Dave Bautista says he will ask Disney to cut him out of Guardians of the Galaxy 3 if they do not use James Gunn’s script. And The former head of Dreamworks -- Jeffrey Katzenberg -- is starting a streaming service and Disney is investing in it. For the week of Aug 13, this is episode 196.

Aug 6, 2018

The Guardians of the Galaxy responded to the firing of Director James Gunn. It's a new twist in a saga that is far from being over. And Ed has a really good theory on how Disney might be able to fix this whole mess.

Plus, Disney's live-action take on The Jungle Cruise put out a teaser like we've never seen before. We try to figure out what is going on.

Jul 30, 2018

This week, Disney and Fox Shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favor of a $71 billion merger. It should have been a happy vote, but Hollywood is still reeling from the firing of James Gunn just one week ago. This week, we dive into what this all means for the media landscape, including a few subtle ways this deal could affect your wallet.

Jul 23, 2018

Back when people had to Google the name "Thanos", Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 Director James Gunn made some pretty stupid tweets. Now, with a snap of his fingers, Disney Studios Chief Alan Horn has made Gunn disappear. 

This week we dive headfirst into the controversy around one of the biggest directors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Plus, we talk about Comcast dropping out of the bidding for Fox and why Netflix isn't growing as fast as it wants to right now.

 

Jul 16, 2018

This week we learned the Fox deal could give Disney access to a new audience of more than 700 million people and that's just the start of it.

From A Goofy Movie to Fairies, DisneyToon Studios has heavily impacted the Disney company from the shadows. But now it seems that run has come to an end.

A director in line for a Star Wars flick tweets that the fans make him a little less interested. 

At the end, we take a little time to talk about why Disney might have allowed curse words in Incredibles 2. It's part of a larger trend of the 'adulting' of Disney.

Jul 9, 2018

Ant-Man and the wasp debuted to more than $75 million this weekend, eclipsing the $57 million of its predecessor. This episode we dive into the ins and outs of the film, as well as how this will relate to Avengers: Infinity War. 

Also, I have to give a HUGE shout-out to Ed and Kristin for making this episode possible. I took an unexpected trip to Dallas and left all of my recording equipment at home. Ed came through in the clutch to record the episode and Kristin brought in a perfect slam dunk by editing it. I will be forever grateful for their work to make this entire podcast work!

Jul 2, 2018

This week we're on vacation, so we prerecorded an episode on what we think are the best uses of Disney movies in Disney parks. We probably made a few huge oversights, but one REALLY stands out!

Jun 25, 2018

This week was whirlwind news week, with major stories happening every single day. Consider that:

  • Fox accepted Disney’s $71 billion bid for the company
  • Disney named the new Heads for the Disney and Pixar Animation Studios
  • Lucasfilm appears to have canceled plans for future standalone Star Wars films
  • ABC ordered new episodes of Roseanne
  • And the Incredibles 2 destroyed animation records.

...all in the same week! We do our best to break it all down. For the week of June 25, this is Episode 189 of The Disney Movie Review.

Jun 25, 2018

Cameron took his family to Disneyland on vacation. He tells us what he liked and what he didn't. Plus, we get into a little bit of a "who did it better" between Disney World and Disneyland. Then he gives his final rating of the trip.

Jun 11, 2018

This week the Disney Company agreed to part ways with John Lasseter. It is the end of the rule of a man that spawned one of the most successful periods of Disney Animation in history. Some are hailing him as a saint, others, a monster. No one has the full picture.

But What really happened with Lasseter inside the halls of Pixar? And if it was enough for him to be fired, why is he coming back as a consultant through the end of the year? And What took so long for Disney to make this decision in the first place? We work to process all that and much, much more. For the week of June 11 this is episode 187 of the Disney Movie Review.

Jun 4, 2018

This week Disney canceled its highest rated show after the star posted some racist comments on Twitter. Meanwhile, Disney is not backing down after Comcast launched a bid to buy Fox in cash. Plus Solo was hit hard in its opening weekend, earning just $84 million from Friday to Sunday. Are Star Wars fans to blame or is Disney just putting out too much content? 

For the week of June 4, this is episode 186 of The Disney Movie Review.

May 21, 2018

I am now the dad of two beautiful girls. It is awesome and mom and baby are doing great! In the meantime, we previously recorded an episode where we interviewed Pete Tedone, creator of the LastGen Podcast Network and host of The Disney Magic Hour. It is pretty awesome and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did recording it.

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