Disney’s Dominating 2019: Do they deserve your attention?
Looking through the movies I’ve seen so far in 2019, I have to say that things have gone pretty well so far. There have been plenty of movies that have lived up to my expectations, like Us and Cold Pursuit, and even films that were a complete surprise, like Five Feet Apart and Isn’t it Romantic. However, I just can’t shake off a film that just disappointed me and made me sad to see the introduction of a strong female lead fall completely flat. Yes, unfortunately I am talking about Captain Marvel.
While the film, nor it’s star Brie Larson, didn’t deserve any of the disgraceful bashing it got before it came out and it’s not a terrible or offensive film, it’s just fine. For a film that is not only the first female solo film to be introduced into the MCU, but also introduced one of the strongest heroes in the MCU, fine or passable should not be in the same sentence. However, even though I found the film’s feminist messaging to be weak and there being no energy to the characters, the film is well on its way to cracking the billion-dollar mark at the box office. Now, while this success doesn’t surprise me and I don’t have ill will towards it, part of me did wonder why it was so successful considering that I wasn’t alone in my opinion and the only buzz I’ve heard lately is just how much money it’s making.
Well, I did wonder until it suddenly hit me who markets and is always somehow capable of gaining buzz, no matter good or bad: Disney. Disney has been on an onslaught, it seems, to dominate the film market with remakes of their animated classics, acquiring big name franchises to milk every dollar out of them, and crafting sequels for beloved animated and live-action films. Even just looking at Disney’s lineup this year, Disney plans to release at least one film every single month expect for September, although I have my suspicions that they will make their presence there too.
Now, while I generally have a positive outlook on the film industry and the rest of 2019, I can’t help but feel annoyed with seeing the films that Disney is pushing this year because, well, they sort represent issues that I’ve felt with Disney more recently. Personally, I think the Disney that once made films to inspire children and bring out the inner child in every adult with awe-inspiring animation, creative stories, and iconic characters is gone. Disney has now just become obsessed with money, to me, and I just can’t help but feel that the magic is gone. Since I can’t see these feelings represented stronger than in Disney’s 2019 lineup, it’s only fitting take a deep dive into what Disney’s got cooking and see why it’s just so sour to me.
Really, the best place to start is with what’s next down the pipeline for Disney’s 2019 takeover: Dumbo. Dumbo is another entry in a long list of entries of live-action remakes that Disney has been doing for their animated classics. Personally, I never got into this trend with films like Beauty and the Beast, Christopher Robin, and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms coming off like easy cash-grabs with little substance. While there are some things I liked about those films and I have to admit that Mary Poppins Returns was a nice surprise, these remakes are just pointless to me as they often just try to give audiences a carbon copy of the animated original that it just can live up to and doesn’t try to do much different.
However, Dumbo was one remake I saw that could divert my views as it not only has the creepy imagination of Tim Burton behind it, but it also has no choice but to do something different. The 1941 animated classic was just an hour long and featured no human characters, so Burton would’ve had to make big changes to the source material anyway and from what I’ve seen from the trailers so far, I’m incredibly glad he did. The cast is full of amazing talent with the likes of Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green, and Danny DeVito joining an adorable CGI Dumbo in a world that looks intriguing and visually stunning. Just hearing “Baby Mine” in the trailers has made me emotional and as the film releases this weekend, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that it can live up to the high expectations I have for it.
Unfortunately, the other two remakes that Disney has set for this year, Aladdin and The Lion King, have not impressed me in the slightest and have made me question whether other fans will follow suit with me. Anything I have seen of Aladdin has just either confused me or just plain disappointed me as a fan of the original. Characters like Jafar and Aladdin are missing that distinctness or personality that resembles their iconic characters and while I have come around on Will Smith’s version of the Genie, he’s really just playing himself. Even the visuals of the film don’t have any magic to them, for me, and outside of Naomi Scott’s powerful singing of “A Whole New World” there’s not much that I’m looking forward to seeing with Aladdin.
Even The Lion King, while there hasn’t been much showed, hasn’t grabbed my attention in the way that I’ve wanted it to yet. Perhaps it’s just that the whole “debate” on whether it’s an animated or live-action movie has took the wind out of the film’s sails and that Disney has only made this worse by trying to say that it’s a “new” kind of filmmaking that can’t be classified that has just kind of bugged me with the film. Honestly, I just settle the debate here: it’s animated because there’s literally no live-action characters in it and it’s not new because movies have been doing this for a while.
All of this aside, though, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little interested to see what director Jon Faverau has up his sleeve for this remake of what some people consider to be the best Disney film ever. Not to mention, the cast is absolutely stacked with big names like Donald Glover, Beyonce, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen and John Oliver being a small part of the amazing ensemble The Lion King is going to have. However, while they say the film won’t be a shot for shot remake of the original, I have my doubts as this kind of promise has been made before. So, I guess I’ll have to wait to see how true that statement is when the film releases at the end of July or in August as I have a feeling the film will get pushed back to here so Artemis Fowl can take September.
Where I’ve actually been the most positive towards Disney lately, aside from Captain Marvel, has been the MCU as it’s stuck to its guns in creating a film series that has kept me invested for over a decade. Even the ending to Infinity War is hard to knock on as it has basically become a cultural moment in film and left an impact on me that I had been waiting for with the MCU. However, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have my concerns for the next film, Avengers: Endgame, as it’s introducing a plot device that never really works too well in comics at all.
A lot of the rumors circulating for how the remaining Avengers will fix “the snap” say that time travel will be the solution. This lines up with the ending to Ant-Man and the Wasp as they discuss time travel with the Quantum realm, and as funny as it would be to see Ant-Man find another way to defeat Thanos, you’ve seen the memes, time travel seems to be the only fitting way. This worries me as time travel hasn’t always been a friendly plot device as it causes all of the rules that have been set up film after film to be sort of thrown away. Parallel universes or timelines could institute new rules making new moments feel more plot-centric rather than organic for the story and there will now always be the looming answer of “why not just time travel” to fix any major problems that rear their ugly head.
I have faith that the Russo Brothers can pull all of this together and create a fitting conclusion to the Infinity Saga that will wipe all of my concerns away when the film releases on April 26th.
Where I am unfortunately losing my faith, though, is with the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming as Spider-Man: Far From Home releases on July 5th. While I enjoyed the first one, Far From Home has completely unimpressed me with its premise and trailers. Watching the trailer when it released, I found myself losing interest in the story and even being reminded of things I didn’t like from the original. MJ still bugs me as she resembles nothing about what makes MJ a special character, the humor wasn’t grabbing me, and the fact that the film wants me to believe that Mysterio, being played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is a good guy or that this is a good idea is unbelievably pointless to me. Personally, the film comes off to me as Sinister Six set up, with Hydro Man and Molten Man also being shoved into the film, and I’m worried that the film will end up being a huge disappointment like Ant-Man and the Wasp was after Infinity War.
In a galaxy far, far away, Disney has also completely disappointed me with how they have handled the Star Wars franchise and with Episode IX coming in December, I couldn’t be dreading the film anymore than I already am. To say that the film has big expectations to meet is a complete understatement, especially after The Last Jedi basically divided the fanbase and set a negative tone for the franchise. Not only does this film have to have an excellently worthy conclusion to the Skywalker Saga, but it also has to do it while acknowledging the issues brought on from the previous film.
Things definitely bode better for the film since J.J. Abrams has returned as director, but he has a lot of fans to try to win back, including myself. From the incredibly boring plot of The Last Jedi to countlessly dumb decisions of pointless character deaths and a lack of meaning or themes, it’s easy for me to say that the series has disheartened me since Disney took the reins. Even films like Rouge One and Solo have not made me gel into what’s been going on in the series, so it’s tough to say whether Episode IX will make me change any of my thoughts or if my disappointment will only be cemented in even more.
Where Disney has set me up for disappointment the most, though, is in the unnecessary sequels it has planned for this year. I don’t necessarily have any stakes for sequels like Frozen 2 or Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, neither film has garnered any of my interest in their imminent releases. I never really got on the Frozen hype train when it came out in 2012 and the recent trailer for the sequel felt confusing and boring for me. Honestly, Frozen 2 just comes off as a money-grabber to sell more music and that just doesn’t interest me. The only interesting thing I find about the Maleficent: Mistress of Evil movie is that it moved from a May 29th, 2020 release date to October 18th, 2019. Perhaps, this could be a sign of faith to the film’s quality, but I honestly doubt that and see this change as a way for Disney to fill that October slot.
No, where my biggest disappointment lies has to be with Toy Story 4 rapidly approaching for a June 21st release date. It’s been beaten to death that the Toy Story series has already had its perfect ending and that this fourth entry could taint the series’ perfect record, but it’s hard not to look past. Honestly, if the series wasn’t a profitable franchise for Disney, I couldn’t tell you why this needs to be made as its focus on Bo Peep returning to the franchise is incredibly strange. She was never a prominent character in the original for her return to be anything special for me nor does her return warrant an entirely new movie.
What upsets me more, though, is that the charming, endearing, and cheery tone seems to have faded only leaving a darker, meaner and drearier tone that I’m not really about. Sure, the third film was sad and had that slightly drearier tone, but that’s because it was supposed to be the true conclusion that fans expected. There’s nothing inviting or intriguing about Toy Story 4 thus far and it makes me sad for a series that is very near and dear to my heart. Sure, call me a purist who doesn’t want to see anything changed or new, but when you have a series that accomplished what most film series attempt to do by having a perfect ending, can you really blame me for being upset?
Honestly, it’s not even worth talking about other films like Artemis Fowl and Disney Nature’s Penguins, although I am interested in the later of the two, because not much has been said about them anyway and I can see them coming out this year to help create the truly dominating fiscal year that Disney is going for.
So, the big question after all of this complaining and ranting is: do these movies still deserve your attention? Personally, I’m conflicted in answering this question. Part of me is kind of tired of Disney creating mediocre or disappointing movies that I have always drudged myself to see and another part of me doesn’t want to fully judge a film before I’ve seen it. I guess this is one of those “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” situations and you’ll just have to decide for yourself. Either way, hopefully Disney can deliver on bringing the excellent quality content they should be bringing and that fans deserve to see.