Really? A cheery musical fits the election year?

It’s probably by accident, but the new Disney+ movie fits this campaign year.
“The Descendants: The Rise of Red” (shown here), arriving Friday, June 12, has two opposite forces. The Blue one wants kindness, warmth and inclusiveness; the Red wants power and revenge.
The Red leader underlines that with a song that savors the fact that “red” rhymes with “you’re dead” and “off with your head.”
The Blue is currently in charge, but then the Red thugs start to break in. “What?” their leader asks. “You’ve never heard of a coup?” Read more…

“Weird” kid became nature’s storyteller

For a few folks, childhood obsessions and adulthood careers merge neatly.
Most of us don’t get to be superheroes or rock stars. Bertie Gregory (shown here), however, still obsesses on nature the same way he did when, he says, “everyone thought I was a bit weird.”
And sometimes, the old dreams and new ones blend.
As a kid, he marveled at how Charles Darwin used the Galapagos Islands to figure evolution. Now one of his six episodes of “Animals Up Close with Bertie Gregory” – which arrives Wednesday (Sept. 13) on Disney+ — brought his first trip to the islands. “You can see everything in action,” he said. Read more…

For a lawyer, hulking up can be tricky

Most women know this feeling, we’re told:
People keep making impressions based on physical appearance. They think one thing if you’re dressed dourly in a lawyer’s suit; they think another if you’re 6-foot-7 and green and …
OK, maybe that exact experience isn’t universal. But it’s what we see in “She-Hulk: Attorney-at-Law” (shown here), a nine-week series that starts Thursday (Aug. 18) on Disney+.
“‘She-Hulk’ is an extreme version (of what) every person – especially every woman – goes through,” said Kat Coiro, the show’s head writer. “Just dressing up changes the way that you’re perceived.” Read more…

From amusement ride to movie screen? It works (sometimes)

Long ago, Disney announced it would make movie versions of its theme-park attractions.
The world promptly and properly groaned. We envisioned spinning teacups becoming flying saucers … the Carousel of Progress whirling in reverse … an insurrection inside the Hall of Presidents … or the Tiki Room crew enmeshed in some sort of gruesome “The Birds” sequel.
We thought this would be terrible … and often were right. But good things can happen to bad ideas; “The Jungle Cruise” – which has just opened in theaters and as pay-extra on Disney+ – is quite fun.
Yes, it’s sometime s excessive, sometimes overwrought; what isn’t nowadays? But it’s often salvaged by its solid cast – led by Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt (shown here with Jack Whitehall) – and a fairly clever script. Read more…

“Loki”: fantasy fun from an odd god

In the sprawling Marvel universe, Loki (shown here) has always been an anomaly.
This is a world of good intentions and great physiques. It’s a place where superpowers (plus super suits and shields and hammers and such) can save us from fierce villains.
Then there’s Loki, the “God of Mischief.” He’s a trickster who uses his tricks mainly to help himself. He’s sly and selfish and scheming; he’s perfect for a TV series.
So now “Loki” has its quick run on the Disney+ streaming service. Two episodes arrive Wednesday (June 9), with weekly ones for four more Wednesdays. Read more…

Beyond the blubber: Whales show rich personalities

We kind of know what whales are like – big and blubbery and such.
Or maybe we don’t know them at all. They vary widely, photographer Brian Skerry told the Television Critics Association. That can depend on the species, the region, even the individual.
“These animals do have languages,” said Skerry, whose richly crafted “Secrets of the Whales” (shown here) has an Earth Day debut on Disney+. “They do have dialects. (They) have rich lives, much like our own.” Read more…

A TV rarity: An old script was brought to life

Scattered around Hollywood, it seems, are warehouses (or hard drives) stuffed with scripts.
They’ve been purchased and pondered and then ignored. Few survive; one exception is the “Big Shot” series, which starts streaming Friday (April 16) on the Disney+ service.
“When Disney+ started, they … said, ‘Have you seen any scripts over the years that didn’t get made that you might like?’” John Stamos (shown here) – who stars as a guy who was once big in men’s college basketball, but now coaches high school girls – told the Television Critics Association. Read more…

After a two-decade pause, he’s back on the radar

Two opposite forces seemed to tug at Emilio Estevez.
Like his dad (Martin Sheen), he’s a serious soul, in search of large causes. Like his brother (Charlie Sheen), he has starred in pop-culture movies.
And then … well, the serious side took over. “To a lot of people, it had seemed like I had sort of dropped off the radar,” Estevez, 58, told the Television Critics Association.
Now, after two-decades, he’s back on view with “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” (shown here), which starts Friday (March 26) on Disney+. It follows a movie trilogy that has also spawned an animated series and the name of a Disney-owned pro hockey team. Read more…

“Mulan”: Great at home, better in theaters

I just remembered why I love movies – the big, sweeping kind that fill the screen and fill your eyes and ears and thoughts.
I also found that I miss seeing them in their natural habitat. Watching one at home is great fun; watching it in a movie theater would have been much better.
This comes up because people can now pay extra and see “Mulan” (shown here) – the new adventure epic, not the 1998 cartoon – at home.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this, of course. Disney spent $200 million on “Mulan,” creating a mega-movie for theaters. It had its premiere March 9 … moments before the COVID shutdown Read more…

Welcome to Star Wars Day

Welcome to Star Wars Days, on May the Fourth.
(Isn’t it nice when a holiday is on a Monday, extending the weekend?)
This is when we’re expected to sit in front of a screen, staring at “Star Wars” shows. Possible exemptions are for essential workers and/or people who are busy doing “Star Wars” puzzles, games or art projects.
Fortunately, three networks make it easy for us, with marathons (shown here with “The Last Jedi”) and such. That includes: Read more…