I worked at a movie theater through college which enabled me to see hundreds of movies for free and probably eat enough popcorn to feed a large country. Though I would happily sit through just about anything, I couldn’t understand why people would always tell me that they went to the theaters to “turn their brains off for a while.”
After college I began a career in social service work. I was immediately confronted with incredibly stressful and difficult real life situations during my average work day. I gradually began to understand why so many people avoid the sad movies at the theater. I understand why big action movies and feel-good endings will always be popular. It is a completely wonderful thing to go to a theater (or rent a movie) and escape the real world for a bit. It’s healthy. It’s necessary. However, I believe the phrase above is incorrect – people don’t really want to turn their brains off at the movies, they just want to use the parts of their brain they don’t get to exercise every day.
Just as watching movies can be a great distraction from the hurdles of life, so too can the anticipation and build-up of those films. Considering that the Disney Company has cornered the market on my entire childhood over the years by gobbling up Marvel, Star Wars and the Muppets, 2019 is looking like a truly bonkers year to be a follower of Disney film. They have at least 10 big films coming out this year, so what follows is Part 1 of a two-part look at their currently announced slate of films.
Captain Marvel – March 6th
For anyone like me who stayed at home on homecoming night in high school and read the backs of Marvel trading cards, we’re all excited about this movie. Captain Marvel is quite simply one of the absolutely most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe. We need as many movies starring strong female leads as possible in this day and age. Hopefully this movie can be a Black Panther-type film that connects with girls and women looking for someone to root for that resonates with them. I am also pretty pumped because the rumors are that Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson) is going to be a major presence in the final Avengers movie. The fact that they’re introducing her only a few months before that film comes out is a pretty incredible gamble (although probably one that has little chance of not paying off). It also takes place in the 90’s, so I’m looking for some fantastically placed Third Eye Blind music cues in this one. If Semi-Charmed Life doesn’t play I’m asking for a refund. Click this link to view the Captain Marvel Trailer
Dumbo – March 29th
I have a lot of feelings regarding Disney’s current project of turning every animated classic into a live action event, but I’m saving those for an eventual podcast episode.
Directed by Tim Burton (of Beetlejuice and Batman fame, as well as Alice in Wonderland infamy), this version will reportedly feature no talking animals. Obviously this is a big departure from the original, since almost every animal talks in that one. Instead it seems from the trailers that this Dumbo storyline is set against a story about a family that travels with Dumbo’s circus, led by a one-armed Colin Farrell.
Also featured is my favorite actor of all time, Michael Keaton, so I’m holding out hope that this movie uses the themes from the original as a jumping-off point to create something original and surprising. In my opinion, the more they change the story from the original, the more reason there is to buy a ticket.
Disney Nature’s Penguins – April 19th
Nature documentaries are a huge part of the Disney Company’s history, as well as the legacy of Walt Disney himself. In 1948, the Disney Company began making “Disney’s True-Life Adventures,” a nature documentary series that went on to win 8 Academy Awards, including 3 for Best Documentary Feature.
Any good biography about Walt Disney will mention his love of nature, and some people credit him with essentially creating the very genre of nature documentaries.
Disneynature was a Disney Company film division started in 2008 to carry on the Disney’s tradition of nature-focused filmmaking. Though I have not seen all of them, the ones I have seen are fantastic, especially Chimpanzee and Monkey Kingdom.
As you can probably guess from the title, this one is about penguins, particularly one named Steve and his attempts to raise his newly-hatched family in the harsh environment of Antarctica.
Some criticize these newer documentaries as being “Disneyfied” in the way they inject human qualities into the animal subjects of the films, but I think they’re super enjoyable and a great way to introduce younger kids to the wonders of nature. Not all kids are going to be ok with the intensity inherent in the life and death scenarios in most nature documentaries.
I encourage everyone to check these out. Not only are they uniformly good, but regular support will hopefully encourage Disney to keep making these kinds of films.
Avengers: Endgame – April 26th
Avengers: Endgame has literally been 13 years in the making, beginning with the production of the first Iron Man film in 2006. Endgame is the 22nd film to take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Supposedly it will be the ending point for a lot of the characters that have been featured since the beginning.
After 20 films, the box office gross for this series has been somewhere around $17.5 BILLION dollars, so I would imagine we’re probably in for a new decade of superhero introductions after Endgame lands. Honestly, I really doubted the moviegoing public would be so into superheroes for this long. But here we are in 2018 where the last Avengers movie grossed $2 billion at the worldwide box office, so I guess it’s good that I’m not in charge of Marvel.
I’m going to stop writing about Endgame because we’re all going to see it. NEXT.
Aladdin – May 24th
And here we are with Aladdin, Disney’s second of three live action adaptations of their animated classics to be released in 2019.
If you’re like me and appreciate seeing more diversity in film, this is a great opportunity for a lot of actors who are also people of color to anchor a giant tentpole Summer movie. With Will Smith playing the Genie (voiced in a classic performance by Robin Williams in the original), I’m extra curious just to see how they try to pull that off. It’s been a long time since Will Smith has had a chance to really cut loose comedically on film, and if they can nail the effects it could be great.
The original is a true classic of animation that features some of Disney’s best songs and animation. I’ll repeat that I’m a believer that the more different these films are from the originals, the more interested I am in seeing them. Not many details have come out yet storyline-wise, and the trailers pretty much rehash images from the original, but I’m holding out hope.
Up next: Disney 2019, Part 2!