January 2020 Watchlist

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Though there are a few excepted instances, I spent most of January’s limited viewing time strolling through the Disney+ library, watching both newer releases I had yet to see and revisiting some old favorites.
Aladdin (2019) – 5/10
An unnecessary rewrite of the original script results in an overly complicated plot, overly lengthy run time, and, ultimately, yet another superfluous live-action remake of a Disney animated heavyweight.
Amy (1981) – 7/10
While a competently produced period drama, Amy would’ve worked better either produced “as is” in the ’60s or with a better cast and crew in the 2000s.
Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) – 10/10
A witty, charming Irish fantasy, featuring spectacular special effects, a serious, frightening climax, and a pre-James Bond Sean Connery.
Dumbo (2019) – 7/10
Though there’s still little point to its existence, the filmmakers’ decision to adapt the original in the first 45 minutes of this rendition, then play the remainder as a sequel story, lifts the film above its live-action remake brethren; Dumbo is also the best and brightest flick director Tim Burton has produced in years.
It Happened to Jane (1959) – 7/10
This minor Doris Day rom-com with an anti-corporate message is elevated by it’s ever-likable leads, Day and Jack Lemon.
Joker (2019) – 9/10
Despite mass reports to the contrary, Joker is not extraordinarily violent, disturbing, or a groundbreaking piece of comic book cinema; it is, however, a well-crafted psychological thriller, featuring a mesmerizing performance from Joaquin Phoenix and a few iconic comic book names tacked on for good measure. [Language, Graphic Violence, Adult Content]
Lady and the Tramp (2019) – 2/10
The 2019 Disney+ equivalent of a ’90s ABC Wonderful World of Disney film, except not even that good; the worst and most pointless live-action remake Disney has produced to date.
The Lion King (2019) – 6/10
Although this pseudo-live-action version is almost a shot-for-shot remake of the original, it lacks the wonder of that original animated classic, feeling instead like a rote, bland re-tread.
The Love Bug (1968) – 9/10
The endearing classic that started it all, The Love Bug isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it is a quintessential example of imaginative, Disney family fun.
Moon (2009) – 10/10
Steeped in 2001 second act vibes and boasting incredible acting from Sam Rockwell, Moon is one of the best sci-fi flicks of the 21st century so far. [Language]
Mr. Holmes (2015) – 9/10
An engagingly unique Sherlock Holmes tale, crafted with BBC/Masterpiece period drama sensibilities.
Venom (2018) – 7/10
Despite its glaring flaws, including a few tasteless bits and a reality-abandoning third act, Venom sports an early- to mid-200os CBM sensibility that, by this point in genre history, rings as charmingly retro-chic instead of gratingly outdated. [Language]