Let’s be honest, Disney Plus has added a touch of much-needed magic to a lot of homes since the service became available in March. But even though, by now, you may have seen most of what Disney Plus has to offer, there may be a few hidden gems that you’ve missed.
So, we’ve put on our Mickey Mouse ears and dived headfirst into the world of Disney, Marvel, The Simpsons, Star Wars and National Geographic and dug out some buried treasure.
Below is our list of Disney+’s top 10 hidden gems for you to discover and get watching. So, In the words of Walt Disney himself; “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
10. Three Men and a Baby
Looking through Disney’s vast back catalogue, it can be surprising to see a lot of forgotten ‘live action’ films. Most of which we probably didn’t even realise were part of the Disney Studios franchise. I know I didn’t. One, in particular, that lends itself to a cosy Sunday afternoon is ‘Three Men and a Baby’. Staring Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg and Tom Selleck. (who you’ll recognise as Monica’s attractive older boyfriend from Friends). It’s perfect to get those nostalgic feels, and if you have never watched it, you need too!
TIP: There’s also Three Men and a Little Lady, which you can watch straight after!
9. Newsies: The Broadway Musical
Now, at the beginning of summer, Disney+ made a huge song and dance about their newest offering – Hamilton. (quite rightly so – it is a must-see). But they also quietly added another stage show: Newsies: The Broadway Musical. Based on the New York City Newsboy Strike in 1899. It comes complete with a great soundtrack and some really loveable characters. Granted, it’s not as well-known as Hamilton or other beloved musicals but while we’re stuck indoors, missing the theatre, it does give you the chance to get a bit of that matinee or evening show feeling back.
TIP: According to Inside, the magical Aladdin: The Broadway Musical might be added soon too.
8. The Reluctant Dragon
This 74-minute feature film is easily swiped past, especially as the cover art for the film can just look like an old children’s cartoon. But, it’s a lot more, not only is it the fourth feature length film ever released by Disney in 1941. It was also their first attempt at a live action script with animation.
The first 53 minutes of The Reluctant Dragon is more like a documentary of sorts, as you follow Robert Benchley on a tour around the Disney Studios. Robert Benchley was a then famous American humourist and columnist. Within the studio tour you get to see all the inner workings of a 1940s animation production studio. You get a sneaky peek into the drawing processes, character voicing, storyboarding and the modelling stages. As well as a glimpse of models from past and upcoming (at the time) 40s and 50s Disney films. There’s also a meeting the main man, Walt Disney, himself as he talks to Benchley about his ventures. The last 20-or-so minutes features the titular cartoon about the Reluctant Dragon. It’s well worth the watch for people who love Disney and looking at how the animations all came together.
TIP: Don’t be put off by the fact that it starts in black and white, as that doesn’t last for the full feature.
7. Disney’s nature documentaries
A fact not widely known: Disney Studios have been making animal and nature documentaries since 1948. It all started with a series of short films called ‘True Life Adventures’. Between 1953 and 1960 Disney then released seven feature-length documentaries under the same name. Six of these utter gems you can catch on Disney Plus. In the 50 years since then, Disney has kept a steady stream of animal documentaries going. All set to music in way that seems like the animals are keeping in time with the music, not the other way around. If you love entertaining animal programmes, these are for you.
TIP: Most of the nature documentaries are under the National Geographic tab. The names of the six full length features from the True Life Adventure series on Disney+ are: The Living Desert, The Vanishing Prairie, The African Lion, Secrets of life, Perri and Jungle Cat.
6. Marvel’s Hero Project
If you love Marvel like we do, you will be pretty clued up on all the movies, series and cartoons that are on offer. Yet, there is a little gem, in the shape of Marvel’s Hero Project, that you may have missed. Currently, it is one season long, with 20 30-minute episodes. Each episode follows the story of a young person, highlighting how they’ve inspired and influenced change.
At the end of each episode, the Marvel team inducts them into The Marvel Hero Project and gifts them a few items which all Marvel fans would love: a pretty cool Marvel Hero jacket and their very own special collector’s edition comic all about them. It’s an incredible series that shouldn’t be overlooked when you are searching for your next binge-watch.
TIP: Don’t forget the tissues, even Thanos would shed a tear at these inspiring children.
5. Treasure Island
Want to see where all the Disney live-action films started? Look no further than Treasure Island! Released in 1950, it was the first full-length feature film released by the studios, with no cartoon elements. It’s a great story, which sticks closely to the original Robert Louis Stevenson book. It also paved the way for other pirate-themed films, such as The Pirates of the Caribbean. So, if you’ve never seen it before, give it a go, you might find a little hidden treasure of your own.
TIP: Warning – there are no female cast members in this film, and there wasn’t in the book either. Boo!
4. Strange Magic
When Disney bought out Lucasfilm Ltd, it not only acquired Star Wars and Indiana Jones, there were a lot of other amazing films too. Arguably, one of the most visually and musically appealing was the 2015 computer-animated fantasy, Strange Magic. Loosely based on the William Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the film features many famous musical bangers, such as Can’t Help Falling In Love, made famous by Elvis Presley, Three Little Birds originally by Bob Marley, and Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance… It’s hard not to sing along.
TIP: Along with Strange Magic, it is worth looking at the Lucasfilm back catalogue, as there are some amazingly unique films.
The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride
We’re all a little sceptical about sequels, I get it. But, if you love The Lion King, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride simply shouldn’t be missed.
It follows on from the first film and is focused around Simba’s daughter, Kiara, voiced by Neve Campbell, and another lion called Kovu, voiced by Jason Marsden. Matthew Broderick, Moira Kelly, Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella are all back once again to voice Simba, Nala, Timon and Pumbaa. Even James Earl Jones lent his voice to the film, making him the only cast member to have been in all 3 full-length films. Annoyingly, the only voice not to return is Rowan Atkinson.
If you’ve seen the stage show, you’ll recognise the title track ‘He Lives In You’ – hey, it’s got to be good if the stage show are stealing tracks from it!
TIP: There’s also The Lion King 1 ½, however, these are a lot of little stories, not a full-length film. The Lion King series is absolutely one of the gems on Disney Plus.
2. Queen of Katwe
One of the best-hidden gems on Disney Plus has to be Queen of Katwe – that’s why it’s almost made our top spot (and it was a very close call)! This true-life story is set between 2009 – 2012, based on Phiona Mutesi, a gifted national chess player from Uganda. It stars Madina Nalwanga, who plays Phiona, Lupita Nyong’o, who plays her mother, and David Oyelowo, who portrays her coach. If you want to be inspired, moved and entertained, search and press play on Queen of Katwe.
TIP: Don’t be put off because it’s about chess… there is a lot more to it and the acting is second to none.
1. The World According to Jeff Goldblum
We know him best from Jurassic Park, The Fly, Independence Day and a whole host of other great movies. But, it’s safe to say you don’t really know the real Jeff Goldblum until you watch The World According to Jeff Goldblum.
When Disney+ first went live, this 12-part series was on the main page of things to watch with good reason. Yet, over time, it may have very well got lost or moved down on your list.
Goldblum is such an intriguing character and he is so infectiously curious about things, making the episodes addictive and easy to watch. Each episode you learn about the science and origins behind things we take for granted, such as sneakers, denim, coffee and much more. It’s very interesting!
TIP: Try not to binge them too quickly, as they are so good and who knows when the new series will arrive.
So, there you have our list of hidden gems, so pop on your Mickey Mouse ears and get watching… or is it just me that wears my ears to watch Disney films?
That’s our list of hidden gems on Disney Plus, thanks for reading. Have you seen any of our recommendations before you read this list? Do you agree or disagree with our points, or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
More of our Disney Plus articles HERE
No Time To Die – Review
No Time To Die is the 25th instalment in the official James Bond series. It’s the VERY long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Spectre. The 6-year gap between the two films is only matched by the same gap between Timothy Dalton’s last outing in 1989’s Licence To Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s debut in 1995’s Goldeneye. Here’s our review of No Time To Die.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the film, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
Of course, there are mitigating factors in that enormous gap. Namely COVID. Which made No Time To Die the first major film to delay its release due to the pandemic. Although, this film has had a difficult gestation irrespective of the global situation in the last 18 months. As soon as Spectre was released the speculation over Daniel Craig’s future in the role began. With him initially suggesting he would rather slash his own wrists than play the iconic spy again. He did a mea culpa on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in August 2017, where he confirmed he would appear as Bond for a fifth and final time. The original director and writer, Danny Boyle and John Hodge, left the project a year later over creative differences. Cory Joji Fukunaga took over as director. While Bond script veterans Robert Wade and Neil Purvis took charge of the screenplay – with a sprinkling of magic from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Originally slated for release in April 2020, at long last, we finally get to see Daniel Craig’s denouement as 007. His portrayal of Bond has been very much in keeping with the character of Ian Fleming’s original novels. His performances have certainly followed the dramatic lineage of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Rather than the lighter portrayals by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Yet his Bond has displayed a vulnerability only really demonstrated with any plausibility by George Lazenby in his solitary outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The deference to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented in stark relief throughout this 2h43min epic. Making this the longest Bond film in the series. As this was the first film I’ve seen at the cinema since before the pandemic, I was already excited before I even sat down. As a massive James Bond fan as well, I was close to apoplexy! I felt a tangible shiver go down my spine as the iconic gun barrel sequence appeared before we see James cruising around Italy in the classic DB5 with Madeleine Swann at his side. This anticipation was clearly felt by other cinema-goers. They have made No Time To Die break the UK box office record for the biggest opening weekend. It took almost £26m, breaking the record previously held by Skyfall.
I’m not going to spoil the plot for those who’ve not seen it. I had made a conscious decision to avoid spoilers before I went.
A step up?
This film is another shot in the arm for those who see Craig as the definitive Bond. This was aided by a refocusing of the Bond canon after the main tropes of the series were stretched to breaking point by the invisible cars and melting ice palaces of Die Another Day. And then stretched still further by Madonna’s cameo as a fencing instructor. Daniel Craig was given leeway to truly regenerate James Bond for the 21st Century. The stripped-back nature of Casino Royale, without most of the supporting characters that have been a staple of the series like Q and Moneypenny. Gave him licence (pardon the pun) to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of the Bond psyche. Some well-drawn female leads and villains really allowed Craig’s Bond to spar with them with depth and genuine emotion.
That exploration continues and grows in No Time To Die. We get to see an ageing, truly world-weary Bond, whose past he appears unable to escape. This leaves him in a state of almost constant angst. Paradoxically though, we also see him truly relaxed at times. In a way I can’t recall ever seeing James Bond in any of his previous cinematic outings.
The issue with that exploration is that a number of characters then have their screen time cut. Moneypenny is reduced to little more than a cameo. And Remi Malek’s Safin is almost secondary as he features in the opening moments as his story is told, but then disappears for what seemed like an eternity. He of course reappears but he almost seems a mild irritation within the plot and merely a conduit to allow us to see the climax of Daniel Craig’s Bond era. It’s a disappointing underuse of a terrific actor. One with a captivating screen presence, who could have been one of the most menacing Bond villains of all time. That said, the influence of his dastardly but highly sophisticated plan is felt by all of the main protagonists. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld continues to wreak his havoc with malevolent glee from his cell. He again revels in the chaos of his twisted sibling rivalry with Bond.
Lea Seydoux is wonderful again as Dr Madeleine Swann, picking up where she left off in Spectre and giving Bond as good as he gets in every way imaginable.
There are new characters who definitely cut through. Ana De Armas is utterly charming in her relatively brief time on-screen as Paloma, while Lashana Lynch takes no nonsense from Bond as Nomi. She also gives us a potential indicator as to the future direction of the franchise. Which has been the subject of much discussion in all quarters. That debate has even made its way into the political sphere with even Boris Johnson weighing in on what gender the next actor to play 007 should be.
Hans Zimmer’s score is classic Hans Zimmer, adding power and bombast to the usual mix of stunning scenery and brilliantly choreographed stunts. He brilliantly weaves nods to previous entries in the Bond musical tapestry throughout his score. While his cues are always thunderous, they never overpower the action on screen, but do add a sonic rumble that I don’t think has been heard in a Bond score for quite some time. I found Fukunaga’s direction a bit mixed, with some of the cinematography unnecessarily showy. Some of the tracking shots almost gave me motion sickness while some (admittedly beautifully composed) shots of the scenery seemed to have made the edit purely so as whoever the drone operator was could demonstrate their skills.
The film is much too long, although at no point did I check my watch. It’s not that any of the plot points are superfluous, more that the pacing is a little slow in places. Some of the dialogue feels cliched and clunky, making what is a great story feel a tad generic. Which doesn’t do anyone justice. However, there were some excellent jokes, and I laughed out loud several times. You don’t have to be a 007 super fan to get some of the self-referential humour that they seem to enjoy sprinkling throughout the film.
Billie Eilish’s theme song is a worthy addition to the collection and certainly sits comfortably within the top half of the ‘Bond Theme Chart’. It’s definitely more memorable and evocative than Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ for Spectre. Her voice trembles at times as you can almost feel she recognises the significance of singing the theme for Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the franchise.
It was also very pleasing to see that this film has moved with the times and reflects the world of 2021 with its portrayal of women. Every single female character had a genuine purpose and important role within the plot. While of course, the female actors playing those roles are all irrefutably glamorous and attractive. There was genuine respect and no objectification of women.
I came out of the screening with mixed emotions. Glad to be back in the cinema on one hand, sad that Daniel Craig’s stint ordering Martini’s was over on the other. I was pleased that such a good climax had been created to bring this era of Bond to a close, and all its story arcs had been brought to conclusions. I’m also excited and apprehensive in equal measure for the future of such an iconic film series. But I was disappointed with some of the characters not getting the necessary screen-time to truly develop their characters. Surprisingly, I was almost tearful at the final few moments, especially as the credits rolled.
Overall, this is a loving homage to the James Bond series, past and present. It’s a solid if unspectacular film in its own right, but the performances of Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, as well as the Bond history it wraps itself in, elevate it beyond that.
It’s not Craig’s best Bond film, as Skyfall is almost untouchable in my opinion, but it does bring closure to his tenure in the tuxedo in a manner that should please Bond fans across the board. It also tantalises us as to what the 6th age of Bond will look like. Let the intense speculation begin!
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10
Thank you for reading our review of James Bond No Time To Die. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out who we think could be the next James Bond and why HERE.
Read IMDB information about No Time To Die HERE.
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