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Disney+: A review of Disney’s new streaming platform

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January 14, 2020

Michael DonaldsonThe latest streaming service to hit New Zealand arrived in November with a competitive monthly fee of $9.99 and bringing you everything from a 90-year-old original cartoon to the latest Star Wars instalment – The Mandalorian.

That’s the beauty of the vast Disney empire – they can launch a streaming channel and have it immediately populated by some of the greatest content produced in the history of moving pictures. Our ’Watch & Play’ expert Michael shares some of his favourite movies for you to stream - get the whole family involved!

 

The platform: Easy to use 

The Disney+ interface is similar to the way Netflix is presented – although most streaming services tend to have the same “look” these days – but the “Recommended For You” and “Trending” are just like Netflix.

The top line of content has quick buttons that take you to various popular channels – Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic. And you can add programmes to your Watchlist – which at this stage is the only way you can continue watching a show from where you jumped out of it. I’m betting the Disney brains fix that little glitch before too long.

Importantly though in terms of experience, Disney+ will not be charging extra for content in 4K quality and has upped the quality stakes by supporting Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos sound. 

This is great but also means it’s likely you’ll get bandwidth bursting above 100Mbps frequently during fast forward and rewind which maybe a good argument as any to ensure you have a fast fibre broadband plan.

 

The content: Chock-full 

Disney+ looks like a must-have for families – and for many kids, it might mean the end of the Netflix because there’s enough content on Disney+ to keep the most avid movie-goer occupied for years to come. Plus, the Disney launch means Netflix and Sky no longer has access to all that Disney content.

The most obvious reason for hooking up the Disney+ service is that this is now the only place you’ll get all the Marvel Universe films (eventually), all the Star Wars movies, plus The Mandalorian series, heaps of Pixar movies – Toy Story, The Incredibles, Cars etc. And, of course, there are Disney movies galore – Frozen, Moana, The Lion King – along with a vast vault of cartoons, TV series and movies that will take Boomers and Millennials alike on trips down memory lane.

And that 90-year-old cartoon? It’s the original Mickey Mouse cartoon Steamboat Willie from 1928. It was the first cartoon with synchronised sound, and to Disney’s credit they’ve uploaded it untouched which has forced them to warn viewers that it “may contain outdated cultural depictions”.
 

Recommendations on where you should start

The channel is heavily promoting its popular shows – Avatar, Frozen, Home Alone, The Simpsons (the entire back catalogue) and the block-busting Avengers Endgame.

Given the popularity of Avengers Endgame in cinemas it’s no surprise to see it as a headline act, but the fact is that many viewers who sign up may not have seen all the prerequisite Marvel movies that will make Endgame understandable.

So, if you want to end at Endgame, the question is where to start in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The geeks are divided on the best order to watch to the Marvel films – do you watch them according to release date or chronological order of the story? 

For me, it’s a coin toss between the original Iron Man and the first Captain America … Captain America: The First Avenger.

While the latter is the chronological starting place (taking place during World War Two) Iron Man is the start the modern Marvel story and it’s a fantastic film in its own right. The success of Iron Man is powered by a surprise performance from Robert Downey Jr, who was cast for his ability to channel the “likeable jerk” personality of Iron Man’s alter-ego Tony Stark. Downey’s pure acting ability brings a three-dimensionality – intelligence, charisma and wit – to a character that could have remained a B-grade superhero. And you must watch the credits as that’s where the threads for the next chapter are laid out.  Eventually all the strands – and the stories of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America – are woven together into the Avengers series.

A Disney film that may have slipped past many people is Big Hero 6, an under-the-radar winner of the Oscar for Best Animated Film a few years back. Set in a mash-up Americ-Asian city of San Fransokyo, it tells the story of orphaned inventor Hiro, his micro-robots (slightly bigger than nanobots) and his carer, the marshmallowy Baymax. It’s sincere, clever and funny and a bit ET meets Wall-E in a Marvel Universe.

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