27 March 2020 3135 Views

Disney Plus and BritBox Highlights

by James Murphy

Two New Streaming Services have Launched in the UK, at Last. Here are some initial Experiences / Recommendations!

I swore I would not use either Disney + OR BritBox. I was wrong. My initial reluctance was due to a fear of saturation streaming or streaming saturation. Also baffled by quite how BBC/ITV could team up on this and yet reuse to brainstorm on how to amend /retain/reform/reduce licence fee? MORE Disney monopoly? Don’t I own most of this stuff in other formats, anyway?

And the inevitable concerns: Death by a thousand direct debits and overlap between content? The end to physical media, surely?

Well, some of that still stands. That said? You get a free trial with BritBox and Disney is insanely affordable at £6 per month. It’d be false economy NOT to use them, frankly?

Initial impressions? I LOVE THESE THINGS!! Could be novelty. Could be the times we are in at present with much working from home (IE: Lots of films streaming on in background while I attend to other things; but that’s actually the test of a beloved movie /platform host).

Format / formula very similar to NetFlix /Amazon. You get recommendations, classifications; mini trailers; thematic overlaps in suggested content and a clear, accessible layout from which one can build a playlist to suit. The visual quality is great and works well on phones as well as PCs; one starts to notice little details in action sequences perhaps neglected before.

At a glance? Almost at random..my first few days of use included these lovely little highlights:


Revenge of the Sith: I still loathe this film for its poor writing /acting and the throwaway idea that one can cram 3 films into 1 in terms of exposition, whilst remaining casual about child murder. But the visual clarity and indeed, mechanisms of story /plot those serve are a LOT clearer, somehow.

Empire Strikes Back: 

All about those moments of romance and epic sweep via occasional comedy. GREAT pace, purpose and philosophical reach. ‘I love you’; ‘I know’. AND they have the old Fox fanfare back at last!

Pirates of the Caribbean: 

Even At World’s End seems to improve. LOTS of filler and pointless double cross, wannabe Lord of the Rings /Star Wars style motifs. But also, some of THE best action, music and comedy one could hope for within a single summer blockbuster? Overlong for sure; but not a problem when you simply run it in the background.

Iron Man: 

You glimpse brutality in the action possibly lost before. Those flashes in the torture/capture/imprisonment gain new menace. There is also some visual continuity in how Stark’s missile tech is deployed and one can see that payoff right into Endgame. A charming, timeless, feelgood classic. I adore this film.

Iron Man 2: 

On one hand, this is disposable and inconsequential. You can leave the room when it’s on and come back in having missed both everything and nothing. But there is some great improv; solid character work and, despite criticism to the contrary by most..I think that both the villains AND the plotlines to match do work.

The Mandalorian:

 THIS is Star Wars! They ‘get’ that the trick in extending the franchise /universe was to select its individual components and give those a mini focus. Hence, here? A western come Samurai cop show in space. It’s by no means groundbreaking in its plot points and takes a few fanboy liberties that once again reduce rather than expand the universe (freezing in carbonite..cool..literally..but even so..??). Baby Yoda adorable. Magic, mystery, menace: all here. Pedro Pascal is the leading man this brand needed, akin to Harrison Ford. Great fun.

X-MEN: The cartoons AND the movies; in the same place as the other Marvel content as though they were meant to be together!

The World According to Jeff Golblum: Informative. Charming. Hilarious.


DOCTOR WHO: The classic series; 1963-89 (and ’96). This is GREAT value! Stuff that one could only access before through pricey downloads /DVDs. The special season Blu-rays are still worth the investment, I think. But even so. Dipping in, a click away, to the whole canon of great storytelling in that series? A fun treasure hunt; discovering all those lost subconscious images from childhood and beyond. Enormous fun.

MIDSOMER MURDERS: THE WHOLE SET! as in all 22 plus series! A great one to dip in and out of. Fall asleep to some; get engrossed in others and spot at least one or more of your fave actors as killer / victim /suspect of the week. Bit gutted we cannot get all of BERGERAC, though!

John Thaw /David Jason: these two actors basically ARE British television, to many. Quite similar in ways (comic timing; tendency to have a sidekick and romance ‘posh sorts’). DI Frost is basically a poor man’s Morse? But Morse in his way is a white collar Del-Boy (he bullies yet loves Lewis same way Del treats little Rod-in-ey; both are flawed yet ultimately good and at once brilliant yet undistinguished).

Our Friends in the North /Cracker: Hard hitting drama here. And yet most engrossing, entertaining and featuring some of the biggest and best names in British film, Theatre and Television. Daniel Craig, Mark Strong, Robert Carlyle, Robbie Coltrane, Christopher Eccleston, to name but a few!.


Remember to stream responsibly! Band-width not to be taken for granted? You can still purchase, play and enjoy DVDs/Blu-Rays/downloads. Or even, maybe..read a..BOOK?! 







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