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Encanto doesn’t grab you? Nine Disney+ movie and TV show packages to stream instead

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 25/11/2021
  • Disney+ launches in Hong Kong with features including new Marvel series Hawkeye, Emmy Award-winning The Mandalorian and documentary The Beatles: Get Back
  • Disney favourites of yesteryear such as The Black Hole, The Love Bug and even the famous 1928 black-and-white short Steamboat Mickey are available to stream

Touted as Walt Disney's 60th animated feature film, Encanto arrives exclusively in cinemas this week. It marks the studio's third collaboration with award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the music and lyrics for 2016's Moana as well as this film, and appeared in Mary Poppins Returns.

Encanto is set in the idyllic countryside of Colombia, where the Madrigal family lives in a magical house and are each bestowed with a special gift, be it super strength, healing powers, or the ability to see into the future.

All, that is, except for Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz), the family's awkward teenage daughter, who must rise to the challenge when their magic begins to disappear. While the film is as visually ravishing and energetic as we have come to expect from the Mouse House, Encanto lacks any stand-out musical numbers, while its messages concerning family loyalty and using one's talents responsibly are confused and ultimately unsatisfying.

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Fortunately, the release coincides with the Hong Kong launch of Disney+, the company's exclusive subscription streaming platform (HK$73 a month). It also launches in two other Asian markets, South Korea and Taiwan, in November.

So for those less willing to venture outdoors to get their Disney fix, here are some of the best alternatives now available to stream directly into your home.

Moana

The obvious first port of call is Disney's previous collaboration with the Tony Award-winning creator of Hamilton.

Set in the Polynesian islands of the South Pacific, this endlessly entertaining and inspiring adventure follows the young heroine of the title (voiced by Auli'i Cravalho) as she ventures out onto the high seas to save her island home. Along for the ride is Dwayne Johnson, as a shape-shifting demigod, perhaps the best comedy sidekick since Robin Williams' genie.

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The Disney+ platform also includes every one of Disney's animated princess movies, from 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to this year's Raya and the Last Dragon.

Pixar perfection

Encanto's vibrant celebration of Colombian life is just the latest in a wave of recent projects showcasing diverse and under-represented cultures. Disney+ includes every Pixar Studios animated film, shorts as well as features, including this summer's Luca, set on the Italian riviera, the Mexican infused Coco, Oscar-winning Chinese-Canadian inspired short Bao, as well as proven favourites like Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.

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Jungle Cruise, Cruella, and beyond

Beyond the studio's vast line-up of animated films, the platform includes an impressive selection of live-action films, including recent big-screen offerings such as the rip-roaring period adventure Jungle Cruise, starring Dwayne Johnson (again!) and Emily Blunt, and Cruella, the latest reimagining of a classic Disney villain, featuring Emma Stone opposite a wonderfully ostentatious Emma Thompson.

But the catalogue stretches back decades, encompassing all of the studio's recent live-action adaptations of earlier animated hits as well as favourites of yesteryear such as The Black Hole and The Love Bug.

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Revel in the majesty of Hong Kong legend Tony Leung Chiu-wai as he dazzles Hollywood in his English-language debut, bringing honour and empathy to an endlessly misrepresented supervillain. Simu Liu, Awkwafina and director Destin Daniel Cretton surpass expectations, delivering one of the most surprising entries yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This is a smart, exciting superhero spectacular, featuring breathless action choreography from the late great Brad Allan, and championing Chinese culture from across the diaspora while staying true to the spirit of the franchise. Shang-Chi, together with a dozen other MCU titles, can also be watched "IMAX enabled" on the platform.

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Hawkeye

After Scarlet Witch, Falcon and Loki, expert marksman Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is the latest Marvel character to get his own mega-budget series. Set in New York over Christmas, there's a playful Shane Black-style action comedy vibe to Hawkeye, which begins its six-episode run on November 24.

Hailee Steinfeld (left) and Jeremy Renner in a still from Hawkeye, the new Marvel series streaming on Disney+. © Provided by South China Morning Post Hailee Steinfeld (left) and Jeremy Renner in a still from Hawkeye, the new Marvel series streaming on Disney+.

Hailee Steinfeld co-stars as potential successor Kate Bishop, alongside Vera Farmiga and Alaqua Cox, as Echo, the adopted daughter of crime-lord Kingpin, who has already been granted her own spin-off show in the future.

A galaxy not so far away ...

Disney's other great acquisition is the Star Wars universe, and the studio has already released a swathe of critically acclaimed live-action and animated shows inspired by George Lucas' sci-fi opus.

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Star Wars Visions is a visually audacious collaboration with some of Japan's most celebrated anime studios, while Emmy Award-winning The Mandalorian has been touted as the best sci-fi series in years. Add to this all 11 feature films, forgotten spin-offs Caravan of Courage and The Battle for Endor, and the imminent arrival of Obi-Wan Kenobi starring Ewan McGregor, and the force is most definitely with you.

Muppets Haunted Mansion

This Halloween-themed comedy special from everyone's favourite anarchic puppets sees Gonzo the Great and his trusty sidekick Pepe the King Prawn venture into the Haunted Mansion, the enduringly popular Disney Theme Park attraction.

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Guests Will Arnet, Danny Trejo and Taraji P. Henson appear alongside Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang, but this is just the tip of the Muppet iceberg. Dig a little deeper and fans will find all five classic seasons of the original 1970s television show, as well as all the Muppet movies, from holiday classic The Muppet Christmas Carol to the Oscar-winning revival film from 2011.

Disney vintage classics

One of the greatest treats for older subscribers is that the studio has thrown open its vaults and shared so much vintage content, dating back almost 100 years.

Steamboat Willie, the 1928 black-and-white short that first introduced the world to Mickey Mouse, is available, now beautifully restored. Other timeless greats on the platform in pristine condition include Goofy's masterclasses The Art of Skiing (1941) and How to Play Football (1944).

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More recent offerings such as the classical music extravaganza Fantasia (1940), sing-a-long favourite The Jungle Book (1967) and holiday delight Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983), still one of the best adaptations of Dickens' holiday classic, are at your fingertips all year round.

A still from The Beatles: Get Back, a new documentary streaming on Disney+. © Provided by South China Morning Post A still from The Beatles: Get Back, a new documentary streaming on Disney+.

The Beatles: Get Back

If more senior members of the household still need convincing, look no further than Peter Jackson's hotly anticipated documentary series.

Sourced from 57 hours of previously unseen footage, painstakingly restored by the Oscar-winning filmmaker, this three-part behind-the-scenes odyssey bears witness to the feverish and fractured efforts of John, Paul, George and Ringo to write and record a new album while preparing for their first live performance in three years.

Arriving on the platform on November 25, this promises to be an unmissable event for Beatle maniacs everywhere.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2021. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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