When Disney + landed in Spain, we did a little over a year an exhaustive review of its entire catalog in search of jewels that did not come from its two most successful franchises. We found a good number of classics and cult films, but it is that over time and the Disney + catalog has grown fat notably: the products of channels like Hulu and Fox, apart from Fox’s own productions have been arriving. And to this is added Star, the “adult” section of the platform.
So we have rechecked everything Disney + has to offer both in terms of movies and series, and these are some of the genre productions, outside of Marvel and Star Wars, that are available on the platform.
‘My brain is electronic’ (1969)
We start with a magnificent example of quality family science fiction premium. The crazy, crazy Disney of the late sixties, a Kurt Russell with acne and a frankly funny plot about a boy who accidentally acquires the brain of a supercomputer. Unprejudiced entertainment for fifty percent of a perfect goofy-faced Kurt Russell themed double show, with another sci-fi landmark, ‘The Strongest Man in the World’, also on the platform.
The entire saga (including ‘Prometheus’, ‘Covenant’ and the two ‘Aliens vs. Predator’) are on Star, the adult section of Disney +, perfect for a marathon of xenomorphs and flamethrowers. But none is comparable to the first installment, of course, an inexhaustible film, whose incredible production design and precise, perfect script remain among the most influential from the history of fantastic cinema. Reviewable over and over again.
‘The black abyss’ (1979)
Ironies of life: in the late seventies Disney hatched its own response to ‘Star Wars’, without being able to know that he would end up having the original franchise to exploit it and continue it at his pleasure. This immediate replica of George Lucas’s success, in any case, is stupendous: jaw-dropping space effects, unusually dark and terrifying (the ‘Star Wars’ equivalents of ‘cute’ characters here are chilling glimpses into the future), cast of stars from the Hollywood classic and screenplay based on a proto-science fiction classic like ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ‘. Unclassifiable, and still a puzzling piece of home theater today.
As radical and modern today as it was in its day, almost forty years after its premiere. His way of turning the then still nascent video games into a virtual battlefield and his intuition that computers would become parallel worlds where we would project our personalities it is still astonishing. A visionary work, with special effects worth studying and with a couple of very notorious sequels: the most recent ‘Tron: Legacy’ and the forgotten and tremendous animated series ‘Tron: The resistance’, both also on the platform.
‘The Fly’ (1986)
One of the best horror films of the eighties, and next to ‘Videodrome’, the total peak of David Cronenberg’s delusions about the New Flesh, his set of disquisitions rooted in avant-garde art and Z-series cinema (sorry for redundancy) about bodily mutations and the fickle of the physical. Here he starts from the haunting 1950s sci-fi classic to pose thanks to Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis one of the strangest romantic stories ever, with the excuse of an experiment with teleportation booths that goes wrong.
The director of the stupendous ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’, one of the MCU’s most delightfully retro films, rehearsed quite a few years before his same virtues with ‘The Rocketeer’, a resounding box office failure that today retains all its retro innocence intact. Drawing from a fabulous comic by Dave Stevens, it features a powerless, masked hero (but with technology going for him) who is pure pulp thanks to its riveting sense of wonder and a terrific cast crowned by the Machiavellian villain Timothy Dalton and the pin-up damsel in distress Jennifer Connelly.
The entire franchise (nine original seasons, the recent two and a couple of movies) are on Star, and although in many ways the series betrays its age, in many others it shows that the almost thirty years that have elapsed since the beginning of the series. Mulder and Scully’s paranoid adventures have only strengthened its status as one of the most influential series in television history. Their impact went far beyond the cathodic, making a pop conspiracy thought fashionable that branched out into multiple tentacles, and the relationship between the two protagonists remains one of the most iconic in the medium.
There is nothing like ‘Futurama’ if you like science fiction. A compendium of winks, tributes and gags based on classic tropes of the genre, held on a series of conventions so charismatic (from the human-hating robot to the galactic transport company, to the misogynistic space hero out of an adventure pulp) that transcend parody to acquire their own endearing personality. It is a great pleasure that we have access to the complete series here, including the latest incarnation and the films (divided into fragments, as if they were episodes).
’28 days later ‘(2002)
This modest collaboration between Danny Boyle and Alex Garland (‘Devs’, ‘Dredd’) produced a film that forever changed post-apocalyptic fictions. A classic since its iconic start with a chillingly empty London, sipping on classic doomsday movies from the sixties and seventies, to the transformation of the iconic zombies into voracious and unstoppable beasts. Keep an eye out for the even more visceral sequel, ’28 weeks later ‘, also available on the platform.
Some of M. Night Shyamalan’s best films (‘The Protege’, ‘Glass’, the misunderstood ‘The Forest’ and ‘The Incident’) are on Disney +, but none comes as close to the more haunting sci-fi realms as ‘Signs’. The story of an alien invasion on the terrain of a family marked by terrible loss is as emotional as it is mysterious, and thanks to its magnificent cast and oppressive setting, all ridiculous script solutions are forgiven.
Trilogy ‘Planet of the Apes’ (2011-2017)
Unfortunately, Disney + does not have the classic franchise saga (and it does have the very horrible reboot of Tim Burton from 2001), but we can keep waiting for them to arrive (better seated, we fear) reviewing the recent and fantastic trilogy formed by ‘The origin’, ‘The dawn’ and ‘The war’, all of them exploring concepts taken from the movies of the seventies. Spectacular hyper-realistic special effects and sharp social commentary for a myth, that of the apes populating the Earth and falling into the same vices and greatness as humans, a classic science fiction
‘John Carter’ (2012)
More box office failures, this one just as undeserved as ‘Rocketeer’, and which unfortunately ended up erasing from the film scene the possibility that more literature classics would be adapted pulp and weird in general and, of course, more parts of Burroughs’ mythical Barsoom saga in particular. This attempt by Andrew Stanton, with John Carter’s naive journey to an epic Mars, full of gargantuan creatures and delusional technologyHe has an imagination and naivety that we’d like to see more of in big-budget cinema.
‘The shape of water’ (2017)
The film that has garnered the greatest critical prestige for Guillermo del Toro is a film one hundred percent by its author, and an exquisite distillate of one of his main obsessions: the nature of the monstrous. Camouflaged with reverberations from 1950s science fiction and creature movies, it presents an unnatural romance with echoes of ‘The Woman and the Monster’ and a delightful setting in a secret government base, where the protagonist is dedicated to tasks of cleaning. Highly romantic but not at all cloying and classic special effects for a film that is among the best of its author.
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13 great science fiction series and movies that you can see on Disney + (and that are not Marvel or Star Wars)