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I Found Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ Script. ‘Dune: Part Two’ Is Better

I Found Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ Script. ‘Dune: Part Two’ Is Better

As with the book, the script begins with the gom jabbar scene between Paul Atreides and Reverend Mother Mohiam, except in this version the Atreides have already made their trek from Caladan to Arrakis. Right after Paul passes his test with the box, the four wise men of Thufir, Yueh, Gurney, and Duncan present Duke Leto with a wounded Fremen and three others assassinated by the Harkonnens.

HAWAT

Assassins! They trapped three of these poor fellows over there beyond the cliffs.

HALLECK

There was a worm. We had to run for it.

You can see the problem: Right off the bat, Herbert is using dialog to discuss action scenes that would be far better to see than to hear about. He’s also introducing concepts left and right (the Bene Gesserit order, the Kwizatz Haderach, sandworms, Fremen, Harkonnens) without giving any context to them.

As in Lynch’s film (and the book itself), we get those lovely inner-thought voiceovers. Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac in Part One) thinks to himself, “We’ve been on this damned planet only two days and already the Harkonnens are at work!” Often these VOs contain psychic conversations between two characters, a technique Villeneuve uses several times in Part Two, as between Feyd (Austin Butler) and Lady Fenring (Léa Seydoux).

The stage-play-esque stretches of barefaced expository dialog continue unabated when Herbert’s script introduces the world of the hedonist Harkonnens, who covet a globe of Arrakis made out of jewels in their Guild Ship decorated with pornographic paintings. Introducing a character not in Villeneuve’s film, they’re shown torturing Wanna with an “agony box” as Feyd essentially videotapes it for Wanna’s husband, Doctor Yueh, so he will do their bidding against House Atreides. She calls them “monsters,” with the Baron articulating, “Of course we are, my dear Wanna. We will do anything to regain our planet and its precious spice … We must rule Dune and the spice. We all need the spice. It lengthens our lives and you Bene Gesserit witches need the spice for your dreams.” Not quite Paddy Chayefsky.

Stilgar arrives at Leto’s Great Hall with a whole contingent (including Mapes, Kynes, and Chani) to extract the water from the dead Fremen using a deathstill. Paul tells his mother, Jessica, that he recognizes Chani from his dreams, prophesying that she will bind him to the Fremen. Stilgar gifts his people’s water to Paul, whom he instantly recognizes as the Mahdi (the messiah of legend, though it is never explained beyond that he may be “the Shortening of the Way”). Duncan joins the Fremen as an olive branch, and Mapes joins the Atreides as a house servant. On her way out of the hall, Chani gives one of those backward glances to Paul that Zendaya does so frequently in the new movies.

After Wanna unexpectedly dies during torture, the Baron plans to use Yueh to kill Paul with a hunter seeker while preserving Yueh’s wife in a “crystallis” (a crystal case). Count Fenring (who will lead the Emperor’s Sardaukar to attack the Atreides disguised in Harkonnen uniforms) arrives at the Guild Ship. Disgusted by Harkonnens and acting only in the Emperor’s interest, he takes the recording of Wanna’s torture to hand off to Yueh.

On Arrakis, the Duke’s remaining soldiers and luggage (including atomics) are delivered, with Gurney playing accompaniment on his Baliset. Herbert was reportedly insistent that the playing of this instrument appear in the film, something which was filmed but cut from Lynch’s film and Villeneuve’s first Dune, but which finally appears in Part Two. Herbert then includes the scene where Duke Leto rescues the carryall crew from the worm, almost beat-for-beat like Lynch’s, though Villeneuve gave the scene more juice by having Paul be nearly killed. One great moment acknowledges the injustice served to the Fremen as two of them (guides) try to board Leto’s ornithopter:

KYNES (VO)

We have no room for them.

PAUL (VO)

There’s a capsule history of the Fremen!

We get a cool scene of Duncan fighting literally back-to-back with Stilgar against a squad of Harkonnen amid the dunes. Stilgar chastises Duncan for using his shield (it attracts the worm), then they capture a Harkonnen who warns them there is a traitor in their midst. The scene where Mapes cuts herself to show fealty to Jessica is there, as is the scene of Paul and Gurney practice-fighting (although sans shields) and the hunter seeker’s attack on Paul.

Because Herbert cannot let much go, we get the banquet scene that has been left out of both theatrical adaptations of Dune because the political machinations it reflects are not essential to the plot (Leto is going to die soon anyway). The banquet winds up eating up nearly 25 pages of the script before it is interrupted by Count Fenring’s attack on the Atreides fortress with the aid of Yueh lowering the shields.

With Its WWE Deal, the Netflix Pivot Is Complete

With Its WWE Deal, the Netflix Pivot Is Complete

A few years ago, Netflix fine-tuned its formula for success: original content, no live TV, no ads, and an unrivaled library of movies and series that it can air across the globe. As recently as last year, it mostly stuck to that plan. But as the streaming wars have evolved, the company has increasingly welcomed other peoples’ movies and shows onto its platform. And after dabbling in livestreaming with a Chris Rock special, a new deal with WWE to stream Monday Night Raw for the next 10 years shows just how thoroughly Netflix has rewritten its own rulebook.

Today, Netflix announced it will be the new home of Raw beginning in 2025. The deal will reportedly cost Netflix $5 billion over its lifetime. Coupled with a recent increase in the number of shows its licensing from sometimes-competitors, and its recent introduction of ad-supported tiers, the move demonstrates that Netflix’s new recipe looks more like: original content, old episodes of Suits, and even sports—or at least, the “sports entertainment” that WWE specializes in.

Netflix’s play here is very on trend. For months now streaming services have been vying to stock up on live sports offerings. Amazon bet big—like $1 billion per year for 11 years big—on the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games. Apple TV+ is all in on Major League Soccer. Hulu, because it shares a parent with ESPN, has been offering sports via Hulu + Live TV. Last fall, Max announced a partnership with Bleacher Report to offer a sports add-on that allows users to watch the games Warner Bros. Discovery offers through its TBS and TNT network (read: NBA and NHL games). This year’s Super Bowl will be streamed on Paramount+. The list is long.

Sports, however, are just part of the about-face Netflix is pulling—and it’s not the only one. In the early years of streaming, Netflix grew its subscriber numbers with help from content it licensed from other studios: The Office, Friends. In response to those studios forming their own streaming services—and to get around global licensing issues—Netflix went full-throttle on originals.

Last year, that tide turned back. Warner Bros. Discovery licensed HBO shows like Insecure and Six Feet Under to Netflix. Disney licensed some shows to the streamer too. And Netflix needed them. Netflix spends roughly $17 billion on content, both original and licensed, per year, but a great deal of the hours spent watching are still spent on licensed properties. Netflix originals have gained ground in recent years, comprising 53 percent of total series viewing time on the platform in 2022, up from 22 percent in 2017. But original content is more of a gamble than a known quantity like Suits, and Netflix-produced movies in particular have had a mixed record of success.

Going into 2024, it looks as though licensing is “in vogue again,” as Warner Bros. Discovery content sales head David Decker told The New York Times. Studios got money for their shows, Netflix got those shows in front of viewers. John Mass, president of investment fund Content Partners, told The Los Angeles Times in December that the streaming wars were over, “and Netflix has come out on top.”

The 46 Best Movies on Netflix This Week

The 46 Best Movies on Netflix This Week

Netflix has plenty of movies to watch, but it’s a real mixed bag. Sometimes finding the right film at the right time can seem like an impossible task. Fret not, we’re here to help. Below is a list of some of our favorites currently on the streaming service—from dramas to comedies to thrillers.

If you decide you’re in more of a TV mood, head over to our collection of the best TV series on Netflix. Want more? Check out our lists of the best sci-fi movies, best movies on Amazon Prime, and the best flicks on Disney+.

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Klaus

Forget the live-action efforts—this BAFTA- and Annie Award-winning masterpiece remains Netflix’s best Christmas movie. When spoiled Jesper Johansson is charged by his father, the powerful Postmaster General, with setting up a new post office in the isolated town of Smeerensburg, it seems an impossible task. With the community divided into two warring clans, the only thing residents are likely to send each other is a frosty glare. Yet after Jesper crosses paths with surly woodsman Klaus, who has spent a lifetime carving toys, he stumbles on a way to potentially bring the town together—and starts a tradition in the process. While Christmas films delving into the origins of Santa are usually saccharine dives into schmaltzy sentimentality, Klaus offers a slightly darker take, from the murky, decrepit setting that evokes the indefinable discomfort of A Series of Unfortunate Events to its version of the jolly gift-giver as an imposing, intimidating figure—all of which, naturally, makes it even more captivating for kids than your typically cheery festive brain mulch. Delivering plenty of heart along with its more mature tone, this almost otherworldly tale is a modern Christmas miracle.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

The long, long, long awaited sequel to 2000’s classic Chicken Run is finally here, allowing studio Aardman Animations to once again prove itself the undisputed master of stop-motion animation. While it’s been nearly a quarter-century for us, Dawn of the Nugget picks up shortly after Ginger (Thandiwe Newton) and Rocky (Zachary Levi) helped their entire flock fly the coop from Tweedy’s Farm. With the arrival of daughter Molly (Bella Ramsey), life on an island bird sanctuary seems perfect—until Molly’s rebellious teen phase sees her escape back to the mainland, only to face a new threat that makes getting baked into a pie look like a good option. While this goes into somewhat obvious territory for a sequel—Ginger and Rocky breaking into a facility to rescue Molly, versus the original’s breakout—this is packed with all the wit and charm that made the original so beloved.

Leo

Leo has spent the last 74 years trapped in an elementary school classroom. Underappreciated but dedicated teacher? Nope: lizard, and long-suffering class pet. Finally deciding to live for himself, Leo sees a weekend in a student’s care as a chance to make a break for freedom—only to discover he might have a penchant for teaching after all. Yes, a talking animal animated film could be cloying pablum, but with Adam Sandler at his most cantankerous voicing the titular tuatara, and with a script that manages to serve up some surprisingly insightful and poignant moments, Leo evolves into that rarest of beasts: a family feature that the whole family really can enjoy.

His House

Fleeing war-torn South Sudan, Bol (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) are now living in a run-down house at the edge of London, harassed by their neighbors even as they try to fit in. The couple are also haunted by the lives they left behind—both figuratively and (possibly) literally, with visions of their late daughter Nyagak, who did not survive the journey, fading in and out of the walls of their dismal new home. The real horror of His House isn’t the strange visions, haunted house, or potential ghosts, though—it’s the bleakness of the lives Bol and Rial are forced into, the hostility and dehumanization of the UK asylum process, the racism both overt and casual, all coupled with the enormous sense of loss they carry with them. Blending the macabre with the mundane, director Remi Weekes delivers a tense, challenging film that will haunt viewers as much as its characters.

The Black Book

Paul Edima (Richard Mofe-Damijo) lives a peaceful life as a church deacon, trying to atone for—or at least forget—his former deeds as a highly trained special agent. Plans to leave his violent and bloody past behind fall apart when his son is framed for a murder and then killed by corrupt police, forcing him to fall back on old skills as he seeks vengeance. Shades of Taken, yes, but it’s director Editi Effiong’s raw energy and fresh takes on familiar action movie formulas that—backed by one of the highest budgets in “Nollywood” history—have this gritty outing topping the most-watched lists as far afield as South Korea. Expand your cinematic horizons and see what the fuss is about.

Jaws

Yes, it infamously misrepresents the threat sharks pose (humans kill orders of magnitude more of them than they do of us), but Jaws is a classic for a reason. The pitch-perfect tension. The phenomenal cast. That nerve-shredding John Williams score! Jaws is definitely of its time in some respects—remember when we were all naïve fools and thought Mayor Vaughn’s (Murray Hamilton) political hubris in the face of a crisis was exaggerated for effect, certain to never play out in reality? But Steven Spielberg’s iconic thriller is also a timeless piece of filmmaking and arguably the film that cemented his standing as one of the greatest directors of the 20th century. If you’ve seen it before, revisit it. If you’ve never experienced it, now’s your chance. Altogether now: You’re gonna need a bigger boat!

Nyad

There’s about 110 miles of mean water between Cuba and Florida, filled with jellyfish, man o’ wars, and sharks and prone to terrible weather. The idea of trying to swim the route solo might raise a few concerns, let alone doing it with as few protective measures as possible—but that’s exactly what long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad did, and at the age of 64, no less. This biopic from directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo) casts Annette Bening as an almost monomaniacally obsessed Nyad, determined to prove to everyone—or maybe just herself—that she can complete the marathon swim that had bested her all her life. Meanwhile, Jodie Foster’s turn as Bonnie Stoll, Nyad’s friend, coach, and ex-partner, provides a sense of stability against the force of nature that the increasingly, almost dangerously determined Nyad becomes. While Nyad is somewhat more fanciful than Vasarhelyi and Chin’s documentary works and glosses over some aspects of the real-life Nyad’s history, it stands as a testament to human determination, friendship, and the power of sheer stubbornness.

Chicken Run

Aardman Animation’s stop-motion masterpiece—the studio’s first feature-length film—became an instant classic when it was released in 2000, and it has stood the test of time. Chicken Run follows a rebellious hen named Ginger as she tries to lead her fellow egg-layers to freedom from an English farm before they’re baked into pies. When a cocky American rooster named Rocky crashes into the yard, seemingly able to fly, Ginger ropes him into helping them escape—but Rocky’s tall tales may doom them all. An anthropomorphic spoof of The Great Escape, Chicken Run’s wry script, sharp comedy, and surprisingly poignant emotional beats make this a winner for kids and adult viewers alike. With the long-awaited sequel, Dawn of the Nugget, due to arrive on Netflix later in 2023, now is the perfect time to (re-)discover this gem.

El Conde

This is a wild one—a Chilean black comedy satire reimagining dictator Augusto Pinochet as a centuries-old vampire who is just done with it and now craves his own final death. Not bizarre enough? As director and co-writer Pablo Larraín’s farce continues, it incorporates Vampire Pinochet’s children, the exorcist nun they hire to kill their father for the inheritance, a Russian vampire butler, and—in a gloriously deranged twist—Margaret Thatcher. Shot in black and white, and almost entirely in Spanish, El Conde sits somewhere in the space between high schlock and high art. It’s absolutely not going to win everyone over, but if you’re craving something different from cinema’s norms, you can’t get much more different than this.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

Ignore its 41-minute runtime and set aside any arguments over whether its brevity “counts” as a movie—this fantastic outing sees Wes Anderson adapt a Roald Dahl work for the first time since 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, and the result is just as brilliant. Rather than stop-motion, as with Mr. Fox, this is a live-action affair headlined by a top tier performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous Henry Sugar, a bored rich man who gains a strange power and ultimately uses it to better the world. With a broader cast including Dev Patel, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Kingsley, and shot with all of Anderson’s trademark aesthetic sensibilities, this really is a wonderful story. And, if you’re still bothered by the short run time, take solace in the fact that this forms a tetraptych with The Rat Catcher, The Swan, and Poison; 15-minute shorts with same cast, directed by Anderson, and all adapting other Dahl tales in his signature style.

Apostle

After bringing Indonesian martial arts to the wider world with his The Raid duology, director Gareth Evans switches genre to horror with this disturbing period piece set on a remote Welsh island in the early 1900s. Dan Stevens plays Thomas Richardson, a faithless missionary who infiltrates a cult on the island to rescue his kidnapped sister. Entwined in the lives and strange practices of the cultists and their firebrand leader, Malcolm Howe (Michael Sheen), Thomas soon realizes the god being worshipped isn’t the one from his own lost scripture. Yes, it’s all a bit Wicker Man in places, but Apostle balances its gore and scares with slow-burn tension and a terror borne of its isolated setting that will have you thinking twice before you next venture into the countryside.

You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah

We’re glossing over the “nepo baby” factor here—producer Adam Sandler takes a backseat supporting actor role here, allowing his two real-life daughters the spotlight—as this earns a pass by being a great teen comedy on its own merits. Stacy Friedman (Sunny Sandler) is obsessing over her upcoming bat mitzvah, insisting that it has to be perfect to set the course for the rest of her life, while older sister Ronnie (Sadie Sandler) provides backup in trying to convince their parents to throw a lavish party. Unfortunately, Stacy’s current life is far from perfect, chasing both acceptance from the popular kids at school and the affections of clueless Andy (Dylan Hoffman), who barely notices her. After an attempt to impress him leads to social disaster, Stacy is enraged when BFF Lydia (Samantha Lorraine) dates him instead, and soon everyone’s lives are spiraling out of control in the kind of deranged, cruel ways only teenagers can manage. Director Sammi Cohen perfectly captures the heightened melodrama that paints everyone’s teen years, while delivering emotional moments at all the right points.

Eldorado: Everything The Nazis Hate

Centered on the eponymous Berlin nightclub, this documentary explores the lives of LGBTQ+ people during the interwar years, from the roaring 1920s through the rise of the Nazis and into the horrors of World War II. With a blend of archival footage, recreations, and first-person accounts, director Benjamin Cantu paints a picture of gleeful decadence, the Eldorado as an almost hallowed ground where performers and patrons alike experimented with gender expression and were free to openly display their sexuality. It’s an ode to what was lost, but with an eye on the bizarre contradictions of the age, where openly gay club-goers would wear their own Nazi uniforms as the years went by. Everything the Nazis Hate is emotionally challenging viewing in places, but it serves up an important slice of queer history that many will be completely unaware of.

The Pale Blue Eye

Based on the novel of the same name by Louis Bayard, this historical mystery is set in 1890, with retired detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) called in to investigate the death and mutilation of a cadet at West Point Military Academy. Needing an insider’s perspective, Landor enlists the help of another cadet: a macabre young fellow named Edgar Allan Poe (an exquisitely creepy Harry Melling). As their inquiries continue, the unlikely pair uncover links to strange rituals and secret societies, while the body count rises. Beautifully gothic and with plenty of twists, The Pale Blue Eye is bolstered by a fantastic ensemble including Gillian Anderson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Toby Jones, and Timothy Spall, all elevating what could be a silly genre mashup (“Young Poe: The Detective Years,” anyone?) into a captivating, spooky affair.

The Fear Street Trilogy

Spread over three time periods—1994, 1978, and 1666—the Fear Street trilogy is one of the most clever horror releases in Netflix’s catalog. The first installment introduces viewers to the cursed town of Shadyside, where a string of bloody killings has labeled it the murder capital of America. Soon, a group of genre-typical teens are drawn into a horrific legacy dating back to the 17th century, dodging serial killers, summer camp slayings, and vengeful witches along the way. The trilogy, originally released over the course of three weeks, emphasizing its connected nature, transcends its origins as a series of teen-lit novels by Goosebumps creator R. L. Stine, with lashings of gore and a tone drawing on ’80s slasher flicks that delivers some genuine scares over the three films. Director Leigh Janiak masterfully walks a tightrope between lampooning and paying homage to horror classics—it’s impossible to miss contrasts to the likes of Scream, Halloween, and even Stranger Things—but it’s all done with such love for the form that Fear Street has established itself as a Halloween staple. It’s a bit too self-aware in places, but definitely one for the shouldn’t-be-as-good-as-it-is pile.

Oxygen

A woman wakes up in a cryonics cell after a few weeks in suspended animation. She doesn’t remember her name, age, or past except for a few disturbing flashbacks. But one thing she knows—courtesy of an annoying talking AI—is that she has just over an hour before she runs out of oxygen. Can she get out of the coffin-shaped chamber quickly enough? Oxygen is as claustrophobic a thriller as it gets, and manages to find that rare sweet spot of being static and unnerving at once. The actors’ strong performances help the film win the day, despite a ludicrously far-fetched ending.

Marry My Dead Body

Wu Ming-han (Greg Hsu) is not a great guy. A homophobic police officer, his life—and prejudices—are changed when he picks up an unassuming red envelope while investigating a case. Now bound under “ghost marriage” customs to Mao Mao (Austin Lin), a gay man who died under mysterious circumstances, Wu has to solve his “husband’s” death before he can get on with his life. Directed by Cheng Wei-hao, better known for his thrillers and horror movies, Marry My Dead Body sees the Taiwanese director bring his supernatural stylings to this ghostly absurdist comedy for a film that transcends borders.

Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop

Cherry struggles with speaking to other people, preferring to share his feelings through haiku. Smile is a vlogger who always wears a mask, afraid to reveal her braces to the world. Both young people are terrible at communicating, until a chaotic meeting at a mall draws them together, and they begin to bring each other out of their shells. This feature directorial debut from Kyōhei Ishiguro (Your Lie in April) is a charming slice-of-life romcom that transcends its teen romance trappings. Its gorgeous animation, stunning color palette, and eye-catching pop art aesthetic are further bolstered by a genius soundtrack that blends Cherry’s haiku with hip hop influences. True to its title, Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop is an effervescent, joyful affair that will bring a smile to the face of even the most jaded viewer.

Someone Great

A breakup movie that is really about the joy of female friendship and the pain of growing old, Someone Great is powered by three great performances from Gina Rodriguez, Brittany Snow, and DeWanda Wise. Rodriguez stars as Jenny, a journalist who simultaneously lands her dream job in San Francisco and breaks up with her boyfriend of nine years. To lift her out of her gloom, Jenny enlists her two best friends for one last adventure in New York City. Although the film sets itself up as a series of comic capers (like Superbad or Dazed and Confused), it really finds its heart in the relationship between the three leads and their mutual support as they attempt to muddle through life—it’s like picking up with the cast of Booksmart and finding out they’ve really gotten into drugs in the intervening 13 years.

Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead

How much does Akira Tendo (Eiji Akaso) hate his soul-crushing, meaningless, abusive office job? Put it this way: He considers the zombie apocalypse an improvement. Freed from the shackles of workaday monotony, Akira and a handful of fellow survivors are now free to do everything they ever wanted—so long as they can avoid becoming undead flesh-eaters themselves. Adapted from the manga by Haro Aso (creator of Alice in Borderland) and Kotaro Takata, this raucous zom-com is packed with gloriously stupid moments—zombie shark fight!—but with a central theme of learning how to truly live for yourself, it has plenty of heart too.

They Cloned Tyrone

Drug dealer Fontaine (John Boyega) got shot to death last night. So why has he just woken up in bed as if nothing happened? That existential question leads Fontaine and two unlikely allies—prostitute Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris) and pimp Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx)—to uncovering a vast conspiracy centered on a Black-majority town called The Glen, where people are kept mollified by hypnotic rap music, dumbed down with drug-laced fried chicken and grape juice, and preached into obedience at church. But who’s using the town as a petri dish, and why is there a cloning lab buried underground? This lethally sharp satire from writer and debut director Juel Taylor masterfully blends genres, from the use of visual motifs and dated clichés from 1970s Blaxploitation cinema to its frequent steps into sci-fi territory and laugh-out-loud comedy. But it’s the powerhouse performances from its central cast that mark this as one to watch.

The Raid

Rama (Iko Uwais) is a rookie officer in Indonesia’s Brimob—think SWAT—and he’s about to have a very bad day. As part of a 20-man squad set to raid an apartment building controlled by criminal kingpin Tama (Ray Sahetapy), Rama and his colleagues have to fight through floor after floor—but Tama controls the tower’s power and has a legion of hardened criminals at his disposal, making every step a fierce struggle. With its groundbreaking (not to mention bone-breaking) fight choreography, stunning stunt work, and phenomenal cinematography, director Gareth Evans’ ferocious action epic set a new standard for the genre back in 2011. More than a decade later, it’s as fresh and exciting as ever—catch it before the remake.

Matilda the Musical

The classic family fable returns to the screen, via the Broadway and West End stages, in this musical update. You know the story—precocious schoolgirl Matilda (Alisha Weir) uses her newfound telekinetic powers to outwit the sadistic school principal Agatha Trunchbull (a deliciously wicked Emma Thompson) with only the kindhearted Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch) on her side—but here it’s bolstered with toe-tapping numbers from Tim Minchin and some phenomenal choreography. With an appropriately dark sense of humor throughout, channeling the mischievous spirit of the source material, this new Matilda will charm a whole new generation of delinquents.

Nimona

Shapeshifter Nimona can become anything she wants, a gift that causes people to fear and shun her. If society is going to treat her like a villain, she’s going to be one, so she decides to become the sidekick of the hated black knight, Ballister Blackheart. Unfortunately for the aspiring menace, Blackheart isn’t quite the monster he’s made out to be, and he instead tries to rein in Nimona’s more murderous tendencies as he seeks to clear his name of a crime he didn’t commit—and face down his old friend Ambrosius Goldenloin in the process. Adapted from N. D. Stevenson’s groundbreaking graphic novel, Nimona is more than just another fanciful fantasy—it’s a tale of outsiders and exiles, people trying to do right even when their community rejects them, and the joy of finding their own little band along the way. After an almost decade-long journey to the screen, this dazzlingly animated movie has become an instant classic.

Pray Away

An exploration of the origins of the “conversion therapy” movement—a harmful and medically denounced process through which religious groups try to “cure” homosexuality—may not make for light entertainment, but this searing look at the practice and its roots is darkly compelling. Director Kristine Stolakis speaks with key founders of the movement and survivors of the often brutal treatments that arose over nearly half a century and offers insight into both. Pray Away is a difficult watch at times—especially for LGBTQ+ viewers—but it shines an important light on the movement and the damage it causes. A bold debut for Stolakis.

The Boys in the Band

Set in New York City in 1968, The Boys in the Band is a snapshot of gay life a year before Stonewall brought LGBTQ+ rights to mainstream attention. When Michael (Jim Parsons, fresh from The Big Bang Theory) hosts a birthday party for his best frenemy Harold (Zachary Quinto), he’s expecting a night of drinks, dancing, and gossip with their inner circle—until Alan, Michael’s straight friend from college, turns up, desperate to share something. As the night wears on, personalities clash, tempers fray, and secrets threaten to come to the surface in director Joe Mantello’s tense character study. Adapted for the screen by Mart Crowley, author of the original stage play, this period piece manages to be as poignant an exploration of queer relationships and identities as ever.

The Trial of the Chicago 7

If you’re not an American boomer, the juxtaposition of the city of Chicago and the number 7 might mean little to you, but the formula stands for one of the causes célèbres of the ’60s. As anti-war, civil rights, and hippie activists involved in the protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, the Seven (theoretically eight) were picked as convenient scapegoats after the unrest was crushed at the behest of Mayor Richard Daley. The trial happened at the very end of Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency—with the US reeling from the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr and Vietnam still devouring thousands of young people—and it came to encapsulate the tensions tearing the country’s social fabric asunder. Director Aaron Sorkin takes a lot of liberties with historical facts (and leaves out some hilarious bits, like poet Allen Ginsberg’s testimony, which would have made for a showstopper), but The Trial of the Chicago 7 largely succeeds in conveying the sense of generational score-settling the court battle came to signify.

Kill Boksoon

To her friends, Gil Bok-soon (Jeon Do-yeon) is a successful events executive and dedicated single mother to her daughter, Jae-yeong (Kim Si-a). In reality, she’s the star performer at MK Ent—an assassination bureau, where her almost superhuman ability to predict every step in a critical situation has earned her a 100 percent success rate and killer reputation. The only problem: She’s considering retiring at the end of her contract, a decision that opens her to threats from disgruntled enemies and ambitious colleagues alike. While its title and premise not-so-subtly evoke Tarantino’s Kill Bill, director Byun Sung-hyun takes this Korean action epic to giddy heights with some of the most impressive fights committed to screen since, well, Kill Bill.

Okja

Before winning Oscars and cementing his name in the Hollywood firmament for Parasite, Bong Joon-ho had something of a sideline in creature features. While 2006’s The Host remains worth hunting down, this 2017 saga of genetic engineering and animal exploitation may be the director’s best foray into the genre. After helping raise an enhanced “super pig” in rural South Korea, young Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) is distraught when the American company behind its creation, Mirando, comes to take it back. Falling in with a group of Animal Liberation Front activists, Mija travels to Mirando’s headquarters in New York in a desperate effort to rescue her unlikely animal friend. Darkly satirical in places, Okja manages to explore themes of animal exploitation and environmental conservation without feeling preachy.

Cargo

In a world already ravaged by a zombie-like plague, Andy Rose (Martin Freeman) only wants to keep his family safe, sticking to Australia’s rural back roads to avoid infection. After his wife is tragically bitten, and infects him in turn, Andy is desperate to find a safe haven for his infant daughter, Rosie. With a mere 48 hours until he succumbs himself, Andy finds an ally in Thoomi (Simone Landers), an Aboriginal girl looking to protect her own rabid father. But with threats from paranoid survivalists and Aboriginal communities hunting the infected, it may already be too late. A unique twist on the zombie apocalypse, Cargo abandons the familiar urban landscapes of the genre for the breathtaking wilds of Australia and offers a slower, character-led approach to the end of the world.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

The modern master of the macabre brings the wooden would-be boy to life like never before in this exquisitely animated take on Pinocchio. In a stop-motion masterpiece that hews closer to the original 1880s tale by Carlo Collodi than the sanitized Disney version, Guillermo del Toro adds his own signature touch and compelling twists to the classic story that make it darkly enchanting—expect a Blue Fairy closer to a biblically accurate many-eyed angel and a Terrible Dogfish more like a kaiju. It’s the decision to transplant the tale to World War II that’s most affecting though. Cast against the rise of fascism, with Gepetto mourning the loss of his son, the film is packed with complex themes of mortality and morality that will haunt audiences long after the credits roll. If that doesn’t sell you, perhaps the fact that it won Best Animated Feature at the 2023 Academy Awards will.

The Land of Steady Habits

Anders Hill (Ben Mendelsohn) thought he wanted a change from his stifling life in a wealthy suburb of Connecticut. Now rashly divorced from Helene (Edie Falco), the woman he still loves; regretting his decision to retire early; and struggling with his adult son Preston’s (Thomas Mann) battles with drug addiction, Anders is spiraling. The Land of Steady Habits could be another maudlin look at a rich man’s midlife crisis, but writer and director Nicole Holofcener—adapting Ted Thompson’s novel of the same name—keeps the lead on the hook for his own downfall while infusing Anders’ journey with dark humor and a strange warmth.

Call Me Chihiro

An idyllic slice-of-life movie with a twist, Call Me Chihiro follows a former sex worker—the eponymous Chihiro, played by Kasumi Arimura—after she moves to a seaside town to work in a bento restaurant. This isn’t a tale of a woman on the run or trying to escape her past—Chihiro is refreshingly forthright and unapologetic, and her warmth and openness soon begin to change the lives of her neighbors. Directed by Rikiya Imaizumi, this is an intimate, heartfelt character drama that alternates between moments of aching loneliness and sheer joy, packed with emotional beats that remind viewers of the importance of even the smallest connections.

The Sea Beast

It’s easy to imagine that the elevator pitch for The Sea Beast was “Moby Dick meets How to Train Your Dragon”—and who wouldn’t be compelled by that? Set in a fantasy world where oceanic leviathans terrorize humanity, those who hunt down the giant monsters are lauded as heroes. Jacob Holland (voiced by Karl Urban) is one such hero, adopted son of the legendary Captain Crowe and well on the way to building his own legacy as a monster hunter—a journey disrupted by stowaway Maisie Brumble (Zaris-Angel Hator), who has her own ambitions to take on the sea beasts. However, after an attempt to destroy the colossal Red Bluster goes disastrously wrong, Jacob and Maisie are stranded on an island filled with the creatures, and they find that the monsters may not be quite so monstrous after all. A rollicking sea-bound adventure directed by Chris Williams—of Big Hero 6 and Moana fame—it secured its standing as one of Netflix’s finest movies with a nomination for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars.

Troll

This gleefully entertaining giant-monster movie eschews tearing up the likes of New York or Tokyo in favor of director Roar Uthaug’s (Tomb Raider 2018) native Norway, with a titanic troll stomping its way toward Oslo after being roused by a drilling operation. The plot and characters will be familiar to any fan of kaiju cinema—Ine Marie Wilmann heads up the cast as Nora Tidemann, the academic with a curiously specific skill set who is called in to advise on the crisis, while Kim Falck fits neatly into the role of Andreas Isaksan, the government adviser paired with her, and Gard B. Eidsvold serves as Tobias Tidemann, the former professor chased out of academia for his crazy theories about trolls. But the striking Nordic visuals and the titular menace’s ability to blend in with the landscape allow for some impressively original twists along the way. Although Troll could have easily descended into parody, Uthaug steers clear of smug self-awareness and instead delivers one of the most original takes on the genre in years.

White Noise

The latest from director Noah Baumbach has him reteaming with his Marriage Story lead Adam Driver for another quirky look at disintegrating families and interpersonal angst—albeit with an apocalyptic twist. Driver stars as Jack Gladney, a college professor faking his way through a subject he’s unable to teach and struggling to work out family life with his fourth wife, Babette (Greta Gerwig), and their four kids from previous relationships. Neurotic familial squabbles prove the least of their worries when an “airborne toxic event” hits their town, sending everyone scrambling for cover with exponentially disastrous results. While the contemporary Covid-19 parallels are none too subtle, keeping the 1980s setting of Don DeLillo’s original novel proves an inspired choice on Baumbach’s part, one that accentuates the film’s darkly absurd comedy. By setting a rush for survival amidst big hair and materialist excess, White Noise serves up some authentic moments of human drama amid the chaos.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Daniel Craig reprises his role as detective Benoit Blanc in this brilliant follow-up to 2019’s phenomenal whodunnit, Knives Out. Writer-director Rian Johnson crafts a fiendishly sharp new case for “the Last of the Gentlemen Sleuths,” taking Blanc to a Greek island getaway for a reclusive tech billionaire and his collection of friends and hangers-on, where a planned murder mystery weekend takes a deadly turn. While totally accessible for newcomers, fans of the first film will also be rewarded with some deeper character development for Blanc, a role that’s shaping up to be as iconic for Craig as 007. As cleverly written and meticulously constructed as its predecessor, and featuring the kind of all-star cast—Edward Norton! Janelle Monáe! Kathryn Hahn! Leslie Odom Jr.! Jessica Henwick! Madelyn Cline! Kate Hudson! Dave Bautista!—that cinema dreams are made of, Glass Onion might be the best thing Netflix has dropped all year.

The Wonder

Florence Pugh dazzles in this not-quite-horror film from Oscar-winning director Sebastián Lelio. Set in 1862, English nurse Lib Wright (Pugh) is sent to Ireland to observe Anna O’Donnell, a girl who claims to have not eaten in four months, subsisting instead on “manna from heaven.” Still grieving the loss of her own child, Lib is torn between investigating the medical impossibility and growing concern for Anna herself. Amid obstacles in the form of Anna’s deeply religious family and a local community that distrusts her, Lib’s watch descends into a tense, terrifying experience. Based on a book of the same name by Emma Donoghue, The Wonder is a beautiful yet bleakly shot period piece that explores the all-too-mortal horrors that unquestioning religious fervor and family secrets can wreak.

Drifting Home

Kosuke and Natsume are childhood friends whose relationship has grown strained as they approach their teenage years. When the apartment complex where they first met is scheduled for demolition, they sneak in one last time, seeking emotional closure. Instead, they and the friends who joined them are trapped by torrential rain. After the mysterious storm passes, the world is changed, with the entire building floating on an ethereal sea, and a new child in their midst.

Adolescent feelings and magical realism collide in this sumptuously animated movie from the makers of A Whisker Away (also available on Netflix and well worth your time). Director Hiroyasa Ishida (Penguin Highway) may not be up there with the likes of Hayao Miyazaki in terms of name recognition in the West, but Drifting Home should put him on your radar.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Hopped up on nationalism and dreams of battlefield glory, Paul Bäumer (Felix Kammerer) is an eager young recruit for the German army during the last year of the First World War. His romantic view of the conflict is shattered on his first night in the cold trenches, surrounded by death and disaster, and dealt a tragic blow with the meaningless loss of a dear friend. It’s all downhill from there in this magnificently crafted adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s groundbreaking novel, one of the most important pieces of anti-war literature of the 20th century. Paul’s journey is one of naivete crushed by the relentless machinery of war and state and an awakening to the way soldiers are chewed up in the name of politicians and generals. Director Edward Berger’s take on the material is the first to be filmed in German, which adds a layer of authenticity to a blistering, heart-rending cinematic effort that drives home the horror and inhumanity of war. Often bleak, it is an undeniably brilliant piece of filmmaking.

Enola Holmes 2

The original Enola Holmes (2020) proved a surprisingly enjoyable twist on the world’s most famous detective, focusing instead on his overlooked sister, Enola. No surprise, then, that this follow-up is just as exciting a romp through Victorian London. Despite having proved her skills in the first film, Enola struggles to establish her own detective credentials until a missing-person report leads her to a case that has stumped even Sherlock and pushes her into the path of his archnemesis, Moriarty. Snappy action, clever twists, and bristling sibling rivalry from Stranger Things‘ Millie Bobby Brown and The Witcher‘s Henry Cavill as the Holmes siblings make for fun, family-friendly viewing. It even crams in a touch of vague historical accuracy by making the 1888 match girls’ strike a key part of Enola’s latest adventure.

RRR

One of India’s biggest films of all time, RRR (or Rise, Roar, Revolt) redefines the notion of cinematic spectacle. Set in 1920, the historical epic follows real-life Indian revolutionaries Alluri Sitrama Raju (Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao Jr.) but fictionalizes their lives and actions. Although they come from very different walks of life, their similarities draw them together as they face down sadistic governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson) and his cruel wife, Catherine (Alison Doody). No mere period fluff, RRR is a bold, exciting, and often explosive piece of filmmaking that elevates its heroes to near-mythological status. Director S. S. Rajamouli deploys brilliantly shot action scenes—and an exquisitely choreographed dance number—that grab viewers’ attention and refuse to let go. Whether you’re a longtime fan of Indian cinema or just looking for an action flick beyond the Hollywood norm, RRR is not to be missed.

I Lost My Body

An award winner at Cannes in 2019, this tale of burgeoning young love, obsession, and autonomous body parts is every bit as weird as you might expect for a French adult animated film. Director Jérémy Clapin charts the life of Naoufel, a Moroccan immigrant in modern-day France who falls for the distant Gabrielle, and Naoufel’s severed hand, which makes its way across the city to try to reconnect. With intersecting timelines and complex discussions about fate, I Lost My Body is often mind-bending yet always captivating, and Clapin employs brilliantly detailed animation and phenomenal color choices throughout. Worth watching in both the original French and the solid English dub featuring Dev Patel and Alia Shawkat, this one dares you to make sense of it all.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Aspiring filmmaker Katie Mitchell (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) has a strained relationship with her technophobic father Rick (Danny McBride)—not helped by his accidentally destroying her laptop right as she’s about to begin film school in California. In an effort to salvage their relationship, Rick decides to take the entire Mitchell family on a cross-country road trip to see Katie off. Unfortunately, this road trip coincides with a robot uprising that the Mitchells escape only by chance, leaving the fate of the world in their hands. Beautifully animated and brilliantly written, The Mitchells vs. the Machines takes a slightly more mature approach to family dynamics than many of its genre-mates, with the college-age Katie searching for her own identity while addressing genuine grievances with her father, but it effortlessly balances the more serious elements with exquisite action and genuinely funny comedy. Robbed of a full cinematic release by Covid-19, it now shines as one of Netflix’s best films.

Don’t Look Up

Frustrated by the world’s collective inaction on existential threats like climate change? Maybe don’t watch Don’t Look Up, director Adam McKay’s satirical black comedy. When two low-level astronomers discover a planet-killing comet on a collision course with Earth, they try to warn the authorities—only to be met with a collective “meh.” Matters only get worse when they attempt to leak the news themselves and have to navigate vapid TV hosts, celebrities looking for a signature cause, and an indifferent public. A bleakly funny indictment of our times, bolstered by a star-studded cast fronted by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up is, somewhat depressingly, one of the best portraits of humanity since Idiocracy.

Dolemite Is My Name

After the credits roll on Dolemite Is My Name, we guarantee you’ll be 10,000 times more likely to go out and stage a horndog nude photo shoot for your next cult comedy record. The only person having anywhere near as much fun as Eddie Murphy, playing real-life club comedian/singer Rudy Ray Moore, is Wesley Snipes, goofing around as the actor-director D’Urvill Martin. With the help of a madcap crew, they make a truly terrible 1975 Blaxploitation kung fu movie based on Moore’s pimp alter ego, Dolemite. A brash showbiz movie with a heart of gold, it has shades of The Disaster Artist and music legend biopics. Yet with the cast flexing in Ruth Carter’s glorious costumes—the suits!—and a couple of triumphant sex and shoot-out scenes, it’s a wild ride, whether you know the original story or not.

The SAG Deal Sends a Clear Message About AI and Workers

The SAG Deal Sends a Clear Message About AI and Workers

On Monday, the leadership of the Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists held a members-only webinar to discuss the contract the union tentatively agreed upon last week with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. If ratified, the contract will officially end the longest labor strike in the guild’s history.

For many in the industry, artificial intelligence was one of the strike’s most contentious, fear-inducing components. Over the weekend, SAG released details of its agreed AI terms, an expansive set of protections that require consent and compensation for all actors, regardless of status. With this agreement, SAG has gone substantially further than the Directors Guild of America or the Writers Guild of America, who preceded the group in coming to terms with the AMPTP. This isn’t to say that SAG succeeded where the other unions failed but that actors face more of an immediate, existential threat from machine-learning advances and other computer-generated technologies.

The SAG deal is similar to the DGA and WGA deals in that it demands protections for any instance where machine-learning tools are used to manipulate or exploit their work. All three unions have claimed their AI agreements are “historic” and “protective,” but whether one agrees with that or not, these deals function as important guideposts. AI doesn’t just posit a threat to writers and actors—it has ramifications for workers in all fields, creative or otherwise.

For those looking to Hollywood’s labor struggles as a blueprint for how to deal with AI in their own disputes, it’s important that these deals have the right protections, so I understand those who have questioned them or pushed them to be more stringent. I’m among them. But there is a point at which we are pushing for things that cannot be accomplished in this round of negotiations and may not need to be pushed for at all.

To better understand what the public generally calls AI and its perceived threat, I spent months during the strike meeting with many of the leading engineers and tech experts in machine-learning and legal scholars in both Big Tech and copyright law.

The essence of what I learned confirmed three key points: The first is that the gravest threats are not what we hear most spoken about in the news—most of the people whom machine-learning tools will negatively impact aren’t the privileged but low- and working-class laborers and marginalized and minority groups, due to the inherent biases within the technology. The second point is that the studios are as threatened by the rise and unregulated power of Big Tech as the creative workforce, something I wrote about in detail earlier in the strike here and that WIRED’s Angela Watercutter astutely expanded upon here.

The 56 Best Movies on Disney+ Right Now

The 56 Best Movies on Disney+ Right Now

In the game known as the streaming wars, Disney+ came out swinging, bringing with it a massive library of movies and TV shows—with new ones being added all the time. Watched everything on Netflix? Disney+ has a seemingly endless selection of Marvel movies and plenty of Star Wars and Pixar fare, too. Problem is, there’s so much stuff, it’s hard to know where to begin. WIRED is here to help. Below are our picks for the best films on Disney+ right now.

For more viewing ideas, try our guides to the best films on Netflix, the best films on Amazon Prime, and the best shows on Apple TV+.

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Haunted Mansion

Is Justin Simien’s Haunted Mansion going to forever change the landscape of cinema as we know it? No. Will it stop people from wondering what Guillermo del Toro—who was initially attached to write, direct, and produce the picture when it was first announced back in 2010—would have done with a theme park ride as his source material? Again, no. But if you’ve exhausted your Tim Burton collection, or are looking for something new to watch with the whole family, Haunted Mansion makes for a fun enough diversion. Mostly because of its stacked cast, which includes LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, and Danny DeVito—and that’s just for starters.

The Little Mermaid

Does the live-action version of The Little Mermaid improve upon the beloved 1989 animated classic? Of course not. But Disney is on a tear when it comes to reimagining the movies you loved as a kid, and this is one of the Mouse House’s better efforts. Oscar nominee Rob Marshall (Chicago, Mary Poppins Returns, Into the Woods) is behind the camera for this tale of a young mermaid who longs to be (sing it with us) “part of your world.” Yet it’s Halle Bailey, delivering a powerhouse performance as Ariel, who truly makes The Little Mermaid worth watching.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Whether you think of Henry Selick’s imaginative stop-motion adventure as a Halloween film or a Christmas movie doesn’t really matter, as there’s never a bad time to add The Nightmare Before Christmas to your watch (or watch-again) list. When the mischief-makers in Halloweentown, including pumpkin king Jack Skellington, discover the magic of Christmas, they decide to kidnap Santa Claus and claim both holidays for themselves. Even in today’s CGI-soaked world, the artistry behind The Nightmare Before Christmas remains painfully impressive—and the macabre yet kid-friendly tone makes it a fun watch for the entire family.

Cinderella

In case you don’t know the story: After Cinderella loses her beloved mother, her father marries a nasty woman with two equally nasty daughters. While they spend their days tormenting the kind-hearted Cinderella, Prince Charming, the most eligible bachelor in all the land, only has eyes for her. Nearly 75 years after its original release, Cinderella remains a Disney classic for a reason. Now it’s back with an impressive 4K restoration that has been several years in the making.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

While no one expected James Gunn’s (presumed) MCU swan song to top the giddiness of his first entry in the series, few people expected it to be so damn depressing either. In addition to giving us Rocket Raccoon’s gut-wrenching backstory, which could have easily been set to Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel,” the third Guardians film is also one of the only Marvel movies to delve into the psychological effects Thanos’ Snap had on the universe. Enjoy!

Avatar: The Way of Water

One week before Avatar hit theaters (for the first time) in late 2009, James Cameron announced his intention to turn the movie into a full-on franchise. But the director took his sweet time in following through. Avatar: The Way of Water—which checks in on blue lovebirds Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), now married with children—was released in late 2022, a full 13 years after the original made its debut. But Cameron smartly bought himself some time by setting the film 16 years after the events of Avatar. And while the critical reviews were mixed, it still ended up becoming the third-highest-grossing movie of all time, proving yet again that Cameron has some sort of Midas touch.

The Incredible Hulk

To Marvel fans, Mark Ruffalo is the only Bruce Banner. But that’s only after Eric Bana tried on the supersized superhero’s tiny purple pants in 2003’s Hulk—and then passed them on to Edward Norton for this 2008 flick, which had the misfortune of hitting theaters just one month after Iron Man. The MCU has always had a messy timeline, but audiences shouldn’t be too quick to write this movie off, particularly those looking to kick back with a solid summer popcorn flick. Norton may lack Ruffalo’s effortless charm, but he’s got the Doc Green part of the character down. While the movie has largely (and wrongly) been forgotten, it’s making headlines once again, both because it has finally arrived on Disney+ and because Liv Tyler will find her way back into (the new) Bruce’s arms when she reprises her role as love interest Betty Ross in 2024’s Captain America: Brave New World.

The Skeleton Dance

Fans of classic animation got some stellar news earlier this year when Disney announced it would be adding more than two dozen freshly restored old shorts to the Disney+ library. One of the most exciting titles among them is The Skeleton Dance, which revolutionized cartoon culture in 1929. Walt Disney himself wrote, directed, and produced this macabre comedy in which a group of resurrected skeletons rise from their graves and, yep, dance. This is actually much funnier and/or more impressive than it sounds.

Stan Lee

Easily the most recognizable name in comics, Stan Lee has had an impact on the medium—and on pop culture broadly—that simply can’t be overstated. Director David Gelb’s documentary about “The Man” delves into not only his legacy, but also his history. Tracing the comics maestro’s life from his early years in New York City to his work cocreating iconic characters like Spider-Man and Black Panther to his time as everyone’s favorite Marvel movie cameo, Stan Lee is essential viewing for any fan.

Flamin’ Hot

Also available on Hulu, Flamin’ Hot tells the story of Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia), the Frito-Lay janitor who brought Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to the masses. Directed by Eva Longoria, the movie might come off as a little cheesy at times, but its comedy and heart transform it into more than just a story about a beloved snack.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

On June 30, audiences finally got to see Harrison Ford throw on his fedora and pull out his bullwhip for another last go at playing Indiana Jones. After you’ve seen The Dial of Destiny, go back and witness Indy’s origins in Steven Spielberg’s classic 1980s adventure film, which sprang partly from the mind of George Lucas. The film, set in 1936, sees a seemingly quiet archaeology professor turned adventurer duking it out with Nazis in an attempt to recover the Ark of the Covenant. Indy’s follow-up adventures—The Temple of Doom (1984), The Last Crusade (1989), and (if you must) The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)—are all available too.

Spider-Man

While Disney+ is known as a Marvel lover’s paradise, the streamer has been strangely devoid of live-action Spidey content (short of the Avengers movies). Fortunately, that has now changed as Tom Holland’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, both of Andrew Garfield’s The Amazing Spider-Man films, and all three of Tobey Maguire’s turns as the original web-slinger are now available. While Sam Raimi’s movies predate the official MCU, the famed director really set the stage for what that future universe would look like, with its mix of solid storytelling, genuine laughs, and impressive visuals. Maguire is perfectly cast as the awkwardly charming Peter Parker, who—having just discovered his superhero powers—is learning to harness them.

Venom

Venom may not have been a hit with critics, but WIRED senior editor Angela Watercutter nailed exactly what the movie was when she called it “a bad movie with great cult-movie potential.” While it rivals Doctor Strange for its stacked cast of serious talent—Tom Hardy in the lead, with Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed costarring, plus Zombieland’s Reuben Fleischer as director—the end result was, well, a bit of a jumbled mess. Nonetheless, it somehow manages to be compelling, even if you just turn it on to watch Hardy mumble, eat Tater Tots, and almost literally chew scenery for 112 minutes.  

The Original Star Wars Trilogy

Naturally, Star Wars is one of the big attractions on Disney+. And it goes without saying, or at least it should, that the films that comprise the original trilogy are the best of the bunch—and the only Star Wars movies you should watch if you’re opting not to binge all dozen or so features. The caveat for pickier fans is that these are the versions that have been messed with by George Lucas post-release. Some things, like the improved visuals in and around Cloud City, are thoughtful additions, but others are more controversial.

The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy

More than 20 years after Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope (aka simply Star Wars) helped to define the Hollywood blockbuster, George Lucas returned to the space opera well with an all-new trilogy for an all-new generation of moviegoers. It went about as well as you’d expect. We won’t pretend that The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), and/or Revenge of the Sith (2005) have even an ounce of the heart, humor, or heroism of the original films. But they’ve become essential pop culture viewing, and a rite of passage for sci-fi fans, if only to get what all the Jar Jar Binks hate is about.

The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy

When Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012, it was essentially George Lucas handing over the keys to the Millennium Falcon. While fans were rightly skeptical about whether the Mouse House would be able—or even want—to recapture the slightly countercultural environment in which the series was originally created, one hopeful thought united them all: Whatever Disney concocted could not be worse than the Prequel Trilogy. And they were right. By giving the reins to J.J. Abrams (The Force Awakens), Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi), then Abrams once again (The Rise of Skywalker), the series became more of a love letter to the original films and the generations of filmmakers—and fans—they inspired. Happily, actors Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver proved worthy successors to the smugglers, scavengers, Jedi masters, and Sith Lords who preceded them.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

As WIRED senior writer Jason Parham wrote in his review of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, this movie is haunted by the absence of Chadwick Boseman, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s original King T’Challa who died following a battle with colon cancer in 2020. To that end, writer-director Ryan Coogler had to make a much different kind of superhero film, one that addressed the loss of its main character while also pushing Marvel’s cinematic storyline forward into its next phase. “It’s rare for MCU films to channel the turbulence of grief with such unflinching focus,” Parham wrote. “Coogler has equipped his sequel with a changed vocabulary: It speaks equally from a place of loss as it does triumph. Grief is its mother tongue.” To that end, the director uses the death of T’Challa to usher in a new Black Panther as well as new heroes (Ironheart) and adversaries-turned-allies (Namor).

Thor: Love and Thunder

After blowing up the franchise (in a good way) with Thor: Ragnarok, WIRED cover guy Taika Waititi hopped back in the director’s chair for its follow-up, Thor: Love and Thunder. The movie didn’t shake fans up quite as much as its predecessor, but it’s still a rocking good time with a fun turn by Natalie Portman as Jane Foster (aka the Mighty Thor, the new wielder of Mjolnir) and other surprises. (Ted Lasso fans should definitely watch the end-credits scene.)

Turning Red

Mei Lee is a 13-year-old with a problem: Whenever she’s overcome with any sort of overwhelming emotion, which is just about every emotion at that age, she transforms into a giant red panda. Eventually, Mei comes to learn that it’s an inherited family trait. And while there are people who would like to exploit her supernatural powers, she slowly learns that only she has the power to control them. Think of this as a spiritual sequel to 2015’s Inside Out, which explored the complex inner workings of an 11-year-old’s constantly changing emotions.

If These Walls Could Sing

Abbey Road Studios is best known as the place where the Beatles recorded some of their most iconic albums, including 1969’s Abbey Road. But the hallowed halls of this legendary music studio have played a much bigger role in the music industry, as it has hosted the likes of everyone from Elton John, Pink Floyd, and Aretha Franklin to Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, Radiohead, Adele, Oasis, Kate Bush, and Frank Ocean. This documentary, which comes on the heels of Peter Jackson’s docuseries The Beatles: Get Back (which is also streaming on Disney+ and is highly recommended), is directed by Mary McCartney—daughter of Sir Paul—who practically grew up in the studio and, as such, is able to treat her subject with the reverence it deserves.

Avatar

James Cameron’s Avatar was all anyone could talk about when it was released in theaters in 2009 and promptly went on to make more than $1 billion, becoming the cinematic iceberg that sank another Cameron epic, 1997’s Titanic, from its place as the highest-grossing movie of all time. For a movie that made so much bank, it never occupied a huge space in the cultural conversation about movies. Like so many of Cameron’s works, much of its innovation came from the technology that essentially had to be invented to make it possible. 

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Sam Raimi’s sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange isn’t the beloved director’s first superhero movie, but it is his first foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe style of making movies, which ultimately proves to be both a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, the movie is probably the closest thing the Marvel franchise has gotten to a straight-up horror film, and it’s full of Raimi’s signature practical effects (plus the ever-important Bruce Campbell cameo). Yet, because the MCU is such a box office powerhouse, the movie never goes full Raimi—which is understandable, but somewhat disappointing for fans of The Evil Dead maestro. Still, it’s ultimately a fun ride with multiple versions of Benedict Cumberbatch’s cocky Doctor and Elizabeth Olsen as the power-seeking Scarlet Witch.

Iron Man

The MCU has produced more than two dozen films since 2008, yet the very first of them—Iron Man—remains one of the best. It’s almost hard to believe how hard director Jon Favreau had to fight to get Robert Downey Jr. the leading role, as he’s arguably one of the MCU’s most beloved figures. Before there was a whole franchise plus a shared TV universe, Downey, as Tony Stark/Iron Man, was just allowed to do his thing. It was a gamble that paid off for all involved.

West Side Story

From Martin Scorsese to Spike Lee, pretty much every great director has made—or at least tried to make—a grand Hollywood musical, perhaps one of the toughest genres to successfully pull off. Steven Spielberg made the task even more difficult when he decided to adapt Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and ​​Arthur Laurents’ West Side Story—which Robert Wise already did to great acclaim in 1961. But, Spielberg (being Spielberg) managed to create an updated take on the story of Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler), two love-struck teens caught in the middle of an escalating rivalry between two street gangs, the Sharks and the Jets. The update gives nods to the original (like casting Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her role as Anita in Wise’s film) while improving on some of its controversial aspects (like casting Natalie Wood in the role of a Puerto Rican teen).

Lady and the Tramp

Sure, you can watch the live-action/CGI version that Disney+ released shortly after it launched, but why bother when the 1955 original is here too? Put aside the rather vulgar stereotypes that were common at the time (the movie now comes with a warning) and Lady and the Tramp remains one of the most iconic Disney animations, and a love story for the ages. When a spoiled cocker spaniel named Lady finds herself competing with a new baby for the attention of her parents, she ends up getting loose and befriending a mangy but charming mutt named Tramp. Ultimately, Lady needs to choose the pampered life she’s always known with Jim Dear and Darling, or a life of spaghetti dinner discards with the hopelessly romantic Tramp—unless there’s another way.

The Rescue

In the summer of 2018, people around the world were transfixed by the story of a dozen young soccer players and their 25-year-old assistant coach, who became trapped in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand due to monsoon conditions. Eighteen days later the team was rescued, with all 12 boys and their coach surviving the incident. While it was happening, filmmakers were already scrambling for the rights to tell the story—no matter how it ended. Tom Waller’s The Cave (2019) and Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives (2022) are two of them. But, in this particular case, the truth is far more compelling than fiction, as this documentary from Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi—the Oscar-winning husband-and-wife team behind Free Solo–certainly attests.

The Muppet Movie

Between The Muppet Show and The Muppet Movie, Jim Henson and the Muppets were everywhere in 1979. Their first big-screen outing serves as more of a prequel, as it follows Kermit the Frog’s journey from a swamp in Florida to Hollywood, where he’s headed to pursue his dreams of becoming a movie star. Along the way, we get to witness where and how he meets the fellow members of his felt-made crew, from Fozzie Bear to Miss Piggy. Hijinks ensue when a restaurateur named Doc Hopper doesn’t take too kindly to Kermit turning down his offer to serve as the official legs of his chain’s famous fried frog legs, and follows the frog in order to seek revenge.

Luca

Enrico Casarosa’s Luca earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature in 2022 for its sweet and soulful story about a young boy named Luca who is hiding a dark secret: He’s a sea monster living in a town on the Italian Riviera that absolutely despises his kind. Ultimately, Luca is a moving coming-of-age film about friendship, family, and overcoming our own prejudices—and truly one of Pixar’s best features.

Captain Marvel

Marvel’s biggest mistake in the entire MCU canon (so far) was not commissioning Captain Marvel sooner. The film, set in the past, sees the rise of Marvel (Brie Larson) as she discovers her origin story and develops her powers. The film, the first entry in the Marvel universe with a female lead, channels the spirit of the 1990s both in its setting and in style, with heaping spoonfuls of Samuel L. Jackson and all the plot and subtlety of a blockbuster action movie. Larson adds a healthy dose of sarcasm to undercut her character’s immense power, and Jackson is eerily brilliant, making for a super fun 123 minutes.

Ant-Man

Who doesn’t love a heist movie? Paul Rudd’s MCU debut acted as something of a palate cleanser after the heavy, literally Earth-shattering events of Age of Ultron. Rudd plays Scott Lang, a reformed criminal who teams up with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter (Evangeline Lily) to keep Pym’s shrinking technology from falling into the wrong hands. The film’s depiction of quantum physics wouldn’t hold much water at CERN, but it’s terrific fun—thanks in part to Michael Peña’s star turn as Lang’s former cellmate Luis and, of course, Rudd’s legendary likability. If you want to make it a Rudd-athon, both Ant-Man and the Wasp and this year’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania are streaming, too. 

Mulan

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and its shutdown of almost the entire movie industry, Disney decided to try something new with its live-action version of Mulan by making it available to Disney+ subscribers instead of releasing it in theaters. The film itself is one of the latest in Disney’s recent string of live-action remakes and sees Liu Yifei in the title role, with reviews praising the cast, visuals, and action sequences.

Avengers: Endgame

There’s a moment in the event-movie-to-endgame-all-event-movies when you realize that writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus have gone full Harry Potter and the Cursed Child all over the MCU. Once you get past the rather glum beginning, you can settle in for what you have come to expect from any Avengers movie: Tony Stark cracking wise; Doctor Strange doing weird things with his hands; Professor Hulk explaining the science of what’s going on; and Black Widow and Captain Marvel kicking ass, both emotionally and physically. It’s a messy but epic baton-pass in the form of an angsty portal-powered mega-battle. And we’re not going to lie: We’ve watched those audience reaction videos, and they too are a thing of joy.

Togo

The year is 1925 and a deadly epidemic has struck the Alaskan town of Nome. The only cure is 600 miles away, and a massive storm is about to strike the region. Leonhard Seppala and his lead sled dog, Togo, are the town’s only hope of getting the vaccine. The dog may not be the biggest of the sled crew, but it is tenacious. The entire mission to save the town relies on Togo’s ability to face the challenging conditions. Added to all that, Togo is based on a true story.

Deadpool 2

This foul-mouthed superhero movie marks a definite departure from the vanilla content that was available on Disney+ in its first couple years of operation. Ryan Reynolds plays Deadpool, who has the ability to heal from pretty much any injury—and is an angry, violent, wisecracking mercenary tasked with protecting a young mutant from a time-traveling soldier.

Hamilton

If you only know Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical from the obscenely high ticket prices and snippets of the soundtrack, here’s your chance to find out what all the fuss is about. A version of the production, recorded via a six-camera setup over two performances by the original Broadway cast, was put on Disney+ after plans to release it in cinemas were scrapped. Aside from a couple of censored swear words and the fact that it’s directed (by Thomas Kail), it’s essentially the same show—an energetic, empathetic, witty, quippy hip-hop musical about US founding father Alexander Hamilton.

All the Pixar Shorts

Now’s the time for a Pixar short sesh. You could do as the studio intended and pick out the correct short to watch before the main animated showing, or you could head to the Shorts tab and go wild with Pixar, Disney, and new Sparkshorts. WIRED’s faves are Lava (8 minutes), Bao (7 minutes), Purl (12 minutes), Smash and Grab (8 minutes), La Luna (6 minutes), Sanjay’s Super Team (7 minutes), and Day and Night (7 minutes). Out (9 minutes) is one of the latest, and for a slice of Pixar history, check out 1997’s Geri’s Game (4 minutes) and see if you recognize the chess player.

Moana

One of the potential answers to “What, oh, what to put on after Frozen and Frozen 2?” Moana is in fact better than Frozen. By that we simply mean better soundtrack, better heroine, better visuals, and better side quests. There’s also 100 percent more Dwayne Johnson as a tattooed demigod and Jemaine Clement as a giant crab doing a Bowie impression. Set thousands of years ago on the fictional, Polynesia-inspired island of Motunui, Moana’s hero’s journey is fairly classic, but the sumptuous animation and Lin-Manuel Miranda tunes are top-tier Disney. (Sure, we’d love to see Taika Waititi’s original script, but we can live without it.)

Free Solo

If your friend told you they’d decided to solo-climb up the sheer 3,000-foot granite El Capitan wall in Yosemite, California, with no rope, you’d think they had gone mad. But that’s exactly what Alex Honnold set out to do back in 2017. Honnold’s quest to climb the vertical wall was documented by his two director friends, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, as he took on the ascent to become the world’s first person to free-climb El Capitan. But it’s not just about the ascent, it’s also about Honnold’s complicated life, his emotional issues, and all the things that have driven him to pursue one of the most dangerous missions ever attempted by any free climber. The cinematography in Free Solo is also dizzyingly beautiful, and the entire thing will have you gripping the arm of your chair in terror.

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids

Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) is an experimental inventor who creates an electromagnetic shrinking machine. Naturally, he accidentally shrinks his own children (if you didn’t already guess that from the title), plus the kids from next door, then unwittingly throws them in the trash. To have any chance of becoming their normal size again, the teeny tots must navigate their way across the family’s (now seemingly gigantic) yard and back to the house. It’s something fraught with peril when you’re half the size of an aspirin.

Toy Story (All of Them)

While it might have seemed that Pixar could never make anything as good as the original 1995 Toy Story, each of the three subsequent films add depth to the franchise’s canon. All of the movies are critically acclaimed—and they’re all available on Disney+. When combined, the four films tell a story about growing up and how everything in life, inevitably, changes. Woody (Tom Hanks) and the gang go from learning how to deal with new people to understanding loss. It’s something that’s also followed the cast: In Toy Story 4, the voice of Mr. Potato Head was created through archive recordings after Don Rickles, as the man behind the voice, died ahead of the film’s release.

The Lion King

Remember the terrifying wildebeest stampede in the 1994 version of The Lion King? That was actually computer animated, because drawing them by hand would have taken a long, long time. Special attention was taken to blend it into the cel-shaded backgrounds, and this was all before Toy Story came out the following year. Which is all to say that not only is the ’90s version a perfect movie that had absolutely zero need for a charm-deficient 2019 remake (which is also streaming on Disney+ in case you want to compare), it’s also the best Lion King to use CG animation.

10 Things I Hate About You

Heath Ledger singing “Can’t Take My Eyes off You” on the bleachers. That’s the iconic scene in this top-caliber high school romcom. The plot is taken from The Taming of the Shrew, the cast—including Ledger, Julia Stiles, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt—are all adorable, and the late ’90s nostalgia is potent. Offering some much-needed variety from the sci-fi and animation that dominates the Disney+ launch catalog, 10 Things I Hate About You is as good as comfort-food movies get.

Tron & Tron: Legacy

Tron and its modern sequel, Tron: Legacy, aren’t your typical Disney films. The original sees a programmer (Jeff Bridges) become trapped inside a computer system where he meets and befriends programs, including the eponymous hero Tron, who are resisting the power of a growing artificial intelligence, the Master Control Program. It became a sci-fi cult classic, leading to the creation of a modern sequel that continues the story and features an epic score cowritten by Daft Punk. Both are watchable distractions, even if the sequel feels a little thin in places.

Willow

Another nostalgia fest, this time for fans of ’80s fantasy. Willow is a family-friendly, mythic quest that’s best seen as George Lucas and Ron Howard’s fun, $35 million Tolkien fan fiction. The story of a farmer tasked with protecting a magic baby from an evil queen is not exactly the most original story in the world, but that hasn’t stopped this from becoming a classic, with Warwick Davis as Willow Ufgood and Val Kilmer waving a sword around. Classic Sunday afternoon fare.

Wreck-It Ralph

This sugary sweet animation tells the story of Ralph, a villain from an 1980s arcade game who wants to be something more than just the bad guy throwing debris off the top of an 8-bit building. One day, he goes AWOL from his game and ventures into the wider arcade—encountering a mish-mash of video game characters loosely based on your childhood favorites—from Hero’s Duty (a combination of Halo and Call of Duty, so basically Gears of War) to Sugar Rush (a weird mash-up of Mario Kart and Candy Crush), where he strikes up a friendship with a young girl racer.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier is among the best Marvel movies. It makes time for quieter character moments, and the action, while still spectacular, feels a little more grounded and real than the CGI-fueled shock and awe of the mainline movies. In this outing, Captain America faces off against a rogue element of SHIELD led by Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce.

Thor: Ragnarok

The first two Thor films were among the worst in the whole series—Chris Hemsworth’s thunder god was dour and charmless. But here, director Taika Waititi injected some much-needed color into the proceedings, borrowing heavily from the Planet Hulk storyline from the comics. Thor finds himself stranded on a bizarre planet, ruled over by Jeff Goldblum (who is pretty much playing himself). There, he crosses paths with Bruce Banner’s Hulk, who has been missing since the events of Civil War. It’s hugely funny, and arguably the best film of the series.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The newer Star Wars one-off films attract strong opinions, and Rogue One is no different. But while it has its issues, it fills an important hole in the universe and features some of the best action sequences in the entire saga. Its main black mark is the rather iffy CGI recreation of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, but it’s still a fun romp that lacks the narrative baggage of the new trilogy.

Black Panther

Black Panther had a huge cultural impact. It was refreshingly unusual to see a blockbuster superhero film with such a diverse cast—and the Afrofuturist setting was unlike anything Marvel had ever done before. Michael B. Jordan steals the show as Killmonger, who returns to his father’s home to claim the throne from T’Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman).

WALL·E

Released in 2008, a time when, for many, the climate crisis felt like a distant, abstract threat, WALL·E is classic Pixar. It’s a love story—sort of—that focuses on two robots. But it’s also a story about survival, believing in yourself, and dancing through the vacuum of space propelled by a fire extinguisher. The animation, especially on the desolate, barren Earth, is a sight to behold. The opening scenes of the film are also basically a silent film, with the score and robotic sound effects doing a fantastic job bringing out the emotion and drama of what’s happening.

Peter Pan & Wendy

Between Pete’s Dragon (2016) and The Green Knight (2021), David Lowery has mastered the art of reimagining stories you’ve seen told hundreds of times in completely new and original ways. This straight-to-Disney+ live-action adaptation of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is yet another example of this very specific kind of talent, even if a large part of its purpose seems to be to erase the racist elements that existed in the classic Disney cartoon. The boy who refused to grow up (here, played by Alexander Molony) never felt so of-the-moment.

Inside Out

Don’t cry. But also cry. A lot. Inside Out is the perfect realization of what every Pixar film strives to achieve. On the surface, it’s a comedic look at human emotion, the complexity of a child growing up, and the delicate balance of family life. But by literally getting inside the head of 11-year-old Riley, the film finds a way to bring emotion to life in a way that is at once comedic, profound, and often ingenious.

Up

Pixar’s Up can claim one of the most moving opening scenes of any movie. Despite being released more than a decade ago, in 2009, the animation hasn’t aged or lost any of its charm. In a little over 90 minutes, director Pete Docter takes us on the journey of Carl, an old widower who is seeking out Paradise Falls. Carl’s trip in his flying house is made in memory of his wife, Ellie, who had always wanted to visit the falls. The film won two Oscars—Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score—but was also nominated for three more. These included Best Picture, which at the time made it only the second animated film to have received the nomination (1991’s Beauty and the Beast—which is also streaming on Disney+, and most definitely worth a rewatch—was the first).

The Straight Story

David Lynch has built a career on being wonderfully bizarre and surreal. But the strangest thing he might have ever done was to make this G-rated family drama for Disney, which seemed to fly way under the radar. Richard Farnsworth earned a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role as stubborn—and ailing—old man Alvin Straight, who decides to reconnect with his estranged brother (Harry Dean Stanton) after a decade of not speaking. So Alvin hits the road, on his riding lawn mower, to make the 300-mile journey.

The Jungle Book

Whatever mood you’re in, Disney+ has The Jungle Book to suit it. The streaming service has both the 1967 animated classic, with its catchy soundtrack and moments of humor, plus the live-action version released in 2016. The two films couldn’t be more different. If you want to go for full family entertainment, pick the original, but if you’re after something a little darker, the modern remake is where you should head. (Bonus fact: The entire live-action film was shot in a warehouse.)

Guardians of the Galaxy

The first volume of Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t burst into the MCU until 2014, which is relatively late considering Phase One began with Iron Man in 2008. However, it’s become a firm fan favorite, providing some of the Universe’s most memorable (and important) characters. Quill, Rocket, Groot, Gamora, and Nebula are all distinctive and in many ways more likable than other key MCU characters. Guardians is worth returning to if you want to remember a slightly simpler time before Thanos’ Snap.