Disney · Editorials/Opinion Pieces

iTunes Rental and Audio Description Review

I hear a lot of flak given to Apple products nowadays, and especially, iTunes.  Honestly, I don’t understand why, because a lot of the reasons – the DRM protection, only able to use it on one device – is rather cross platform for any sort of digital media.  I don’t use it too much, but if I want to buy something digitally, I tend to use iTunes as an option because it’s nice to have the software just right on my computer for me to open and browse the store.
My main reason for keeping iTunes when I rarely use it however, is the sheer amount of audio description content that is on iTunes.  It far trumps Netflix, and you can actually own the things with said audio description if you’re so inclined.  I’m not one for buying movies and TV shows, but I’ve been wanting to try the audio description features, and iTunes rentals, for a long time and have a lot of movies I’ve been wanting to watch, since I don’t really go to the movies and pretty much I haven’t seen a loooot of stuff from the past six years or so.


So, put your hands together!  This will be a review of both the iTunes rentals and how it works, and the audio description on iTunes, and how it works.  Let’s get into it!


The Rental Process


Renting on iTunes is just like buying anything else on iTunes.  Search for the title, and results will pop up.  You can also just sift through categories, but what’s the fun in that unless you want to just hunt down something you may not have known existed before for a good watch.  For me, I’m very behind in my Disney and Pixar watching, and had seen a review about it recently critiquing it a bit harshly, so I wanted to see what all the hub bub was about Brave and decided to rent that.  I enjoyed it far more than I expected, if you’re wondering, but that’s another topic for another post.


So I searched for Brave in the iTunes store, and went to the page.  It has two options:  To buy, or to rent.  Buy is the first option, and the far more expensive option, and rent is underneath it.  Underneath all of the buying functions, there’s an HD and SD option for the quality of the video.  I want to point this out especially to blind and visually impaired viewers, because SD is 1 dollar less.  If you don’t have enough vision to see the graphics and animation of the movie, I’d suggest saving the extra dollar and getting the SD quality.  Every penny counts, right?



After that you’re prompted to buy the media, if you have the prompt set in your preferences.  Then buy it, and you’re good to go!  If you go back to the movie page, then it shows you how many days you have left to watch the movie.  Go into your iTunes library, check movies, and pick Rentals, and bam your rental is there!  A very easy process, if I do say so myself.  I had to reset up my iTunes account so it took a bit longer, but when actually having everything setup, renting was a breeze.


Playing and Watching the Movie


Go down to the section where all of your movies are when you’re ready to play it.  If you’ve left that section selected and closed iTunes, it will still be on that tab which is nice.  There’s a section that says “Grid” and that’s where the movie is.  You have the option to simply play the movie, which is streaming it via iCloud, or to download it, which gets it directly to your hard drive, so you can watch it offline.  I didn’t do download, so I assume that’s what it does, correct me if I’m wrong.


It’s pretty straight forward from there, hit play, the movie takes a while to load, then play. The movie has its own window independent from iTunes, so you can use all the normal media controls over there.  I didn’t want to chance anything until the credits, but I played around with it when it got there and hitting pause or rewind and fast forward does nothing to affect your rental.  I rented something from iTunes a loooong time ago, and that wasn’t the case before, so it was nice to see they had fixed that with the new version of rentals.


How Rentals Work After Playing Them

This is another feature of rentals that wasn’t here when I rented before, but you don’t only get to watch the movie once, which is nice.  When you go to hit play, a pop up dialogue shows up and says “If you start playing this, you’ll have 48 hours to watch the movie.  Are you sure you want to play?”.  Hit yes, and you get to watch the movie as many times as you want within that 48 hour period.  I’m not one to watch a movie more than once, but I just thought it was a nice feature.  Like I said, I really did like Brave, so I’m tempted to watch it again before I lose it in my rental library.


Before you hit play, you have 30 days to watch the movie.  If you hit play is when the 48 hours start, so if you just don’t have time to watch something and rented it, you have 30 days to do so before you lose it.  I personally don’t rent a movie unless I know I’m going to watch it soon, but figured I’d mention it for anyone who has a busy life and wants to make sure they have ample time to watch a movie rental.


Audio Description


Now for what I was most excited to try, the audio description feature!  iTunes has made it really easy to make sure you know something has audio description before you buy it.  On the movie or TV show page, it has an icon that says “AD” on it, underneath where it would say if it has closed captions.  This makes it really easy to see if you get audio description, when on other platforms like Google Play, when I’ve looked to see if movies had audio description, it was impossible to see if something had it or not.  iTunes has the info right up in your face, so there’s no if, ands or buts to whether or not it has audio description – see AD, and you’re good.  Knowing what companies do audio description on their media helps tons too:  I picked a movie from the Disney conglomerate of media, because I know they all have audio description.  So you’re pretty much safe if you want to watch a Marvel, Disney, or Pixar movie.


To make sure audio description plays when you start streaming your movie, first go into Edit:  Preferences.  There’s an option that you check that says “Play audio description when available” and all you have to do is check that, and it works on your PC or Mac.  Keep in mind, I did all of this on the PC, so your experience  may be different, depending on what sort of device you’re using.  For me, I had no issues on the PC simply checking the box, hitting ok, and having it work when I streamed the movie.  I made sure to double check preference’s just in case, but I’m the cautious type.  Absolutely no issues with the audio description not working throughout the entire movie, and no issues with the movie stopping midway or anything:  was a 100 percent smooth experience, and I really enjoyed every part of the process.




Final Thoughts


A few things I’d like to mention that I couldn’t fit in some categories are the volume of the movie.  I thought it was a bit low, and that’s a major pet peeve of mine.  It wasn’t hard to hear without headphones with nothing on, but if you were say, doing housework and wanted to have a movie on while working, you’d have to hook it up to some sort of Bluetooth speaker to be able to hear it with any sort of volume.  I had everything maxed out and it was still kind of annoying how low the movie was, but not enough for me to feel the need to put on headphones.  I watched it in bed, so was rather chill and doing nothing while doing so, but if you like to multi task take that into consideration.
The audio description was very well done.  There are a lot of visual things in Brave, and the way the audio description described it, paired with the audio of the movie really made the mannerisms of a certain character come to life in my mind.  Whoever Disney Pixar uses, their studio is great and I can’t wait to watch more.  Next on my list is Coco, really can’t wait to catch up with what I’ve missed animation wise.


I hope that if you don’t like iTunes, or don’t use it, this review lets you see one of the benefits to doing so.  For blind users, I hope this info is useful to you if you’ve been on the fence about trying iTunes audio description, and to sighted users, I hope this was interesting information to read!


Disney Deconstruction: Is Moana Really the Anti-Princess?

Moana was a major hit when it hit the movies last November, and I whole-heartedly agree with the praise it’s gotten.  It’s a great movie, with great characters, but something kept on popping up surrounding Moana erked me a little, and got me thinking.  Articles kept on popping up about Moana being the anti Disney-Princess:  aka, the exact opposite of the ideals Disney has set forth with their other Princess franchises.  Is that exactly true though?  I don’t think Moana is an anti-Princess at all.  I think she’s more the culmination of every Disney Princess, forming one amazing heroine that in all honesty is probably my new favorite Princess (sorry Ariel).


Moana is  a resourceful, headstrong, stubborn young woman who goes after what she wants.  So, exactly like Jasmine.  She’s not afraid to fight, and get her hands dirty, a lot like Mulan, and she’s free spirited, and searching for adventure like Ariel:  Only instead of looking for love, she’s looking to save her island.  She has strong family values, and will do anything for her dreams like Tiana, She’s quirky, and a bit awkward like Rapunzel.  She’s kind, compassionate, and understanding like Belle.  And also like Belle, she doesn’t take crap from people.
So in short:  I don’t think Moana is the anti-Princess at all.  She celebrates everything wonderful about all Disney Princesses, while at the same time bringing a fresh, new take on the Princess definition we haven’t seen before.  All the different Princesses allowed Moana to be able to be formed in such a way, which shouldn’t be discounted.  She’s part of an amazing legacy, and I’m so happy she’s part of the Disney Princess family!  Though if you ask me, she’s more of a Disney Heroine, like Mulan.  But I get Disney grouped her into the “Princess” brand to be able to sell toys XD
What do you think, do you find Moana is more of an anti-Princess than I do?


Disney Deconstruction: Is Gaston Really All That Evil?

Welcome to Disney Deconstruction!  A series in which I’ll be taking a certain Disney movie, character, or trope and looking at it with a closer eye.  Think of this as a sort of fan theory/speculation, if you will.  Today’s question:  Is Gaston really all that evil?



Recently, an image for the live action Beauty and the Beast movie coming out in 2017 dropped, showing Belle (played by Emma Watson) rejecting Gaston (played by Luke Evans) when he was trying to gift her with a bouquet of flowers.  Without any context for this scene, it makes Belle look like a jerk.  But, according to cast interviews, they seem to be wanting to make Gaston a darker version of himself.  That’s all fine and dandy (it’s really not I kind of hate these live action remakes) but that got me thinking, was he really all that bad in the original movie?  Let’s take a closer look.


Gaston is one of the more interesting Disney villain’s, because we see his evolution into a villain throughout events in the movie.  Up to a certain point, he is a jerk, sure, but he doesn’t reach villain status until he decides he wants to have Belle at any cost, and uses committing her Father to an insane asylum as bait to get her to marry him.  Honestly, I think that’s his most villainess act.  Because what else had he done throughout the movie prior?  Asked Belle out on a date, all be it a bit forcefully, and then ask her to marry him, once again in a less-than-charming-way.


Gaston is a jerk, no debating that.  The climax of the movie, where I think he is the most portrayed as “villain” is my favorite song from the movie:


Let’s break this scene down, though.  Belle had just returned from the Beasts castle.  Before she had returned, however, they were dealing with Belle’s Father ranting and raving about a beast who had taken his daughter, and that they needed to go save Belle before he did something terrible to her.  The townspeople ignored him until they had proof via the magic mirror, and the image they see of the Beast?  Him snarling and generally acting like a monster.  So what does Gaston, the towns huntsman and hero do?


“Let’s go kill the Beast!”
You can argue that Gaston is only protecting his people, the woman he wants as his wife from this creature he just recently found out existed.  Knowing that the Beast not only exists, but that Belle’s Father’s rantings were true and he was holding Belle captive, would only make him want to protect her more.  Granted, when Belle is talking to Gaston about the Beast and he goes “Why Belle, I think you love him” that definitely is a spark of jealousy there, but is it a spark of jealousy based on good intentions?  Does he simply want to kill the Beast to protect the people he loves, that love him in return?  Or was this rampage only based on jealousy, lust, wanting something that he couldn’t have.


…Ok, probably the latter.

(As a side note, Beast going “Get out” is so badass)


Instead of a straight up villain, I like to think of Gaston as more of a mirror.  Because at the beginning of the movie, we see both Beast and Gaston are very similar.  Both are entitled, selfish, and unwilling to change their mindsets.  It takes Belle interacting with the Beast, and his willingness to change for him to transform back to his human self, and become a different person.  Gaston, on the other hand, has the same amount of time to spend with Belle (probably even longer, because she had been living in the town for a while) but instead of changing, stays the way he is because everyone around him not only accepts his behavior, but praises it.  They both have the same type of hero’s journey, with Gaston’s tale being a tale of caution, and the Beasts tale being one of growth, and reflection.


I don’t think Gaston is someone to see as a villain, but is someone to pity.  He had everything going for him, if only he was able to think a bit more of others, and not himself.  He’s a person that can exist in reality, someone you could easily meet in your life and those are the types of villain’s I adore because they already have a layer of dimension to them.


It seems like the live action movie is going to be exploring that a bit more, and I’m hoping they do that well.  Because from the trailers I’ve seen so far, this movie is going to be a rough ride.


What do you think of Gaston?  Am I on to something, or just talking crazy talk.  What are your thoughts about the live action movie coming out next year?