It's a very Disney week. Pixar, their subsidiary sends a new film, Elemental, their streaming service expands and updates The Full Monty and another subsidiary, Marvel, celebrates its history and creator, Stan Lee.

DC, Marvel's incessant rival, is in it too with a long-delayed superhero movie, The Flash. And there's more. Much more.

The Full Monty: 3½ stars

Elemental: 3

Other People's Children: 4

Scarlet: 3½

The Flash: 2½

Stan Lee: 4

The Blackening: 3

Persian Lessons: 2½

THE FULL MONTY: The gang is all back from the surprise hit film of 26 years ago in which they fought off deprivation in Thatcher England by dancing and stripping to ”You Sexy Thing.” And got Oscar nominations and BAFTA wins for it. So what are they like now, back in Sheffield? Ordinary blokes, actually. The two main characters the film focuses on are: Gaz (Robert Carlyle) who works at the hospital and Dave (Mark Addy) a handyman at the school. Two others own a cafe and host regular sit-downs by the group, including Tom Wilkinson who doesn't say much, and Horse, now confined to a wheelchair. The economy is still an issue; improved, says the government, slipping again, we detect at public institutions.

Courtesy of Disney+

Some significant changes though. We hear much more from the women, Dave's wife (Lesley Sharp) for instance. They talk about insufficiencies at the school and the hospital. And there are new characters, notably Talitha Wing as Gaz's daughter Destiny. She's a free spirit too and leads to one of the funnier and not-so-realistic incidents: the theft of a prize-winning dog. Events like that fill out the story line which plays through eight episodes (over 6 hours). They start sprightly by re-introducing the characters, end dramatically and slow down somewhat in the middle chapters. But episode three boosts the critique of the economic situation again and we're on track once more. Good to be back. (Disney+) 3 ½ out of 5

ELEMENTAL: The animation is exquisite. Pixar had to bring in extra computers to do it. A lot of them. It's imaginative, light and colorful, not the realistic look we see so often, more the artistic look that we see in many award contenders. While the look is enchanting, it's the story that holds this one back. It's both very ordinary and misplaced. The theme is the need to accept diversity, get along with others, don't shun someone who is different from you. Good message; told in a curious way, through water and fire, kept apart by local rules but ready to unite in love. Huh?

Courtesy of Pixar

The characters in this film are all elements. Ember (Leah Lewis) is fire, with blazing hair. Wade (Mamoudou Athie) is water. They enjoy talking but dare not touch. Of course. But is it only prejudice that disallows it? The film doesn't consider anything else but stretches the situation into a metaphor about discrimination. And for the co-writer/director Peter Sohn, a story of immigrants trying to fit in with a new society. He and his parents came from Korea to the US where they ran a grocery store. In the film, Ember's dad owns a cafe and she deals with bigoted customers. She flares with anger; Wade teaches her to be cool. They're good for each other. Can they make it work? Everything's against them, including an environmental disaster—a water leak that turns into a raging flood—and unsympathetic bureaucracy. Too much going on. And yet little kids will get bored. (In theaters) 3 out of 5

OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN: This is a loaded rumination on the subject of motherhood undergone by a woman who hasn't wanted to be a mother but now wonders about that “huge collective experience across the world that I'm not part of.” What's she missing? How much time does she have? Women will understand easily.

Courtesy of Sphere Films

She's a teacher in Paris, played by Virginie Efira and directed by Rebecca Zlotowski who put feelings from her own life into the script. The emotions she raises are genuine. The teacher, age 40, hadn't felt them until she started seeing a new man (Roschdy Zem), and spent time with his sweet daughter who she grows to love. She's also scared. That's partly because the man's former wife is nearby. They're divorced; they share custody and she doesn't want an intruder. The other part of the scare is that it raises that question she's been burying for years. Is she ready or even fit for motherhood? She has a sister who gives birth and guidance duties with students at school. And emotions that Efira gets across extremely well. (In theaters in Ottawa, Edmonton, Kingston and Vancouver). 4 out of 5

SCARLET: Here's a rural fantasy made by an Italian in France from a Russian novel and it is enchanting, even if it's not always steady in its ways. It changes tone a few times, the main character is suddenly older in subsequent scenes and played by different actors. It moves like a documentary possibly because the director, Pietro Marcello, is an old hand at that form. It's his style and with it he moves this leisurely rustic story along at pace, taking in adversity, young dreams and even magical realism along the way.

A hulking and rough-face soldier (Raphaël Thiéry) returns from World War I to the village where his wife died and tries to make a living as a carpenter. He's got a young daughter to care for and he's the focus of the film. Then, when she's grown and played by a charming newcomer, Juliette Jouan, she becomes the focus. She gets a prophecy from a witch that a ship with scarlet sails will arrive in the sky and offer her a better life. That does happen: a plane arrives, the pilot, played by the dashing Louis Garrel, hears her singing nearby as he takes a bath in a pond and a love story develops. Can it be? “The stars are calling me to freedom, “ she had sung but that's not a given, even in a modern fairy tale like this. (In theaters in Montreal and Vancouver) 3 ½ out of 5

THE FLASH: This is from DC, valiently fighting on in its rivalry with the Marvel films. You're likely to enjoy it if you're on be of those fans who loves to point out details, back refrerences and cameo appearances in your super hero movies. There's a lot of that for you here and that's fitting. In the comics The Flash originated the multiverse storytelling technique that's suddenly become so trendy. One thing the style does it enables parallel realities to appear, old characters to show up again and different outcomes to happen. All that happens as Barry Allen, aka The Flash, the hero with “superspeed,” tries to go back in time to undo a bit of history to prove his dad was wrongly convicted of murdering his mom.

Courtesy of Warner Brothers

The proof centers on a can of tomatoes but the impact is monumental. Science fiction has wrestled forever with time travel; can you go back and change things? The Flash (played by scandal-magnet Ezra Miller) finds just going back eliminated super heroes. Batman (played again by Michael Keaton) is old. Superman is a prisoner in Siberia but, when rescued, turns out to be Supergirl (Sasha Calle). At that point the story got so garbled it escaped me. It brought back an old super villain, General Zod (Michael Shannon) and set up the battles and destruction to come. There are more cameos but I'll let you discover them. The movie, directed by Andy Muschietti, is designed for you. For most everybody else, it's long and quite ordinary. (2 ½ out of 5)

STAN LEE: If you're at all intrigued by or worried about the power that super hero movies wield in the cinemas these days, this film is a valuable backgrounder. And especially so if you've been a reader of Marvel comic books. They were big for university students when I was there and may still be. They've certainly made a mark up there on the screen and this film by David Gelb explains where that came from. Stan Lee the son of immigrants in New York, fan of swashbuckling actors like Errol Flynn. He got a gofer job at a small comics publisher in 1939 and two years later was appointed editor. His optimism and hutspah paid off and would continue through company-name changes, anti-comics morality campaigns and into the movie era.

His secret? He says it several times in the film. Write superheroes that are like real people. Let them have problems. Treat comics as literature, not junk. Mainly: write what you would want to read. That propelled Marvel past the stiff Superman and Batman stories over at DC. Marvel's Spider-Man is an insecure teenager in his real life. Lee describes how he created him; he was inspired by watching a fly. He has lots of other tricks of the trade to tell both in archival clips (including a radio debate with a DC editor) and a comprehensive interview done for the film before he died. His method: have an idea, give it to artists to fill out and illustrate and accept the fame. He took too much credit said two artists who split with him. The film is thin on that but big on the next step: the movies. (Disney+) 4 out of 5

THE BLACKENING: We've seen horror films deal with the issue of racism. Now here's a horror comedy doing it too and it is sly and funny. A bit like Spike Lee tried to do but not nearly as heavy-handed. And even witty at times. Seven black friends go away for a weekend to mark Juneteenth. That's an American holiday that commemorates Emancipation and this year comes up on Monday.

Courtesy of Cineplex Films

The group has rented a country cabin and soon find they're in a horror movie themselves. A deranged killer is threatening them and forcing thme to play a game with the same name as this film. There's a bulgy-eyed black Sambo figure in the center of the board and the players have to answer questions about race. "Name one Black character that survived a horror movie. You must answer correctly, or you DIE.” The reference is to the common plot point: black characters die first. They're offered a way out if they choose the "blackest" among them to sacrifice. What to do? "Call the cops," somebody says. They all laugh. The film is full of quips like that. Blacks will appreciate them immediately. The cast is new to me; the director Tim Story is a veteran and the film is small but pointed. (In theaters) 3 out of 5

PERSIAN LESSONS: It's hard to know whether to take this film seriously. It's been winning awards and was the official Oscars submission last year from Belarus for its different slant on a Holocaust story. Different, yes, in that it doesn't feel real because so many absurd coincidences pile up. At times, it feels like a black comedy. Imagine this: a young Jew in France, taken prisoner by the Nazis, trades a sandwich to another prisoner for a Persian book, tells his captors he's not Jewish but Persian and that saves his life. Why? One of the commanders at the camp he's taken to is looking for a Persian. Why? He wants to go to Tehran after the war and open a German restaurant.

Courtesy of Mongrel Media

He needs someone to teach him the language. The prisoner agrees but there's a problem. He doesn't know a word of Farsi. He makes them up and the two carry on simple conversations with them. How the officer believes all this is a mystery. How long before he twigs brings on tension, but side stories distract. A woman he demoted to give the prisoner a job is fuming. She's in a love triangle and the top commander at the camp is incensed when a joke gets around about the size of his penis. The movie by Ukrainian-born Vadim Perelman, who learned film-making in Toronto, has some plusses too: good atmosphere, strong performances from Nahuel Pérez Biscayart (the prisoner) and Lars Eidinger (the officer) and a powerful ending about the need to keep memories alive. (Theaters in Toronto and Vancouver, next Friday in Ottawa). 2 ½ out of 5