Empire of Dreams: The Story Of The Star Wars Trilogy (2004) – Created for the DVD release of the “Star Wars” trilogy in 2004, you aren’t going to find a more expansive making-of documentary on George Lucas’s original saga than “Empire of Dreams.” Clocking in at two-and-a-half hours, the film interviews virtually every cast and crew member involved in the making of “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return of the Jedi.”
Free Solo (2018) – “Free Solo” follows rock climber Alex Honnold as he sets out to free climb El Capitan, Yosemite National Park’s 3,000-foot rock formation. Free climbing, for the uninitiated, is climbing without any harness or safety line. Basically, it’s the scariest activity human beings can engage in that doesn’t involve space travel and/or uncaged lions. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2018, and it’s easy to see why when you watch it.
African Cats (2011) – Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this Disneynature documentary follows two families of big cats living in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. One, a family of cheetahs being raised by a single mother, have a brutal ongoing conflict with roving hyenas. The other, a pride of lions, have a seriously dramatic power struggle involving an exiled lion trying to seize control.
Waking Sleeping Beauty (2009) – If you have any interest whatsoever in the Disney renaissance of the late 1980s and early 1990s, you absolutely have to watch “Waking Sleeping Beauty.” It’s a surprisingly candid look at the studio’s revitalization thanks to the release of Disney classics, “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “The Lion King.”
Assembling a Universe (2014) – This short Marvel Studios documentary aired as a special on ABC in 2014, before “Avengers: Age of Ultron” had even come out, so it’s a little dated. But the doc gives fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a look at the founding of Marvel Studios. When viewed together with Marvel’s 2019 doc “Expanding the Universe,” you get a good overview on how the MCU has grown over the past half decade, and where it’s going next. Both can be watched in under an hour.
See the rest of the list at Collider.
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