The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.
Let’s get this straight right off the bat – I’m not a huge fan of Disney animation. As a result, I wasn’t all that bothered about seeing Big Hero 6, but as a mother of a small boy who loves movies as much as Hubby and I do, I was resigned to seeing it at some point. That point was last weekend.
In short, I loved it. The animation is crisp and edgy, the story is excellent, and the characters are a lot of fun. I found myself being drawn in by the quirkiness of the sidekicks (OMGs, how much did I love Fred and Tomago?!), the plot moved at a good pace, and it involved enough twists to keep even the most discerning of adult audiences interested. It is arguably the best thing Disney have done since The Incredibles (which was the last one they did that I loved this much). There are some very touching moments, and yes, a few where I bit my fist with sadness at the poignancy of it, but mostly it was just damned exciting to watch.
Well done, Disney – you may have converted me! This is WAY better than Frozen and could spell a return to real greatness for Disney animation and bodes well for the highly anticipated upcoming Incredibles sequel.
I confess I like Big Hero 6 all the more for not having a “breakout hit” song (is everyone else as sick to death of Let It Go as I am?), but the closing credits music, Immortals by Fall Out Boy, absolutely rocks!
Rating: – Excellent – you’ll enjoy this one
Big Hero 6 can be likened to a mixture of a watered down Manga animation, The Incredibles (also from Disney Pixar) and The Avengers. Its story concerns a 14-year-old boy, Hiro, who lives with his brother and aunt in San Fransokyo (I quite liked that mix). His parents have been dead for quite some time and he is a robotics genius, as is his brother Tadashi.
In order to enrol in a college course for robotics, Hero has to come up with some invention that will impress the teacher at the school, Robert Callaghan voiced here by James Cromwell. Following the expo of his work, the venue is mysteriously burned to the ground and more tragedy enters the life of young Hero. He stumbles across some of his brother robotic work in his room and we are introduced to Baymax, a curious robot nurse that inflates that will assess your injury and look after you until you tell it that you are happy and it will deflate tidily away back in its box. A blow up Star Trek holodoctor if you like.
As the story unfolds, things don’t appear as they seem and Hero grows closer in friendship to Baymax and so enlists the help of his brother’s classmates in an attempt to put right what wrongs have been done in recent times.
I really enjoyed the film. Big Hero 6 has a good story that kept both myself and my son engaged throughout the film, the animation is superb and it has already been nominated for many awards in this field. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me to see get a nod or two by The Academy in a week’s time.
Rating: – Excellent – you’ll enjoy this one
Harmonious accord between our opinions on this film. This one is bound to have notice taken of it at the Oscars – there’s certainly a nomination for best animated feature to be had here (as it was already nominated in that category at both the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes) and it should have no problem bringing home the statue.
The greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team joins Team Foxcatcher led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul – a union that leads to unlikely circumstances.
This is the story of how an Olympic gold medal winning wrestler was gunned down and killed by a wealthy, eccentric with delusions of grandeur and the story behind how people can be manipulated, sometimes with grave consequences.
The first thing that strikes you in a film of this seriousness is the name Steve Carell. Always associated with comedy, this film is a huge departure for him and is perhaps a clever piece of casting in order to better show the Jekyll and Hyde personality of John E. DuPont, the character that Carell plays.
Based on true events, John Dupont was obsessed with wrestling, and I’m not talking WWE here, this is Olympic wrestling, and the Schultz brothers were the pinnacle of this sport at the 1984 Olympic Games, with both winning gold medals. Mark, the younger brother was clearly the lesser athlete and was continually in his brothers’ shadow and all the esteem problems that presents, so when someone comes along and promises you the world, what are you gonna do?
DuPont offered Mark Schultz the world, becoming a father figure, financial backer, and mentor despite not actually being a coach of the sport itself. This deluded man thought he was something he was not and it ended up in tragedy. This is not a spoiler, this historical fact, so go and read about it…
…or, you could watch the movie. It’s a decent film given the “True Entertainment Channel” treatment, I enjoyed the movie enough to watch it until the end to get the climax of the story, which when it happens is swift and causes good impact, but I have to be honest and tell you that the rest of the movie was a little slow-paced. The performances on the other hand are very good. Carell makes the most of his shot at a serious role, and his co-stars Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo support him admirably, as you would expect.
There is some Oscar buzz about this one, and I predicted as much when I saw the trailer last year. I think the likes of Carell and Ruffalo will get a nomination, but I don’t think the film itself is strong enough to carry their portrayals to an actual win at this years Academy Awards though. It is very refreshing to see actors take on something different and Carell should try more of the serious side of acting, just as fellow comedian Jonah Hill has in recent years to great effect.
Rating: – Worth a watch
I found it incredibly disappointing. By the time we saw Carrell for the first time, I was already bored out of my skull and wishing it was already over. I came to it knowing nothing more than it was based on a true story and was about wrestling, and left it not giving a damn about the subject matter.
The only decent person was David (Ruffalo), who genuinely seemed to care for others; du Pont (Carrell) was clearly a creepy sociopath and I’m amazed anyone would have wanted to be in the same time zone as him, let alone stay at his estate to train for a sporting event; and I spent the entire movie wishing I could reach through the screen and slap Mark (Tatum) for being a whiny little bitch. So you’re not as good a wrestling as your brother? Well boo-bloody-hoo! Quit whining, grow up, and get on with your life!
I confess I didn’t watch to the end – I was far too bored with it all. Solid performances from all three leads, in particular Carrell, who was pretty compelling to watch and should consider more serious roles in the future, but the film itself was pretty pointless and seemed to drag on forever.
Rating: – OK, but nothing to write home about
There’s a lot of awards buzz around this one, and we do get the feeling that there will be some Oscar nominations around the performances, perhaps for direction, and maybe even for makeup (the prosthetic makeup on Carrell in particular is very good), but the film itself, we feel, is far too weak for a win.
Boxing. Beautiful, challenging sport, or last of the gladatorial arena blood sports? A test of speed, agility and endurance, or a brutal reminder of the savagery of the human spirit? Love it or hate it, it remains a popular sport, with major fights offering massive purses of prize money… We duke it out to see who comes out on top!
Let’s face it, if you were to go out into the street and start punching someone in the face and torso repeatedly, the police would most likely get involved. People would be charged with all manner of offences including GBH, assault, and generally causing a disturbance.
So why is it any different when two boxers step into the ring?
Why is the law suspended simply because two people are surrounded on four sides by rope, with people cheering and a bell ringing to mark off 3-minute intervals?
The object of this so-called sport is to beat your opponent so badly that they fall to the ground, possibly unconscious, and are unable to get up to defend themselves any longer. Does that sound like fun? If it happened to you on the street, would you consider it sporting if your attacker stopped once you couldn’t get up again?
Knocking a person unconscious or even causing concussion may cause permanent brain damage. There is no clear division between the force required to knock a person out and the force likely to kill a person. Since 1980, more than 200 amateur boxers, professional boxers and Toughman fighters have died as the result of ring or training injuries.Thus, in 1983, the Journal of the American Medical Association called for a ban on boxing.
It’s interesting to note that boxing is currently banned in Norway, Iceland, Iran and North Korea.
It seems to me, this is the last of the gladiatorial “sports”, with the masses baying for blood and betting on one person’s ability to knock another person senseless, possibly causing brain damage (among other more visible, injuries). I cannot understand why, in this modern and supposedly enlightened age, this barbarity continues when it is nothing short of legalised brutality.
I will never like boxing. I will never consider it a beautiful sport. In fact, I will never consider it a “sport” when people are purposely injuring each other. I call it horrific. I call it bloody and barbaric. I call it reckless endangerment, and I hope to whatever Gods may or may not exist that neither of my sons ever decide to take it up.
I agree in part with Kell’s assessment of the sport, or perhaps should we say “the art” of boxing. We all know the medical risks of boxing, they are well documented and yes, competitors have died in the ring. That said, the boxers know the risks when they enter the square circle and for most of them, it is a way of life. Most boxers never reach the heights of World Championship prize fights and certainly not the million dollar payoffs that we see the likes of Floyd Mayweather competing for.
On the flip-side, although I am not a boxing fan, I think the voyeur in me has always enjoyed that “knockout punch”, or gruelling round of boxing where the opponents can barely stand they are so tired. I love the photo above of Muhammad Ali standing over the floored frame of boxing great Sonny Liston, it was taken at the end of the first round of the second meeting between the pair after Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali and there is just something about that picture that is iconic.
It is pictures like these that evoke the same emotions in me that perhaps someone looking at a Picasso or a Rembrandt might have. I think this side of boxing is art, but it is born out of a brutal sport that still holds some excitement for many although the whole “pay-per-view” things is a complete con. I didn’t have to wait long for the knockout punch that Carl Froch recently gave George Groves to be uploaded to the internet, and to be honest when it comes down to it, it’s that punch that everyone is waiting for, to savour and say “woah, what a punch!” which is exactly what I did.
There have been great fighters and boxers, and indeed amazing fights, but unlike the street, there are rules in the boxing ring, there is also a safety aspect, perhaps more now than at any other time and there is of course a referee to enforce it all. Unfortunately like many other sports, there is also an ugly side. Corruption, cheating, boxers who think they are more than they are or develop problems outside of the sport that for some reason they cannot control and don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way condoning what they do, I am merely stating that these things happen which is unfortunate for these men (and now women) who have become good at something, but it only lasts a few years and its gone.
THE VERDICT: Partial agreement. Kell acknowledges the skill, agility and endurance required in training for boxing, but out and out detests the hypocrisy and violence. Dale acknowledges the brutality and danger, but admires the art and enjoys the snippets where you see a knockdown punch. Maybe it’s a guy thing?
So, boxing – love it, or loathe it?
We’d love to hear your views, so leave a comment below!
The Eurovision Song Contest; that annual event that is Marmite to music lovers all over the world. With two semi-finals and a grand final being hosted every May in the country that won the previous competition, it has found it’s popularity in the UK rise and fall over the years since it began in 1956…
When May comes around each year, I start posting my blogs on the Eurovision Song Contest. I have always liked this competition and I think it is something that a lot more people, particularly in this country should give a lot more support to. It splits opinion every year and every year I try to justify its existence in today’s entertainment industry. Here are my reasons why.
Firstly, I enjoy the voting at the end of the whole process. Some people say that the whole thing is politically motivated and I have to agree that there is still an element of this. Cyrpus and Greece always exchange good points, as do Moldova and Romania. The re-introduction of the jury voting has stemmed the amount of neighbourly voting that went on in order to get a winner, but in the end when it comes down to it, there is no way you will ever stop that from happening.
Secondly, I enjoy writing about the contest. It gives me an opportunity to express my opinion about music that might not otherwise get read or listened to. I have blogged about Eurovision for the last four years on my own blog Smurfin’ the Web and although I do sometimes feel rushed to get my posts done on time due to a busy work and home life, they are there for all to read and its interesting for me to see if anyone has the same opinions as myself. I would like some more comments though 😉
Thirdly and this is probably the nub of the matter – I enjoy the music. Finding some music from other countries is an enjoyable experience for me. There are always about half a dozen songs from the whole contest that I really like and will continue to listen to well after the Euro-fever has abated. Eurovision is simply NOT the “cheesefest” that many people think that it is, but that opinion is mainly saved for the UK public who think that because we haven’t won it for years then we shouldn’t enter it again or even consider backing it financially. That attitude is saved for those people who think that other countries aren’t capable of producing good music and that right is reserved for Great Britain and the USA alone. They could not be farther from the truth. There is PLENTY of great music elsewhere in the world and Eurovision is one way for these artists to gain some publicity for themselves and also their country.
If more people would even just give one listen to all of the songs in the Eurovision Song Contest, I bet that there would be at least two of them that they liked, and that for me, is good enough. Yes, there are still countries that enter the “comedy” act and they have their place, but for the most-part, I think most countries take the contest very seriously and so do the fans that watch it and blog about it like myself. On the subject of my own country, the UK, the reason we haven’t won it for so long is quite simply because we have entered utter garbage into the contest. Scooch, Gemini and Daz Sampson are three very good examples of this and in more recent years we have tried other avenues like the stars of yester-year that are famous, but not current enough to be considered popular enough to win the contest for us. This year, for the first year in a very long time, I have high expectations for our entry “Children of the Universe” by Molly and it marks a step in the right direction for the UK.
Anyone who thinks Eurovision is filled with cheesy pop need only go and listen to the winner of the 2006 contest. That year, Finland romped all the way to the winner’s podium with Lordi performing Hard Rock Hallelujah. That’s right, a hard rock band wearing laytex monster masks won it. You don’t get any further from cheesy pop than that!
OK, so they were a bit of a novelty, but nobody could deny that Finland took the competition seriously and sent their A-game – they were represented by an established and popular group with a totally rockin’ tune and they gave a top-notch performance on the night. Don’t forget, the songs are performed LIVE in front of a huge audience right there in front of them, as well as millions of viewers tuning in worldwide.
That’s right, MILLIONS of viewers. All over the world!
Yes, some of the acts that are entered are cheesy. Yes, some of them are novelty acts. Yes, some of them are utterly crap. Unfortunately, it’s usually the UK entry that embodies those *ahem* qualities.
Still, sometimes we get it right, In 1997, we hooked Katrina and the Waves to perform Love Shine a Light on behalf of the UK and it was fantastic. It was the last time we won, and we’ve been languishing, ever since, near the bottom of the score board, occasionally being awarded the dreaded Nil Points *shudder*. This year, Molly is giving us our best chance since then with Children of the Universe, and it’s been marketed all over Europe, and proven quite popular, so for once, I think we’ll be finishing on the left hand side of the board, and possibly even in the upper half of it!
I love Eurovision. In fact, I’ve not missed a single final since the early 90s, and since the introduction of the semi-finals, I’ve only missed a couple of the precursors, and only in the last couple of years when I was working evenings and could only get one or the other night off as well as the final (which I would never miss if it could be helped!).
In recent years, Eurovision has seriously upped its game and has become a great showcase of European music, and it’s a chance most people in the UK don’t usually get, to sample that music and perhaps find something new that they will enjoy.
When Dale and I had only been together a couple of months, Eurovision was on, and when he said he watched and enjoyed the show as much as I do, it was kind of a deal-maker for me. I was already crazy about him, but we moved in together a few weeks later. I don’t think I could be with someone who didn’t like Eurovision, because to discount Eurovision is to discount the music offered up by the rest of our continent, and that’s a very close-minded view to take.
To anyone who worries that it’s all a bit camp and cheesy, I say, embrace the campness, chow down on the cheese, and look beyond the surface. Give it a try this year and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised!
THE VERDICT: For once, we are in happy accord. We both love Eurovision, both for the camp fun of it AND the serious musical side of things. And I don’t see that changing any time soon. Long live Eurovision! Best of luck to Molly as she represents the UK this year!
So, the Eurovision Song Contest – love it, or loathe it?
We’d love to hear your views, so leave a comment below!
V For Vendetta (2005)
Starring: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Rupert Graves, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt, Sinéad Cusack
Set against the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain, this tense thriller tells the story of a mild-mannered young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) who is rescued from a life-and-death situation by a masked man (Hugo Weaving) known only as ‘V’. Incomparably charismatic and ferociously skilled in the art of combat and deception, V ignites a revolution when he urges his fellow citizens to rise up against tyranny and oppression. As Evey uncovers the truth about V’s mysterious background, she also discovers the truth about herself – and emerges as his unlikely ally in the culmination of his plan to bring freedom and justice back to a society fraught with cruelty and corruption.
This unusual superhero movie is an adaptation of a graphic novel written by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. It tells the story of a dystopian United Kingdom set in a near future. With a reasonably small cast and relatively small budget, the film was a commercial success and its a movie that splits opinion.
It is very definitely a movie that I love. In fact, this could be the Marmite of the movie world, you either love it or you hate it. I think there is just something very unique about this particular film, V For Vendetta.
It’s writing is excellent and the way lead actor Hugo Weaving delivers the lines is truly sublime. he has many self indulging soliloquies and he makes every word of them count. the other thing I liked about the movie is of course we don’t see Weaving’s face for the entire film.
Set in a Britain where the entire political system is tyrannical, this movie about the cause of one freedom fighter’s plans to overthrow the Government with the help of the people is very Orson Welles’ 1984 in its style, but I think it does a better job at making the audience understand its point. I found 1984 much more high brow and sometimes I think that some movies should try to be more on a level with the audience, but still convey an intellectual message. V For Vendetta did that for me
The movie is written by the Wachowski siblings (as one is now of the opposite sex), and I think it is probably their best offering to date. I mean I liked The Matrix and it was original, but this take on the Guy Fawkes character being responsible for the overthrowing of the Government is excellent. They manage to blend the two storylines together extremely well and the cast is the glue that keep them together. As I said, Weaving is the highlight of the film, but his supporting cast members are really good as well. Natalie Portman plays Evey who feels that she can help in some way but she has to really believe that nothing can scare her enough to back down.
The rest of the supporting cast includes Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, Roger Allam and Tim Pigott-Smith and they all do very fine jobs to make the fringe storylines an integral part of the main story in the end. I would really give this a whirl if you have been undecided on it thus far. I think if you are a fan of the history of Guy Fawkes you might enjoy this, but I just love the way its brought right up to date with a new set of characters, but the same storyline of blowing up the Government in some way. Weaving puts on a truly stupendous performance and for that alone its worth it. V For Vendetta makes you ask questions about our own Governments past and present and what might happen if the British people rose up against the powers that be in a similar way.
Fun Fact: The reason the secret police are called “Fingermen” is because the New Order was arranged on the model of the human body. The Chancellor was the Head; the television station BTN was the mouth; visual and audio surveillance were the Eye and the Ear; Inspector Finch was part of The Nose, the police force, and Creedy’s secret police were the Hand.
There are guy films and there are girlie films. Guy films usually feature comic book heroes, guns, explosions, and a sexy female. Girlie films, on the other hand usually have music by Abba, make you cry, and star someone like Ryan Gosling. Women don’t expect men to like girlie films, so men shouldn’t expect women to like guy films.
I don’t tend to like girlie films. Unless they star Ryan Gosling, I mean, come on, that guy is hot! Did you see him in The Notebook? I cried my eyes out and he was completely dreamy!
Sorry, I got kinda carried away there – it happens when Ryan Gosling is in the picture.
Anyway, I’m a woman who tends to like guy films. I love a great action sequence and I’ve always been a bit of a comic book geek. Furthermore, I LOVE Alan Moore’s work. So, why don’t I like V For Vendetta?
It’s a puzzle, really. On the surface of things, it should be a movie I love – it has everything I usually look for in a good movie – great cast that reads like a who’s who of British talent (come on, Stephen Fry is in it, and that man is never wrong!); an excellent plot that is equal part intrigue and espionage; a dark, exciting atmosphere; and faithfulness to the spirit of the source material. Still, I just never liked this film very much.
I think it’s largely due to Hugo Weaving essentially repeating his performance from The Matrix (1999), which, incidentally, I also dislike immensely. The way his voice drawls is almost identical to his portrayal of Agent Smith in the movie trilogy that started six years before V For Vendetta being released. It felt like a total cop-out from a very talented performer and sounds like he’s chewing his own face off every time he drags his heels over one of those damned soliloquies, so right off the bat, I was disappointed. Perhaps it’s also because there was a spate of dark, dystopian comic book movies released around the same time (Sin City was also released in 2005, based on the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name – another one I didn’t like very much – what on earth is wrong with me?), and I was reading a lot of dystopian fiction at the time, so maybe I was just all dystopianed-out.
Subsequent viewings have done nothing to improve my opinion of it. I really can’t fathom why I dislike it so much – it’s one of those mysteries that I suspect may never be solved, but I just don’t enjoy V For Vendetta and I suspect I never will. I confess, every time I’m flicking through channels and see that it is on television, I cringe a little and pass it as quickly as I can whilst trying to suppress that internal shudder of revulsion.
In conclusion, V For Vendetta does not suck. It’s a slick, clever film with a great plot and it’s visually stunning. I just don’t like it.
THE VERDICT:Agree to disagree. One of us is destined to always watch this film without the other, as the other really cannot stand the thought of sitting through it ever again, despite being able to see that she should think it’s the biz.
The popular television musical comedy-drama show about a group of ambitious misfits who try to escape the harsh realities of high school by joining a glee club, where they find strength, acceptance and, ultimately, their voice, while working to pursue dreams of their own. Glee has been running on FOX since 2009 and opinions about it seem to be split…
When I first heard the Glee cover of Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey, I cringed. I couldn’t stand what they had done to it, and at that very moment, I vowed I would never, ever, under any circumstances, watch such a travesty of a show that could take a classic rock ballad and sh*t all over it from a great height.
I am seldom so wrong!
In October 2014, I gave birth to our second son, and, as I did with our elder son, I was breastfeeding. This meant that I was up at all hours of the night and needed some entertainment. One night, while feeding our son, Glee came on, and I couldn’t reach the remote control without unsettling him, so I had no choice but to keep watching. I was very pleasantly surprised.
What I found were engaging characters, fun storylines, and some really great cover versions (and some not so great) of popular songs, old and new. I was pretty much blown away by their performances and I began to enjoy the show for the lighthearted piece of frippery it is. Night after night, I found myself tuning in as I fed our son, and inwardly cheering when his waking to feed coincided with an episode starting.
I’ve not seen all the episodes, not by a long shot, and I’ve not seen them all in order, but it doesn’t matter. I have come to love the kids of the Glee club, especially Kurt and Puck, and their trials and tribulations throughout high school. Some important topics have been covered – bullying, being yourself, alcohol abuse, gay and lesbian teenagers struggling with their sexuality, and with the death of one of the stars, Corey Monteith (who played Finn), the dangers of drug abuse and addiction have been highlighted for the young fans of the show. Hopefully his tragic death will make some of them think twice about dabbling.
Glee is one of those shows you can watch now and then without really losing the plot, and you can sing along to your favourite songs, many of which will have surprising new presentations or even be part of highly original mash-ups. The characters are quirky, the plots are fun, and the music is usually really, really good.
I have had to change my mind and decide Glee is a truly magnificent show!
I am proud to be a Gleek!
Where do I begin? I HATE Glee. The whole concept of Glee Club in American schools is completely foreign to me. To then make it into a series for television is beyond comprehension! I suppose you could call me the Sue Sylvester of our family with our mutual hatred for Glee Club.
The first thing that turned me against this monstrosity of a TV show was the absolutely awful version of a true classic rock ballad “Don’t Stop Believin’” that almost made me physically sick, in fact I think I did have a little bit of sick in my mouth. Secondly, it’s the utter unrealistic-ness of the storylines. I’m sorry, but the “cool, bad boy” kid of the school does NOT end up going out with the “ugly, fat girl” of the school – it JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN PEOPLE! Then we have just about every minority represented in one TV show, the oriental girl, the lesbian (who happens to be Latina), the gay guy, the fat chick, the Jewish girl, the guy in a wheelchair. It’s just utter tripe.
THEN!, it gets worse…they happen to burst into song any opportunity. More times in a single episode than Jacob Black takes his top off in a Twilight film. (yes I know that’s hard to believe!) And it is always a watered down poppy version of a good song, or a really watery version of a rubbish pop song and of course, all fitting in the “moral of the day”. Watching Glee is like being force-fed Aesop’s Fables one after the other while being waterboarded.
Finally, the thing I hate most about Glee, other than the fact that my wife adores it is Kurt. It’s not the fact that he’s gay, I have no problem with that. It is his whole persona. The campness, the crying at every single damn thing – can’t gay guys be manly? at all? EVER? I sure there are some butch gay guys out there, but they never get a look in on television. Yeah, OK I hear you all screaming, but what about the football player in Glee, Karofsky ? Yes I agree, but not a lot of screen time there now is there? Also, Kurt appears to have no teeth… sinister if you ask me.
Do I like Glee? It would appear not 😉
THE VERDICT: At loggerheads! It’s doubtful we will ever agree on Glee. Although Kell would like it noted that for a person who hates it so much, Dale seems to have a pretty good handle on who all the characters are.