Monthly Archives: January 2015

Film Review: Big Hero 6 (2014)

Big_Hero_6_film_posterFilm: Big Hero 6
Released: 2014
Director: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Stars: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung (vocal performances)

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.

577722_10152754455665386_1459513467_nLet’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: Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven – 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: Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven – 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.


Film Review: Foxcatcher (2014)

foxcatcher-posterFilm: Foxcatcher
Released: 2014
Director: Bennett Miller
Stars: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo

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.

10169179_705962786132773_1048676149_nThis 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: Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven – Worth a watch

577722_10152754455665386_1459513467_nI 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: Like a Star @ heavenLike a Star @ heaven – 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.