Category Archives: Movies

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)

Synopsis:
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.

SHE SAID:
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

HE SAID:
10169179_705962786132773_1048676149_n
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

THE VERDICT:
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.

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Film Review: Foxcatcher (2014)

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

Synopsis:
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.

HE SAID:
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

SHE SAID:
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

THE VERDICT:
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.

V For Vendetta

VV 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.

10169179_705962786132773_1048676149_nHE SAID:
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.

577722_10152754455665386_1459513467_nSHE SAID:
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.