Jamie Chung & Damon Wayans Jr. – Big Hero 6

November 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Interviews

In the new Walt Disney animated film “Big Hero 6,” actors Jamie Chung (“Sucker Punch”) and Damon Wayans Jr. (“Let’s Be Cops”) lend their voices to the characters GoGo Tomago, an adrenaline junkie, and Wasabi, an expert on lasers, who are both students at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. In the film, GoGo and Wasabi team up with Hiro Himada (Ryan Potter) and healthcare robot Baymax to fight a supervillain threatening the city of San Fransokyo with a cutting-edge invention. During an interview with me at the Walt Disney Animation Studios in Hollywood a few weeks ago, I spoke with Chung and Wayans Jr. about their characters and what it was like working on a Disney animated film.

Big Hero 6

November 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung
Directed by: Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”)
Written byRobert L. Baird (“Monsters University”), Daniel Gerson (“Monsters University”) and Jordan Roberts (“You’re Not You”)

As part of Disney’s never-ending drive for world domination, the giant company acquired Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for an astounding $4 billion. While Disney has since raked in the cash from the unstoppable force that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they have yet to dive into the Marvel catalog to make films geared at younger kids. With “Big Hero 6,” Disney finally takes the leap and adapts a Marvel property under the Disney moniker.

In a hybrid of cities called San Fransokyo, a teenaged robotics fiend named Hiro (Ryan Potter) finds himself hustling people in robot fights for cash. Destined to get him into something greater, his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) convinces him to apply to the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. When an tragic event happens that changes everything for Hiro, he decides to band together with his school friends and a healthcare assistant robot named Baymax to form a superhero crew to try exact revenge on the supervillain Yokai.

One great quality of “Big Hero 6” is its ability to impressively set the table for the events to come. First and foremost, and in typical Disney fashion, it is able to create palpable emotion with enough respect to be handled by smaller children while being affective to adults. Beyond that, the film’s greatest moments come as we get to know Baymax. As an inflated and clumsy vinyl robot, Baymax comes to life in hilarious sequences of dialogue free physical comedy. He’s extremely ungraceful and maneuvers around objects so slowly and carefully that watching him dawdle around is pure, unadulterated, adorable joy and by far the best element of the film. There’s certain sweetness to Baymax (voiced wonderfully by Scott Adsit) and his unbridled desire to make Hiro feel better that fosters the best relationship of the film, even in its weaker moments.

The film takes a bit of a turn, however, when Hiro decides to seek revenge and turn him and his group of science geek friends into superheroes. It is here where the film becomes a bit generic and less unique. The initial motivation for Hiro manages to become a bit lost and even motivation during the turn involving the villain is a little difficult to wrap one’s head around. There are nuggets of great moments to be found, namely a sequence in which Baymax tries out flying for the first time, but the superhero story in the film feels a little standard, which is surprising given the connection to Marvel.

In fact, the most surprising element of “Big Hero 6” is just how little of Marvel’s fingerprints are present. Sure, some of the action sequences involving the characters in superhero are fun to watch, but most of them are formulaic enough to be thrown together by any studio. The same can also be said for the narrative of the film as the superhero storyline comes front and center and falls into the same beats seen in most origin stories. Despite its shortcomings, “Big Hero 6” is sweet, funny and adventure-packed enough to be an entertaining, albeit underwhelming experience.

The Hangover Part II

May 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms
Directed by: Todd Phillips (“The Hangover”)
Written by: Craig Mazin (“Superhero Movie”), Scot Armstrong (“Semi-Pro”), Todd Phillips (“Due Date”)
 
Trying to top the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time probably would’ve been a difficult task for director Todd Phillips to accomplish no matter what angle he took with the anticipate sequel “The Hangover Part II,” but at least he could have done something with the least bit of imagination.
 
Instead, Phillips and screenwriters Craig Mazin (“Superhero Movie”) and Scot Armstrong (“Semi-Pro”) have taken the blueprint of the original “Hangover” from 2009, moved the story from Las Vegas to Thailand, and hoped no one in the audience would know it was the same exact movie just with fewer reason to laugh.

Back for a second round of full-frontal male nudity and man-child humor are Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Stu (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha), four best friends who take a little trip out of the country for Stu’s wedding. Stu’s fiancée Lauren (Jamie Chung) asks the boys to hang out with her little brother Teddy (Mason Lee) so he won’t feel left out.

Flash forward to the following morning and Phil, Alan, and Stu wake up in a seedy Bangkok motel. While Doug is safe and sound back at their hotel ready for the wedding, it’s Teddy who has gone missing. Searching for clues, which include a drug-dealing monkey, a severed finger, and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) naked on the floor, the wolf pack must find Teddy before the city claims him as its own.

Lazily written and with more of a mean streak than the original, “The Hangover Part II” will indulge fans who are fine with the same jokes and set-ups of the first movie. It’s a shame Phillips and screenwriters didn’t take advantage of the free reign to outdo themselves and their first outing. But when a script is filled with punchlines you already know, there’s not much to look forward to except a few special moments with Galifianakis and his shaven head.