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.

Monsters University

June 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Ashley, Reviews

Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren
Directed by: Dan Scanlon (debut)
Written by: Daniel Gerson (“Monster’s Inc.”), Robert L. Baird (debut), Dan Scanlon (debut)

Twelve years ago, Pixar introduced us to the charismatic one-eyed monster, Mike Wazowski, and his ginormous polka-dotted buddy, Sulley, in “Monsters Inc.” Set 10 years before their epic adventure with Boo, its prequel, “Monsters University,” prevails in both charm and humor. Simply put: It’s just so darn cute, it’ll make you want to grab your best friend and give them a monster-sized cuddle.

In “Monsters University,” the origin story of how Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) came to be pals takes center stage with a trip back in time to their college days. We quickly discover that it wasn’t always happy times for the BFF’s. In fact, they detested each other their first semester in college.

Their constant bickering finally blows up in their face when they are kicked out of the elite Scaring Program on campus after impulsively breaking out into a fight, right smack in the middle of their final exam. Catching the undesirable attention of stern and intimidating Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), Mike and Sulley are forced to change their majors and say goodbye to their long desired dream to become professional scarers.

Mike’s lifelong aspirations, however, keep him from giving up. He optimistically enters the Scare Games, an Olympics-style team competition on campus, in hopes of being crowned “Best Scarer on Campus.” With one more shot to prove his worthiness, Dean Hardscrabble agrees to let him back into the program if he can clinch the title but not before he is forced to team up with the nerdy misfits of Oozma Kappa, the only fraternity on campus that will have him, and his enemy, Sulley, who fills in as the sixth required fraternity member.

With an impeccable cast, every actor effortlessly lends their voice to the animated characters, making the ensemble irresistibly entertaining. Its heartwarming storyline is likely to put a smile on everyone’s face no matter what age, especially with its inspiring message of friendship and finding the inspiration to overcome life’s obstacles.

“Monsters University” is flawlessly animated with striking and vivid colors, making every scene pleasurable to watch. With its bright and intricate details, take heed in knowing there is no reason to purchase a 3-D ticket. Despite the many off-the-wall activities the Scare Games demand the fraternities and sororities complete before going onto the next round, nothing is added to the movie watching experience in a 3-D format.

Even though the film might not be able to make you tear up like “Toy Story 3,” director Dan Scanion saves it from becoming another Pixar misstep like “Cars 2.” With its crazy antics, memorable characters and rambunctious comedy, “Monsters University” delivers a satisfying G-rated film the entire family will enjoy.