Review: Big Hero 6

Directors: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Screenplay: Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, Jordan Roberts
Comic: Duncan Rouleau, Steven T. Seagle
Starring [voices]: Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, James Cromwell, Alan Tudyk, Maya Rudolph
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 108 min

 

This review is brought to Row Three courtesy of Joseph Belanger of Black Sheep Reviews

 

In Big Hero 6, a group of unexpected and unlikely characters come together to combine their powers and fight for justice in the world. Wait. Haven’t I seen this movie already in some variation or another already this year? (Guardians of the Galaxy?) I’m sure I’ve at least seen something similar to this in recent history. (The Avengers? Any X-Men movie?) Sure every one of these types of misfit superhero films adds its own distinct spin to the lore, and BIG HERO 6 does as well, but after a while, you can plot out the simple journey of reluctance to acceptance in these films without even trying. At times, it felt to me like Big Hero 6, the first Disney film pulled from the archives of the Marvel universe it has direct access to anytime it wants, wasn’t really trying.

You know the specific journey I’m talking about, don’t you? The one where a group of individuals all have to come to separate realizations about how they are great on their own but even greater as a group? Big Hero 6 doesn’t quite follow the same path to get to that same place but not because of anything groundbreaking. Rather, the reason here is that there are only two members of the Big Hero 6 worth paying any attention to. The rest of the gang are a distinctly diverse bunch, two girls, two boys, mixed races; all but one are scientists and each of them is reasonably awkward, socially speaking. Go figure; there are super smart people who can’t really hack it with other people who aren’t as smart. It’s practically “The Big Bang Theory” for kids. It’s not that I wanted an origin story for each of them, but they aren’t the least bit interesting, which makes a great deal of Big Hero 6 feel like filler.
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Review: Before I Go to Sleep


Director: Rowan Joffe
Novel: S.J. Watson
Screenplay: Rowan Joffe
Producers: Mark Gill, Avi Lerner, Liza Marshall, Matthew O’Toole
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 92 min.

 

 

My original posting of this review can be found HERE

 


Anterograde amnesia is one of those occurrences that pops up so often in films that you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s not as rare as it actually is in real life. From instances as varied as Guy Pearce in Memento, Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Lookout, we’ve had several looks into the lives of those suffering from this ailment which causes the loss of ability to create new memories. It’s not hard to understand the appeal in centering your film around a character whose lives are upended with this particular disability. After all, what better way to immediately get the audience in the perspective of your leading character than by having them experiencing things for the very first time simultaneously? It’s an instant hook that can pull the viewer in and excite them in trying to unravel the mystery of the character’s life right alongside those on the screen.

In Before I Go To Sleep, Christine Lucas (played by Nicole Kidman) awakens every morning as a 40-year-old woman with no recollection of anything in her life from her early twenties onward. There’s an unfamiliar man (Colin Firth) beside her who explains that he’s her husband Ben and she is suffering this as a result of a car accident ten years ago. Ben seems like a sweet man; someone who has been beside her this whole time and does his best to ease her into the strange, frightening experience of waking up in a life and body she has no awareness of. The first of Before I Go To Sleep‘s many twists comes almost instantly, as once Ben leaves for work Christine receives a phone call from a man named Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong), a neurologist who informs her that he’s been treating her without Ben’s knowledge and calls her every morning to remind her to find a camera hidden inside her wardrobe. They’ve been using it as a way to keep track of the memories she obtains each day and she discovers that Ben isn’t being as forthright as he seems.
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Cinecast Episode 372 – The Montage is not Dead

We’re not always sure exactly what’s happening, but Kurt is pretty sure what’s not happening; at least in the case of The Babadook. Before we get there though, we fawn over Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut, Nightcrawler, as well as the performances within – which might include Jake Gyllenhaal’s finest. From there we travel 30 years in the past to 1984 and then wish we hadn’t pressed “go” on this particular time machine. For the Watch List, it’s Laika’s meticulous artistry of stop-motion animation, Jennifer Lawrence shooting arrows and brooding (again), Marilyn Monroe is politically incorrect, Aaron Sorkin is exhausting and the killing of Jim Henson creations with martial arts. A tangent here and there rounds out another fine, wine and dine episode of the Cinecast.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 
 

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Review: St. Vincent


Director: Theodore Melfi
Writer: Theodore Melfi
Producers: Peter Chernin, Theodore Melfi, Fred Roos, Jenno Topping
Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard, Jaeden Lieberher
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 102 min.

 

 

My original posting of this review can be found HERE

 


For an actor as reliable on screen as Bill Murray, his famously unconventional allusiveness keeps him a tricky proposition to pin down if you want him to lead your new movie. Unless you’re someone like Wes Anderson or George Clooney, who surely have his personal number on speed dial, there’s a fat chance that you’re going to be able to even pitch to the Ghostbusters star, let alone have him sign on for your project. For directing newcomer Theodore Melfi, this was the first obstacle he needed to overcome in order to create his debut feature, a charming little dramedy titled St. Vincent. Melfi, who also wrote the film, originally offered the title role of a cranky, abrasiveness and altogether unfriendly war veteran to the effectively retired Jack Nicholson and when that didn’t work out the filmmaker set his sights on an even more difficult prospect. Eventually, through an amusing series of events that include a missed opportunity at Cannes and an airport meeting that led to grilled cheeses at In and Out, the two collided and Melfi gets to thank his lucky stars that he was able to wrangle the star for this rare leading role.

With Murray on board, the cast list quickly filled up with a roster of talent eager to show off new, or rarely seen, sides of themselves. Melissa McCarthy signed on for the refreshingly ordinary role of a recently divorced woman who moves next door to Murray’s Vincent with her young son Oliver in tow (newcomer Jaeden Lieberher in his first film role) and it’s the child whose relationship with the misanthropic agitator drives Melfi’s feature and opens up many new layers hidden underneath Vincent’s bitter, angry outer shell. Alongside these heavyweight comedic stars came Naomi Watts, working wonderfully against type as Daka, a severely pregnant Russian prostitute who Vincent regularly seeks the services of, Chris O’Dowd as a scene-stealing teacher at Oliver’s new school, and Terrence Howard as Zucko, a debt collector lurking on Vincent’s heels for gambling money he owes. Melfi throws up a lot of balls with this script and not all of them pay off, but where the film succeeds is thanks almost entirely to the diverse, well-textured offerings of this talented cast who make for a picture that is genuinely charming and surprisingly emotional. Granted, the latter comes in the form of some occasionally cloying sentimentality that drowns events in contrived narrative beats piling on top of one another, but they so vividly bring these characters to life that it’s able to make up for the faults in the writing.
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After the Credits Episode 161: November Preview

TheImitationGameStill

We can almost see the finish line! Two episodes left before we hit a full year of previews!

We recorded this a week earlier than usual and the list of movies was a bit light at the time though as noted by Colleen (adead.horse), Dale (Letterboxd) and I (Letterboxd), awards season seems to be slow in starting this month but does kick off this with a number of awards bate offerings including the TIFF audience winner, a movie which, shockingly, we are all interested in seeing.

Yes, there is gleeful cheer at the mere thought of the Whister Film Festival which is only a few short weeks away! And we also sing the praises of local coffee shop Roastmastir’s.

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A First Look at Neil Blomkamp’s “CHAPPiE” [trailer]

In the past couple of years, the “friendly robot” genre has gotten somewhat of a boost. From Robot and Frank to Reel Steel to the upcoming Big Hero 6. Neil Blomkamp (and Hugh Jackman again) is jumping into the game with CHAPPiE (I insist on getting the capitalization right), also starring Sigourney Weaver, Dev Patel and Sharlto Copley as CHAPPiE.

Now I’m not sure how old you are, but if you’re a child of the 80s, you might remember the great Short Circuit. Well two years later a sequel was released, but without the charm, charisma, hilarity and star power of Steve Guttenberg, the film barely made half the money its predecessor did. Enter Neil Blomkamp hopefully making up for that public travesty. Yes, from learning to read and paint while living in a warehouse, to comedy bits with urban gangsters; right down to some of the lines of dialogue, this movie looks to be practically a duplicate of the 1988 sequel to Short Circuit. The question is, will CHAPPiE become an Australian citizen and get his picture on Time magazine at the end of the movie? We’ll have to wait and see.

In short, the chances that you’ll balling over a hunk of metal by the end of this movie are pretty good.

As a side note, it appears a remake of Short Circuit is actually underway. This might be an awkward year for Hollywood’s artificial intelligence beings. Back to the matter at hand however, take a look at the trailer for CHAPPiE below. The films hits wide release on March 6th of next year.

Trailer: A Most Violent Year

Last week we featured the stellar white poster for the J. D. Chandor (Margin Call, All is Lost) directed New York City crime flick, A Most Violent Year. Now we have the trailer which shows Oscar Isaac getting a bit freaked out at being accused of criminal behaviour in his ‘honest business,’ and Jessica Chastian shedding single tears on more than one occasion. Albert Brooks is in there too. While nothing exceptional exactly jumps out here, I’m pretty happy there are directors like Chandor makeing films that would be right at home in the 1940s or 1970s. That is to say, I will be there will bells on when the film opens on New Years Eve.