Saturday, 22 November 2014

Big Hero 6: A Review



Here it is, my post for today - just under the wire, but I made it! (Gasp, wheeze, cough!)

Today Luis and I went to the movies. He really wanted to see Mocking Something or Other, but the seating in the Cinema Suites were filled. So we saw Big Hero 6 in the Fork & Screen theatres. We love the Cinema Suites the most: full meals, seating that is above and beyond anything one could want, no kids allowed! No one under 21, due to the alcohol they serve there. In the Fork & Screen portion of Cinema Suites, any age is allowed. The full meals are still there, the seating is above average, but in the Suites, the super-comfortable full length reclining chairs allow you to be supine if you want. Nothing beats this. As a result, we only go there, not the "theatres of the masses" with the bubblegum on the seats, disgusting bathrooms and loudmouthed morons.

If you are going to the movies, do it right!

Since there was no seeing the latest Hunger Games release for Luis and I have no interest whatsoever in the franchise, we went for the animated film instead: Big Hero 6. I had read a positive review for it in People Magazine, my one guilty pleasure, and we were both interested in seeing it, although it is always chancy seeing a kids movie. Kids almost always make the worst viewers under a certain age. However, we lucked out: only two other families were in the theatre and this made it very pleasurable.

What did I think of the film? On a scale of ten, it gets an 8.5! This is no mean feat, for me. I don't rate very many films a ten. I don't rate very many films a one, either. That means I was subjected to a film that wasn't really for me. That isn't fair to rate a movie that isn't my type in general. Animated films are an entirely different animal. I love them, especially the more modern and clearly made for adult ones, such as all Pixar films, the Shrek films, many of the newer DreamWorks, SKG. (How to Train Your Dragon) and Sony Animation films (Hotel Transylvania). I love them and try them all out. In fact, there was a preview for an upcoming Pixar film, Inside Out, with the following description:

"Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it's no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley's main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school."

I'm counting down the days to either 19 or 22 June... Pixar's Website gives the 19th as the release date, the preview gave 22 June. Go figure! I freely admit, I don't recognise a single actor/actress there, but voices are not something to poo-poo - whatever bad choices they may have made as actors (say, by appearing in a sitcom), they redeem themselves as masters to a craft in vocal performances, for me. Anything, everything, can be forgiven in this light.

Back to this, Big Hero 6, I loved it. It was fun, well-made, had a few well-known voices and many new, but all excellent. The known voices: Damon Wayans, Jr. (as a charming OCD-ridden nerd, no longer a hopelessly dopey actor), Alan Tudyk, Maya Rudolph, Stan Lee and my personal favourite, the 6', 6", impressive, amazing James Cromwell, one of my all-time favourite actors (Secretariat, I, Robot, M*A*S*H)! The artwork and effort put into the animation was of the highest caliber. But that is all very well, and not the true measure of the greatness of a film. What is the true measure, that amazing quality that gives a film the power to get you?

The amount of emotional investment one gives it.

I laughed, I cried, I was furious, I was frightened, I was joyous. It was one of those movies, where you are a part of the story, where you feel for the good guys, want to hurt the antagonist and slap the protagonist. When I am throughly immersed in the emotional side of the film, then it is a huge success. And I was totally sucked in.

The other true mark (especially frequenting the Cinema Suites as we do) is whether or not I can remain awake through all of it. Luis and I saw The Judge, with Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall. It was fairly good, but all told, I drifted off three times, for about five to seven minutes each time. If a movie is that slow, it happens. And it is staggering how much one can miss in those short bits: one key comment, one chance remark. We also saw If I Stay, and while an emotional movie, it was much too long and slow enough that both of us drifted off. That rates a "Yikes". A number would not be adequate.

Dolphin Tale 2 is the mark of great film, just as the first one was. Both drew not only very high marks and a complete emotional investment, but also a standing ovation. They were both lovely films.

Interstellar was good, but it had a running time of two hours, forty-nine minutes, which is asking a lot of me, especially with the intensity at which it moved - very little slow time. It was not terribly emotionally tiring, so it lost marks there. I give that film a 5.75. Some of the characters were surprising and for those undying fans of Matt Damon, well, they were undoubtedly crushed - he must have been in it for all of 15 to 20 minutes. Heh, heh, heh. I like him well enough, but not in that way. (Want to see Matt in something great? Try the all-time amazing film The Adjustment Bureau. I loved it, and wished I'd gone with Luis to see it in the movies. That is my 11th all-time favourite film.)

How to Train Your Dragon 2, Rio 2, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier were the other films I saw this year (I wanted to see Maleficent, but missed it due to poor health); I liked How to Train Your Dragon 2, although it wasn't up to the level of the first. That is standard, although some do break that mould in the world of animated films. I could have been perfectly fine without Captain America, as it was two plus hours of my life that I will never get back.

Big Hero 6 is not a kids film, right up there with the Shrek films and so many others. It is a Disney movie, but it is not the gushy, overly musical ones - I ploughed through Frozen and promise you that it can air until the end of time, but I will never be able to sit through that again. Musicals are generally too much for me. Movies with the wretched Peabo Bryson song or Whitney Houston (for example - I can't think if one of hers made it into a Disney film...it seems all too likely, though) are missing the better tunes. Take Aladdin, for example; take "Arabian Nights" (Bruce Adler), "One Jump Ahead" (Brad Kane), and "Friend Like Me" (Robin Williams) and what do you get? Me, singing along with them, having a great time! What do you get with "A Whole New World" (Peabo Bryson (!) and Regina Belle)? Nausea.

Music is terribly important in films, but too much and/or the wrong ones is an issue for me.  Big Hero 6 had plenty of loud, moving, movie music, but considering the action in it, it was fitting. I couldn't say I would run out and buy the soundtrack, even though Nick Glennie-Smith was involved - I will, however, for him, listen to it again, and possibly revise my opinion. That is very unusual for me: I take my music scores and soundtrack music very, very seriously (my favourites? The unbelievably young Ramin Djawadi [Person of Interest, Clash of the Titans, and Iron Man I] and the truly masterful Nick Glennie-Smith [Secretariat - if anyone has this music, I will pay you handsomely for it!]). My only one true complaint about the film was the sudden elevation of all the characters from nerd to superhero status. However, in animated movies, the impossible is easily possible, and so while it takes the 1.5 points from a 10, it is an easily overlooked crime.

A special thank you goes to one of the titans of the animated film world, my favourite and belovèd producer, John Lassiter - a million thanks! You brought the magic of Pixar to us and we love you for it! (I did look for other Pixar-famous names, but to no avail - and believe you me, I watch all the credits, all the time, every first time I watch a film, regardless of where - all those people put their hearts, souls and lives into it, and it behooves us to look at ALL of the credits to give them their due. I also like to cheer for Human Resources, always listed in animated movies as well as the sheer numbers of production babies!)

I would never make it in the critic business - no one wants that much honesty!

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