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Movie Review: Big Hero 6

Published November 18, 2014 by mrsrag

bh6

Starring the voices of: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Daman Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Alan Tudyk, Maya Rudolph, James Cromwell.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes.

From the Disney team that brought us the recent classics Frozen and Wreck-It-Ralph, their most recent offering Big Hero 6, may not quite measure up to the high bar those films set; but it’s not far off.  Hiro Hamada (Potter) and his older brother Tadashi (Henney) are genius quality minds, growing up in the fictitious, hybrid city of San Fransokyo.  Tadashi spends his days at “Nerd”  University with a group of fellow geniuses, pushing the envelope on cutting edge robotics & technological inventions, designed to further mankind.  Hiro, who is 14, may be the smartest of them all, but he’d rather hustle money at underground robot fights than waste his time in school.  That all changes one day after he gets pinched by the cops and Tadashi has to bail him out.  He subsequently brings Hiro to Nerd U., and the younger boy realizes that this is where he truly belongs.  Shortly thereafter, we meet Baymax (Adsit), a Michelin Man looking creation of Tadashi’s, that is programmed to diagnose and treat human beings with pains or ailments.  Baymax is easily the most endearing mechanical creation since Wall-E.  It isn’t long before a text book Disney catastrophe strikes and the movie spirals off into a different direction. 

I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a fictional, hybrid city, but once I got over San Fransokyo, I saw there were many things to enjoy about Big Hero 6.  It was continuously entertaining with much of the story centering around the action that ensues when Hiro investigates the disappearance of his sought after invention: microbots.  Some clever, yet simple humor fuels the sometimes dark storyline.  And Baymax lightens up the scene with his benevolent nature, which off sets his larger than life, and sometimes spaces, appearance.  It was no surprise to me that this was the work of the Man of Action writer’s collective, which also spearheaded the Ben 10 series.  There are some obvious similarities surrounding the style, tone and execution between the Ben 10 series and the MOA’s first silver screen debut, Big Hero 6.  They filtered in some good lessons involving family and loyalty, which I always like to see.  And they even figured in a nice little twist.  But of course, Ross Gallo knew what was going on the whole time, as he so often does.

I am kind of tuned in lately.  We watched a movie on HBO the other night, Fierce People (not bad by the way), and I nailed the perp in that one quickly too.  Big Hero 6 does have a bit of a twist, but the heart of the movie is Hiro’s relationship with Baymax and his new found “super hero” friends.  His growth from selfish boy to responsible young man and most importantly, laying the foundation for what promises to be another multi-million dollar franchise.  I’m not knocking that at all, I can’t wait to see the next Lego Movie, but make no mistake, BH6 is only the first installment.  It is certainly worthy of the chance, as these Caucasians with Japanese names are a force to be reckoned with.  Add in their exotic yet still familiar Japerican hometown, the technology on display, and all the writers need to do is create a villain worthy of the 6.

I have no beef with franchises, but one thing I find incredibly irksome is the necessity to split every final installment into two parts, i.e. The Harry Potters, Twilight, and more recently The Hunger Games. It is a total money grab. I wish I could say that I am protesting such ludicrous Capitalism, but I will be going to see Mockingjay parts I & II. And don’t let Ross fool you, he hasn’t been tuned in lately – he’s ALWAYS tuned in. And he was right on point with Big Hero 6. This is a must see for those of you with boys, especially if they have gravitated towards Ben 10. This film has a nice mixture of sci-fi and action that will help keep your attention as well.

Ross’ Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 3 Gummies.

Movie Review: Frozen.

Published December 11, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of:  Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 48 minutes.

If you follow MRSRAG at all, you know that we see a lot of kids movies with my son Ethan.  You also know that Maria longs for the musical animated classics of her childhood: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King.  Well, her wish has come true with the amazing Frozen.  During the very first scene when we meet the two young princesses Anna and Elsa, discovering that one has the gift of creating frozen wonders with just the touch of her hands; I was rolling my eyes when they broke into song.  I’m not the fan of the musical genre that Maria is (I found the recent remake of Les Miserables unwatchable), but quickly Frozen won me over in a huge way.  In predictable Disney fashion, they killed off the parents, The King and Queen tout de suite, orphaning our two heroines.  That is the last predictable thing about Frozen, the writers expertly use our preconceived notions “against” us, and we’re left with a delightfully witty, funny, twisty tale that is sure to become another Disney classic.

I loved it.  I’m not a huge fan of musicals either, but Disney musical?  Oh yes, thank you.  I have been missing all the wonderfully written little ditties that used to be the signature addition to any ’90’s Disney feature.  I am so happy that they waited until they had a tale worthy of featuring some musical accompaniment.  The songs were funny, poignant and impressively belted.  The story of these two sisters who are so much the same and yet very different has an effortless charm.  It beautifully depicts the depth of love, hostility and confusion that make up sisterhood.  You can believe that assessment coming from the youngest of six children, three of them being girls.  Frozen follows these two young royals as they venture on the path of finding out who they truly are as individuals and they end up finding out a lot about each other as well.  Of course, Disney includes a sweet love story, a couple of bad guys and a few surprises along the way.  My favorite thing about Frozen is that it follows along a similar path as Brave.  It portrays its female characters as two strong and independent women.  We are no longer being poured into the mold of damsel in distress.  And it focuses on the bond of sisterhood and the importance of family, something that I personally believe will benefit the children who are lucky enough to view it.  Even if the themes are over their head at this point, they may find a lasting appreciation for the movie and rediscover it again in later years.  It was as close to a classic as anything I’ve seen in years.

Earlier this year we reviewed Despicable Me 2 (which will be released soon on DVD), and I felt that movie was a leading candidate for animated film of the year.  I still feel that way and would recommend you rent or buy it this Xmas season, but Frozen is now easily my new frontrunner.  While the cast list of many of Pixar and Disney’s animated offerings are loaded with A-List movie stars, a quick peruse of the Frozen crew yields nary a one.  No need to fret, every voice was perfectly cast, with my personal favorite (and I’m guessing most who see it) being the plucky, hilarious, heroic snowman Olaf (Gad).  Sure to join the likes of Zazu, Apu, Tow Mater, Donkey, The Genie, King Julian, et al, as a beloved sidekick for the ages.  He sings a solo about his eagerness to see summer that will leave you in stitches.  Far from a one man show, Anna (Bell), Elsa (Menzel), and Kristoff (Groff) carry us along on this non-stop, action packed, laugh-fest with heart and soul.  The songs don’t get in the way, they blend seamlessly with the story.  Animated movies just don’t get better than Frozen, young, old, girl or boy, you will all love it.  In my opinion, a lock for the Oscar.  

I agree with everything that my writing sidekick has said.  Olaf was hysterical.  I haven’t laughed this hard at one of the kid’s movies in ages.  I don’t want to ruin anything for our readers, but a line from one of the songs has stuck with me throughout the weekend.  “I’m not sure if I’m gassy or just elated.”  What a clever touch it was to have one of the girls sing out this gem.  Another great lesson for children: chicks fart.  The animation was not to be ignored either.  Technology has come a long way since “Steamboat Willy”.  Frozen embodied all the best things about children’s film: great moral value, emotionally evoking storyline and incredible fun.  This movie is a must-see, especially for the family.  It has certainly kicked off our holiday cheer this season.  Happy holidays…and do yourself a favor – go see Frozen and melt away any holiday blues.

Ross’ Rating: 5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 5 Gummies.