You can’t accuse Disney of not trying new things these days…after the rather inspired idea of a video games homage in Wreck It Ralph we come to this somewhat Japanese anime inspired story following a young kid who yearns to follow in his elder brother’s footsteps and go to science school. He also so happens to be a genius at robotics. However following a disastrous turn of events said kid, Hiro finds himself befriending his brother’s invention instead and seeking out the answers to a mysterious accident at the local university.
At first I wasn’t really sure where this one was going, it felt like a weird mix of things and it’s tone was uneven. Not helped by a cast of supporting characters that either ticked all the clichés or were otherwise forgettable. Yes, we have the cool outsider girl, the bookworm, the stoner (!) and the token black guy. Yet it’s the friendship between Hiro and Baymax, his brother’s robotic inflatable nurse (not as sleazy as that sounds…) that makes for the heart of the movie, and even plot developments that turn the whole show into The Avengers meets Power Rangers don’t detract from what turns out to be rather emotional and feel good. Despite a quasi-future setting (in San Francisco – you know, where ALL movies are now set), the inventions by these kids seems so amazing and powerful that they defy logic. But this is a Disney movie so I’m guessing believability goes out of the window? This can’t excuse however a villainous plot that’s rather thrown together with a twist that just felt like it had been sneaked in by the writing room cleaning lady last minute.
Which is all a shame as aesthetically and script-wise this often shines. There’s some stand-out action scenes in the final act, and the in-jokes and banter between the characters got pretty funny. Baymax is a brilliant creation, part tech-demo for the animation gurus and also a really likeable presence. So another Disney to check out, if not quite as essential as some of their other movies.
I’ve not really taken much interest in the Academy Awards this year, as I am getting increasingly underwhelmed by award ceremonies of late where it’s always the same names and the same kinds of movies getting nominated let alone winning anything. However on taking a casual glance at this year’s winners, I feel pleasantly surprised to see some deserving names getting mentioned.
I was wanting to see Birdman for a while but haven’t yet got around to it. At first I was intrigued as it was a come back vehicle for Michael Keaton, then I heard it was directed by 21 Grams auteur Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. So I am equally happy to report that the movie grabbed Best Picture along with a Best Director nod for Alejandro. In some of the other categories I was not surprised to see who won, such as Eddie Redmayne as Steven Hawkins in The Theory Of Everything … typical Oscar fair but I hear it’s an amazing performance. I was also pleased to see J K Simmons getting Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash – not overly familiar with the movie but he has always been a very underrated actor. I was surprised to see Patricia Arquette getting Best Supporting Actress – thinking this actress, her appearance in Boardwalk Empire aside, was a bit of a has-been. So very pleased for her also. I am also a growing fan of Julianne Moore so was happy to see her get the Best Actress nod for Still Alice, even though I’m not familiar with that film.
One disappointment I did have was that once again, the Best Animated Feature Film went to a big budget Hollywood animation (Big Hero 6), and the also nominated Studio Ghibli movie The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya was snubbed – but, I haven’t seen either so that’s just a personal gripe. Yet I was happy to see that The Grand Budapest Hotel did fairly well in the production design, music and costume categories, even if I’d have loved it to get Best Picture.
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