Big Hero 6


Viewed – 17 September 2016  Blu-ray

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.

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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.

Verdict:  3 /5

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Saving Mr. Banks


Viewed – 26 March 2014  Pay-per-view

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.  I didn’t predict that, but such a versatile and skilled actor can seemingly inhabit the bodies of many characters you may never have pictured him as … Forest Gump springing immediately to mind.  This based-on-true-events tale tells the troubled history to bring much loved children’s book “Mary Poppins” to the big screen, and the difficult relationship that builds between the legendary studio mogul and author P L Travers (Emma Thompson).

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From the start this is sprinkled with the whimsical, magical feel of the classic movie and has the timeless music and songs showcased throughout, albeit during their inception rather than being delivered by the stars.  Jumping back and forth between the onset of Disney’s acquisition of the rights to Travers’ creation, and her childhood back in Australia … I was swept away by a very moving and emotional story with a brilliantly cranky Emma Thompson at the top of her game.  Her performance may be at times unlikable and a tad annoying but expresses the complex personality and inner-demons of Travers well, and is equally mirrored by Hanks remarkable Disney … eye-opening for those not overly familiar with the man himself, and charming and likeable in a way only Hanks can achieve.  Paul Giamatti as Travers’ chauffer is also good, and his slow-burning friendship with Travers is one of the movie’s highlights.

For me I would have liked less flashbacks (despite a rather good Colin Farrell as Travers alcoholic father) and a bit more behind the scenes of Mary Poppins’ production (no look-a-like Dick Van Dyke or Julie Andrews?  A two second glimpse doesn’t count!). Yet this was still very sweet, uplifting and funny.  Well worth checking out.

Verdict:  4 /5