Since the Disney-Marvel Union began, people have wondered if Disney was going to make their own adaptation of a Marvel property. Turns out, "their own adaptation" is rather different to the original.
After Disney bought Marvel, bringing the Avengers in-house, it didn't take long before producers started going through Marvel's extensive library of comic books in search of a property to develop into an animated adventure. 'Big Hero 6' is the first Disney-Marvel animation project. Although critics have wondered just how much Marvel is left in the movie.
Hiro and Baymax were redesigned to be more 'Disney friendly'
First published in 1998, 'Big Hero 6' was created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau in their spare time while they worked on another project. It's about a group of politicians and business owners who recruit and train a team of agents with superhuman powers for the Japanese government.
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Fans of bright, flashy things will love this colourful, kinetic animated adventure, although anyone seeking originality or involving characters should probably look elsewhere. This is the first Disney animation based on a Marvel comic book, although they have essentially only retained the title and a vague semi-Asian setting. The result is a film that feels like something you've already seen before, with the usual Disney plot formula, characters and action beats, plus lots of sentimentality. At least it's witty and fast-paced enough to keep us entertained.
The futuristic setting is San Fransokyo, a slightly more Japanese version of San Francisco in which 15-year-old computer-geek orphan Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) lives with his Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph). Both are shaken when Hiro's brother Tadashi dies in an explosion Hiro thinks he might have caused. Then he meets Tadashi's health-care robot invention Baymax (Scott Adsit), a cuddly inflatable creature who just wants to take care of Hiro. He goes along with Hiro's plan to turn him into a fighting machine that helps find the masked man who stole Hiro's microbot invention and actually caused the explosion. Baymax also helps Hiro assemble the Big Hero 6 team, adding Tadashi's nerd-inventor pals: goofy Fred (T.J. Miller), rebellious Go Go (Jamie Chung), nice-guy Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) and girly Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez). Together they set out to stop the villain before he enacts his nefarious plan.
All of this is animated with bright colours and a snappy sense of the technology. There are several exhilarating set-pieces along the way as the young heroes work out their special powers by inventing all sorts of gadgets. But nothing about the script meaningfully deepens these characters. Each person on-screen is essentially one personality trait, while potentially colourful side roles (including Aunt Cass) are left badly undefined. What holds the interest is the superb interaction between Hiro and Baymax, mainly because of the obvious affection between them. And also because Baymax has all of the film's funniest lines.
Continue reading: Big Hero 6 Review
Sometimes it can be difficult to discover who you truly are. For Shirin (Desiree Akhavan), this is doubly true. Trying to balance the life of an ideal daughter her Iranian parents, keeping up with the social life and intrigue of Brooklyn and coming to terms with her own bisexuality, Shirin has had an awful lot on her mind, and has been out of work for months. As she fails at each of her own chosen lifestyles, Shirin slowly has to learn who she really is, before she can work on who she wants to be.
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Bill Murray shines in this story of a cynical grump whose life is changed by his friendship with a bright young kid. Writer-director Theodore Melfi makes an assured debut with this hilariously astute, emotional punchy drama, which may sometimes feel a bit over-planned but gives the audience plenty to think about. And along with Murray, the film has especially strong roles for Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts and promising newcomer Jaeden Lieberher.
It's set in a New York suburb, where the neighbourhood grouch Vincent (Murray) is already having a bad day when he discovers meets the perky family next door: Maggie (McCarthy) and her curious son Oliver (Lieberher). She has just fled from her unfaithful husband (Scott Adsit) and is working extra hours to make ends meet, so she reluctantly agrees to let Oliver stay at Vincent's house after school. Intriguingly, Oliver is one of the few people Vincent can bear to be around, aside from the pregnant Russian stripper Daka (Watts) and his lively cat Felix. And Oliver is like a sponge, happily soaking up Vincent's knowledge about things like swearing, fighting and betting on the horses. Oliver has no real idea that all of this makes Vincent a seriously unsuitable role model.
Yes, the central point is that good people are sometimes hard to spot. Vincent may smoke, swear, gamble and hang out with hookers, but he also has a deep soul that Oliver witnesses in the way he takes care of Daka, or how he regularly visits his wife in a nursing home even though she has long forgotten who he is. Melfi makes the most of this perspective, seeing everything through the eyes of perceptive young actor Lieberher. And Murray shines in a role that adds clever shadings to the actor's usual on-screen bluster. The interaction between Oliver and Vincent snaps with personality, and sharp roles for McCarthy and Watts offer meaningful wrinkles, as do other side characters such as Chris O'Dowd's schoolteacher.
Continue reading: St. Vincent Review
Vincent is living a life of hedonism in his retirement from the army. An avid smoker and drinker with few friends save for nightclub dancer Daka, he's hardly what you'd call a friendly neighbour. Nonetheless, a recently divorced Maggie has moved in nearby with her impressionable young son Oliver and she is desperate for a babysitter. Never one to judge a book by its cover, she enlists Vincent to take care of him while she's at work, and while he's not cut out to deal with children realistically, he could really do with the cash. Oliver learns a lot from Vincent, who pays him to cut his lawn and who helps him overcome his bulllies at his new school, while Vincent also learns a little from his new friend, who unwittingly shows him that there's a lot more left in life for him to enjoy.
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