Editor’s Note: Planning a family movie outing this Thanksgiving? Let Tony “The Credible Hulk” Mathers fill you in on some of this season’s film choices in this special, TRIPLE-SIZED installment of Nerd at the Movies!
BIG HERO 6
Animation allows for a simplicity that when done well, effectively conveys emotions better than any other medium. Big Hero 6 is proof of that. Robot Baymax is simplistic in his design, though children will love him because of his emotional resonance. Plus, he’s pretty funny too.
Big Hero 6 is more than the story of a boy and his robot. There’s an emotionally back story not shown in the trailers that becomes the focal point. It was surprisingly unexpected, and something I won’t spoil here, though I’m sure later trailers give it away. It’s this central plot that provides the movie’s greatest strengths and weakness, the characters.
Lead Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) works perfectly as a genius 14 year old. This archetype typically comes off as obnoxious. Here, he’s not only believable with his intellect, but is fallible, with plenty to learn and a childlike world view. He’s not an adult in a kids body. He’s a kid who happens to be good at building robots, that’s it. He’s still a kid. Baymax (Scott Adsit) is a perfect companion who’s utter sincerity is simultaneously endearing and funny. His soft and lovable body provides for plenty of comedic opportunities while the simplistic design invokes a myriad of emotions. The face, a straight black line, ending in two circles for eyes, says more than the dearth of overly complex designs flooding the market.
The city, San Fransokyo, was a wonderful hybrid of modern day San Francisco and Tokyo. The futuristic technology and cultural mashup permeated the movie, constantly hanging in the background, solidifying the credence of the world. It was never obnoxiously flaunted or beaten into the audiences heads.
Despite the fantastic story telling, a few weak elements were present. Specifically, the supporting characters. Aside from one, I couldn’t name the rest. Besides a moment or two, half lacked personality while all were purposeless. They only existed to follow Hiro, and possibly could have been written out in some scenes. The performances weren’t poor. Two of the character designs, GoGo (Jamie Chung) and Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) were fine, while the other two, Honey Lemon (Génesis Rodríguez) and Fred (T.J. Miller) were terribly, with the latter being utterly annoying.
Big Hero 6 was a blast and a worthy addition to the Disney catalog. This makes use of their Marvel purchase, taking an unknown comic and turning it into something fun. While it certainly won’t be the smash hit Frozen was, it’s still a must see for any Disney fan, young or old.
Did the movie hit you in the feels? Catch the Stan Lee cameo? Comment below!
After constantly delivering exceptional work, an immense amount of anticipation comes with a creators next project. Christopher Nolan is no different, with each of his movies increasing in spectacle. Interstellar is his largest to date, telling a mechanically complex story. Despite the pageantry, the same element present in all this work remains constant. The human element.
Interstellar shows a potential future that feels all too real. The human race is dying, along with the planet, as crops are going extinct, dust storms occur in alarming frequency, and all resources are put into survival. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a man born in the wrong era. A brilliant engineer when the world no longer needs one. He joins a mission created in secret to find other habitable planets across the galaxy.
Upfront, the performances, visuals, and baseline story are all fantastic. Cooper is a man who doesn’t want to leave his children, but knows if he doesn’t they’ll die, along with the rest of humanity. His journey is endearing to the cusp of believably, but never crossing the line. Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway) is crossed between pragmatic and impassioned, striving for the same purpose albeit through different means while her father, Professor Brand (Michael Caine), brings a third, yet equally understandable view to the table.
Each vista had a unique feel, and was visually stunning. Gravity (2013) brought with it a visceral sense of reality. The same feeling was showcased here through many different means. Earth was depressing, the plight of man striking a cord all too close to home. Planets with endless oceans or frozen clouds were shown, with light bending strikingly around black holes. The motion and weightlessness of space brought the feeling of infinite loneliness. The planets, the fear of the unknown while being so far away from home. The finale, a mind-bending experience in every sense of the word.
Futuristic sci-fi has a habit of quickly becoming dated, relying on present speculations of the future. Interstellar avoids that by making the stop of human ingenuity as a plot point. While there are minor advancements shown, specifically, the robot bodyguards, they all carry an air of plausibility.
The only pitfall is the heavy reliance on quantum mechanics and relativity. As someone who has read a few books on the subject, I found it fascinating and a thrill to watch. Others may have a difficult time grasping a few elements, in particular, the ending. There is an exposition type character similar to Ellen Page’s Ariadne from Inception, Romilly (David Gyasi), though he’s more subdued. Pay attention when he speaks. Someone who is not versed in relativity will leave confused and likely unfulfilled. Is that a fault of the movie? Possibly not, as everything is for everyone.
Despite the heavy reliance on science, grand liberties are taken with the third act finally. Not enough so to break the ending, but creating a general goofiness in the messaging (I use that word specifically) that damages it slightly. Also, the different planets visuals, though stunning, were too homogeneous at times, a poor juxtaposition compared to the rest of the visuals.
Interstellar, though weaker than Nolan’s previous efforts, is still remarkable. The weakness ultimately lies with relying on concepts beyond many, not ubiquitous ones like dreams or memory. That doesn’t hinder the emotional resonance, but certainly puts a barrier of entry for some. Though everyone can understand the drive to survive.
Did the movie resonate with you? Was the science a plus, or minus? Comment below!
Time is a flat circle.
DUMB AND DUMBER TO
Comedy, more so than any genre, evolves with time. Caddyshack (1980), Happy Gilmore (1996) and Anchorman (2004) are all funny in different ways, speaking to the generation they were released to. Dumb and Dumber (1994) is the same, fitting in with its 90s contemporaries and proving to be one of the best. But that was 20 years ago. That brand of comedy doesn’t work any more. For that reason, Dumb and Dumber To, a copy of the original, is a failure.
Name one comedy sequel better than the original. Better still, name one on par with its predecessor. Not impossible but certainly difficult. Comedies are lightning in a bottle. The truly successful ones capture a magic that can’t be reproduced, no matter how hard they try. Dumb and Dumber To not only fails to capture any of the original’s essence, but retroactively paints it in a sad light.
Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) are on the road again because reasons. They embark on a slapstick adventure that proves not only can you not go home again, but you shouldn’t even crack open that photo album. Like Austin Powers 2, Hangover 2, and Home Alone 2 before it, this is a paint by numbers sequel that fears veering to far from what made the original good by repeating all the same beats. Seeing Carrey and Daniels reprise their roles was sad, like returning home after a decade to see your friend still working the same dead end job. Both actors have moved beyond these roles creatively and financially, begging the question, why bother?
To be fair, this wasn’t abysmal. Those who don’t mind a stupid laugh or haven’t seen the original might find plenty to enjoy. The screening I attended was filled with uproarious laughter while I was avoiding the urge to check my cell phone.
Honestly, there isn’t much to say about Dumb and Dumber To. It was a terrible movie that wasted my time and money. If you have any affinity for the original, don’t bother with this. Even if you get the chance to see it for free a few years down the line, you’ll quickly feel the urge to turn it off. This likely appeals to some, but I’d be hardpressed to say exactly who.
Did you spend your time better than I did? Can you name a descent comedy sequel? Comment below!
“You owe me for this” – My wife.
In addition to THN’s Saturday Morning Cartoons and Nerd at the Movies, Tony writes for his own site, thecredhulk.com, about comics, video games, movies, TV and more, six days a week. You can follow his updates on Facebook or Twitter. Drop by and tell ‘em hi.