Quick Hit: Predictable from start to finish, the movie somehow manages to finds its heart through Baymax and colorful characters.
Marvel and Disney seemingly own the world. As a DC Fanboy in most respects, that hurts a bit, but it’s largely true. But sometimes it goes to show that these small properties are good too. That’s because Big Hero 6 is a Marvel property, despite the fact that they probably didn’t even remember they owned it. And you know what, this movie won an Oscar for best Animated feature in 2015. Do I think it deserved that? Eh. But it’s a decent animated film.
Let’s start with just that – the animation. It’s tremendous throughout. There are some amazing colors that are always being thrown at the screen. Along with that, nearly every scene drips with movement. Very rarely is someone standing still, and if they are, it isn’t for long. The bright colors help with the fact that we have never seen these characters before, because you can attach a color to a person and better remember that person’s name (seems simple, but too often in films this isn’t done).
Along with that, the characters are really fun. The super powered beings are enjoyable, and the voice acting on their part is great. And Baymax may be one of the most original and heartening characters ever created. It’s great to see that one character who isn’t even human somehow controls the movie perfectly, being the heart, the brains, and the soul of it. That’s due first to the animation, which brings to life what is essentially a balloon. After that, it’s Scott Adsit’s voice that lends a perfect huggability to the character.
For me though, what kills this film is the completely unoriginal story. For something that has such good characters to be let down like this is a bit of a travesty. To have a movie that is nearly excellent and instead falls to good is even worse. Everything about the film’s story feels recycled, down to the twists that can barely be called that. All the moments that should hurt the most don’t, and all the anger and sadness get sucked out of the rest. It’s because when you are constantly choreographing your spin move, eventually the opponent catches on and smacks your shot out of the sky (basketball metaphor - it is March Madness after all).
Overall I think kids will enjoy it, and most people will overall – but it wasn’t the best Disney film I’ve seen this year. I’m giving Big Hero 6 a “B-“.
For more on this, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: A beautiful, haunting, thrilling swan song to one of the best to ever take the mantle of “Superhero”
I’ve spent a long time thinking about Logan. For years really, long before I ever saw the movie or thought about the movie. That’s because Wolverine is my favorite Marvel superhero. I see him as the dark side of my personality: the wild, give-a-damn type who is fond of guttural screams and sarcasm. I’ve loved Jackman on screen from his first “Bub” as the clawed crusader, and it physically hurts me to think I’ll never see new content with him as Wolvy. But, this isn’t a post to lament a fallen colleague – instead, it’s to celebrate a terrific movie.
Many people (including me) have been criticizing the superhero genre as becoming too serious. And while I hold to my ground that someone like Superman should have his films a bit more “light”, here I can’t help but deny that the seriousness in Logan, that overwhelming intoxicating sadness and weariness, is incredibly well-done. More, it’s fitting. If Logan would have cracked more jokes, this movie would have fallen back into Last Stand territory. As it sits, it’s a perfect blend of the story of a gunslinger’s tragic life.
The film is incredibly violent, as the movies really should have always been. But while some people have critizied the language and the violence as being shoe-horned into the film, I think it finally feels as if Wolverine is allowed to stretch into the skin that he was written for. It’s beautiful and terrifying to see the invulnerable man so pained and so hurt physically (as well as emotionally). It’s because Logan has always been the one to fight throw the pain and save the day, and here it’s different in only one way: Logan is convinced that these are now wounds to match his emotional ones – they won’t go away.
There is also so much to be said for this film’s meta-qualities. For instance, X-24 is such a beautiful way to talk about the extremes that an actor must go to in order to achieve a look for a role. Wolverine has required Jackman’s blood, sweat, and probably tears in order to look the part. But every few years, he has commit to it in a way that few have – for decades. It's also a commentary on the comic book genre as whole: by mentioning the comics and talking about how the things that took place in the books never did in real life, it allows the director (and actors) to tell other stories than just what is written. There’s also the inevitable handing over of the reins to young Laura (who I’ll touch a bit more on in a minute), which is now metaphorical as well as literal. Jackman cannot go on – so he’ll leave it to new actors. I really liked the inclusions of the movie Shane. James Mangold (who formerly directed 3:10 to Yuma) knows the Western genre and allows the inevitable comparisons to be drawn.
And to go with those comparisons, there is also this – Logan is frequently beautiful and emotional, just like Westerns are. There are some beautiful landscaping shots that could be shown in a film studies class (who knows, they may be one day). I’ll also include some shout-outs to some of the close-ups to Jackman’s face – the man has a scary intensity, and the camera does not shy away from it. It’s evident to see how much Logan is hurting, if you only look in his eyes. Heavy metal poisoning hurts. As does living through countless wars and deaths of those that you love.
I’ve gone on ad nosium about Jackman, but what of the other players? What about Patrick Stewart, Professor X himself? He’s excellent, by all standards. Frequently portraying the heart and the hate that is the relationship between himself and Logan, Stewart allows us into his most vulnerable of positions: one where we know more than he does. It’s another painful realization, and when you see the lack of control this former super now has, it’s upsetting. Mangold helps us get past the worst of it, frequently giving us jokes to lighten up moments that could be devastating in a different light (the bathroom scene with Logan for instance). Dafne Keen, who plays Laura, is absolutely as insane as Logan in his most fearsome moments. But, without a convincing belief that she has the same heart as Logan, the audience wouldn’t care about her. Keen does the impossible – take a brand new character to the X-series and make you want to see more of her. This feral, completely out-of-control take is something that people asked to see from Wolverine for years – now we have two in the same film. Here is a collection of gifs to start of my next statements.
The last thing I have to say is simple. I want to personally thank Hugh Jackman. I know he doesn’t know me, and that there a million fanboys out there that have sung his praises throughout the nine films he’s been in (X films, there are many others including the excellent The Prestige and others that I would love to review). But, I just can’t help but want to state my thanks. He has provided me with hours of entertainment; a hero that others and myself can aspire to be; and throughout it all has continued to be humble and gracious for his good fortune to be given a character such as this. He will never read these words (barring any miracles occurring through Twitter or the like), but I felt the need to say them nonetheless. When I do cosplay as Wolverine, there is a reason I aim to look like you - you'll forever be the standard look, regardless of who else plays you. You are the Christopher Reeves of Wolverines. Thank you.
I’m giving the excellent film Logan an “A+” and jumping on the Oscar bandwagon for the film. Who's with me?
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: A movie that falls short of a lot of what it could have been, while still maintaining a semblance of entertainment.
Buckle in folks – it’s gonna be a long one today.
One of my fondest memories of childhood is Saturday morning cartoons. Was there any greater feeling then waking up to the Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Superman, and Batman? I remember devouring all the cartoons, particularly the last two as the represented what I wanted to be in life: a hero to those I loved.
I may have a greater affinity for Superman, but Batman doesn’t fall far in my books. He for sure has a much more interesting Rogue’s Gallery, and it’s here that I’ll begin my tale. Most of the “heroes” in Suicide Squad are Batman villains. They do justice to a few of them in the movie, but not nearly enough to the team as a whole.
I’m off topic. My thoughts about this movie are as all over the place as the plot of this poor thing.
It could have been so good! The trailers (I’ll come back to these I promise) were wonderful – colorful and different, musical and fun. However, the movie begins with a super long bit of exposition delivered to introduce us to most of the characters that we’ll see. I understand the need for this: not a single character in this film has been presented in a recent DC film (I’m struggling to think if any of them have been presented in any DC films – about the closest I can think of is the recent string of excellent DC centric TV – Arrow has presented several of the characters before). But… to do so in this format was hard because there was so much talking, it ran the risk of being boring (and for some people that aren’t comics lovers, probably will be). Couldn’t we have presented the Squad’s members’ talents/backgrounds in a way that was fuller and richer? Or if you want to go the quicker route for time purposes, why not do a montage of them performing said skills in the yard at the prison, or when they are first gathering the team? Indeed, with the small amount that was said about each character, why not just let them show us themselves what they are capable of?
So begins the first hour of the movie. The second hour picks up a bit, because we actually get an antagonist, and sheesh is it thrown together. It’s almost like they forgot to get a bad guy for the film, and at the last second, threw this in. I won’t ruin it for those… never mind. I’m gonna talk about it. Here’s a big, ole fat spoiler alert.
One of the potential members of the squad is the Enchantress. She’s magical and therefore powerful (following me so far). She ends up wanting to destroy the world, (still good) and does so by trying to build a magical machine (losing me) where she destroys different military targets (uh oh, slipping here) that she retrieves from the brain of Amanda Waller, while her magical brother (huh?) keeps hurting people, while somehow looking exactly like a mix between the Destroyer from Thor and Heimdall from Thor (ok… I got nothing).
If that sounds confusing to you, it’s because it is. The Squad is put together to rescue Waller, and eventually stop Enchantress and her brother, because Flagg, their military leader (sort of) loves the person the Enchantress is possessing.
An astute person that followed the trailers may well be asking at this moment where the Joker is. He featured prominently in the trailers and even the marketing campaign. But… his inclusion in this movie is almost pointless. I understand the desire to introduce him, I really do. He’s the most famous villain in the entire DC universe. Two (now three) very talented actors have portrayed him, and have done so in very, very different ways. I’ll talk about Leto and the Joker in general in the next paragraph, but here, I just wanted to say that the trailers (told ya I would hit them) pretty much reveal every single scene that the Joker is in. I literally don’t think there was a single moment that I hadn’t already seen. I pray that they give him a movie of his own (starring the Bat too of course) where we can dive into him more than just making him seem like another thug.
Ok… Leto’s Joker. There’s been a lot said on the internet since the first unveiling of the picture of him, and it seems like they took the criticism to heart. The tattoos didn’t seem nearly as vibrant as in the first photo, and that’s probably a good thing because they are rather distracting (and I like tattoos!). However, his performance was just… eh. I really enjoyed his voice – it seemed like a blending of Leto’s natural talents and Mark Hamill’s from the animated series. His laugh is pretty creepy, but I didn’t really get the vibe that this Joker is insane. Like I said in the previous paragraph, he just seems like another powerful thug. Another thing I didn’t love was his pursuit of Harley. He seems SOOOOOO in love with her, but that isn’t their relationship. He likes having her around, and has affection for her, but he can’t show it the typical way. It’s a relationship that is extremely one-sided, and that wasn’t presented here. What they should have done is had him be present in Harley’s backstory, then still rescued her at the end. Take out all the middle scenes.
One thing I want to stress is that I’m glad that the director/writers/Leto seem to want to distance themselves from Ledger’s Joker. That take was so definitive that anything similar would have seemed like a copycat of what had already been done. It’s hard to follow up an Academy Award winning performance on the same character, so at least they forged onward into a new direction.
I’ll move on to the Squad themselves (sorry for this deluge of information about my thoughts – I just care a lot about these fictional characters). I thought the Will Smith did a terrific job with what he was given, which wasn’t much. Floyd Lawton is one of the best antiheroes out there, like Deadpool if he had a daughter to care for. I thought that Margot Robbie was spot on for Harley. She nailed the Brooklyn accent … most of the time anyways. She speaks a lot in clichés and things, but that’s Harley as a character. One of my main problems with the movie’s depiction of her was that she was overly sexualized. Most women comic characters are at some point in their careers, but let’s not forget – Harley is a creation of Batman: The Animated Series that I used to watch on Saturday mornings. There, she was just Mistah J’s gal – not a slutted up bimbo (that’s Ivy’s role to fill).
Most of the other characters end up being forgettable, which is a shame because so many of them are so interesting. Diablo is the only one we really get a chance to form an attachment too. Captain Boomerang is only there for comic relief, but that was mainly his job in the comics as well, so he gets a pass. I was horrified with the way they portrayed Killer Croc though, because he has a much deeper motivation than just being part crocodile. I don’t understand why they chose to make it so that he barely spoke, besides they wanted to continue to give Harley and Deadshot lines. Maybe future installments in the Batman series or Suicide Squad would give a chance to further explore some of these other characters (I mean come on! Katana is awesome! Give her some more time! A sword that contains souls!!).
Up to this point in this extremely long review (if anyone is still reading, kudos to you), I’ve been almost uniformly negative, and that’s unfortunate, because it’s not all bad. I thoroughly enjoyed a lot of the action scenes in the movie. As I said before, I loved the take on Harley, and thought that Smith was a great Deadshot. I haven’t even mentioned the wonderful performance by Viola Davis, who was crafted with being an extremely nuanced character in Amanda Waller. Indeed, almost the whole cast seemed very committed to their performances, and that is admirable and should be commended.
The soundtrack was good, but what I was confused about was the fact that it didn’t seem to match the movie at times. It’s a point my fellow blogger, Steve Donahue, brought up in his post about the movie. The trailers did it perfectly, but here, the faltered, despite the fact that very good songs were used.
The biggest positive I have (besides the acting) was the colors. They took BVS and turned it on its head here, turning up all the colors to max. I didn’t watch the movie in 3D, but I imagine that those that did were assaulted to the max with an Alice in Wonderland-like spectacle of color and action, which was enjoyable if overwhelming at times. This starts in the credits and ends in the credits, with very little slow down in between. I like this bold approach.
Overall, this movie is messy, fun, anger-inspiring, enjoyable, terrible, and lots of other things. I could post about it for days. But I think two and a half pages is enough. I’m going to give Suicide Squad a C.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"