D23 Updates and Excitement

I’m officially so jealous of anyone who got to go to Disney’s Comicon celebration D23.  I got to experience some of the fun panels watching on periscope (thanks awesome periscopers!) and I can’t even imagine seeing them in person.  Let me try and sum up all we learned from D23.

The biggest announcement was Star Wars Land!!!  Disneyland and Disneyworld are going to expand to add whole new lands with an immersive Star Wars experience . I love Star Wars so this is so exciting.  Evidently all the park personnel and everything you see at Star Wars land will be in character and part of the Star Wars world. The land will be “14 acres each. Guests will be able to ride the Millennium Falcon, sample blue milk and hang out at the cantina”.  Sign me up!

star wars2We also found out that Space Mountain is going to be redesigned to Hyperspace Mountain Star Tours will be updated to include the Force Awakens characters.  Sounds like a Disneyland trip will be in my future!

In other Disneyland news they announced a new Toy Story land with a slinky dog roller coaster.  So far the Toy Story attractions have been amazing so this should be great.

Star Wars Movie News

Continuing on the Star Wars vein we got new information on the Rogue One movie which looks awesome.  Director Gareth Edwards has started shooting and we should get the movie next year.  It will be the first stand alone Star Wars movies and looks like it will take a darker tone about resistance fighters who are trying to steal the plans for the Death Star.

The cast looks great with  Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Riz Ahmed,  Mads Mikkelsen and Alan Tudyk.   With some Chinese action stars it could provide a really visceral feel to the action of the movie and universe which they are trying to keep as real in feel as possible.

We also got this really cool cast photo

rogue oneWe also got to see the Force Awakens young cast and Harrison Ford introducing a new poster that looked amazing.  I am so excited for that movie!!!

Harrison Ford, seen as Han Solo in new 'Star Wars'

Marvel News

Marvel of course had some big announcements at D23 the biggest are lots of info about next years Captain America Civil War.  If you don’t know this plots superheroes against each other and evidently they showed a new trailer with Black Widow and Hawkeye fighting.  I can’t wait to see this new trailer!

Kevin Feige of Marvel also announced Doctor Strange and evidently Benedict Cumberbatch spoke to the crowd from London.  I’m a huge Cumberbatch fan and don’t know anything about Dr Strange so the movie looks like a fun addition to the MCU.

Animation News
Now for the main star at D23- the animation panels and news.
From Pixar there was a panel on Finding Dory where Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Kaitlin Olson and Ellen DeGeneres were all announced. We of course knew about DeGeneres and Albert  Brooks but Ty Burrell who does great voice work and Ed O’Neill are wonderful additions to the cast.

We also learned a little more about Toy Story 4. We knew it was a love story but John Lasseter elaborated it was a romance between Woody and Bo Peep who was missing in the 3rd movie.  Evidently Woody and Buzz go on an adventure to find Bo and it is very romantic.  Lasseter said:

“Each of the stories is a different genre,” Lasseter said, “and Toy Story 4 is a love story. It’s a love story between Woody and Bo Peep. Bo’s returned for Toy Story 4. Woody and Buzz head out to find Bo. It’s a very, very emotional story, and it’s very fun doing a story about [those two characters].”

It’s really true about the Toy Story movies.  Each one has a different feel and is in a different genre.

bo peep and woodyThe much talked about Coco project was officially announced by Director Lee Unkrich.  This is going to be a day of the dead story where they ask the question What if you could meet your long dead family members? (Pixar loves those what if questions!).  The only thing about it which makes me a tiny bit sad is I am sure nobody will remember Book of Life after this which was so artistically beautiful but lacked Pixar’s great storytelling.


 Disney Animation News

The biggest news from Disney is their new film Gigantic which will take on the Jack and the Beanstalk story.  I believe this will be the first time Disney has retold a fairy tale they have previously animated? Fun and Fancy Free is okay but the new take on it seems very inventive.

giganticIn this version the giant is an 11 year old girl which I think could be really interesting and I love the concept art.  I think it could work really well with the current WDAS CG animation style.  Also Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez from Frozen are doing the music (Yay!).   Evidently they sang one of the songs and it was a huge hit.


 Disney had a presentation on their upcoming film Moana and Dwayne Johnson proved his charisma once again.  They also announced all the music talent behind the film, which I am super pumped about- Lin-Manuel Miranda who wrote the The Heights and is incredible,  composer Mark Mancina (“Tarzan” “The Lion King”), and Opetaia Foa’i who is in a Polynesian band called  Te Vaka.  John Musker and Ron Clements are directing and so there is every reason to be excited about this movie (I love anything Polynesian!).   And it is so cool to see how important the project is for Johnson.


The last animated film they talked about is Zootopia.  We learned some interesting things about it.  First of all, that it is going to be a musical or at least have original songs which I didn’t know about.  They announced a character named Gazelle who will be played by Shakira which honestly I doesn’t do much for me but should be a good outreach to the Latino Disney fans.  I’m not a fan of her outfit which seems very slinky. I’m still a little nervous about this project but the team they’ve got is great and it’s cool to see Disney doing something different.  I’m sure it will be great.


Poster for 'The Jungle Book.'

The last thing I thought was cool in the footage was the response to The Jungle Book trailer.  Director Jon Favreau introduced it and I guess everyone loved it!  And then the entire cast was on stage which looked really cool.  Ben Kingsley, who voices Bagheera, said “There is a saying among actors: Never work with a child or animals. I work with a child, and I play an animal.”  I just hope they change the ending.  Fingers crossed.  It sounds like they are using some inspiration from the book and the movie so that sounds great.   I was glad to hear that it will be a musical and they will be singing Bear Necessities!

And evidently they watched a trailer for Jungle Book which I can’t wait to see.
So I know that was an insane amount of information but if you are a movie fan and especially a Disney fan you are probably eating it all up like I did.  (And there is even more but I had to stop somewhere).
What excites you the most?  I think Star Wars Land may be the biggest news because I had no idea that was coming but it is all great.  Let me know your thoughts about any of it in comments.
It’s a great time to be a movie fan and especially a Disney fan!

Pixar Review 13: Boundin’

boundin8Next short to review before Finding Nemo is both big and small in the world of Pixar.  It is called Boundin’ and it is big because it is the first real short (not counting Mike’s New Car) that has words or vocal performance.  It is small because it is the creation of one man- Bud Luckey.

boundin3Boundin’ is written, directed, narrated by, and music written by Bud Luckey.  You have to go back to the very first shorts done primarily by John Lasseter to find that kind of all-in-one creation, and I think that is kind of neat.  It would be fun if Pixar did more of that with their shorts so you could get a real taste of each animators vision and style- kind of like a showcase in a gallery of animation.

boundin7I guess the next question is what Bud Luckey came up with any good?  I think it is.  It has the feel of one of the Melody Time skits, which you may not remember is my favorite of the package films.  It particularly has a strong homage to Pecos Bill with the scenery of the Southwest.

boundin4Boundin’ is about a sheep that loves his wool coat so much it makes him dance.  This is interesting because he is kind of vein but it’s in a very likable way . It’s more like self-confidence than overly prideful.  He is so joyous with his dance that all the other critters around him start dancing too.

But then disaster strikes and our sheep looses his fur and with it his self-esteem.   Here’s a clip (I couldn’t get the entire short this time) which will give you a feel for the show.

Just when he is feeling depressed he meets a jackalope who teaches him how to jump and that “bounding is better than dancing”.  The message is “getting up when you fall down”.   The sheep tries it out and is won over.

boundin9The next winter his coat has grown back and cut again but this time he has bounding and won’t get depressed any more.

boundin10This is an extremely old fashioned short and so I could see it not being everyone’s cup of tea but I like it.  I think it has a really nice rather nuanced message about not just self-confidence but finding joy even when things aren’t perfect.  I like that the sheep learns to be happy without his fur that he still loves when it grows back.

From an animation standpoint it looks gorgeous with beautiful dessert (and snowy) vistas.

boundin5Like I said it reminds me a lot of Pecos Bill but also the old Warner Brothers shorts that had a simple message with lovely animation and some laughs.  I like that vintage quality.

The music is also very sweet and nostalgic.  It feels like Roy Rogers telling a story around the campfire!

Nice job Mr Luckey.  You’ve done good!

Overall Grade- A

Pixar Review 4- Tin Toy

Hi guys!  I’m back from Georgia and it is time for another Pixar short review and we are getting our baby on with the landmark animated film Tin Toy.

tin toy3Tin Toy was created for SIGGRAPH in 1988. The genesis for the project happened when John Lasseter was watching his niece play with her toys.  She was sucking on, throwing, stomping on them.  The idea occurred to him that to the toys this sweet adorable baby would be seen as a monster.

So they got hard at work and designing an actual baby proved to be a mammoth task and they invented new facial recognition software and was the first computer graphics with bendable joints and a fluid body.

tin toy2The story of Tin Toy is a baby named Billy who has a toy named Tin Toy that is an old school Japanese one man band type toy.  Both the toy and the baby turned out very cute and the sound mixing is perfect.

tin toyWhen the toy see’s Billy sucking and throwing his toys he naturally becomes terrified and flees leading to the big laugh of the movie- All of Billy’s toys are hiding under the sofa shivering in fear from the monster that is Billy.

tin toy 8Each of the animators was given the task of designing one of the toys under the bed and it was this shot that started the idea of Toy Story.  In fact, Disney was so impressed with Tin Toy that they sealed an agreement with Pixar to create their first feature film about toys.

Tin Toy also is of note because it is their first Oscar win for Best Animated Short and the first CG animation to win an Academy Award in 1988.

The great thing about Tin Toy is how many emotions they manage to show in a 4 minute film we get joy, anger, hurt, fear, remorse, envy, desperation and more.  Tin-Toy-Sad-web

When I think of what makes a character like Woody so great he has all those emotions, sometimes very rapidly and who knows if the storytelling would have grown if such robust characters weren’t cultivated in these shorts first.

Here is John Lasseter and Bill Reeves getting their Oscar for Tin Toy.  It helps give you a sense of who they were and the community that built Pixar as we know today.

It’s worthy of the Oscar and is certainly an A+.  A great early short.  (Only 1 more short to go till Toy Story!)

Pixar Review 3- Red’s Dream

reds dream6Of Pixar’s first 5 early shorts Red’s Dream is probably my favorite.  It’s so beautifully realized and has tremendous heart.

Released in 1987 for the SIGGRAPH conference Red’s Dream feels less like a proof of concept and more like an actual story.  It is not one that I have to make excuses saying ‘it would look better but they developed the technology while making it”.  No, this one looks great on its own.

It starts out with a gorgeous cityscape.  It’s a rainy night and we focus in on a bike store and then on a little unicycle who is dreaming of an incompetent clown.  Red of course is the true star not the Bozzo clown.

Director John Lasseter says in the audio commentary they picked the project because Eben Ostby (hint Eben’s bikes) had taken up a fascination with bikes and they had a 3D digitizer that could load sculptures and animate.

reds dream5Early animator Bill Reeves used it as a chance to work on animating rain which it looks flawless.  Lasseter says “I’d say it’s the Pixar blue period” because there isn’t really a happy ending to the piece.  It is really quite sad for our little unicycle but there is something about that which makes it feel vintage and old school animation like a Dumbo or Pinocchio.

This was also the first time they animated something at night and again they did an amazing job.

reds dreamAs with all these shorts it has the feel of a silent movie like a sketch you might see Chaplin or Buster Keaton do but certainly with enough pizazz to appeal to a modern audience.

Evidently Ollie Johnson, one of the 9 Old Men, saw the short and “he shook Lasseter’s hand aferward and said meaningfully ‘John, you did it'”

reds dream4

The music is by David Slusser and there is an article at http://www.sfgate.com that says “pixar sound editor by day, saxman by night”   Evidently he is the one playing the perfect bluesy saxaphone accompanying Red’s Dream.  I think he wrote the music too.  Pretty great.

Like I said it is probably my favorite of the shorts and so I give it an A+

Pixar Review 2: Luxo Jr

luxo3So now we get to review our first ever actual Pixar branded short, Luxo Jr.  In 1986 Steve Jobs bought the computer animation division from Lucasfilms and branded it Pixar.

John Lasetter was borrowed from Disney and he was being trained on how to build models.  As his source material he started to look at a luxo lamp he  had on his desk because “it was geometric and would show the shadow algorithm well”.  At this time computer animation was done with equations and ‘art school math’ as Lasetter puts it.

As he attempts to actually animate his lamp Lasetter grows increasingly more frustrated with the math:

“I’m sitting there with a hand calculator at these expensive computers trying to figure it out using my art school math if a ball is this size how far would it move and I was like ‘what’s wrong with this picture?’ so I went to Eben [Ostby] ‘please can you do something with the computer to help me with this?  And that was the beginning of our procedural animation so I just animated the path of the ball and this amazing program Eben developed made it so the ball rotated accurately”

Sounds like we should all be grateful to Eben Ostby for some art we’ve gotten since 1986!

Here he is

Lasseter also got some key inspiration that we can see in his later leadership while making Luxo Jr from a man named Raoul Servais.  At first Lasseter just wanted to make a “plotless character study” of his lamp.  Servais told him “No matter how short it should have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Don’t forget the story.  You can tell a story in ten seconds”.

So that’s what he does.  As you will see in Luxo Jr we get a clear story.  Most of these early shorts are like silent movies with no dialogue but a clear beginning, middle and end.

It’s a charming little short and did great things for Pixar.  Lasseter said in the audio commentary the hardest part was getting the cord right “It was the cord.  I will never forget.  The cord was so hard.  The rolling of the ball was such a pain.  [Eben’s program] didn’t help with the cord.  The ripples in the cord were done by hand and it was painful!”

Never forget the cord! 🙂

What Lasseter is able to do in Luxo Jr is create emotion extremely quickly and establish a relationship between the two lamps, something that when I  write it sounds insane and yet there it is.  Some say it is a mother and baby lamp.  Lasseter has said it is a father son lamp but either way it is amazing any such connection can be made with a lamp!

luxoThis little short, Luxo Jr, “sent shock waves through the entire industry- to all corners of computer and traditional animation.  At that time, most traditional artists were afraid of the computer.  They did not realize that the computer was merely a different tool in the artist’s kit” (Edwin Catmult, Computer Animation: A Whole New World)

Luxo Jr also became the first computer animated short to be nominated for an Oscar in 1986.

So it’s another of these shorts that is simple on the surface but anything but when you consider its influence in the world of animation.  In many ways it may be the most important animated short since Steamboat Willie.

You got to give it an A+.  It has emotion where it shouldn’t.  It tells a sweet simple story.  It was groundbreaking and it is completely charming.  It also became the face of Pixar from then on.


Pixar Review 1: The Adventures of André and Wally B

adventures of wallyWelcome to the start of my new project reviewing all the Pixar films and animated shorts.  The first 5 of these reviews are going to be shorts made by Pixar from 1984 to 1995 release of Toy Story. I have a fondness for these shorts because my uncle Mark used to work for Pixar in their financing department back in 1990ish. One year for Christmas he gave us a VHS tape with some animated shorts made by his company.  It had Luxo Jr, Knick Knack, Tin Toy etc.  I loved watching those shorts and I’ve always felt that I was an early Pixar fangirl well before Toy Story.  How many can say that? 🙂

That said critiquing or analyzing these shorts is tough.  By modern standards they seem crudely drawn and very simple.  For example, most of them are silent films without any dialogue just music.  But we have to consider these shorts were basically tools to help them create the technology that we now have with great CG animation.  In that sense they are not simple and are really quite groundbreaking.

The first short Pixar ever created is called The Adventures of Andre and Wally B.  It is a 2 minute bit about an android (that’s what John Lasseter calls it) named Andre that meets a bee named Wally B.  He distracts said bee and runs through the forest but is eventually outwitted and stung so hard it twists the bees stinger.

Adventures of Andre and Wally B was created by John Lasseter in 1984 when Pixar was a new division of Lucasfilm for a  conference called SIGGRAPH and it feels like something made for a conference, more to show off technology than tell a story.

The big breakthrough in Andre and Wally B is they were able to design a motion blur technology called the motion doctor that allowed for characters to not just be geometric shapes but move in a realistic way that flows.  Lasseter had been working at Disney and was brought on to animate the characters but I really think this short has more of a Looney Tunes feel than Disney with its physical comedy and silent movie feel.

adventures of wally3

What was really interesting in the audio commentary is technical lead Bill Reeves says “In retrospect it’s amazing that John didn’t do a robot.  Where would be today if he had?  Who knows but I’m so glad he didn’t”

So I suppose we can all be grateful for Andre and Wally B because it forced Lasseter to start designing outside of boxes like a robot would have been.  It would take 11 more years to perfect the technology to the level of a feature film but Andre and Wally B got the ball rolling and the creative juices flowing.

I have no idea what grade to give it.  Just enjoy it because it was the first and it is 2 minutes long…

What’s your favorite of these early shorts?  Next up the iconic Luxo!

Is Hand Drawn Animation Dead?

I just wanted to share this video with all of you from the Cartoon Palooza.  He covers the history of the transition from hand drawn to computer animation.  This is a divisive topic but I will share some of my thoughts after the video.

I’ve said it a number of times I think 2014 has been one of the best years for animation in the last 20 years.  It is thrilling to see so many different voices and visual styles being told.  Everything is out there from Book of Life to The Lego Movie to Big Hero 6. And I’ve liked at least on some level every animated movie I’ve seen this year except for Legends of Oz and The Nut Job. It’s an exciting time to be an animated movie fan and part of the reason we are able to have such variety and creative output is because of computer animation.

It is just a fact that the average studio can put together a computer animated film faster than hand drawn.  Disney just admitted as much when they changed their upcoming release Moana from 2D to CG so it could be finished 2 years sooner.  2 years is a long time for a studio to hold out a film just for artistic integrity that will probably not show as any benefit in the box office (of the top 5 biggest animated films ever at box office only 1, Lion King, is hand drawn).

Cartoon Palooza makes a good point about Tangled but the reason why that film was so expensive was not because of the animation.  It was all the rewrites, reshoots and it being their first 3D film. If a studio can make a movie 3D than they are going to make more profit and computer animation looks better in 3D than hand drawn.

Now we are getting hand drawn movies from the Studio Ghibli team and other smaller studios.  This December we get Song of the Sea which looks stunning.

What I want is good quality movies and if computer animation makes more people jump into the game than I think it is great.  If I was just going on personal preference I’d pick hand drawn but not a strong preference.  I love the artistry of the Pixar films.  Ratatouille, for instance, has some of the most gorgeous backgrounds of any movie I’ve ever seen.  So it just depends on the movie.


Or how about this scene from Wall-e?  It’s stunning.

Most importantly I just want to be entertained whether it is 2D, 3D, hand drawn or stop motion.  So if CG allows for more than 2 players to be in the game of animation and we get more years like 2014 I am a happy girl.

That said, maybe John Lasseter could set aside a few animators that could work on something over time like a Lilo and Stitch- not a big expensive epic just a simple story with hand drawn animation?  Something that would keep the medium alive?  Or it would be great if studios came to be known for hand drawn like Laika with stop motion animation.  Someone could make it their nitch and at least do well enough to keep the studio profitable.  If they are careful about release dates (which has been brilliantly timed for all the animated movies this year.  Only one stinker at the box office Legends of Oz) than it will probably do quite well.

Maybe a way to go is to use characters from an animated series like reclaiming the Avatar series after what Shyamalan did to it?    That way you would have a natural fan base to tap into? If they can pump out the hand drawn for the shows maybe it wouldn’t be too hard to make them into a movie?

Again, thankfully we do have Studio Ghibli and Cartoon Saloon putting out quality, if not American, hand drawn films.  So it is not a totally dead art.

The way I see it animation has gone through different periods.  We went through the Xerox phase in the 60s and 70s and there were some good one’s (Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians, Winnie the Pooh) and some bad one’s (Aristocats, Sword in the Stone, Black Cauldron). Now we are in the CG phase and there have been hits and misses but all it takes is that one big movie to hit with hand drawn and people will be back on the bandwagon.  So, no I do not think the medium is dead. Like I said Song of the Sea is coming out this year so it is being made by smaller, foreign studios.  Even a moderate hit will prick the executives ears and they will make hand drawn again. It goes down to supply and demand.

But like I said to me what matters most is being entertained.  I want to see art, music, and a great story in any medium. I hope hand drawn is not dead but I understand why studios don’t want to take the risk. From a business decision it does often make sense, and they are after all businesses first.



Here’s something I think shows what I am trying to say.  For years we would get 1, maybe 2 animated films a year.  This is the result of hand drawn animation. As glorious as those films could be and could not be it was just not a venture every creative thinker could do.

If we look at the 100 best reviewed films on rotten tomatoes we see the following.  You will notice that in the 90s during the renaissance there was only 1 film that made the list for most of the years.  It wasn’t until 1998 when we got both Antz and Bugs Life that things start to pick up in numbers.  The largest number is 2012 with 9 films that critics at least gave the highest scores too. My point being with computer animation more ideas and projects are able to get greenlit and that’s a good thing.

People are still making traditional animated films.  Even if it is not the big studios there are 2 releases this year so they exist. I can totally see a studio like Liaka emerging with the hand drawn niche. There will be 2 more added to 2014 by the time the reviews come in for Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya to this list . That will mean that 2014 will have as many critically lauded animated movies as the highest year 2012. That’s a good thing for the future of animated films. Plus, all of the animated films in 2014 made money except Legends of Oz. That’s also a good thing. People feel inspired to take creative risks when they know there is a population that wants to see said movies. So if you want hand drawn movies than support the one’s that do come out. It’s as simple as that.

1991 1
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2012 9
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Now you can debate whether critics were duped by certain movies and the blogosphere knows better but the output has without a doubt increased. I like hand drawn but if computer animation means we get more stories and things as beautiful and different as Book of Life or as funny as The Lego Movie than sign me up.

I hope the big studios will make hand drawn animation but I don’t agree that it is dead, and like I said, I think the state of animation is in an amazing place.

But again this is just my opinion but it’s my blog and so I call it like I see it. Feel free to disagree. Just do so politely.

Movie 54: Big Hero 6

big-hero-6-poster-baymax-hi-resThis is the review you’ve been waiting for.  #54- Big Hero 6 and boy did it not disappoint.  I will do my best to keep it spoiler free and won’t tell you any more than the trailer (maybe even less because it’s kind of a spoilery trailer).

I was really excited to see this movie and that usually means I’m a little disappointed unless you are Pixar but in this case John Lasseter has worked his pixie dust and made an extremely satisfying movie.  I would be stunned if you didn’t find something to like, even love about the movie.

It is based on an obscure marvel comic much like Guardians of the Galaxy this summer Big Hero 6 creates a super hero movie of unlikely members and gives the movie just enough laughs, excitement and tears (I actually cried a lot).

Big Hero 6 is written and directed by Disney vets  Don Hall (Winnie the Pooh)  and Chris Williams (Bolt and Mulan)  with Paul Briggs (Frozen), and Joseph Mateo (Tangled).

The setting for Big Hero 6 is unique.  It is a futuristic fusion of San Francisco and Tokyo called San Fransokyo which I thought was very clever.  It is futuristic but only slightly so.  There aren’t flying cars or anything too out there.  Again kind of the way Guardians of the Galaxy felt futuristic and nostalgic at the same time .  San Fransokyo was beautifully portrayed and if you can see it in 3D do because it was so immersive and gorgeous. One of Disney’s best cityscapes ever.

sanfransokyo2 sanfransokyo

The story is about a boy named Hiro who is a genius orphan (of course. It’s Disney!) who lives with his brother and Aunt Cass.  Hiro is an instantly likable character.  Kind of like Ralph in Wreck it Ralph or Aladdin.  He’s smart and sweet and sassy.hiro2At the beginning he is just frittering away his talent at ‘bot fights’ which are illegal gambling operations kind of a like a cock fight. His brother Tadashi is also a genius but he is applying his talents at the local technical school (supposed to be Cal Poly I think) where he works with robotics.


This is stated pretty clearly in the trailer but tragedy strikes and Tadeshi is killed but he  leaves behind a robot he has invented that is kind of like a robot nurse.  His name is Baymax and he looks like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow man.

baymaxI don’t know when I’ve seen a character I’ve taken too so immediately as Baymax.  He is warmth and love and his soul purpose is to care for Hiro.  It is kind of like the ultimate mother.

Then we get our villain who was pretty clever.  I won’t go too much into things but it surprised me.  He has layers and is not clean cut like some bad guys.

villainTo defeat the masked man Hiro reprograms Baymax to fight while still keeping his brothers code for caring.  Then the team at the school gather to support Hiro and become our rag-tag group of super heroes.  They were so much fun!

BigHero6Team Big-Hero-Six-Previews I loved there were different races and sexes and that Hiro is 13.  It’s so rare in a Disney movie that the protagonist is a child or young teenager.  Most are young adults.

The voice cast is excellent and mostly unknowns but all excellent.  Ryan Potter voices Hiro Hamada, Scott Adsit is Baymax and Daniel Henney is Tadashi and they are all great.  The only famous voices are TJ Miller as Fred (one of the college guys who becomes the team), Damon Wayans Jr as Wasabi (the black guy on the crew), Maya Rudolph as Aunt Cass and James Cromwell as Professor Callaghan.

The score is wonderful by Henry Jackman and includes little snippets of pop music like Eye of a Tiger but it is brief and there is a good song you’ll hear in the trailers called Immortals by Fall Out Boy.


There is such heart in this movie.  It reminded me of Up in the way we bond with a character quickly and we see their importance to our protagonist and that love we feel for the deceased character lives as a palatable force throughout the movie.  Just like Ellie’s love for Carl painted every scene in Up with love so does Hiro’s interactions with Baymax remind us of the love of his brother Tadashi.

It’s hard to think of a movie about two brothers which is so well done.  How nice after Disney gave us the love of 2 sisters they give us equal heart with brothers.

But if that kind of heart isn’t your thing there is also a nifty plot and fun action adventure like any other Marvel film.  Like I said, the villains really surprised me and there’s a good twist.  If you like The Incredibles Big Hero 6 is right up there with it.  It’s got everything Incredibles has but it’s about a group of friends instead of a family . They are both wonderful so high praise!

Also the crew all have fun personalities and bring in a lot of humor.

first_look_big_hero_6_by_randommaze-d7qlfhhI think there is something in Big Hero 6 for everyone.  It’ looks gorgeous, great performances, wonderful music, fun story, great heart.  What more could you want?

Once again I admire Disney on being so bold . I can’t think of an animated movie which has such real, modern feeling characters. At least not since Oliver and Company!

I really will be shocked if you guys don’t love it.  What an amazing year for animation 2014 has been and I hope they nominate 5 films because Lego, Big Hero 6, Book of Life, Boxtrolls and How to Train Your Dragon 2 all deserve recognition.  I honestly have no idea which I like most.  They are all so different and wonderful!

Anyway, I loved Big Hero 6.  It made me cry, laugh and carried me away with the adventure.  There is a brief section in the middle with fighting that dragged a little bit but other than that I’d say it was perfect.

Overall Grade- A+  This is officially now my new #6 in my rankings!

The short before it called Feast is ADORABLE!!

Here’s my video review

Movie 47: Meet the Robinsons

posterThe last few nights of movie viewing have been rough going…I try to be kind and positive on my reviews but I would be lying if I didn’t say how much I disliked Brother Bear, Chicken Little and Home on the Range.  Treasure Planet was fine but kind of dry.  The reviews don’t have any meaning if they are all vanilla and you never either love or hate something.

But it’s tough when there is a stretch of bad reviews.  Start to feel like a jerk!  I want to like them! Really I do.

Fortunately we get a break from the dreck with Disney’s strange but entertaining 47th animated classic Meet the Robinsons.  This is not a masterpiece but as pop entertainment it is creative and bizarre and I liked it.

Meet The Robinsons Disney Robinson Family

The Production-

There isn’t a ton to say on production but that Pixar was officially purchased by Disney during the making of the movie, which is why John Lasseter became a producer on the film.

In fact, he saw an early screening and didn’t think the villain was scary enough so he changed it and evidently 60% was changed and retooled.  It has the feel of a movie that is a bit overwrought and maybe retooled a bit too much but it still works.

It is also of note because it was the first Disney movie to be released in digital 3D that is so common now.

The movie has a bit of a Simpsons feel with broad humor and bright colors and even has Danny Elfman as the composer of the score (who wrote the Simpsons theme).  It’s not as good as the Simpsons or as funny but I would bet it is a creative influence.

The soundtrack has songs by Jamie Cullum, Rob Thomas, They Might be Giants and others and it is very good.  Probably Disney’s best pop song soundtrack. (At least it is a step up from The Spice Girls in Chicken Little…)

The voicecast is universally strong and huge (shows how many characters are in the story).  Steve Anderson voices 3 parts including the Bowler Hat Guy, Ethan Sandler 5 including Doris.  Tom Kenny, Tom Selleck, Laurie Metcalf, Angela Bassett, Harland Williams all provide voices.

The Story-

This movie is impossible to describe without being a huge spoiler for those who haven’t seen it.

Basically it’s kind of Back to the Future meets The Incredibles meets strangeness.

A little kid named Lewis is an orphan who likes to invent things (kind of like Doc Brown as an orphan kid).  He even keeps his roommate up all hours of the night with his inventions.

meet-the-robinsons-1His inventions prevent him from being adopted, so he decides he wants to get to know his mother using a memory scanner he has invented.  He then meets a strange boy named Wilbur

wilburWilbur is looking for a man with a bowler hat who has stolen a time machine.  This sends Lewis on quite the  journey!  The Bowler Hat man is a very good and creepily drawn villain. You will never guess who the Bowler Hat man really is.  Or at least I didn’t.  It’s very clever!

bowler hat guy

Lewis and Wilbur meet the Robinson family and I don’t want to give the surprises away but there is a dinosaur and several other inventions.  It’s a nutty movie.


Meet-the-Robinsons-Family-Tree-meet-the-robinsons-28991696-842-464At times it gets a little cluttered and convoluted but basically it’s about how Lewis gets to understand his mother, his own potential and the importance of family.

Movie Review/Conclusion-

I don’t want to oversell Meet the Robinsons because it has big problems.  It throws a lot at the screen and at a certain point it becomes exhausting, but I’d rather have that than a lazy predictable entry like Brother Bear.  Just my personal preference I suppose. meet-the-robinsons-original-2

I’m not sure every plot point works out and the writing could be sharper, creating more compelling characters but what we get isn’t bad.  In fact, I think it is pretty good.

It’s certainly bright and colorful and the story definitely surprised me.  The villain is very well done and like I said caught me off guard.  The big reveals work and overall I was charmed by it.

It might be a little hard for kids to keep track of everything and I wish there were a few more laughs but I think enough is there to entertain kids and it’s maybe even more suited to teens.

We do also get some really nice messages about family, being yourself, and getting adequate amounts of sleep each night…!

It’s certainly a huge step up from Chicken Little.  That’s for sure.  It’s no Pixar.  I mean Pixar came out with Rataouille in 2007 and who can compete with that?… (was a weird year for animation because the Bee movie also came out which is a strange mixed bag like Meet the Robinsons).

So looking for some odd and colorful entertainment?  Give Meet the Robinsons a shot.

Overall Grade- C