Beauty and the Beast

<em>Beauty and the Beast</em>

Beauty and the Beast is the latest popular Disney film to be made into a live-action film. Emma Watson stars as Belle, the odd but easy-going girl in a small French village. Dan Stevens plays The Beast, a former prince who’s curse requires him to find true love or remain a beast forever alone in his castle. Those who live in the castle with him are also cursed to live their lives as houseware items and depend on the beast to find someone to break the curse. Along comes Belle and a new hope arises that she’s the one they’ve been waiting for.

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Review: Big Hero 6

bighero6 When Disney acquired Marvel, fans imagined insane crossover (like Donald Duck fighting Wolverine) and all kinds of meddling from executives, but Disney surprised everyone by announcing an animated revamp to a mostly neglected Marvel property. Big Hero 6 takes a few core ideas from the source material and weaves them into a kid-friendly, heartwarming adventure with a diverse cast of characters. Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams take us to San Fransokyo, a strange amalgamation of Californian and Japanese culture, and deliver fast-paced superhero action and lots of laughs. San Fransokyo takes common visual motifs from primarily Japanese culture and slaps it on a super high tech version of the famous Californian city. The intersection of cultures works well to create a whole new world for the hyper-intelligent characters and also serves to justify the advanced tech present throughout the story. Robots are 3D-printed from home and no one bats an eyelash, which leaves more time for the film to traverse the plot and get right to the action.

The story focuses on brilliant 14-year-old, Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), as he hesitates to put his intellect towards a good cause.  His brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), steers Hiro towards attending his school by showing off Baymax (Scott Adsit), an advanced healthcare robot, and introduces Hiro to his classmates. Much of the plot revolves around Hiro and Baymax’s growing bond as they confront a threat to the city with the help of their peers.

Each member of the Big Hero 6 team shines in their own unique way, even before donning super suits. GoGo (Jamie Chung) is tough as nails, Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) always finds a silver lining, Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr) is level-headed, and Fred (T.J. Miller) is… Fred. While the team’s personalities are clearly distinguished, I left the viewing itching for a little more about them all. Hiro and Baymax guide the action of the plot and there simply isn’t time to veer off course, but this film leaves Disney in a great place to spawn a franchise.

There’s heavy themes the story covers, such as dealing with loss, and the script manages to weave in references to Asimov’s famous laws of robotics. Certain lines become empowering mantras that are repeated just enough to inspire, not annoy. Baymax serves as the main source of comic relief, and some of the slapstick humor obviously aims at the younger target demographic. However, while Baymax does manage to get the occasional big laughs from all ages, most of the comedic moments of the rest of the team struggle to land amidst the more chaotic scenes.

This film felt like a true integration of Eastern influence into Western media with an ode to intellect and technology. Also, the character designs and settings feel like a celebration of the prominent parts of the Californian way of life. Big Hero 6 excels as a kids’ movie with action and high-powered entertainment from start to finish, but many adults might find it too predictable to get incredibly invested.

(Also, not to spoil anything, but there is a stinger scene that the older comic-book reading audience is sure to get a kick out of.)

[easyreview title= "Review of Big Hero 6" cat1title="Tim's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.0" overall= false]

Review: Wreck-it Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph There are very few times that I go to the movies with my son and leave as entertained as he was. That was my experience with Wreck-It Ralph. Cameos by your favorite video game characters populate the film. From Ryu and Ken's trip to Tapper's for a root beer at the beginning of the film, to an out of work and homeless Q-bert, nostalgia is present in abundance.

Ralph (John C. Reilly) has become tired of playing second fiddle to his counterpart Fix It Felix (Jack Mc Brayer). When the game day starts Ralph is expected to spout off his line "I'm gonna wreck it!" and proceed to scale the building leaving destruction in his path. Felix , armed with his magic hammer, is expected to follow Ralph repairing his damage. At the end of each level, Felix is awarded a medal and Ralph is tossed off the building. Because if his discontentment Ralph decides to game jump in order to obtain a medal of his own.

In the game world, game jumping is known as going "Turbo." The term was coined for a character from the racing game Turbo Time. Turbo Time was unplugged and the racer Turbo game jumped in order to take over another game. Ralph leaves his game and travels to another game in search of a medal.

The message of the film is a bit convoluted, but in essence it has to do with labels. For instance, a line repeated in the film is "Just because I am a bad guy does not mean I am a bad guy. I'm bad and that's good." At BADNON, Zangief, Clyde from Pac-man, M. Bison, Bowser, and a random zombie among others affirm this for Ralph.

Ultimately, the film is filled with nerdy goodness. Overall it is a 4 out of 5, especially for a children's film. It is definitely the best 3D animated film done by Disney that is not associated with Pixar. Need I remind you of Dinosaur...enough said.

[easyreview title= "Review of Wreck-It Ralph" cat1title="Matthew's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.0" overall= false]

Review: John Carter

Triple Threat Review:

Micah:

The film stars Taylor Kitsch as John Carter, a captain in the Confederate Army.  He is transported to Mars where he finds himself in the middle of another of civil war.  John Carter then must choose to help a princess fight for the good of Mars, or Barsoom and the locals call it, of concentrate on finding a way back to Earth.

The overarching story is classic adventure fair, but it lacks structure.  I wish the film focused a little more on telling the story clearly and a little less on rehashing its jokes.

The performances are serviceable enough.  Kitsch does a decent job playing every gravelly-voiced male protagonist you've ever seen in a movie.  Lynn Collins, who Kitsch work with previously in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, is a standout as the princess.

I find it amazing that Andrew Stanton, director of Finding Nemo and WALL-E directed this.  Those movies brought a sense of awe and wonderment. I wanted to explore those worlds and the lives of the beings in them.  John Carter just feels like generic sci-fi.

Younger viewers will really probably dig this film but I wasn't too impressed.  This film is in the vain of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.  If that's your thing, give it a shot, otherwise pass on it.

[easyreview title= "Review of John Carter" cat1title="Micah's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="2.5" overall= false]

Matthew:

Virginia is for Haters!

They say that Virginia is for lovers, but if the state’s misinterpreted namesake has anything to do with the nature of the state, call me a hater. As convoluted as that statement was, it is even more convoluted if you don’t know the story of John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Borrough’s. Ok, before the hate mail starts, I know the original title is A Princess of Mars. In the movie John Carter states that he is from Virginia which leads to a comedy of errors in which he is called Virginia (supposedly this is funny because it is a girl’s name). Oh Disney you so crazy!

John Carter is FILLED with running jokes that leave you wishing they would stop dead in their tracks. From the overplayed jumping scene when he first arrives on the planet to the super speedy dog, I could not help thinking of Peter or Lois Griffin falling and rocking back and forth wincing and exclaiming “Ssssssssss,Ah!...Sssssssssss,Ah!”

This movie was just bad storytelling; however, the acting was not bad given the horribleness of the story. One of the standout performers was Lynn Collins who played Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium. She is probably best known for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. She basically carried the film. She is sure to have future roles despite her connection to two less than stellar films. Why do I say this, because American audiences are eating this movie up. As we left the theater one movie goer, in the press section I might add, said “That was awesome!”...REALLY....REALLY! Taylor Kitsch was just fine in the role of John Carter. It was a straight forward middle of the road performance, not bad...not extraordinary. Many of the scenes seemed as though they were striving for the feel of Star Wars. Rightfully so considering that John Carter is one of the oldest scifi book series. I am sure Lucas stole some ideas from Burrough’s. Virginia can call me a hater, but all in all this move was ok.

[easyreview title= "Review of John Carter" cat1title="Matthew's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="2.0" overall= false]

Jay

John Carter sucks...out loud!

Edgar Rice Burrough’s story, A Princess of Mars, is the inspiration for Disney’s latest foray into science fiction. With an estimated $250 million dollar budget we should expect to see some Avatar like magic from this year’s John Carter. When I say ‘Avatar like magic’ I mean the fun that was Avatar. While hardly an amazing movie you did have fun watching the superior 3D, action sequences, and the universe in which it all existed.

Sadly with John Carter, what we got was a very mediocre, soulless romp through the desert. I didn’t hate John Carter, but I didn’t like it either. I came away feeling like my time had been mostly wasted and my intellect insulted. I was expecting a big, yet fun, sci-fi movie to kick off the post Oscar season. However, I received a big dumb sci-fi movie that wasn’t fun at all, sometimes down right boring. As I left the theater I overheard someone say, “it’s the next Star Wars!” My first thought was yeah it was a good as the new ones. However, they weren’t saying this in a derisive way, which makes my blood boil, but I digress. So let’s examine what I liked about the movie and then on to the pain of it all.

For a movie I didn’t care for I thought the acting was actually fairly on point. Taylor Kitsch (John Carter) is not bad at all. While I found his character to be fairly flat and one noted I thought he pulled the role off relatively well. To me, the stand out character and actor is Lynn Collins (Dejah Thoris). Far from a damsel in distress, Collins really does a spectacular job of bringing real strength to the role. She steals every scene she’s in, and for good reason. After seeing the movie, Disney should have titled it A Princess of Mars because Dejah Thoris is so much more interesting of a character than John Carter by leaps and bounds, pun intended. Dominic West and Mark Strong deliver decent performances as the villains but not much time is spent with them for you to truly care about their motives.

Now lets get to the negatives of the red planet sci-fi epic. I thought the story telling was pretty poor. There were sequences that happened that you were given no background about. Normally this is fine if the idea of a cinematic surprise is in order. However, here it felt like some major scenes were left on the cutting room floor to lower the already bloated 2-hour time frame.

The constantly referenced running gags were so awful. Going to the well too many times can be a disaster for a comedy, and even worst for a movie that is suppose to be fairly serious. Once we get our titular hero to Mars we are treated to our first bit of this sort of comedy. Due to the fact that John Carter is from Earth his body is not the same as the Mars inhabitants. He is able to perform certain feats of strength and agility, think Superman’s ability on Earth versus Krypton. So we see Carter learning to walk and jump. This scene was funny, but just went on for a little to long. This is the first of many sledgehammer comedic moments. It felt like the director, Andrew Stanton, was nudging me saying, “did you get it…hahaha funny right?” Yes Andrew we got it. So after 3-5 minutes of walking we move on.

Needless to say the over arching story is very generic sci-fi. You can’t help but come away feeling that way considering so many other series borrowed heavily from Edgar Rice Burrough’s original works. When we get our hero on his feet and into the action we are entertained for the moment. The action sequences have no feel of urgency or power. When movies are soulless you don’t really care if the characters live or die, and that’s a large part of the issues here. I want to care about the 4 armed alien race or which one of the two warring humanoid factions would win, but I don’t, they are all look so similar that you just can’t bring yourself to give a damn.

Checking my watch is never a good sign when watching a movie that is supposedly action packed. When John Carter isn’t killing aliens with interspersed cut scenes my boredom level is well on the rise. On our weekly podcast I mentioned numerous times that I thought John Carter would be the Green Lantern of 2012. I will admit that I was wrong. It was the Pirates of the Caribbean 3 of 2012; loud, big, dumb, and boring and as hell with a similar budget. John Carter will do well in theaters because people are tired of hearing about highbrow intellectual films like The Descendents or The Artist and they need pure escapism. I went into this movie looking for Star Wars (original trilogy) in tone, what I got was Lost in Space with better CGI. You can have a big sci-fi flick that has a heart and soul but this one isn’t it.

[easyreview title= "Review of John Carter" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="2.0" overall= false]