Big Hero 6

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After last year’s smash hit “Frozen”, I applaud Disney for trying something different for their latest film. They could’ve taken the safe route and done another fairytale musical that would’ve guaranteed them a box office success, but instead, they went for a superhero action movie that feels more like a Marvel film than a Disney film. This makes sense, because Big Hero 6 is in fact based off a very obscure Marvel comic of the same name. This also marks the first time that Disney has made an in-house movie based off of one of Marvel’s properties since the companies merged. Did the gamble pay off? Read on to find out.

Big-Hero-6-15 The heart of Big Hero 6 lies with it’s two main characters, namely Hiro, a young boy genius (no, not that one) and his big squishy robot Baymax. The two of them share a friendship that really carries this movie, and I’d go as far to say that it’s one of the best relationships in Disney’s history. The rest of the superhero team (GoGo Tomago, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred) don’t get as much screen time as I feel they should, and feel more like supporting characters rather than part of the film’s main cast. When they do appear on screen, they’re completely memorable and loveable, as you’d hoped they would be (Fred in particular reminds me a bit of myself.) The main focus is really on Hiro and Baymax for the most part. Speaking of Baymax, he completely steals the show. When he’s onscreen, he’s either offering the biggest laughs, or the most emotional moments. I want to call him one of Disney’s best comic relief characters, but he’s more than that. Baymax is one of the most irresistible and loveable Disney characters in general.

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Once all six members team up and start working together, the movie becomes very action oriented, but sadly, none of the action scenes really struck me as being all that great. It doesn’t help that the identity of the film’s masked villain isn’t as shocking as it should be. As a matter of fact, the entire third act of the film is pretty weak in comparison to the first two acts. It just feels rushed and clunky whereas the beginning and middle of the film felt well paced. What saves the action (and the third act) from being completely dull, however, is the animation. As per the norm for Disney, the animation is some of the best you’ll see all year, and that alone makes this movie worth seeing on the big screen. One of my favorite things about the movie was the use of the microbots. The way they’re animated is incredible, and the way the characters in the film used them was often creative and unexpected. I especially love the scene where Hiro is presenting them for the first time, and his monologue sounds like Walt Disney himself wrote it. Walt was always fascinated by technology, and I have a feeling he would find a lot to enjoy about this movie.

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Mild spoiler warning ahead: One of the things Big Hero 6 excels at however, is its core theme of losing a loved one. This may seem like a scary thing to throw into a movie aimed at kids but the fact is that it’s something that everyone goes through and can relate to at some point in their lives. Seeing Disney delicately handle the concept with this film’s plot is surprising, but I was impressed by how well they handled it. I mentioned that the film’s climax wasn’t too great, but the ending (everything after the big battle) is brilliant and may even make you shed a few tears. I know I certainly did. This not only makes this one of the most mature Disney films out there, but also one of the most heartfelt. On top of that, the movie is also very funny. The humor ranges from smartly written dialogue to slapstick, and nearly all the jokes work. I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard at a Disney film since 2000’s “The Emperors New Groove”. The film’s terrific balance of humor and heart alone makes this a must see this holiday season.

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In some ways, Big Hero 6 is the Incredibles meets the Iron Giant (with a little bit of The Avengers thrown in) yet it still manages to stand on it’s own as not only a great Disney film or a great Marvel film, but just a great film in general. I do wish the third act was stronger, and I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it more than Frozen. Dispite it’s flaws, the beautiful animation, loveable characters and mature story make this a very strong entry in this new era of Disney classics.

And don’t forget to stay after the credits!

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The Book of Life

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Expectations are a funny thing. For the most part it feels like they can never be fully met. I fall victim to this all the time. As a movie buff, there’s often dozens of films per year that I eagerly anticipate, and while most of them satisfy me, there’s always a few that are complete letdowns. So imagine my surprise when The Book of life, A film that i’ve been anticipating, not only meets my Expectations, but in some ways surpasses them. The Book of Life is a highly enjoyable piece of art that deserves more attention then it’s currently getting.

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One of the areas this movie exceeds at is it’s pacing. I can see some people complaining that it’s a little slow and that it takes too long before the really big stuff happens, but I personally love movies that take their time establishing world and characters before introducing the larger than life conflicts. The three main characters are introduced as children and it’s not until almost a half-hour in that they grow up, and the movie’s only an hour and a half long. I personally love this because the film clearly wants you to understand that these three characters aren’t simply in a love triangle. They’re friends first, and have been friends for a long time. Speaking of main characters, the three of them ( Manolo, Joaquin and Maria) are extremely likeable and well written. Maria sort of falls into some stenotypes towards the end, but she’s still a pretty enjoyable character, and never goes overboard with her extreme feminist nature.

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My favorite characters of the film however would have to be the spirits of the day of the dead, specifically Xibalba, ruler of the land of the Forgotten. Talk about an iconic and memorable villain. His design is great, he’s voiced by the great Rob Perlman, and his character animation is unbelievable. He comes off as intimidating, while still being charismatic.He brings to mind the character of Discord (from Friendship is Magic) both in personality and design. the scenes between him and his wife (La Muerte: ruler of the Land of the Remembered) stand out as the highlights of the movie. Xibalba isn’t just my favorite character of the film. He may just be my favorite character of 2014, period. There’s also another spirit known as the Candle maker (voiced by Ice Cube) who isn’t as memorable as the others, and his celebrity voiceover sticks out like a sore thumb, but He’s got some good lines here and there.

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The animation…what can I say? It’s some of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s colorful and bright when it needs to be as well as being dark and atmospheric when required. It really does a good job at transporting you to each the different worlds, which are all unique and memorable. The decision to make the characters resemble wooden figurines was a stroke of genius and it really helps set this movie apart from the other animated features of the year. In short, The animation is as stunning as I hoped it would be. Did I mention that the film’s also kind of a musical? All of the songs are mexican covers of popular songs, and they are a joy to listen to.

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The Book of Life is a ton of fun and a must-see for fans of animation. It features some of the most impressive animation I’ve seen all year and it demands to be seen on the big screen. The story may feel familiar at times, but there are enough unexpected twists and turns that certainly kept me guessing. So far it’s my favorite animated film of the year, (which is saying alot) and I recommend you go see it before it’s out of theaters. I cannot wait to see this again.

The Box Trolls

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Stop motion used to freak me out as a kid. I blame the Wallace in Gromit shorts (which are wonderful by the way) which had some creepy imagery that stayed with me through most of my childhood. Over the years however, I’ve grown to appreciate it as a brilliant way of telling stories through animation. Heck some of my currently favourite animated films are stop motion (including The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Pirates: Band of misfits). Laika studios (the creative minds behind Coraline and Paranorman) help keep the art of stop motion alive and well with their latest animated feature, The Box Trolls.

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The Box Trolls’s main attraction is the animation. It’s really, really, REALLY good, and it’s hard not to marvel at it. The characters and the environments are given the finest details, and it really shows that the creators take attention to detail very seriously. There’s always something going on in every frame, wether it’s in the foreground, or a simple background joke. It’s nearly impossible to look away (save for a few intentionally disturbing scenes) and it’s incredible to see how much the animation is capable of, especially in the action sequences. I could only find one shot of the film that had a CGI effect in it, and it was towards the end. Everything else appears to be completely made by hand, and it’s stunning.

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The two main characters, Eggs and Winnie, aren’t the most engaging leads. They aren’t painful to watch or anything, and Winnie does get a few good lines here and there, but I couldn’t help but feel that I had seen these character types in countless other films. Most of Egg’s arc plays out like a fish out of water story and it’s not any more interesting here then it was the last time we saw it. The reason I take issue with this is because there are so many other interesting characters in this movie that I would rather spend time with, but don’t get as many chances to. The plot isn’t terribly original either, mostly playing out like a fish out of water storyline that feels predictable. The rest of the characters however, are a ton of fun. With the four villains, Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) and his three henchmen Mr. Trout, Mr. Pickles and Mr. Gristle (my personal favourite) being the most entertaining to watch. They’re diabolical and hilarious antagonists that really carry film. The Box Trolls themselves are interesting and fun to watch as well, although they did often remind me of the Minions found in Despicable Me.

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The Box Trolls isn’t my favourite Laika film (that honour goes to Coraline) but it’s a solid and fun ride that has a great cast, some memorable characters and a fantastic sense of humour. Some of the imagery may be too intense for younger viewers, but most kids above the age of 7 should be fine with it. Animation fans should have a field day with this one, and I hope that Laika continues to improve and make fun stop motion films in the future.

Let’s Be Cops

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The buddy cop genre is one that I’m definitely not a fan of. With very few exceptions, (the only one that comes to mind right now is Hot Fuzz.) It never feels like any of these comedies offer anything new. It’s just the same old thing over and over again. Let’s Be Cops ALMOST had something with the story, but once this movie drops the ball, it rarely picks it up again.

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Let’s Be Cops has a premise that actually has a bit of potential. Two down on their luck friends decide to go to a costume party dressed in police uniforms. They soon learn that everyone around them thinks that their real cops, and they take advantage of this every chance they get. But when the bumbling duo get pulled into a case involving a gang of criminals, their fun begins to turn into danger. Now this is a premise that I thought sounded pretty funny. It’s kind of a clever idea. Unlike the characters in the movie however the film rarely takes advantage of the premise and resorts to cheap unfunny jokes that could be found in any given buddy cop comedy. I was bored watching these two characters act like idiots because the movie seemed bored with itself.

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The only characters worth mentioning are the leads. Jake Jonson and Damon Mayans Jr. play Ryan and Justin and they don’t have nearly enough chemistry that a movie like this needs to stay on it’s feet. I know that I bashed 22 Jump Street a few months ago, but what saved that film was the meta humor and the chemistry between the two leads. This movie doesn’t have either of those, so I can’t even give them an A for effort. The rest of the characters are just there to serve the jokes or act as plot devices (such as Justin’s love interest,Josie, who has very little impact on the plot and could’ve easily been written out of the movie entirely, and there would be almost no difference. This movie, like it’s characters, was just boring.

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I realize that this has been a very short review, and I apologize for that, As I usually enjoy going more in-depth when discussing movies. But there is just nothing more I can say about this movie without repeating myself. It could have been something unique, but instead it resorts to a generic and forgettable movie that just didn’t make me laugh or appeal to me in any other way. If you like buddy cop comedies, that’s great. You’ll probably love this. But for me, It’s just another forgettable, boring, and unfunny buddy cop movie.

But hey, at least the film opens with Backstreet Boys song “I want it that way”. That’s got to count for something. …Right?

Ghostbusters

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Some of you may recall that in my “top five most anticipated movies of fall 2014” list, I put the 30th anniversary re-release of Ghostbusters at number five and stated that I would review the movie shortly after I saw it on the big screen. Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to see it. The theatre in my town wasn’t screening it, and the closest town that was showing it was still two hours away. That being said I still recommend if you have the opportunity to see this movie on the big screen. In my opinion, There’s no better way to celebrate the 30 year legacy of the Ghostbusters. Despite that, I still re-watched the film last night on TV, and have provided a review nontheless. So without further ado, let’s get started.

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Sometimes Reviewing a film that I enjoyed is far more difficult than reviewing a film that I disliked. When I review something that I like, my main goal is to give the reader an understanding of two things, A bias take on Why I loved it, and an unbiased take on why I think that what i’m reviewing is generally great. When reviewing a classic, like Ghostbusters, however, The way I approach film critiquing feels like it would backfire. the problem here is that nearly everyone knows everything about Ghostbusters. It’s one of those movies where even if you haven’t seen it, your aware of it, as well as the entire franchise. It’s hard to do something that iconic justice, but since this year marks the film’s 30th anniversary, I feel like I owe it to this classic to at least give it a second look.

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Although Ghostbusters is remembered as one of the comedy greats, I had forgotten just how subtle most of it’s humour is. Alot of the jokes rely on callbacks and references to events that took place earlier in the movie, And it goes to show just how great the chemistry is between the characters. I think Peter (Bill Murray) made me laugh the most, but Ray (Dan Aykroyd), Egon (Harold Ramis) and Winston (Ernie Hudson) all have moments to shine. There’s also a ton of side characters that don’t get too much screen time, but make every second count and remain just as memorable as the main cast.

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As expected with a title like “Ghostbusters”, There are plenty of ghosts and ghoulish creatures that lurk around the film. Most of the effects hold up pretty well (with only a few minor effect shots coming off as rather dated) but what really sells is is the creature design. The monsters in this movie range from looking cartoony and hilarious to menacing and frightening. I I had to choose a favourite, I would go with either the terror dogs or Mr. Stay Puft. latter greatly appeals to me due to the Godzilla references, while the terror dogs give the film an effective element of horror without going overboard (as well as having fantastic designs). The soundtrack is also very good, providing lots of lighthearted tracks that balance out nicely with a few more sinister ones. And of course, there’s that theme song. It appears frequently throughout the film, and will not leave your head.

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Ghostbusters is a genre defining film. I’d go as far to say it’s one of the most successful horror comedy mashups out there. This ambitious movie is just dripping with frighting atmospheric sequences coupled with some truly memorable characters and lines. It’s a film that deserves to be seen at least once by everyone. If you haven’t seen Ghostbusters yet, see it. You are guaranteed a great time.

My Top Five Most Anticipated Films Of Fall 2014

Beautiful-Fall-Wallpapers-autumn-15496207-1600-1200I think we can safely say that the summer movie season has come and gone. While it was an impressive season, we are far from done looking at some of 2014’s biggest releases. We still have both this fall and winter to look forward to. With that said, here’s my top five most anticipated films of 2014 that are being released in my favorite season, fall. (Warning: there will be puns)

Number 5:

Ghostbusters (30th anniversary re-release)35z0e2pmnmz7zmpI may be cheating on this one. Seeing as how the film’s a re-release and technically comes out at the end of august. but who cares? It’s Ghostbusters! It just so happens that this year is the 30th anniversary of the classic comedy, and what better way to celebrate that then seeing it on the big screen? I couldn’t think of a better way to set the tone for the rest of the season.

Ghostbusters will haunt theaters on August 29th for one week only.(Expect a review for this flick to be released shortly after I see it again on the big screen)

Number 4:

The Box Trolls

the-boxtrolls-24676-1280x800Laika (the creative team behind Coraline and ParaNorman) will hit the scene yet again with an adaptation of the novel “Here Be Monsters!” As to be expected from the studio, the stop-motion looks spectacular, and the designs of the trolls themselves are unique and somewhat adorable. While I was a little underwhelmed by their last film, ParaNorman, I look forward to seeing what they have in store with this one.

The Box Trolls will invade theaters on September 26th.

Number 3:

Monsters: Dark Continent

_13772011762010’s “Monsters” was an independent creature feature that focused more on the human angle rather than the Monsters. The result was a Monster movie unlike any other, and one that I happened to really like. That being said, I was surprised when a sequel was announced. I wasn’t too thrilled about the concept when I heard that the original director, Gareth Edwards (who also directed the latest Godzilla film) wasn’t going to be in the directors chair, but upon revisiting the trailer a few more times, My anticipation for the film has increased significantly, and I think we could have another gem with this one if it’s done right.

Monsters: Dark Continent: Will smash it’s way into theaters on September 25th (UPDATE: The release date has been recently changed to November 28th.)

Number 2:

Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks

Twilight_holding_a_microphone_EG2Possibly my most bias choice. I was one of the few people who really enjoyed 2013’s Equestria Girls, as I found it captured the spirit of the show as well as being an entertaining and sweet film in it’s own right. Much like Dark Continent however, I wasn’t expecting a sequel, yet here we are. The music themed followup promises to deliver 12 new songs by Daniel Ingram (the song writer for the show) as well as an interesting new trio of villains that could very well be Sirens in disguise. And hey, anything involving ancient Equestria lore is enough to get me excited.

Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks shreds it’s way into theaters on September 27th for a limited time.

Number 1:

The Book of Life

60Audiences and Critics alike often crave for something that’s unlike anything they’ve ever seen. If The Book of Life’s trailer in any indication, it looks like we’ll be getting just that. The story looks original (although there are a few echos of the corps Bride here and there) But what REALLY has me excited about this movie is it’s visual style. It looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and I love that. Everything from the environments, to the character design looks absolutely gorgeous and creative. The film hasn’t even been released yet, and I’m already in love with the world it’s created. And that’s why it’s my most anticipated film of this fall.

 The Book of Life arrives in theaters on October 17th

And that’s my list. I hope you all had a wonderful summer and that you have an equally awesome rest of the year!. This is Ipaidforthat, signing off!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a franchise that I was obsessed with as a little kid. I loved the first two movies (I never saw the third until I was much older…thankfully.) I loved the shows and the toys.  While I’m currently not as big of a turtles fan as I once was, I still have a soft spot for the heroes in a half shell (Raphael will always be my favourite). With that said, I was intrigued when it was announced that Nickelodeon movies and Michael Bay were going to produce a live action reboot of the Ninja Turtles. After a few delays and some terrifying rumours (alien race anyone?) the film is finally playing in theatres. The verdict? Definitely a mixed bag, but not the train wreck that many were expecting.

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One thing that surprised me was the fact that the film, despite being produced by Nickelodeon, shares no connection with the show that is currently airing on the channel. I suppose it’s for the best, as the last time Nickelodeon tried to adapt one of their highest rated shows into a live action feature film didn’t go so well. What this film does instead is reboot the franchise, (much like the 2007’s TMNT.) Despite this, the movie feels very similar to the first Ninja Turtles movie, in terms of pacing and structure. Because of this, I found myself a little underwhelmed by the story, and consider it a missed opportunity, considering how vast and full of creativity the Turtles lore is. It’s not horribly written, just all too basic. However, if you have never seen a Ninja Turtles film and know nothing about the franchise going into this movie, then this will be a nonissue. It’s a serviceable if unoriginal story.

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As far as the characters are concerned, let’s start with quite possibly the best aspect of the movie the turtles themselves. Aside from the designs, the personality of each of the Ninja Turtles are spot on. Each one is distinctly recognizable and and in character. This will please fans who grew up with the Turtles, as well as properly introduce newcomers to who these characters are. Splinter, the turtles father figure, is also realized well. The main antagonist, Shredder, has a sleek and cool design as well as a perfect voice for the character, but by the end of the film, he becomes all too generic as far as villains go. His master plan (as well as the climax of the film in general) feels all too similar to 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man”. As for Megan Fox as April…well…. to put it nicely, I’m not a fan. I didn’t find her performance any stronger here then in the Transformers films (which is the last series I saw her in) I think casting her as April is a bad move, not because of her acting, but because not once in the film did I ever buy her as April. The rest of the cast, featuring the likes of Will Arnett, William Fichtner and Whoopi Goldberg, aren’t very memorable, and feel like they are distracting from the real plot. Turtles and splinter (and possibly Shredder) are impressive, but the human cast didn’t impress me.

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Despite the fact that Michael Bay is producing this film and the fact that his name has been plastered on every advertisement I’ve seen for it, people tend to forget that this is NOT a Michael Bay film. It is in fact, a Jonathan Liebesman film. Because this is a piece of Jonathan Liebesman’s work, I didn’t know what to expect as far as the action sequences were concerned (the only one of his films I had seen prior to this was the sadly forgettable “Wrath of the Titans”) Thankfully, the cinematography for many of the action sequences is excellent. Providing a sense of fast paced energy without loosing focus. The best example of this is the fight on the snowy mountain. It’s funny, creative and overall the standout scene of the movie. I won’t go as far as to say it’s the best action I’ve seen all year, but it’s certainly better then what I was expecting. The film’s score didn’t particularly stand out, and I’ll be quite honest, I was hoping to hear the Ninja Rap in there somewhere…Oh well.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has enough good things in it to be considered a serviceable   representation of the franchise. The main problem is that there’s little to nothing new as far as the story’s concerned. It’s a decent introduction to the Ninja Turtles for a new generation, but not the best the series has to offer. It’s not a great movie, but it’s not terrible either. Recommended if you are a hardcore Turtles Fan, or curious about the franchise in general.