Monday, February 9, 2015

Big Hero 6

There is this heartfelt moment in the new Disney superhero cartoon, Big Hero 6, where two characters have an emotional talk about what has happened and how things are going to play in the future. At the end of this, I leaned into The Boy and whispered, "And that's why you have to die!"

15 seconds later, the character was dead.

Peak superhero, people. The tropes are so well ironed out they're virtually incapable of surprising. But, hey, the Western dominated films for at least 40 years, so I guess we could have 25 more years of this.

So, as far as these sorts of movies go, this is a good example of one. Our hero is an orphan living with his aunt who teams up with a medical robot and some nerdy friends to avenge a crime. The supporting team is pretty one-dimensional, but at least they have a dimension. The lead kid's fine. It's all pretty affable with some passable action and good humor.

Beymax? The medical robot pressed into service as a crime-fighter? Pretty much perfect. No point in arguing it. In a future world of hyper-geniuses too dumb to have invented fire extinguishers, Beymax stands out as actually reasonably believable (and adorable) technology.

Sanfransokyo is nice, too, and not New York, which is nice.

The other outstanding aspect of this film is the character movement. CGI "actors" went through several phases: First they didn't move at all, except in stilted Frankensteinian lurches, looking creepy. Next they exaggerated minor motions, breathing with their shoulders and waving their hands like drunken Italian stereotypes. Then it was kind of (traditional) cartoony affair, with the exaggerations feeling a little more artistic and less a product of technology.

Here, it's completely natural. It's comic at times, of course, but it's the comic of a Buster Keaton instead of a Bugs Bunny.

Well, look, I'm an animation geek (and a computer geek). This stuff impresses me. It vanishes quickly as we get spoiled, but I'm calling it: This is another perfect aspect of the film.

There's a nice touch in the beginning whereby you're set up for a really traditional villain/hero thing, but it quickly becomes apparent the villain isn't who you're supposed to think it is. (And thank God for that, as it's an eye-rollingly tired cliché.) At the same time, it's not really a surprise when you learn who the real villain is, because who else could it be?

The means of defeating The Big Bad was good, too, I thought, not one of these typical "Well, they fight until the scene is over" scenarios that superhero movies do. The villain has a weakness that's inherent in his power, and they figure it out. (I hope knowing that the villain is defeated isn't a spoiler. Also, you are an alien if it is.)

There's nothing wrong with it. The Boy was tempted to class it as "one of those movies that an alien would make if he came to earth and tried to pretend to be human" but that's not fair. It is good, it's just utterly by-the-numbers.

The Barb, of course, loved it. I liked it okay.

I also liked the short at the front of the film. It may win an Oscar.

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