Big Hero 6
Premise: In a futuristic city that is weird to spell but kind of fun to say, San Fransokyo (where we get the perfect mix of California's coffee shop ambiance with Japan's bountiful technology), a 14-year-old robot engineer befriends his brother's robot invention named Baymax in an adventure around the city. I don't want to give too much away, but it's fun stuff. ...What, you don't like fun? Well, I'm sure the theater by your house is still showing The Judge, starring Robert Duvall. Why don't you go see that and tell me how it is, ok? I've been super eager for someone I know to tell me how boring it is, because it looks super boring and I don't want to see it. Did you fall asleep? Did Robert Duvall fall asleep? It looks stupid. RANDOM JUDGE RANT OVER.
-I love these animated movies a lot more when they are these huge kind of "toy box" type projects, where the filmmakers don't have any limitations short of their imagination. The LEGO Movie, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and Wreck It Ralph were the same way. It's a lot more enjoyable for me nowadays to see animated movies take a broad concept and just go insane with the tiny elements, rather than re-hash the same animated movie formula to a T (*cough* Frozen *cough*). You can literally do anything with animation, and it doesn't even have to be all that logical or make perfect sense, as long as it's fun. You want to put a bunch of mind-controlled microbots that can do anything into your cartoon? WHY NOT? They're awesome!
-Baymax is probably my favorite cartoon robot since WALL-E. Slowly developing a robot into something with feelings gets me EVERY TIME. Plus, I just laughed at him waddling around like a goober. Between Baymax, TARS from Interstellar, and Groot; 2014 was a great year for lovably weird sidekicks.
-Kind of unexpectedly, this movie is about being saved by health care. One of the most repeated lines and/or themes of the movie is "Are you satisfied with your care?" I was kind of hoping that once the credits start rolling, the film revealed itself to just be a giant Blue Cross Blue Shield advertisement. That would have been a solid short con. But seriously, when can I stop paying $80 a month to Humana and start getting on the Baymax health plan? It doesn't look like you need to pay any deductibles, and he can massage my feet without any resistance.
-The voice acting was good. Can't complain. I was curious for the entire movie about who voiced Baymax, and was very surprised to find out it was... Scott Asdit? Pete from 30 Rock? Ooooooooookaaaaayyyyy... I'm not saying he did a bad job, it was just the most random name they could have picked out of a hat. T.J. Miller has had a good string of being the goofy comic relief guy in a big budget movie. And this may be the first movie featuring Jamie Chung that didn't suck. My theory has been undone!
-You want to see an example of restraint? Look no further than the fact that Big Hero 6 had a funny looking cat in it, and they only used it for about three good jokes, instead of drawing it out and forcing fifteen mediocre jokes.
-My eyes watered up more during this than they did during Interstellar. I've felt too many emotions from movies this year. 2014 is wrecking my psyche. No, I'm not crying. I accidentally spilled a bottle of Sprite in my eyes. Happens all the time. I'm clumsy. GO AWAY!
-One of the more inspired Stan Lee cameos, in a post credits scene.
-Also, the animated short film before the movie (it was called "Feast", I think?) was wonderful. It involves dogs, and food, and LIFE, you guys. IT WAS CUTE AS HELL.
-I guess if I were to look at the plot super critically, it might be somewhat minimal. It has some twists, but they are fairly predictable to anyone over the age of 11.
-The character design on the humans was kind of uninspired, too. Then again, I've never really enjoyed how most humans look in CG animated movies.
-And maybe the characterizations of the main side characters fell into the usual archetypes (goofball, tough girl, scaredy pants, bookworm) and didn't have much transformation into anything else. Stock characters gonna stock (whatever that means).
Final Thoughts: I don't think I've seen very many animated movies this year, but I *think* Big Hero 6 was the best one I've seen? It's pretty easy to be the best when its only competition is my struggling memory.
8.5 out of 10
Just saw BH6 yesterday, loved it and loved the short that preceded it (though the PETA people may object to the dietary issues the dog had).
I agree this movie also has one of the very best Stan Lee Cameos in it ever - probably a bit of wish fulfillment for Stan. Made it very worthwhile to stay thru the end credits. Your first glimpse of Stan is literally about 2 seconds and you wonder if you even saw it right.
As to the movie, just great overall. The dichotomy between scenes with hyper-detailed environment renders and the deliberately non-realistic humans does seem a bit jarring, particularly the rain/wake scene. But then the action resumes and yanks your attention back. You may not like the character renders and models but the shaders and materials textures used on them are incredible.
My son was impressed by the animation of the microbots, but actually I was least impressed by that because I figure that's just an outgrowth of the animation techniques they've already mastered for hair, grass, and cloth, and the geometry is driven by fluid computations and algorithms more than by animators directly. Getting the postures and expressions right is in my mind the bigger challenge, and this film excels at that.
I predict a lot of inflatable Baymax cosplay costumes by spring.