Tag Archives: Robert L. Baird

Big Hero 6

Walt Disney StudiosBig Hero 6

Directed by Don Hall & Chris Williams/Produced by Roy Conli/Screenplay by Jordan Roberts, Dan Gerson, & Robert L. Baird/Music by Henry Jackman/Based on the graphic novel by Steven T. Seagle & Duncan Rouleau

My rating: 5 of 5

Fourteen-year-old Hiro Hamada has a great brain, but he’s not exactly motivated to put it to use . . . until some well-placed encouragement from his brother Tadashi and four of Tadashi’s “nerd friends” inspires him to join them at their college’s robotics program. Hiro seems set on a course for great success when the unthinkable happens: an accidental fire at the school kills his brother Tadashi and destroy’s Hiro’s robotics project as well. Overwhelmed with depression over his brother’s death, Hiro again finds himself completely unmotivated to do anything with his life. That is, until he accidentally activates Baymax, a nurse-robot that his brother had been working on. With Baymax, Hiro discovers that the fire at the school may not have been as accidental as it seemed–and so, Hiro, Baymax, and Tadashi’s four college friends team up to find the truth and bring justice where it’s due. True superhero style.

Big Hero 6 was one movie that I was actually excited to see from the time I first saw the previews, although it didn’t work out for me to see it until it came out on DVD. I wasn’t disappointed when I watched it either. Unlike many of Disney’s movies recently, I felt like this one came together extremely well. The characters were great; you could definitely tell that they were, well, based on stereotypes of sorts (probably because that worked better with their superhero transformations later), but they were also full of personality and individuality. Hiro himself is adorable in a punk sort of way . . . I think the first few minutes of the movie give a very good idea of his general character, but he also is someone who grows a lot during the story. (On that topic, the “hugging and learning” aspect of the story might be a bit much, but I guess we know it’s that kind of story going in to it.) Not that she shows up particularly much, but I really think Hiro and Tadashi’s aunt is an awesome character–I wish we saw more of her. I really appreciated the balance that was found in a lot of areas here: the combination of Japanese and American (especially in the architecture–wow), the meld of science and “superhero” tradition. It’s neat that this is based on an actual comic-book series (one I haven’t read, but it sounds interesting) by the same title . . . it sounds like the movie is almost something of an origin story from what I can tell. In any case, the use of science to explain/create the hero capabilities is fun. Also, bonus points for pretty art–I know CG has come incredibly far in just the past few years, and that’s not really even what I’m talking about–more like, the creators intentionally made pretty stuff (cloud patterns, incredible architecture, cool carp-kite wind machines, etc.) even when it wasn’t necessary. I appreciate that. So yeah, I would definitely recommend Big Hero 6 to anyone, say, elementary school and up who enjoys a solid, fun action movie with, yes, some hugging and learning mixed in.

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Monsters University

Pixar Animation Studios

Written by Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, & Dan Scanlon/Directed by Dan Scanlon/Produced by Kori Rae/Music by Randy Newman

Being an expert scarer providing energy for the community–and looking awfully cool while doing so–has been Mike Wazowski’s dream ever since he was the little kid being wowed by how cool the current scarers were. After years of hard work, the young monster has finally gotten into his dream school, Monsters University. Exuberant and studious, Mike plows through his studies, impressing his teachers with his knowledge and technique. But when it comes down to it, he’s faced with the hard reality that sometimes enthusiasm and hard work just aren’t enough. Another student, James P. Sullivan, seems to be the embodiment of this unfairness as he does well without even trying by relying on natural skill and a reputable family name. But when an unfortunate accident gets both of these two kicked out of the scare program, they are forced to decide: work together, however unpleasant that may be, or fail separately and live miserably for the rest of their lives. . . .

To be honest, Monsters University probably doesn’t need my review at all–it’s popular enough that most everyone has seen it, with good reason. This movie is classic Pixar: a good solid story about teamwork and friendship, nice visuals, a liberal sprinkling of humor, and nothing too controversial to gum up the works. It’s definitely not a serious, thought-provoking story, but it’s not supposed to be. More like, it’s a fun and funny movie that’s appropriate for elementary-school kids, but would also be enjoyable for adults. Probably one of the aspects that stands out most to me is the color; seriously, the entire campus is vivid, and the students are even brighter . . . which could be garish, but is actually rather beautiful. And as is typical with Pixar, the random little observations about people–as magnified through the lens of monsterdom in this case–is both amusing and revealing. I don’t really remember the music much even after having seen this twice, which means it’s probably not outstanding, but it isn’t bad either–it just works with the story enough that the story itself stands out the most. One last note: Monsters University is definitely a prequel to Monsters, Inc., and should be seen after seeing the original . . . if you don’t, you’ll probably be really confused.

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