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Hammerle On…'Big Hero 6,' 'Interstellar,' and 'St. Vincent'

November 19, 2014

“Big Hero 6”

Let me go out on an early limb and say that “Big Hero 6” will challenge “The Lego Movie” for this year’s best animated film Oscar. Without describing the plot, this is an adult film wrapped in a children’s story much like Disney’s historic “Bambi” (1942) and “Finding Nemo” (2003). It also joins “WALL-E” (2008) and “Up” (2009) as animated films that touch an emotional vein that transcends the enjoyment of children.

The movie centers on a robot named Baymax, and he looks like a giant Pillsbury Doughboy. Designed by an inventive lad to analyze illnesses in humans and then provide the best medication, he has a heart of pure gold.

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When his young creator, Tadashi, dies suddenly in a tragic fire, his brother, Hiro, becomes Baymax’s companion. The story focuses on Hiro’s attempt to find those responsible for his brother’s death, and he is joined by a team of high-tech friends who you will find as endearing as those in “The Incredibles” (2004).

Hiro’s friends go by the names of Go Go, Wasabi and Honey Lemon, and they are one immensely likeable crew. Teaming with Baymax, they become involved in a dangerous adventure. Be prepared for an ending that will cause you to have the same reaction as when Bambi lost his mother.

“Interstellar”

How do you describe a film that incorporates Einstein’s theory of relatively with a spectacular trip in space through a wormhole in the attempt to save the few remaining people left on Earth? How can you love a film that continually overwhelms you? What if a father has to leave his family for a space trip where he may never return? What if the space trip is based in part on a theory of quantum mechanics where every hour spent on a distant planet results in humans on Earth aging seven years?

In a sense, this film has the same spiritual magnificence of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968). The cinematography and special effects were key elements in Kubrick’s script, and the same thing applies to Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar.”
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I suspect that the film will prove to be memorable for a host of reasons. Matthew McConaughey plays a guy called Cooper, a widower living with his father-in-law (John Lithgow) and two young children. The Earth has turned into the functional equivalent of the 1930s Dust Bowl, and the only food left capable of growing is corn.

With the Earth decaying, the bulk of the film involves a space flight to unknown planets. As the pilot, Cooper is accompanied by four crew members. Though they are all good in small roles, it is Anne Hathaway who stands out as Amelia Brand. She has a secret goal based on trying to locate a previous space traveler, and it becomes central to the team’s mission.

While the movie is helped by the performances from Michael Caine, Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, the film’s strengths are its weaknesses. While the adventures are as intellectually stimulating as anything you will see in an “action film,” you also will feel exhausted by the end.

For example, the meaning and definition of love confront both Amelia and Cooper in different fashions. While Amelia is finally forced to reveal an emotional attachment as supporting her wish to seek out a certain planet, Cooper is left in a constant state of turmoil given the fact that his young daughter remains convinced that he has decided to abandon her. She refuses any communication with him, and this proves to be crushing.

The film really needs to be seen at an IMAX theater, as it emphasizes the dramatic cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema and the musical score by Hans Zimmer. It also helps you absorb the effects of a cinematic avalanche as you watch time and space co-mingle with human agony.

In the end, I felt that I needed to see the film a second time to try to grasp the moments that I didn’t understand. Unfortunately, the film’s length caused me to feel as if I aged more rapidly than its characters left on Earth.

“St. Vincent”

Let’s face it, Bill Murray deserves to be acknowledged in the “Irreverent Actors Hall of Fame.” No one has ever been able to match his sarcastic persona, and you can only assume that he is exactly the same person off screen as he is on.

Here, playing a slacker named Vincent, his life is all but meaningless. An overweight alcoholic, he is in debt to a bookie (Terrence Howard) resulting from his ineptitude at the racetrack. The only thing he’s good at is smoking.

When a recently divorced mother, Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), moves in next door with her young son, Oliver, Vincent agrees to babysit the lad for $11 an hour. She needsto work overtime as a lab technician and he needs cash. And it was at that moment that the film found its loveable momentum.

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To begin with, of all Vincent’s faults, he wins the grand prize for being shamelessly untrustworthy. He not only takes Oliver to racetracks and bars, but introduces him to Daka, a prostitute played perfectly by Naomi Watts, when she comes over to “visit.”

 


Besides Murray and McCarthy, the star of this movie is young Jaeden Lieberher. Playing Oliver, he is a bright and observant little kid, and he learns some valuable lessons from his otherwise condemnable experiences with Vincent. He may be the only remaining person on Earth who sees Vincent’s strengths, and you love him all the more for it. The movie has an ending that will cause many of you to wipe away tears, and I don’t dare give it away.•

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Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.
 

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