2nd Run Theater: Big Hero 6/ Edge of Tomorrow/ Justice League: Throne of Atlantis/Interstellar

I had some time to kill over the last few days, thus I decided to catch up on a few movies that I’ve been eager to see for a while but just didn’t have the time to get around to since my schedule has been really hectic lately.  Anyway, here we go.

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Based on Marvel Comics super-science team of the same name, this big screen adaptation was much more sanitized and quite frankly much more inspired. The Oscar-winning movie takes place in the imaginary city of San Fransokyo, a neo-technical land where robot-fights and science lives hand in hand.  14-year old, Hiro Hamada, and his older brother, Tadashi, live with their aunt above her quaint coffee house in the city.  Already a technological genius, Hiro is running aimless though life already having graduated high school and no ambition other to con other robot fighters out of money.

His brother takes him to his laboratory at his university and opens Hiro’s eyes to a whole other world of possibilities and applications of technology.  Tragically, on the night of Hiro’s greatest achievement, his brother and his brother’s mentor are killed.  Hiro, having been introduced to Beymax (Tadashi’s last invention) previously, they go on an adventure of a lifetime as he uncovers the mystery surrounding his brother’s death and learns what it means to have true friends.

Along with his new-found friends, GoGo, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Fred and Beymax they form a team of technological adventurers out to stop the menace of Yokai.

I truly loved this film.  It just hit all of the right notes.  It had heart, adventure, tragedy, longing, wonder and joy.  I’m not going to say it was better or more inspired than The Lego Movie, but I’m truly okay that this movie won the Oscar. I’m sure there will be a sequel, but if not – this was a great standalone movie that I will truly treasure.

Plus, an awesome Stan Lee cameo.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Tom Cruise needs to get more credit.  His movies over the last several years have been some of the best I’ve seen in a while.  Despite all the criticism he gets for his outlandishness and Scientology, it doesn’t overshadow the fact that not only is he a great actor, he picks some great movies to star in.

This movie has all the shades of Groundhogs Day (1993) where a freak accident on the battlefield with an invading alien force known as the Mimics, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise)  is imbued with the ability to reset his day over and over again when he dies.  Aided by Sergeant Rita Rose Vrataski (Emily Blunt), he begins to piece together his new found powers, the motivations of the Mimics and the power to become more of a hero than he ever thought possible.

This was a smart way to reinvent an old trope.  Going back in time, looping time or even creating alternate timelines is nothing really new in movies, but they didn’t overdue the science nor over complicate how the effect was translated.  So what you got was a crisp, and sometime hilarious, medley of sequence where Cage is killed over and over again and it doesn’t bore you, nor take for granted that a story needs to be told.

What I also appreciate is that the end was satisfying.  When you get to the inevitable and climatic portion of the film, it felt substantial.  It felt like you went on a journey and while there are aspects of the ending that do need a little explaining, you didn’t feel cheapened by going on this journey.  So kudos to Director, Doug Limon, for putting together a movie that gave me the most important outcome I want in a movie – to feel as though it was worth watching.

Justice League:  Throne of Atlantis (2015)

The second installment of the Justice League tales in the rebooted DC universe was sort a letdown.  This series took the first several storylines of the rebooted Aquaman comic series and came out choppy, all over the place and didn’t capture the essence and great storytelling that Geoff Johns masterfully created for such a relatively unloved character.  Geoff made Aquaman great again, this movie did not.

Long story short, Arthur Curry (Aquaman) is reeling from the loss of his father and is on a destructive course as he gets into one skirmish after another trying to assuage is despair.  Unbeknownst to him, he’s being watched from many different corners as his past is finally catching up with his present.  Mera, the loyal aid and servant of Athur’s mother, Atlanna – Queen of Atlantis, has been sent to fetch her son.  However, Arthur’s evil half-brother, Orm, and his right-hand man, Black Manta, are not about to let this half-human/half-Atlantean bastard child take the throne he feels is rightfully his.  Feeling betrayed by his mother for sleeping with a human behind his father and King’s back, Orm has nothing but malevolent thoughts about humanity and is hell-bent on waging war on the surface world.

So Aquaman and the Justice League converge to stop Orm and Black Manta from using the Atlantean army to take over the surface world and disrupt the delicate balance of peace that has existed for thousands of years.  Aquaman must come to terms with his Atlantean heritage and find the strength to lead a people he barely knows to a new enlightened sense of being with a greater and more dangerous world.

Again, had this been more in line with how the comic book was laid out, I think this would have turned out to be a much better movie.  In fact, I would say that this was a case where it should have been a standalone movie instead of attached to the Justice League title at all.  If anything, maybe his membership into the league could have come later on the film and wouldn’t have felt as cobbled together.

All in all, this wasn’t one of DC Animated’s better films, but it was markedly better than Justice League:  War, which was just this side of atrocious.

Interstellar (2014)

This movie gets a standing ovation. Seriously.

I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this movie as much as I did.  I thought it was going to be some sciency-sort-of-movie with some top notch actors, but that’s about it.  But what was presented was a great story about racing off to meet your destiny head first and not going quietly into the night.  Christopher Nolan, in my estimation, just constructed the 21st century version of 2001:  A Space Odyssey (1968), because that’s what this was – an odyssey.

The Earth is dying.  After years of environmental exploitation and destruction, the Earth has finally decided that humanity is no longer welcome.  The world is starting to change as crops grow ever smaller, the environment becomes more hostile and society is starting to starve.  Cooper (Mathew McConaughey) is a struggling farmer and former test pilot with his two kids, daughter Murphy, son Tom and father-in-law, Donald (John Lithgow).

Through a series of odd events, Cooper is led to a facility where humanity’s last hope for survival remains.  The facility, led by Professor John Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), Cooper is thrust into a journey far into distant space to try and save what’s left of humanity before they all die.  Leaving his family behind, he goes in search of a new home for humanity – a new place for humanity to call home.

What I truly admired about this movie was that the journey through space was also a journey of the spirit of humanity.  Humanity prides itself on knowing many things, but it’s those things we don’t know, but feel, are our greatest gifts to survival.  We see Cooper, Amelia and the team grapple with these concepts as they travel through worm holes, to new planets and even navigate around a particularly large and scary black hole.

If humanity is to survive, it must help itself.  It must help itself by doing the one thing that flies in the face of all reason.  It must love itself enough to sacrifice time itself.

Great movie and one that I’ll be watching over and over for years to come.

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