Reincarnation Blues, by Michael Poore / *****

51hmlljnwil-_sx327_bo1204203200_A good portion of the books I read are review copies, and while I’ve come to enjoy the chaos and unpredictability of reading books where I have zero expectations, there are definitely times where I’ve considered giving it up. (Why, yes, these times often correspond with long streaks of bad books – how did you know?) All of which goes to say, the joy of reviewing is that sometimes you get a book like Reincarnation Blues that can completely blindside you, coming out of nowhere and blowing you away with its imagination, humor, style, and richness.

Trying to describe Reincarnation Blues is a bit of a rough task; the best I can do is to say that it combines the millennia-spanning reincarnated souls of Cloud Atlas with the untraditional but rich love story of The Time Traveler’s Wife, with a rich sprinkling of humor that’s oh so welcome. But even that description doesn’t really do the book justice – it doesn’t convey the richness of the storytelling, the quiet silliness, and most of all, the pure warmth of the whole experience.

Reincarnation Blues is the story of a soul named Milo, who’s among the oldest souls in the universe – he’s been reincarnated nearly 10,000 times. That’s given Milo an incredible amount of experience and learning, with lives lived in the ancient past, the distant future, and everywhere in between. But Milo’s favorite parts of existence are the parts in between his lives, where he gets the chance to reunite with the love of his “life”: Suzie…also known as Death. And once you add to that the impending threat of oblivion – because any soul that hasn’t achieved enlightenment by incarnation #10,000 doesn’t get another chance – and there’s a lot of pressure on Milo to figure some things out.

And yet, Reincarnation Blues never feels like a high pressure book. Yes, there’s this deadline looming, and yes, there’s this complicated idea of having a romance with the incarnation of Death, but Reincarnation Blues remains focused, both in plot and thematic terms, on the nature of the human experience – on learning to be kind, on listening to other people, on trying to accept the universe for what it is. It’s a book that’s never really about all of Milo’s lives, despite the way it weaves in and out all of them, giving us scenes of combat, of peace, of future science, of primitive tribes, and every possible combination of all of those. It’s about what Milo did and learned in those lives, and the experiences that shaped him into the person he is.

And yet, there’s no denying that Poore’s incredible imagination gives the book a life that’s undeniable, and maybe all the more effective for how he backgrounds it throughout. More than that, the way he weaves all of Milo’s lives into one complex history – with actions in one life being referenced in another – give the sense of a complex mythology behind the book, a carefully planned out reality that we only get glimpses of. Add to that his quietly funny, sometimes silly writing style, and you have a book that succeeds in no small part to the authorial craft on display in every page.

But more than the imagination, more than the humor, what really made Reincarnation Blues work for me was the warmth of the whole novel. This is a book where the stakes revolve around finding a successful relationship and achieving some sort of internal peace and calm with the universe. And to that end, for all of the drama, for all of the stakes in each individual life that Milo leads, the book is more about connecting to other people, about learning the importance of how we relate to each other and the legacies we leave behind. That’s a great message to receive, but also a rich one, one that’s so welcome in days where we feel constantly pushed against each other. And it’s the thing that really sold me on this book – that, and the great writing, and the rich imagination, and the wonderful characters, and the great humor…well, maybe I just loved all of it, and loved it so much.

Amazon
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Four Quick Movie Reviews

392px-animalhouse_posterI can’t help but feel like I would love Animal House so much more had I seen it in the context of its times. I don’t know this for sure, but watching Animal House today makes me feel like, when it came out, it probably felt wild and original, something wholly unlike other comedies and movies. But I can’t view it through that perspective entirely; all I can do is see it through the eyes of someone who’s seen the generations of films it’s inspired, and in that light, it’s hard not to feel like Animal House is more notable for what it inspired than for the film itself. The slobs vs. snobs plotline, the veering between the “real” world and cartoonish silliness and exaggeration, the gleeful anarchy that runs through the film – there’s so many elements here that you know and love, but also have seen done better in years to come. It doesn’t help that Animal House feels SO sloppy throughout – barely a film at all at times, and more a series of interconnected bits. The one big exception to all of this, though, is John Belushi, whose energy and glorious absurd manner is a joy in every second of his screen time, much in the way that someone like Will Ferrell at his peak could infuse scenes with pure comedic gold. But in general, Animal House casts a long shadow, but it’s one of those films that’s less interesting on its own terms than for the films that followed in its footsteps. Rating: ** ½


5lhu4gi8ltkyplti9x2dvftwbrnThe last time I saw An American Werewolf in London, I ended up commenting that it all felt jumbled and sloppy – a weird mishmash of tones that didn’t work always, but when it did, was hard to beat. Maybe it was because I knew the destination and the outcome this time; maybe it was just giving it a fresh viewing. But for whatever reason, just about every aspect of Werewolf worked for me this time, down to the bitter, nihilistic ending. Werewolf feels a lot like an adaptation of a short story than anything else; it feels like it’s basically a single-act story stretched out with some filler along the way (most notably those dream sequences in the beginning, although the scene with the doctor returning the bar also drags), but in general, that focused plot works for the film’s benefit, making it feel like some weird, lean 70’s horror story. And the film’s sheer darkness is surprising but undeniably effective; Griffin Dunne’s role as a literal (and horrific) incarnation of conscience is darkly funny, but keeps plunging the film into darker and grimmer territory. Yes, it sometimes feels like Landis doesn’t quite want to commit to that darkness – he has a tendency to keep conversations light and jokey, and not quite want to look straight at the darkness implied in them – and yet, by the time the film ends, that darkness has taken over, ending the film with a nasty gut punch. And really, that darkness is a fitting element for a genre so fixated around humans giving way to their most bestial and animalistic instincts. As for that dark humor – well, it gives the film a “whistling past the graveyard” feel that works for it. There are some overlong threads, and a little too much padding to flesh out that “short story” feel. But by and large, it worked way better than I remembered, and has a way of feeling like something different from most other horror films. Rating: ****


burnt-offerings-movie-poster-1976-1020243280There’s little denying that Burnt Offerings feels like some weird B-movie inspired by The Shining, despite the fact that it’s actually the other way around (the novel was apparently much beloved by Stephen King, who openly acknowledges it as an influence on his haunted hotel novel). That’s because, at its core, this is a silly B-movie, one with a fairly amazing and overqualified cast (Burgess Meredith, Oliver Reed, Karen Black, and Bette Davis) all hamming it up and having a fun time in this schlocky story of a family that gets a magnificent deal on a once vibrant, amazing house – as long as they don’t mind leaving food out for the old matriarch who lives behind closed doors upstairs. Oh, and the weird dreams. And the dark urges that crop up. And…well, you get the idea. Burnt Offerings is all about what you expect, down to the “shocking” revelation that’s about what you expect it to be near the end. And yet, everyone in it is a seasoned pro, the pacing is solid, the scenes well staged, and the mood really nicely managed – there’s a scene involving Reed playing in the pool with his son, and the way the scene slowly curdles on us in front of our eyes is actually pretty great and effective. Even better is the way the movie never over-explains itself – the way the flowers bloom every time someone bleeds, for instance, or the unexplained nature of so much that happens upstairs. It’s all schlock, but it’s schlock done by a bunch of pros, hamming it up in a fun way and directing with an eye for pacing and oddness. It’s a lot of fun – well worth checking out for any fan of B-horror. Rating: ****


46578-the-entity-posterTurns out, for a movie I’d never really heard of, The Entity doesn’t have a bad reputation. Not every movie gets the acclaim of Martin Scorsese, of all people, much less finding it on a list of his all-time scary films. And for the first couple of acts, it’s easy to understand that reputation, even if the film isn’t perfect. The story of a young single mother (played very well by Barbara Hershey) who finds herself under constant (often sexual) assault by an invisible entity in her house, the film wastes little time in jumping into the horror, and stages each attack with an intensity that works. Add to that the film’s subtext (well, it’s barely subtext at a certain point), which finds Hershey dealing with her abusive childhood and string of flawed boyfriends, all of which might make the supernatural entity some sort of manifestation of her own issues, and there’s a lot of rich material here to go through. Oh, don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a great movie – the assaults don’t always stay on the right line of prurience, and the score is ludicrously bad (basically it’s guitar stings repeated, in rhythm, ad nauseum). But it’s an interesting one, with more depth than I expected…for two acts. And then, in truly spectacular, jaw-dropping fashion, The Entity absolutely explodes into a craptastic, ludicrous, overproduced third act that had me in tears of laughter and undoes every single good thing the movie’s done until then. It’s hard to convey just how bad this final act is on its own terms, but when compared with the solid, interesting film before it, it’s even worse, resulting in one of the biggest jumps in quality I’ve ever seen in a movie like this. (How bad is it? Well, replace all of the interesting psychological concepts of the early going with a giant model house, liquid helium cannons, evil glaciers, and action sequences. In other words, imagine if The Exorcist became a 90’s comic book movie in the final act, maybe?) There’s an interesting movie in here somewhere, but it’s best to turn it off before that final stretch, which torpedoes everything good about the rest of the movie and then some. Rating: **

IMDb: Animal House | An American Werewolf in London | Burnt Offerings | The Entity

Action/Comedy Movies x3

deadpool_ver5Even with all of the good buzz surrounding Deadpool, it’s taken me a bit to get around to seeing it. As much as I worried about Logan being self-consciously “edgy” and “extreme” with its adult rating, those worried paled in comparison to my fears about Deadpool, which I worried would be smug and crass rather than clever. Thankfully, it turned out that, against all odds, Deadpool manages to be gleefully profane, wonderfully childish and chaotic, and somehow nonetheless avoids trading in shock value or anything truly offensive (that is, it may mock everything mercilessly, but there’s a welcome dearth of ethnic jokes, gay panic jokes, and the like). Even better, the result is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny; even without the fourth-wall breaking, Ryan Reynolds’ constant patter and jokes somehow manages to be both entertaining and surprisingly unexhausting (for us, at least; the movie manages to have fun with the amount of hatred he inspires in the villains, and even some of the friends, around him). Yes, at times, Deadpool falls into the standard Marvel formula – origin story, big villain, etc. – and yes, really, beyond Reynolds, most of the characters never really come to life very much beyond what the plot requires. (That’s most true for the film’s use of Colossus as a stand-in for the rest of the X-Men, who really never brings much to the table other than being there.) Even so, with Reynolds and the film constantly taking jabs at itself and its dramatic beats, the result feels surprisingly enjoyable and light, never taking itself seriously for too long. In short, the Marvel movie parts? They’re okay – nothing special. But the humor and patter makes for a really fun watch that I enjoyed more than I expected. Rating: ****

commando-posterOkay, sure, Commando isn’t technically an action-comedy; it’s, on paper at least, a pure 80’s action movie. It’s also perhaps the most quintessential, archetypal example of what we’ve come to think of as the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle – absurd masculinity, lots of gun/fist fights, Arnie being Arnie, and ridiculous one-liners after every major death. Really, Commando has basically enough plot just to lead to lots and lots of action sequences – there’s a man (the always welcome Dan Hedaya, even though he doesn’t get much to do here) who wants Arnie to overthrow a South American country, and to motivate him, he’s kidnapped his daughter. As you might guess, Arnie’s not super on board with this, and decides to take them all out. Every part of what you imagine as 1980’s Arnie action movies is here – gratuitous nudity, sleazy chauvinist bad guys, a love interest who doesn’t really have any chemistry or purpose in the film, lots of absurdly big explosions, homoerotic tension and plenty of one-liners. In other words, it’s not like it’s a good movie, but it’s a really fun one to watch; sure, there’s some regrettably 80’s approaches to the world in here (particularly if you’re a woman), and no, it never really makes any sense. But if you can’t get behind Arnold picking up a phone booth with a bad guy in it and throwing it around, or his fighting about twenty cops at once and throwing them all off at the same time, well, what kind of garbage film lover are you? Rating: *** ½

czqsvbgumaayhmz-jpg-largeMeanwhile, if Commando is an action movie that occasionally gets ridiculous, Keanu, the first film by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key after the end of their series Key and Peele, is a comedy that occasionally becomes an action film. The story of two African-American friends who pretend to be ruthless underworld criminals in an effort to get back a missing cat, Keanu is undeniably uneven and a bit thin at times, stretching a solid premise for a few skits to the breaking point and a bit beyond. Luckily, Keanu also features the ridiculous charisma and comic timing of Key and Peele, who never look like they’re working hard to make you laugh, but whose comic timing is absolutely impeccable and dead on at all times. (Also working for the film: an absolutely adorable kitten.) As you might expect, coming from a sketch show background, Keanu feels a bit disconnected at times, with some sequences feeling like sketches loosely connected to the story. That doesn’t make it any less funny to see Key attempting to sell a bunch of hardened street kids on the cred of George Michael, or to see Peele trying to convince everyone in a Truth or Dare game just how hardened and ruthless he is. But it does mean that the film is fairly hit and miss, with more plot than we really need (a fact I think the movie is in on, given how silly it gets in the final stretch). Nonetheless, all I can say is that I laughed pretty frequently throughout Keanu, and if a lot of that is simply thanks to Key and Peele’s fantastic comic presences, well, that’s no small thing. Rating: *** ½

IMDb: Deadpool | Commando | Keanu

Review (Season 3)

review“Life. It’s literally all we have. But is it any good?”

So begins every episode of Review, Andy Daly’s nightmarishly dark comedy, which follows professional reviewer Forrest MacNeil as he reviews different life experiences. From this basic premise, Andy Daly and his team have assembled one of the most darkly, viciously funny comedies in years, following Forrest as he’s reviewed everything from prejudice to religious cults, from madness to…well, all sorts of horrible things.

But more than that, what made Review so incredible was the choice to make the series more or less a running, coherent story, as Forrest’s desire to review experiences results in the constant destruction of his own life. It’s a choice that the show made early in season one (in a justly acclaimed and praised episode), and has never backed away from since. And so, unlike so many comedies, it felt right that Review actually got to come to an ending, giving Forrest the chance to make the choice between his life and his “calling”.

For all of that, Review‘s final season was frustratingly brief, lasting only three episodes. It’s not that they were bad episodes – far from it. But Review is a show that excelled in the escalation of things, letting things start dark and just going further and further from there. And with barely an hour of show time this season, the show never got to push things quite as far as I would have enjoyed seeing it go. Worst, it felt like the show ended just as it was starting to get into its usual rhythm of madness.

Again, not to say that the final season was bad. Indeed, it felt like the show getting to play with some ideas that it had been holding off on for some time, ranging from a day in the life of Forrest’s co-host to some reviews that forced Forrest to come to terms with some of his actions over the previous two seasons. And mixed in with those were the usual Review insanity, including a review of pet euthanasia, what it was like to be Helen Keller, and more. Even in its short run, Review remained hilarious, committing utterly to its choices and never backing down, and anchored by Daly’s ever positive, enthusiastic performance.

And as for the ending, it’s the perfect ending for Review, following the show and its characters to a satisfying conclusion that feels right for the show. Comedy Central’s efforts to keep the number of episodes under wraps is an odd one, considering that the final episode is even funnier and more surprising if you know that it’s the final one (given that it’s frequently unclear which way the episode will go as it ends). But the final choice feels right – it feels like the way the show should have ended, and for a comedy that’s as dark as Review to get the right ending is an unexpected treat.

So, as a season, the final season of Review was fine. Not great, not the best, but still gleefully demented and hilarious, and only really hampered by the lack of episodes and the short length. But as a final cap on the series, it’s a great ending, even if it’s a sad reminder that we won’t be getting any more of this great show.

IMDb

The Lego Batman Movie / ****

cym_yo1w8aqqn_zMuch as was the case with the original Lego Movie, there was really no reason to expect The Lego Batman Movie to be any good. While Will Arnett’s gloriously absurd take on Batman was undeniably a highlight of the original film, the idea of creating a movie that revolved around him…well, let’s just say that such spin-offs don’t have the best track record. But more to the point, don’t we already have enough Batman movies? Did we really need another one?

But really, I should have remembered that I had similar doubts before seeing The Lego Movie, and was pleasantly overjoyed by that experience. And luckily, the same happened here. No, The Lego Batman Movie isn’t quite as wonderful as its predecessor – it lacks some of that film’s surprising depth and heart – but it more than makes itself worthwhile simply by being so ridiculously, wonderfully fun – an underrated virtue in modern superhero movies.

Mind you, it doesn’t hurt that The Lego Batman Movie delivers a pretty great superhero story. Playing off of the Joker/Batman dynamic in incredibly silly ways, the movie follows Joker as he finds a new way to threaten Gotham City; meanwhile, Batman finds himself questioning his life of solitude and isolation as he’s forced into working with others. Yes, in broad terms, it’s all stories you’ve seen done before…but in the hands of The Lego Batman Movie, it all feels winning and charming – and, moreover, it handles Batman in interesting ways, feeling like a bit of a tonic after years of grimdark brutality that reached its nadir with Batman v. Superman.

But, really, what’s most wonderful about The Lego Batman Movie is the sheer silliness of it all. From Batman commenting on studio logos in the opening moments, the film’s joyous, anarchic sense of humor is infectious, with a playfulness that extends to non-stop, rapid fire jokes that come both visually, audibly, and through the dialogue. Yes, a lot of them are even better if you’re a comic book fan (seriously, they go deep into the back catalog here, to some justly forgotten villains), but so often, the movie is just poking fun at itself, at its characters, at Batman continuity, at self-important superhero movies, and really, at anything. And while the movie doesn’t go quite as far meta as its predecessor does, there are still some wonderful carryover jokes – I never stopped laughing at the sound effects for guns, or the “worst villains of all time” that the film introduced. And by the time you start layering in all of the parody posters, the Hollywood in-jokes (which range from obvious to incredibly subtle – even some of the casting is based around jokes), the Airplane!-level pace to the jokes, and more, the result is genuinely hilarious. (Really, it’s hard to know who laughed more, me or my kids.)

The Lego Batman Movie isn’t groundbreaking or spectacular, the way the original Lego Movie was; it “suffers,” I guess, from a refusal to go back to the same well twice, which is admirable, but makes the movie feel a little less substantial than the original. And yet, for all of that, I wouldn’t change a bit of it; it’s an absolute blast, from beginning to end – it’s wonderfully silly, it’s inventive visually, cleverly constructed, and really, just a genuinely great family movie that’s actually fun, without ever being condescending, snarky, or aiming over the heads of kids. What else could you ask for?

IMDb

Toni Erdmann / **** ½

toni-erdmann-posterBy the time Toni Erdmann made its way to Nashville, its reputation was already far ahead of it. Almost universally acclaimed and beloved, it was hailed by many as one of the best films of the year, if not the best film of the year. That can make for an intimidating experience to approach a film, and when you factor in that Erdmann is a nearly three-hour German film, you’d be forgiven for making certain assumptions about the film.

But one look at the trailer for Toni Erdmann makes you realize that this film isn’t what you might think it is. Not unless you assumed that it’s a comedy about a prank-playing father who loves wearing false teeth and creating elaborate stories/lies for his own entertainment, and often at the cost of embarrassing those around him. And when he realizes that his work-obsessed daughter is at risk of letting her life pass her by, he decides to inject some madness into her world.

That’s right. This great film, this powerful experience? It’s a broad, silly comedy that mines some of the “slobs and snobs” archetypes. And that definitely isn’t quite what I expected.

To be fair, that’s not exactly what Toni Erdmann is, but it’s a good starting point. Because, yes, this film is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, with a knack for absurdism and broad comedy that you don’t often see in films like this, and a willingness to be silly that serves it well. But to call Toni Erdmann a comedy isn’t quite right, either; it’s a melancholy film in many ways, one that uses its comedic touches to lighten the material it’s grappling with: a father who worries that he’s failed his daughter; a woman struggling to make her name in the male-dominated (and often misogynistic) business world; a daughter who doesn’t understand her father at all, a feeling he reciprocates; a disconnect between corporate-speak and the real consequences that affect people’s lives; and plenty more. In short, this is heavy material, made palatable and enjoyable by the film’s comedy.

The result is a fascinating, odd film, one that really feels like little else that I’ve seen. It’s undeniably long, and yet, it lives in that length, using every minute of its time to let its characters breathe and develop, even in scenes that don’t add much to any traditional “narrative”. It’s a film that follows its characters through no end of trails – conversations with friends, awkward encounters with lovers, power struggles, moments of despair – and watches them all with equal compassion and understanding. And while the film’s synopsis above might make you think you know whose side the film is on – after all, in any film with a career-minded woman and an anarchic man, has any film ever taken the side of the woman? – writer-director Maren Ade doesn’t want to do anything so simple. She loves and admires both of these characters, and simultaneously finds both of them lacking and wanting in so many ways.

I’m still, to be honest, not entirely sure what I thought of Toni Erdmann, a film whose greatness seems to be less in filmmaking or being groundbreaking, and more in its humanity, its heart, and its kindness. (In some ways, it reminds me of my reaction to Kenneth Lonergan’s You Can Count on Me, a film whose greatness arrived in a way I never expected.) It’s an endearingly odd, unique film, filled with memorable scenes, odd moments, and rich characterization, and marked by a refusal to give us any simple moral, any one lesson we can learn. Instead, it takes on the world, its characters, sexism, parenting, guilt, love, business, and more, and throws it all together into one unique mixture. It’s funny, and it’s heartbreaking, and it’s overlong at times, and just right at others, and in all really like little else out there. And at times, it’s genuinely profound, touching on the human experience in a way that a more “conventional” movie never could. But more than anything else, it’s wonderfully human, and wonderfully humane, and I kind of loved that about it. Is it great? Maybe, maybe not. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a pretty wonderful (and wonderfully odd) movie.

IMDb

Big Hero 6 / **** ½

big_hero_6_film_posterOver the last few years, I’ve gotten a reputation among my friends for being a bit grouchy and dismissive of the whole “Marvel Cinematic Universe” thing. And they’re not wrong, but what I say less is how disappointed I am that I don’t enjoy the MCU more. I grew up loving comic books – especially the X-Men – and so I should be right in the prime audience for the MCU. But as each new movie has come out, and have felt less and less interesting – and more and more interchangeable and generic – I found myself giving up on the whole thing.

All of which brings me to Big Hero 6, which is a Marvel movie at least in spirit, if not quite in canon. Based on an obscure Marvel property (one review I read said that Marvel had forgotten that they even owned the rights to it), Big Hero 6 bears the Marvel stamps, but without being tied into the MCU, and with the freedom that comes from being the property of Disney Animation. And so, while Big Hero 6 still has some of the Marvel staples – a tragic origin story, a theatrical villain, a requisite cameo (of sorts) – it feels not so much like the other Marvel films as it does itself, and that’s a step in the right direction – especially when that vision of itself is so much fun.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Big Hero 6 has such an interesting world to play in. Set in an alternate near future where San Francisco has been partially rebuilt and funded by Japanese investors and technology, the film wastes no time in diving into its setting, kicking things off with underground bot battling for money. From there, we rocket ahead with our tale, finding ourselves in a technology institute with college students on the verge of changing the world with lasers, chemicals, and more. And we see it all through young hero, well, Hiro – a precocious, gifted teenager who graduated at an early age and drifts through life without much purpose, until his brother shows him the wonders of life in an incredibly well-funded research lab.

In many ways, much of Big Hero 6 feels like a throwback to the original Iron Man; after all, both are about gifted, cocky characters whose gifts for science allow them to push the boundaries of technology and inadvertently create heroes. But what Big Hero 6 brings to the table is a sense of wonder and imagination, a feat assisted by its animated medium, which eliminates the usual restrictions of budget and effects. Instead, the film is free to create whatever it wants, and its use of nanobots ends up being a blast, creating something fluid and nearly sentient out of the technology. And, of course, there’s Baymax, the medical robot turned lackadaisical superhero, whose charming nature and calming voice bring both a hilarious sense of humor and a much needed dose of levity to a genre that too often takes itself overly seriously.

Sure, in broad strokes, you’ve seen this story before. There’s an awful tragedy, and as a result of that, characters are forced into growth, finding in themselves a heroic side that they weren’t aware of. Meanwhile, a mysterious villain – motivated by revenge, naturally – is using some of our heroes’ own research and ideas against them. And it all comes down to a big, theatrical final confrontation (though luckily it avoids the usual “big beam of light into the sky” trope that’s been plaguing comic book movies).

And yet, I keep coming back to just how fun the whole thing is, and how it reminded me of what I loved about comics as a kid. It wasn’t always the plotting and the characters, though I loved that; it was the style, the action, the sense of glee at being “special”. And Big Hero 6 cashes in on that in spades, even going so far as to letting one of its characters be a gleeful fanboy who’s just excited to fight. And when it does get serious? It works pretty well, engaging with the emotions of loss and revel more thoughtfully than I expected.

In a lot of ways, Big Hero 6 is nothing special – another superhero movie, another kids movie about a misfit with a lovable sidekick, another unlikely hero story. And yet, there’s something really winning about the film, which gives us all of that, but does it in an interesting world, with good characters, a nice sense of style, a sense of humor and fun, and makes itself feel like its own product instead of another piece of a multi-part crossover event that you’ll finally see in ten years. In short, it’s a blast, and I’m glad I finally sat down and saw it.

IMDb