Big Hero 6 (2014)

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Walt Disney Animation Studios has come out with some terrific films over the years. They’re the ones responsible for everything from The Lion King to Wreck-It Ralph. And it is with a similarly “geeky” slant that they approached Big Hero 6 (though not as geeky as The LEGO Movie). What’s interesting here is that they’re leveraging the relatively new relationship with Marvel Comics to bring this story to life.

There is definitely a lot to like here, even if so much of this fictional world never gets explained. The cultural blending of San Fransokyo is visually stunning, the subdued personality of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Baymax is positively endearing, and the struggle with grief adds a profoundly emotional layer to the story.

It’s all quite cute and this is a generally enjoyable movie, but aside from the main character of Hiro (and his puffy robot companion), I never felt much of a connection to anyone else. Big Hero 6 feels like it’s missing something to put it in the same league as the absolute best that Pixar and Disney have produced. Like Baymax, it can puff up and take up space, but it just may be a little too empty inside.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

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The only reason I had any interest at all in seeing The Battle of the Five Armies was simply because I wanted to finish The Hobbit trilogy once and for all. And now that I have, I can say with a good deal of conviction that it simply cannot hold a candle up to the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy that preceded it (in real time, since The Hobbit is a prequel).

Perhaps the biggest issue here is that they decided to take one book and split it over three insanely-long movies. What inevitably results is a lot of filler and a lot of stretched out scenes. This was bad in An Unexpected Journey, slightly better in The Desolation of Smaug, and then worse again here. Indeed, there is plenty of action and lots of fighting, but after all that strutting and fretting upon the stage, full of sound and fury, what we end up seeing signifies nothing.

Dazed and Confused (1993)

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It may surprise some of you, but not all of you, that I don’t think I had ever watched Dazed & Confused until a couple of weeks ago. I know that this was the role that sparked the career of Matthew McConaughey and I knew it was one of these “coming of age” stories for a bunch of high schoolers, but that’s about it.

And as much as I wanted to thoroughly enjoy this supposedly iconic movie of the early 1990s depicting the mid-1970s, I found it was just okay. There are some decent laughs, though the typical teenage strife can feel formulaic. Oh, he’s getting bullied by the older kids. Oh, there’s a young adult who still drinks with the teens for some strange reason. Oh, it’s another tale of awkward unrequited love. In the end, this feels less like a movie and more like an extended episode of a TV sitcom… which just might be alright, alright, alright.