Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Big Hero 6
Since Disney now owns Marvel, it was only a matter of time before the studio attempted an animated superhero movie (The Incredibles doesn’t count – that’s Pixar), and Big Hero 6 is that attempt. Sadly, I found the film to be something of a manufactured product, a movie made using committees and checklists that never bothers to justify a lot of its decisions. For example, our protagonist Hiro is an orphan, and yet the fact that his parents are dead doesn’t factor into the story at all. Once he decides to become a superhero with the assistance of his late brother’s medical robot, he recruits a bunch of his brother’s friends to also become superheroes. And yet, their hero names don’t really factor into their powers or anything else about them. There’s a Jamaican guy whose superhero identity is called Wasabi. Why? Well, he spilled wasabi on his shirt one time. Yup. The villain wears a kabuki mask, but it doesn’t relate to his secret OR supervillain identity at all. The action scenes are cool, and Baymax the robot is a great character, but ultimately, Big Hero 6 is pure cinematic fluff. You’ll enjoy it while you watch it, but like cotton candy, as soon as it’s done, you’re left with nothing to digest.
3 out of 5

Spy
I went into Spy expecting to see Melissa McCarthy in the type of role that she has become known for: that of the obnoxious, loud, “gross” fat woman who falls down a lot. So imagine my surprise when Spy (brought to us by Paul Feig, whose films are largely responsible for McCarthy’s image as the fat woman who falls over) allowed McCarthy to play not only a tough character who kicks loads of ass, but a character with a vulnerable side and issues of self-confidence in spite of her talents. The character of Susan Cooper is funny, badass, and well-rounded, as are many of the characters with whom she shares the screen. For example, Rose Byrne’s character Rayna could easily have been a template villain, but instead she becomes more of a bitchy-but-lovable friend to the main characters. On top of that, all of the James Bond-esque spies in the film, portrayed by the likes of Jason Statham and Jude Law, are hilarious buffoons. Statham steals every scene he’s in, and this movie convinced me that he needs to do more comedies. Add Peter Serafinowicz as a pervy Italian secret agent and you’ve got a movie that’s the funniest spy caper film since the original Austin Powers. Don’t let the mediocre marketing for this movie fool you – I would gladly watch a sequel.
3.5 out of 5

American Ultra
American Ultra is another case of a great premise with a poor execution, as the idea of a stoner version of The Bourne Identity has some great potential. Unfortunately, the end result is merely passable. Jesse Eisenberg is solid as an anxiety-ridden pot-smoker who discovers that he’s actually an experimental sleeper agent, and he’s surprisingly good in the action sequences, but he isn’t given enough material to work with for his character to feel fully-formed. The chemistry between him and Kristen Stewart, like in their previous collaboration Adventureland, is believable, but again, they just aren’t given much to do until the final act. Topher Grace and Bill Pullman are completely wasted in their roles as government spooks, and in the end the film felt about a half hour too long. I’ve quite enjoyed screenwriter Max Landis’ work on the internet and on Chronicle, so I can’t help but wonder if this script would have been better handled in different hands. But we’ll never know. All we’re left with is a movie that fails to leave an impression. To be fair, though, American Ultra has an awesome trailer.
2.5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for more thrilling short reviews!

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