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[personal profile] liv
Reason for watching it: I have a feeling I saw a trailer for it and thought it looked fun, and [personal profile] jack independently thought of it as a film we might both enjoy. It's had really surprisingly little buzz, goodness knows there's enough Disney fans, both adult and child, in my social circles.

Circumstances of watching it: I had a weekend that was in some ways wonderful, cos I got to spend time with people I really like, including [personal profile] khalinche and [personal profile] ceb. But in some ways a bit difficult, because I scheduled too many social things and didn't have quite enough time or focus for any of them, and I didn't handle communicating about this very well. Anyway, in the middle of this [personal profile] jack and I managed to plan a date to mark three years of marriage and seven years together. So, film.

Verdict: Big Hero 6 is a lovely piece of animation, albeit in service of a weak plot.

So I really enjoyed Big Hero 6, and the thing I most enjoyed about it was the fact that it's set in "San Fransokyo". It's just a perfect combination of the American-style superhero genre with the Japanese style giant robot genre. It has an ensemble of superheros with approximately one trait each, and they're all robotics geeks whose superpowers are essentially constructed robot exoskeletons. They save the day from a super-villain, who hides behind a Noh mask, and at the same time it's the story of a kid coming to terms with the loss of his parent-figure older brother by means of building giant robots. And visually the backgrounds are just gorgeous, with a pitch-perfect blending of, well, San Francisco and Tokyo.

The plot is kind of obvious and simplistic, but it's a lot of fun. I completely loved the Baymax character, a robot originally created by the older brother as a healing robot, and modified by the protag for fighting the bad guy. It's a bit wacky if you think about it, but it drives the film really well, and is a source of some rather sweet gentle physical and misunderstanding humour, as well as the requisite emotional arc when Hiro realizes that it's wrong to reprogram the healing robot for killing. I liked the supervillain, too, he had some kind of coherent motivation and didn't need to be gratuitously incompetent to be able to be defeated to drive the plot. The conflict between a reasonably intelligent but physically human bad guy with an infinite supply of telepathically controlled self-assembling "microbots", and six geeks with little experience of fighting super-villains but awesome robot suits seemed well balanced.

The film is hardly a beacon of progressiveness, but it was refreshingly free of obvious fail. I mean, I'm sure it's culturally appropriative in its portrayal of Japan, but I felt like it's not really about Japan, but rather about the semi-imaginary land of Japanese fighting robot movies. They avoided the Smurfette issue by having two female characters in the superhero ensemble, both of whom have characteristics beyond just being feminine, and neither of whom is particularly sexy. I can't remember if they actually talk to eachother, but there isn't much dialogue at all in the film; we get a fair amount of Hiro and his older brother Tadashi to set up their relationship in the early part of the film, but beyond that it's nearly all action with minimal talking. The evil capitalist and the evil mad scientist are both male, but their retinues are relatively gender-balanced, again, avoiding the token woman issue. And the San Fransokyo setting is reflected in racial diversity; the brothers are explicitly mixed race European and Japanese, there's an African-American supe who doesn't die or otherwise do Magical Negro stuff, as well as a Euro-American, a Latina and a Japanese woman, of whom only the white guy is racially stereotyped to any real extent.

I'm not sure if it's the origin story for a pre-existing superhero ensemble, or if it's presenting original characters while relying on familiarity with genre conventions. Either way it's a really fun little piece.

I found the film really endearing and exciting and just the thing for a date. I'd also be really intrigued to see it with children in the age-range of its target audience. I mean, I like it better than pretty much any other children's film I've seen since Wall·E, but I can see why something like Frozen was more commercially successful.

The showing also included a short, Feast, which I didn't really love. It has a very cute puppy, but the animation wasn't particularly great and the storyline is your basic boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy proves his love by stalking girl shtick, and the cute puppy doesn't much make me favour that plot shape.
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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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