Zootopia (2016)

I’m a big Disney fan, but I never find trailers for new Disney animated films particularly appealing. Maybe it’s because the trailers are more marketed towards kids and I’m still mentally stuck in a place where I’m trying to be highbrow enough to understand crazy “art” films like Knight of Cups. (Probably won’t happen…) I still remember the first trailer I ever saw for Wall-E, one of my favorite Pixar films of all time, and being pretty bored and turned off by it, because it was a one-minute clip of Wall-E collecting trash. And that was the whole trailer.

So, when a Disney animated feature film comes out, I usually don’t get particularly excited until afterwards, when the adults get hyped. In the case of Zootopia, I didn’t know much about it before the movie came out except that it was about a rabbit cop voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin and a fox voiced by Jason Bateman. Basically, everything I knew about Zootopia came from that first teaser about anthropomorphic mammals and that DMV sloth scene.

BUT, when Disneybound founder Leslie came back from an early screening raving about the amazing message behind the movie, I was really curious. All Disney movies have a good message behind them, but people don’t usually come away from watching them thinking, “Man. What a GOOD message.” However, that seemed to be the consensus after watching Zootopia, so I took Ben to see it when we had a free evening last week.

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Big Hero 6 (2014)

Last week, I was able to see Disney’s newest animated feature, Big Hero 6 early in theaters.

Me and Baymax! I’m dressed a bit like Gogo Tomago and worked hard to get her makeup look down, which you can’t see at all in this photo but it came out pretty well, lemme tell ya.

Basically, it was amazing fantastic awesome spectacular. This is kind of a longer review, but it gets a full 5/5 100% recommend you watch it for the following reasons:

  • Fantastic characters
  • Beautiful animation
  • Great promotion of the sciences
  • Fun story and funnier lines

I have been waiting for this movie for over a year now. No, really. (It’s not easy being a Disnerd. The wait for Moana is agonizing as well.) This is Disney Animation’s first go with a Marvel property and it’s pretty great.

Let’s look at our cast of characters first, because that’s really where this movie just comes alive.

From L to R: Fred, GoGo Tomago, Baymax, Hiro, Honey Lemon, Wasabi

These are our 6 heroes. Let’s meet them, shall we?

Hiro Hamada in full hero gear

Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) is the protagonist of our film. He’s 14-years-old and a casual robotics prodigy. We get a really good feel of his personality in the opening scene, where he’s at an [illegal] underground robot fight. As a character, there is a lot of depth to Hiro that I really really loved. Seriously classic example of how to put a character through hardships and see him pull through. He’s a teenager at the cusp of puberty, so he’s awkward and sassy and kind but selfish. He’s many things and that complexity is SO delicious because it makes him more real without making him too real. (I tend to dislike characters who are TOO realistically flawed.) I also really want to talk about his family, but just know that Hiro’s relationship with his brother and his aunt are really special.

Baymax in battle gear

Meet Baymax, our adorable squishy character. THIS is how you do a non-human sidekick. (Note: I hate Olaf from Frozen.) Baymax is squishy and chock full o’ comic relief because he is a robot and doesn’t understand our zany human ways! I’ll admit, I was skeptical of Baymax because it seemed like an Olaf-esque ploy to just push out merchandise and have a recognizable character for the franchise. But he’s completely terrific.

Gogo Tomago (voiced by Jamie Chung) is one of my favorite characters in this movie. First of all, I’m always thrilled when more Asian characters are added to the Disneyverse and Gogo Tomago is everything we could have asked for. She’s a no-nonsense butt-kicker who is, as with the rest of the team, also really smart. She works with electromagnetic disks (that you see her wearing above) and chews gum. Also PURPLE. She’s awesome, everything about her just screams cool.

Wasabi (No Ginger?) (voiced by Damon Wayans Jr.) is also a really fun character. He’s the biggest hero of the team (besides Baymax, of course), but he has this really funny neuroticism that makes him maybe too relate-able, personally speaking. He seems like the most real-world-esque character. He gets freaked out flying over the city, he is scared of creepy abandoned warehouses, he doesn’t like his workspace being disturbed because he has a system goshdarnit! He’s also wicked awesome with lasers.

Honey Lemon (voiced by Génesis Rodriguez) is a bubbly and cute character (although her accent was inconsistent in a way that I found slightly distracting). She is also really kind, and that is not really shoved down your throat too much, which is great. She’s just an overall sweetie and her love for chemistry is adorable.

Oh Fred Zilla (voiced by T. J. Miller) is easily one of the most fun characters in this entire movie. The only hero in our group who is not a genius student at SFIT, he is the mascot and dreams of being a fire-breathing dragon. So the team uses science to make that a reality. I usually don’t like characters like Fred too much (think Shaggy from Scooby Doo) because they’re a little TOO laidback and TOO silly. But BH6 did a really great job of making him likable for me.

Tadashi Hamada (voiced by Daniel Henney) (“I thought he sounded hot!” – my friend) is Hiro’s lovely older brother. Like brother like brother, he is the robotics specialist in the group of nerds at SFIT and built Baymax to be a healthcare robot and help people. His powerful desire to help other people is, again, not overdone but it really does affect everything he does. He saves his brother from an illegal robot fight, he gently encourages to use his genius for more noble pursuits, and more. It’s difficult not to really adore his character, I think because I’m just such a sucker for really beautiful families.

Speaking of beautiful families, this is Aunt Cass (voiced by Maya Rudolph) (but Tumblr says she looks like the animators used Tina Fey for a reference model). It’s not really explored much in the movie, but Hiro and Tadashi’s parents are dead and she is their guardian. She does the best she can and it really shows, just how much she loves her two boys. She works really hard to support them in their endeavors, runs a cute cafe, and is just such a cute and fun and loving character. She’s easily one of my favorite characters in this movie.

There are so many things I love about this movie. One is how appealing it makes getting a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) education. The heroes are all engineering geniuses, more or less. They attend a “nerd school” where they are changing the world. One of my favorite moments in this movie is when Tadashi, Hiro’s older brother who is a student at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, shows Hiro what he can be doing with his genius. I really think that Big Hero 6 will inspire so many children to look into studying science and engineering. It’s going to be amazing and I’m so happy that Disney has really been pushing this with lots of innovation-themed contests for kids. Amazing.

Also, can I just say WOWOWOWOWOWOW to the animation team? The animation in this movie was absolutely beautiful.

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I can’t find too many examples online but I remember, even as I was watching, just being stupendously impressed with the attention to detail and the framing and WOW. Just visually, this is SUCH a stunning film.

I also think this is one of Disney’s funniest movies of late. I just found myself laughing so much because the screenwriters made such good use of awkward silence, omission, physical humor, puns, etc. You’ve probably seen scenes like this online already, and it is definitely one of the moments that shows you how funny of a character Baymax can be right here in his introduction:

Too good. Toooooooo good.

Please please please please go watch this movie, I promise it will be well worth your time.

Spoilers below the trailer! (SRS SPOILERS)

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