Jamie Chung and Genesis Rodriguez are no one's sidekicks in 'Big Hero 6'
Credit: HitFix

Jamie Chung and Genesis Rodriguez are no one's sidekicks in 'Big Hero 6'

It's so nice to see how these characters are treated in the film

While I would never recommend a film only because of its message or its themes, when a movie can entertain and inspire in equal measure, I consider it a tremendous bonus. That's the case with "Big Hero 6," which opens in theaters everywhere this weekend. It is a fun, sweet, occasionally very silly superhero story that mixes equal parts Disney Feature Animation and Marvel Comics to excellent effect. It is also, unabashedly, a film that celebrates the virtues of being smart.

It amazes me that we should have to reinforce that idea at all. It should be a given at this point that there is something admirable about genuine intellectual curiosity, and it should be exciting on a cultural level when we make major breakthroughs in science. Instead, there seems to be a cultural divide, and it seems to be getting wider, in which there are people who are defiantly proud to be stupid. We have a mainstream where every opinion, no matter how stupid, is given equal weight, and we pretend that it's all about opinion instead of fact.

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'Ask Drew' features a Michael Jackson memory and a very personal Movie God game
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Dreamworks Animation

'Ask Drew' features a Michael Jackson memory and a very personal Movie God game

We lost one of my favorite answers this week to a tech glitch

It's always a bummer when a technical glitch happens.

This week, we lost an entire question and answer to some sort of strange microphone flutter. Someone wrote in to ask about the year 1994, asking if there were films that were overshadowed by "Pulp Fiction" that year that deserved some praise, and I took the opportunity to sing the praises of Roger Avary's "Killing Zoe" for a bit. I love that movie, and I think it's got a great dark evil energy about it. The work by Eric Stoltz and Julie Delpy is outstanding, and Jean-Hugues Anglade is like some mad hallucination in it.

Anyway, we had to lose the whole thing, so it's a quicker-than-normal episode of "Ask Drew!" this week. We had a longer-than-expected hiatus between episodes, and we'll be turning that around and getting back on the every-other-week schedule now. It was my schedule that complicated everything. Our video team is always up for for this, and they said we've been getting waves of questions lately.

Remember… you need to send your question directly to video@hitfix.com so that they can compile them without me seeing anything. We played Movie God again this week, and it was a very specific variation on the game, with them pitting two infamous articles I wrote against each other.

We'll be back with a new "Ask Drew" sooner rather than later, so keep the questions coming in, and thanks as always for playing along.

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Review: Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac anchor peculiar and powerful 'A Most Violent Year'
Credit: A24

Review: Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac anchor peculiar and powerful 'A Most Violent Year'

HitFix
A
Readers
n/a
Oscar Isaac has been edging towards his movie star moment for a while

New York CIty, 1981, is a blasted moral hellscape against which a very primal struggle for survival unfolds in a very tense thirty days, all for the right to supply homes with heating oil.

J. C. Chandor's "A Most Violent Year" is a powerfully told story, a thrilling surprise, and both Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain do remarkable work as a couple trying to close a deal that will turn their heating oil company into a much larger overall business, the deal they've been working their whole lives to prepare. This one particular month starts with them confident, convinced they're going to take things to the next level, and it unfolds with them increasingly unsure that they're going to pull it off. It is a movie about an entire city conspiring to test a marriage, and the way this one particular couple fights their way through.

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Disney confirms John Lasseter will direct 'Toy Story 4' for June 2017 release
Credit: Pixar

Disney confirms John Lasseter will direct 'Toy Story 4' for June 2017 release

No other details are known so far

File this one under "inevitable."

Bob Iger held an earnings call on Thursday afternoon, and as part of that call, he announced that John Lasseter will direct "Toy Story 4" for the studio, with the film scheduled to arrive in theaters June 2017.

This shouldn't shock anyone. "Toy Story" was not only the film that launched Pixar as a feature animated company, but it has also proven to be their most respected and enduring franchise. They were able to make three films, all of them strong and smart and individual, all of them critically acclaimed as well as financially successful. As franchises go, "Toy Story" is in rare company, one of the few that has yet to disappoint with some entry.

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'Lone Survivor' creative team signs on for 'Six Billion Dollar Man' reboot
Credit: Universal Pictures

'Lone Survivor' creative team signs on for 'Six Billion Dollar Man' reboot

I'm dying to know what tone they'll try for this one

While I wasn't the biggest fan of "Lone Survivor," I was impressed with the way they managed to turn it into a genuine hit. It's a pretty stark and brutal story, but Mark Wahlberg worked overtime to help sell the movie, and it's obvious that it came from a place of real passion for him.

Peter Berg has such a strange filmography at this point that I've basically given up trying to guess what he'll do next. I always walk in hoping for him to put it all together as well as he does in films like "Friday Night Lights" or "The Rundown," because I think he's got the chops. I like that he's done some of everything at this point. Looking at how he shoots action in "Hancock," for example, or even in "Lone Survivor," he's got a sense for how to build a sequence. I just think he's been hindered by scripts at times. I like how he shot "Battleship," but I don't like the actual story being told.

It's exciting to hear that Berg and Wahlberg will collaborate for "The Six Billion Dollar Man," because there's plenty of potential in that idea. Universal's been trying to make a new updated version of this property for at least 20 years now, so I'm a little surprised to see that this is now in the hands of the Weinsteins. One of the earliest Hollywood script assignments that Kevin Smith took after he broke with "Clerks" was writing a version of what was still "The Six MIllion Dollar Man" at that point. There have been comedy versions, action versions, hybrids of the two.

I'm old enough to actually remember the show when it was on the air. I had the action figures. I had a lunchbox. I thought the show was really, really cool. When they released the complete series DVD set a year or two ago, I picked it up and started trying to watch a few episodes, and I'm shocked at how different it is from what I remember. This is why I find nostalgia so fascinating. So often, people's feelings about a thing are disconnected from the actual thing, and they're more about when something came out or who they were at the time. While there's some name recognition value for "The Six Billion Dollar Man," Universal has a pretty much blank slate to tell any story they want.

There was a book that actually came first, "Cyborg," and it's got a much more grim and straight-faced tone than the show, which is a very odd mix of tones. Whichever writer Dimension Films brings on to work with Berg and Wahlberg, their biggest trick is going to be figuring out what kind of movie this is. According to the report on Deadline, Universal may actually have a financial stake in this version. Wahlberg's got a lot of things lined up already, so we'll see when they end up ready to go in front of the camera on this.

For now, it's an intriguing prospect, if nothing else.

You can see Mark Wahlberg in "The Gambler," in theaters January 1, 2015.

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As principal photography ends, 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' gets a title
Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

As principal photography ends, 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' gets a title

Sounds pretty good to us

In what feels like the ultimate anti-hype move, the title for "Star Wars Episode VII" was revealed today in a single tweet steering fans to the official website, where a single slide contains all the new information.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has completed principal photography.

That's a fairly safe title, but honestly, I don't need clever or cool from a title. Based on everything we know so far about the film, "The Force Awakens" sounds like it's pretty dead-on in terms of explaining what's going on.

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Channing Tatum in discussions for key role in Tarantino's 'Hateful 8' western
Credit: Warner Bros

Channing Tatum in discussions for key role in Tarantino's 'Hateful 8' western

It's really happening! Thank god.

While I understand exactly why his first impulse was to walk away from "The Hateful Eight" when the script initially leaked in January, I am glad that Quentin Tarantino reconsidered.

I was there on April 19th when Tarantino staged the script as a live read, using the draft that leaked, and I thought it was a fascinating evening. That draft essentially ended like "Reservoir Dogs," and it seemed anti-climactic after the careful way the rest of the script builds. Then again, this was always meant to be a first draft, and I've got to assume that the ending was always going to be the thing that Tarantino focused on getting right. In general, I think he's demonstrated a knack for knowing exactly how a film should end.

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Review: Stephen Hawking biopic 'Theory Of Everything' captures messy nature of love
Credit: Focus Features

Review: Stephen Hawking biopic 'Theory Of Everything' captures messy nature of love

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
Eddie Redmayne's performance deserves the hype

One of the painful truths about love is that it is messy. Movies tend to trim off all the rough edges in favor of a neater, more digestible narrative, and the love story between Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane seems like a perfect candidate for that sort of nice, clean, safe repackaging.

What makes "The Theory Of Everything," directed by James ("Man On Wire") Marsh, so very effective is that it's not afraid of the mess, the contradictions, the lunacy that is part and parcel with love, and both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones do exemplary work in the lead roles. "Theory" is unabashedly nostalgic, shot through the hazy filter of warm memory, especially as it opens in 1963 with a young Stephen at Cambridge, still wrestling to figure out what his life's work will be.

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Zack Snyder's unusual plan for the 'Batman v Superman' score pits composer v composer
Credit: Warner Bros.

Zack Snyder's unusual plan for the 'Batman v Superman' score pits composer v composer

An interesting decision plays directly into the movie's themes

Okay, I have to give it up for this one. What a great idea.

While I understand that "Man Of Steel" isn't everyone's favorite, I am a huge fan of the film, and one of the things I love about it is the score by Hans Zimmer. There are places in that film where I think Zimmer does some of the best work of his career, big and inspired and beautiful and sweeping and intense and emotional.

It isn't a huge surprise to hear that Zimmer will be working on the score for "Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice" as well. I would expect him to continue from the themes that he created for "Man Of Steel," and I assume he and Zack Snyder had a good relationship on that film. It would be enough of an announcement for me to think it was awesome if they just said Zimmer was working on the score. But it's more than that, something entirely appropriate to the nature of the film itself, and it sounds like a perfect idea.

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'Chappie' trailer introduces a feeling robot from the director of 'District 9'
Credit: Columbia Pictures

'Chappie' trailer introduces a feeling robot from the director of 'District 9'

Sharlto Copley tries something new in a performance capture role

Neill Blomkamp made a big noise with his first narrative feature, and one of the things that made "District 9" so electrifying was that it seemed to come out of nowhere. It was a surprise, and it was a fresh take on science-fiction during a period when it felt like there wasn't much being done in the genre.

The hard part about coming out of nowhere and surprising everyone is that you can only do it once. His second film, "Elysium," had the crushing weight of expectation on it, and Blomkamp stumbled in the execution. It's certainly an ambitious film, and he's just as technically adept as he was in "District 9," but he wasn't really able to pull all of the narrative threads together. One of the common elements between the two films was Sharlto Copley, the hero of one film and the villain of the other.

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