What could and should happen at WWE Royal Rumble 2015

The road to WrestleMania starts Sunday January 25 at the Royal Rumble and there are many scenarios that can play out that would paint a clear picture of what matches we will likely see at the big event. The matches we need to keep an eye on for Sunday is the triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the Royal Rumble match itself. Below are some of the scenarios that could play out and the likelihood they would happen.

The Most Heavily Rumored

The most heavily rumored and likely situation would be Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble and Brock Lesnar retaining his world title. This would effectively put the young guy over at WrestleMania and give him the big push he needs to be the future of the company. WWE has been on the hunt for the next Rock or John Cena and it looks like they’ve put all their stock into Reigns. If there were anyway to do this the fastest and most predictable way, it would be to have this story play out. Here’s the problem, though, Reigns has been out for a big chunk of 2014 and has returned with some of the most uninteresting and cringe-worthy promos. That says to me Reigns isn’t ready. Also, Brock Lesnar should be going head to head with the biggest and best names in WWE. Reigns seems to be getting over with the crowd nicely, despite his missteps, but to the mainstream world, no one knows who he is. I think it’s best if someone else gets the championship from Lesnar and you can hold off on the Reigns and Lesnar match until SummerSlam.

The Fan Favorite

This scenario also includes Lesnar retaining his title, but instead has Daniel Bryan winning the Royal Rumble. WWE made a huge mistake not going with Bryan last year at the Royal Rumble and the backlash to what should have been a happy moment for Batista was catastrophic. The same may happen again if WWE ignores the crowd’s desire to see their man Bryan winning the Rumble and shoving down another babyface down everyone’s throats. It was so bad last year to the point where Batista was forced into a heel role and Bryan was slotted into the WrestleMania main event anyway. Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan would also have much bigger drawing power since Bryan is a more recognizable name, plus he was the man who was shelved and stripped of the title due to an injury and is also the WrestleMania 30 main event winner; his redemption win would be a great story to tell at WrestleMania 31.

Odd But Possible

There’s the wild scenario where Seth Rollins wins the match or at least comes out of the Royal Rumble event with the title. Seth has been thrown into what was a one-on-one match and he also has the Money in the Bank briefcase. He could lose the match, but still somehow sleaze his way to winning the title by cashing in his title shot right after the match. This would set up the possibility of both Seth Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns, both of which would be great matches. Bryan and Rollins would have a very good back and forth match due to their tremendous ringwork and Rollins vs. Reigns has the history of The Shield to gain some interest. This is the least likely of all the scenarios, but it can happen.

The Worst

Finally, you can never count John Cena out, which is why Cena winning the title is very possible at the Royal Rumble. Cena winning the title could force something like a Seth Rollins cash-in between now and March 29 to set up one last Cena vs. Lesnar match at WrestleMania. The match itself wouldn’t need the title and it would be a good way to keep the title out of the picture if John Cena wins. Cena winning can also set up a John Cena vs. Roman Reigns match at WrestleMania and much like the first scenario, it would be a good way to pass the torch to the young guy. The problem with this situation is also the same as the first scenario.

My dream card as of right now that is in the realm of possibility is with the second scenario. Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship would be the most interesting and best match to happen at WrestleMania. What’s cool about this year is that there is a lot up in the air and everything is not as obvious as last year’s Road to WrestleMania. The good thing is we won’t have to wait much longer for answers and we’ll have a good idea of what will happen very soon. Have fun watching the Royal Rumble!

WWE Tables, Ladders and Chairs… and Stairs 2014 Predictions

Closing out 2014 is the last pay-per-view event, Tables, Ladders and Chairs… and Stairs. This is one of WWE’s biggest gaps between PPV’s and there’s a lot to wrap up and accomplish before going forward to 2015 and the Road to WrestleMania. Here are my predictions for this Sunday’s event.

TABLES, LADDERS & CHAIRS MATCH DEAN AMBROSE vs. BRAY WYATT

It appears that this rivalry will finally end with what should be a highly entertaining match. The two leaders (or at least the mouth pieces) of the greatest two stables in recent memory will duke it out in a TLC match. They’re not fighting for a title or a briefcase, so it will be interesting to see what exactly will be hanging above the ring. Both have had a great 2014 and will need a win in order to start the next year strong. My prediction is that Dean will win to set up one more big program with Seth Rollins next year. Bray will take the loss and maybe move on to facing off against the likes of Randy Orton or maybe even former buddy, now face Erick Rowan.

TABLES MATCH JOHN CENA vs. SETH ROLLINS

Once again, John Cena is set up in a Tables Match in order to take a loss without actually taking “a loss”. A number of things can happen here to screw over John Cena, including a Triple H run-in, Mercury and Noble run-in, Brock Lesnar run-in or just pure fluke luck. If memory serves me right, John Cena took a fluke loss to Sheamus a handful of years ago and it was done in such a way that Sheamus won the WWE Championship, but the loss didn’t make Cena look weak. My guess is Rollins will win, get all the momentum he needs to set up his next program and will have a win over Cena to further legitimize himself as a worthy holder of the Money in the Bank briefcase. The story with Cena’s number 1 contendership, I’m sure, will sort itself out on Raw the next night.

CHAIRS MATCH RYBACK vs. KANE

I’m sorry to say, but this will actually be the bathroom break match as opposed to the Divas match this time. Both men will show off some power moves, slap each other over the back with some chairs and call it a day. There may be a cool spot where Ryback demolishes Kane with a chair, spear type of move, but I don’t see this match lasting very long or being very entertaining. Ryback will pick up a win here to gain some speed with his first good win since returning and Kane will still continue to be Kane.

WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH THE MIZ & DAMIEN MIZDOW vs. THE USOS

The greatest thing in WWE right now. I am more entertained by this than anything else on Raw and they continue to amaze me. Damien Mizdow’s commitment to being The Miz’s stunt double is out-of-this-world funny — his spot on the go-home show for TLC where he took an unassisted bump while Miz was getting suplexed was classic stuff. Anyway, the newly crowned champs, Miz and Mizdow will continue their super over gimmick and WWE will seemingly continue doing right by them and let them retain the titles. WWE has found something that works for Mizdow and they’re going to run with it.

STEEL STAIRS MATCH ERICK ROWAN vs. BIG SHOW

This is the first Steel Stairs match of the newly named Tables, Ladders and Chairs AND STAIRS event. This could be fun as these two men will be lifting steel stairs over their heads and showing off their brute strength. Erick Rowan has been getting over quite nicely since the split of the Wyatt family and should set up something soon with former teammate Luke Harper. Big Show has been on the most believable heel turn I can recall, despite the fact that it’s the 500th time it has happened. My guess is Big Show will win and Erick will get encouraged as the babyface underdog to keep going and never giving up. Erick should have a big 2015 and he has nothing but time to continue building his character and crafting his skills.

WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP LADDER MATCH LUKE HARPER vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER

This is my pick for the best match of the night and both men have been on a hot streak as of late. Both can work a great match and based on recent shows, I’m sure the crowd will be very into this. Ziggler needs the win here to keep the ball rolling from Survivor Series, which is the last memory of many fans who may only watch PPV shows and not every Monday Night Raw. Harper has a number of other matches he can work, so dropping the title wouldn’t be a big deal for him. Just like Rowan, Harper has 2015 to build and build. Ziggler on the other hand could be a big part of the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania next year.

UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH RUSEV vs. JACK SWAGGER

This is another shake at a match up we’ve already seen, but seemed sort of rushed. It makes sense since Swagger is battling for the honor of fallen mentor Zeb Colter, but it doesn’t get me interested at all, especially since Rusev’s first fall will most likely not come from someone’s he’s already beat. The two will work a good match, but Rusev will surely get the win.

DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH NIKKI BELLA vs. AJ LEE

I actually look forward to the Divas matches now as they have proven to work very well, especially Nikki who has grown ten-fold in the past months. AJ is absolutely great in the ring and should never be counted out of a win. I believe AJ will win and capture the title for the 4th time and the Nikki and Brie rivalry will be revisited shortly after. On a side note, it’s amazing that WWE has been treating AJ like gold, despite the fact that CM Punk has been very heavily downplaying WWE and how they have treated him.

Triple launch at Nintendo World in New York a success

On November 21, 2014, Nintendo launched three major titles to the masses — Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire. They are the undisputed top holiday games for Nintendo and Wii U and they released simultaneously when the clock struck midnight — except for at Nintendo World Store in New York City. Releasing at 9pm the day before, fans who passionately waited (some as long as 48 hours in the frigid cold) for the games’ launch were getting the game hours early and treated to some swag, too.

Nintendo’s push for these titles will also be met by a whole 24-hour opening of the store so fans and loyal gamers can come in at any time to pick up their games. I’ve heard of 2am Taco Bell runs, but Smash Bros. runs? Sounds equally as delicious to me. Check out some of the photos below.

Mick Foley shares all about Christmas, Santa and a little bit of wrestling

Mick Foley is a former WWE Champion and one of the most recognizable names in wrestling lore. However, he is no stranger to projects outside of the squared circle and has pursued comedy, book writing, TV shows and many other things. Mick is the star in holiday documentary, I Am Santa Claus and recently chatted with BuzzFocus to share all things from being Santa to being beaten down by The Rock.

Thanks Mick for chatting with us today. So the first question is how does I Am Santa Claus stand out against everything else you’ve accomplished on TV and movies.

Mick Foley: Oh man, any documentary is a labor of love and you set out with realistic goals to make a really good movie that you hope people will eventually find. I really enjoyed being a part of it not only on screen, but also behind the scenes helping to shape it. I was really proud of it during occasions as I saw it, especially while watching it with an audience seeing the way the movie moves people and makes people think differently of the men in the red suits.

What’s some of your personal history with Christmas, Santa and your children?

Mick: Seen in the film, I try to pass myself off as Santa on Christmas Eve and I thought it would take my son 2 minutes to see that I’m not the real deal — it literally took him two seconds. He’s a pretty sharp kid and I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. We took the kids every year to a place in Jefferson, New Hampshire called Santa’s Village and so in the Foley photo album we photos of the past 20 years of all my kids sitting with Santa at Santa’s Village. Every year we go and every year we take a photo. I remember how important those photos were to me they were always on display in my parents’ room and it’s a moment to be treasured. So I’m really honored when I have the chance to create those memories for other families.

Are there any other traditions you celebrate during Christmas?

Mick: There’s a year round Christmas room so there’s a tradition to celebrate little bit of Christmas every day and keep the spirit of Christmas alive. People are actually surprised that I don’t have an elaborate, Clark Griswald-like Christmas display outside, but in no way, shape or form is the sight of me on a ladder (starts laughing) add to the Christmas spirit.

What was your favorite Christmas moment as a child?

Mick: Oh man, honestly as a child, being taken to Santa’s Village in 1968 and 1969 had a big effect on me. Although they took me in the summer, I guess this is where this kind of love for a year round Christmas started. I remember opening up Talking Football when I was 7 years old and I thought it was the greatest gift I ever received. Even now I go into storage and I’ll see the game and it no longer works and it’s all warped — I cant bring myself to throw it out I just have to hold on to it as it has a great memory for me.

And how about your favorite Christmas memory after becoming a WWE Hall of Famer and multiple time world champion?

Mick: I’m lucky to have been part of the the 1999 documentary film Beyond the Mat and it is very dear to me, but it also contains probably the worst moment for me as a dad. I was bludgeoned by The Rock in front of my children. Conversely, I Am Santa Claus contains my best moment as a dad when we receive a surprise gift from the “real Santa” on Christmas Eve. So that’s the memory I’ll hold with me for the rest of my life and I’m really glad that it’s captured on film.

I know that there have been many screenings already, so I bet that it’s been great to watch with an audience.

Mick: Yeah it’s fun. Most people will be able to see it on DVD and on demand services; but it’s really fun to take this movie in with the audience and they tend to get the subtleties and humor and it’s great to hear people laughing out loud where you’d hope they would.

You recently had an appearance on WWE television with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in the ring. How did that come about?

Mick: I received a phone call asking if I’d be interested and at first I said I can’t, because I had press to do — we had the world premiere in Hollywood on Sunday night and I had press that I committed to. But after a couple of phone calls and Kevin Smith was kind enough to do the podcast after the premiere, I was on a red-eye and whisked in behind a veil of secrecy and put in the ring with two of today’s top stars.

One last thing, I know you’re very focused on this movie, but are there any projects or future projects you would like to share about?

Mick: This movie is a big deal to me and I appreciate every one to give it a try. The response has been really positive, the general feeling is that the movie hits people by surprise with the depth. They think it’s going to be Mick’s fun Santa project and they come out of it realizing it’s a movie with substance, too. And I’m continuing tour around with my one man shows and I love them. I believe we will be having a television special in the near future which will give people a much better idea of what I do and make their decision to attend a much easier one.

Thank you, Mick.

Mick: Thank you. Have a nice day.

Super Smash Brothers for Wii U is absolutely stellar

The last Smash Bros. console iteration was released over 6 years ago and the gap before that was 7 years. That’s okay though, because it makes this gathering of the iconic and memorable characters all the more special each time it happens. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U arrives in a context that is in stark contrast compared to 2008’s Brawl release. Nintendo’s latest and first ever HD machine is struggling and the company has to prove the system’s worth with titles two years into the Wii U’s life cycle that could make or break the console’s success. A lot of pressure has been put on Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and it needs to be absolutely stellar to meet the expectations both Nintendo and fans have put on it.

Smash Bros. is an atypical fighting game where bouts between characters are based on whether one person can stay on a board or platform longer than the other. The objective is to attack your opponent to deal more and more damage and the higher damage inflicted on the character means the more susceptible they will become to getting knocked further off the stage. It’s a constant King of the Hill scramble to remain in the game and the last man standing is the victor. Playing a game is chaos especially when considering you have to deal combos, chase after helpful items and be wary of hazards on the stage itself to survive – and I love it. Fighting is also available on many control schemes, including GameCube controller via special adapter, so every player will find their comfort level with this game.

The roster is the biggest the series has ever seen and there is a character for every demographic, taste and preference. Mario, his Nintendo gang and a handful of guests from other publishers, including Pac-Man and Mega-Man, are crammed into this singular game and the amount of epicness is at an all-time high. Each character follows the same template of moves as far as input goes, but plays different enough from each other to require skill and time to master. Link has long range special moves like boomerangs and bombs while the more grounded Little Mac is much more of a close-range fighter. Each character also has attributes to consider while in battle, so you’ll have to take into account Ganondorf’s sluggishness or Pikachu’s aptitude to recover and return to a platform when knocked too far.

Modes are plentiful and all the favorites are back. Classic, All-Star, Home-Run Contest and Target Blast make their return and trophies are yet again collectible. Customization of Mii’s and Smash Bros. characters, which was introduced last month in the 3DS iteration is also back and can be transferred over from the portable version, too. New to Smash for Wii U this time around includes some extra modes and multiplayer features. For the first time ever, routinely single-player experiences like Classic, All-Star and Multi-Man challenges have been opened up to co-op experiences. This is exceptionally great with unlocking trophies in Classic and All-Star mode, because one run through can unlock two trophies at once when playing with a pal. Also, Cruel Smash, which up to this point has been an insanely tough 5 super beefed up Mii’s against you, is a much fairer fight when it’s 4 human players against 4. Also, 8 players playing on a single console arrives here as a first for the series and it is, in simplest terms, madness — the good kind of madness.

An exclusive mode, Smash Tour has some similarities to the 3DS’ Smash Run, but is a totally different beast all on its own. Up to 4 players wander around a party board in a set amount of turns gathering character traits like power, speed and jump and the goal is to collect fighters as you go. Random items can be used before each turn, such as setting up traps to disrupt each other or self-improving power-ups like doubling up the number on a dice roll. You get to play as the characters you collect and battles take place if players cross paths. In the end, the final battle pits all the characters you’ve collected with all the stats gained against each other and the player to get the most KO’s is declared the winner. Smash Tour is a welcomed and fun multiplayer option that I feel is better than Smash Run, which was a much more isolated and lonely experience before the final showdown.

Smash Bros. for Wii U is the first time the series has stepped into HD and it is very, very pretty. The game is a solid 60fps and the only time I noticed it dip was during the credits sequence. Otherwise, it ran smooth even during the most demanding 8-man matches. The music in Smash for Wii U is completely out of this world. The sheer volume of original and remixed tracks is staggering, but the quality of some of the songs is the real kicker. A Super Mario World boss theme with a Latin flair seems a bit strange on paper, but sounded both fitting and appropriate by every stretch of the imagination. And then there are the lesser known themes, like the final boss theme of Bowser’s Inside Story, which is a personal favorite of mine and was included into this soundtrack. This not only shows Nintendo is putting care and attention to their score, they’re also paying close attention to what the fans want.

About half of Smash for Wii U’s stages are from past titles, which, of course, have been bumped up to the visual standards of the rest of the game. As good as the old stages were, new stages introduced here are refreshing like the Metroid: Other M‘s Pyroshere stage and Star Fox: Assault‘s Orbital Gate Assault stage. The game also has stages of future games like Yoshi’s Woolly world which arrives sometime next year. Unlockable stages and music is also available, so the already impressive lot of content continues to grow as you play.

Amiibo is launching alongside with Smash for Wii U and it adds a bit more to the game. This optional purchase will allow you to level up your figure player and learn your playstyle to stand in as a computer controlled fighter. It’s a bit funky and not a perfect science, but gives you a little more for the nice figurine you just bought. It’s a very throwaway feature, but I do like the toys very much. Amiibo can also be used for other games, so it’s not entirely a waste if you find it pointless for Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U plays great, sounds great, looks great, has a robust roster and there’s a ton of modes to keep coming back for more. Also, with Mewtwo as a playable character promised as upcoming free DLC, you can assume there may be more stuff on the way. As far as downsides go, the menus are still confusingly laid out (addressed by many as a flaw in the 3DS version) and the Amiibo functionality isn’t anything grand to write home about. That said, this game gets so much right and gives a lot of play for your buck. Like Melee and Brawl on their respective consoles, Smash for Wii U is a must have for any Wii U owner.

Super Smash Brothers
Genre: Fighting
Platform: Wii U
Developer: Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Games
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: November 21, 2014

Rating: 9.5 / 10

Bayonetta 2: A polished and gorgeous adventure that Wii U owners shouldn’t miss

The fact that Nintendo went out of its way to publish and push a sequel to Bayonetta should say a lot about the company’s stance on third-party games. Bayonetta 2 stars a female protagonist of the same name and the game is as hardcore and as obscure as it gets. The original game gets packed in with Bayonetta 2 for one retail price, which could have been easily missed back when it released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This is the gem Nintendo fans have been waiting for and if you’ve been looking for more reasons to pick up a Wii U, Bayonetta 2 makes a big case for it.

The game takes place a few months after the first and Bayonetta and her fellow witch friend, Jeanne are doing some Christmas shopping. Action quickly ensues as they are attacked by angels and the two kick some major butt. However, Jeanne still ends up being taken into the depths of Inferno (hell of sorts) and Bayonetta pursues her. Witches, demons, angels — If you’re into mythical and religious connotations in your video games, this is totally for you.

Bayonetta 2 plays like the best version of your action favorites like Devil May Cry and God of War and takes it as its own with unique style and storytelling. You hack, slash, dodge and perform epic moves just like the other guys, but it’s met by a solid 60 fps, a smart fighting system and takes more liberties with not caring about how weird the Japanese inspired game gets. Witch Time and Umbran Climax also give more flare to each battle as they give bullet-time effects and high-powered summoning attacks respectively. There’s just something super satisfying about timing a perfect dodge and being able to unleash hell in slow-motion.

The flurries of attacks you can dish out on your opponents can become sensory overload, but that’s what makes the game feel grander than your everyday beat-em up. There’s no noticeable slowdown or hiccups during the fluid flowing on-screen action, so the ambitious vision of Bayonetta 2 going bigger and flashier is completely realized. The action is fast, but failure never feels cheap or unjust as it does in so many other games.

Cutscenes are brilliantly casted and the setpieces are quite a sight to see. I would stand around taking in the environments at times just to enjoy the architecture and environments built for this game. Also, when the ground beneath you begins to collapse on itself for whatever reason or a momentary shift of gravity occurs, it really feels like a living, breathing world you’ve become a part of. Some of the storytelling is done through still panels shifting like a Japanese comic or manga, which were effective and actually more enjoyable than your typical photo-realistic FMV cutscenes.

My playthrough of Bayonetta 2 was set to normal difficulty and that proved to be more than enough for me — Hard mode, I’m sure, will satisfy the hardcore. For the first few hours of the game, I was able to get by just through mashing the same combos and dodging attacks at the right time. Eventually, that kind of play caught up with me and I had to learn and execute more elaborate combos and attack strings as the game’s difficulty continued to rise. The payoff is great though and each victory felt more and more rewarding. There’s a scoring system that takes into account lives used and time it took to complete a mission and that should make perfectionists happy.

Bayonetta 2’s 10-12 hour story never lets up and it is a thrill ride through and through. There was never a moment where I felt bored or tired, which is a big contrast to many other beat-em ups that get too repetitious for my tastes. The writing can get a bit cheesy (and they’re thankfully skippable), but the main thing is the gameplay and it certainly delivers. This is a polished and gorgeous adventure Wii U owners cannot miss. Nintendo took a gamble with this one and it paid off big time.

Bayonetta 2
Genre: Action, Hack and Slash
Platform: Wii U
Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: October 24, 2014

Rating: 9 / 10

‘Interstellar’ is Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious fantastic voyage

On one hand Interstellar is a post-apocalyptic film, as the landscape of a near futuristic Earth is brushed out onto a dry, barren canvas. Science and the unappreciated efforts of NASA are seen as insignificant wastes of resources, newly marketed as a scam to the public. The state of the planet is at a critical level. Dust storms regularly fan across the globe, showering the land in dirt. Ecosystems have been ravaged and it appears as if humans are the only creatures left on Earth. Agriculture is the last asset and culture in the world, and one-by-one, crops are failing to grow due to blight. It is yet another bleak vision into the future if we stay the course. Interstellar is so much more though, because it is about space exploration, human nature, a healthy debate over proven science vs. other concepts like love, faith, and trust, as well as an encounter with the third kind.

interstellar

Some day our planet will crumble, or reach an irreversible point. What will give us our best chance at survival, science or one of the other less physical motivations? Is there room for both? Surely the reaction to it or any hard-driven science fiction film is expected to be divisive. Interstellar will spark its share of conversations.

Watching Interstellar is like sitting at a Brazilian restaurant with a parade of protein being served at your table. After you’ve had your fifth plate of food, there’s still so much more to consume. Be prepared; Insterstellar is a dense and long film that traverses along many paths. Who doesn’t want a little more for their money? No one questions the length of a novel. It takes as many pages that it needs to tell the story and at this point, a lengthy running time is one of Nolan’s signatures. It requires a full commitment by the viewer, to step onto his carnival, full of both despair and cosmic wonder.

Director and screenwriter Christopher Nolan (along with his brother, co-writer Jonathan) makes puzzles, and in this one, everything you need to solve it rests between the start of the film and the end. It’s true that Nolan’s body of work lack warmth, or the typical Hollywood sprinter’s pace for storytelling, but maybe that’s what makes him the perfect filmmaker of the next great space movie, because there is little out there in the vast universe to give any kind of warm reassurance that a nearby safe haven exists beyond the one beneath our feet. To feel like there is hope, we need one incredible voyage, and Nolan delivers that.

Theoretical physicist, Kip Thorne (who also worked on Contact) was the film’s scientific consultant and one of the executive producers. He made sure that wormholes and relativity were portrayed correctly. It gives the Interstellar the depth and grounding it needs to lift off and take us for a ride. It is an ambitious journey, echoing other influential classics like 2001: A Space Oddyssey, Blade Runner or The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but it’s presented in Nolan’s twisting maze-like presentation, done with justice in IMAX, accompanied with a bombastic pipe-organ-filled score composed by Hanz Zimmer.

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a former NASA pilot and engineer who is forced to become a farmer and master his crops of corn with his son Tom (Timothee Chalamet), daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy), and father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow). A strange phenomena leads Cooper and Murph to an unknown division of NASA run by Professor Brand (Michael Caine), who Cooper remembers from his glory days.

Brand is convinced that they’ve made contact with other beings who have placed a wormhole on the edge of Saturn’s orbit that will get them to inhabitable worlds in new galaxies. Many underground missions have obtained years of research that a small handful of planets exist that can sustain human life. The latest ship, dubbed the Endurance, has a mission is to confirm which of the planets to inhabit, come back to Earth, while Brand finalizes the technology to take Earth’s remaining survivors to the new planet and colonize.

Cooper leaves his family behind, at the protest of Murph, and pilots the spacecraft to find purpose in his life and do his part to preserve the survival of his children. Brand’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), geographer Doyle (Wes Bentley) physicist Romilly (David Gyasi) and two robots TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) and CASE (voiced by Josh Stewart) join him. But the real danger in this mission isn’t flying into the wormhole–though, to be honest, it is in its own right, a beautifully terrifying sequence. What’s really scary are the lands Endurance hopes to settle on the other side of the wormhole. Time moves slower due to the gravitational pull of a spiraling black hole nearby. One prolonged event in space could equal many Earth years marched closer towards oblivion. Once out there, the loneliness can be deafening and makes a character reconsider his or her motivations to exercise such bravery and risk. To re-coin one of Jesse Pinkman’s phrases, ‘Science, it’s a bitch!’

One could argue that there a few too many conveniences and a fourth act (yes, I said fourth) that’s too obtuse for mainstream audiences hoping to see a continuation of Gravity, but that kind of nitpicking is missing the beauty of the sum. This film has ambition, a singular vision, to cross-stitch Nolan’s dreams of exploration and survival with all of his cinematic influences, so vividly and powerful with the common thread of love.

With Inception, we watched a heist film in a shared dreaming experience. There, the manipulation of time in the dream world was important to understanding the events of the story. They were made more complex once the concept of dreams within a dream were conveyed, and it was seemingly infinite time that made the impossible possible. In Memento, a black and white story moves forward while we are given 10 minute segments of another story, in color, running in the reverse order of how they played out. Eventually the two stories converge and shows how fragile the truth is. Even in the Dark Knight trilogy, Batman was constantly racing against clock. Time is one of Nolan’s favorite villains and plot devices.

In Interstellar, we are asked to understand how time dilation and at least a surface level understanding of Einstein’s general theory of relativity works as the last bastion of the human race hurtles into one gorgeous-looking black hole. No matter who we are, what it is we can or can’t do, we are all prisoners of time and love, and are up against it. We are all subject to run away while it chases us, even if it’s across the universe.

‘Big Hero 6′ is a bright and bold collaboration between Disney and Marvel

Originality, inspiration, heart, life lessons, and exciting animation, Big Hero 6 has it all as the first big screen collaboration between Marvel Studios and Disney Animation.

bighero6

Welcome to San Fransokyo, where technology and robotics have become part of the nuts and bolts of our culture. Tadashi Hamada (Daniel Henney) is a student at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. He invented and developed Baymax, a personal healthcare robot who is amazing not only for his thorough service, but he is inflatable. But this story is less about them, and more about Hiro (Ryan Potter), Tadashi’s 14-year old brother, who likes to dwell in the underground, back-alley bot fights, hustling for money. He uses his big brains in ways that will get him by, but never ahead. Tadashi takes Hiro under his wing and takes him to his university, to meet his classmates, to introduce him to technology icons, to channel new ways to use his mind, and help facilitate new ways to approach life.

Taking the knowledge he used to create his fighting robot, Hiro develops an invention that could revolutionize the world and shows at the university’s symposium. If successful, Hiro could achieve admission to the university as a prodigy, but his work also draws the interest of Alistair Krei (Allan Tudyk) of Krei Tech who offers to buy the technology for millions. Instead, Hiro takes the advice of Professor Robert Callaghan (James Crowell) and declines Krei’s offer and accepts enrollment at the Institute. But after a fire breaks out at the event, a big explosion kills many, including Tadashi and Callaghan.

In the wake of the tragedy, Hiro shuts himself in, does not return phone calls from Tadashi’s classmates, until he unintentionally deploys Baymax who tries to step Hiro through his depression. By following his protocol, Baymax winds up getting Hiro out of the house to discover his new purpose. It’s like therapy 101 with a big talking balloon.

If it sounds like a comic book, that’s because it is. Big Hero 6 is a dusted-off Marvel comic book that director Don Hall stumbled upon shortly after the Disney acquisition of Marvel Entertainment. Big Hero 6 was created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau, two members of the creative studio Man of Action who have gone on to help create several successful creator-owned comics and TV series including Ben 10, Generator Rex, Bakugan, and Ultimate Spider-Man. Some of the characters have been taken out since they’re part of the X-Men universe and would therefore infringe on Fox Studios’ right to use anything from that specific vault of characters. Baymax got a complete and huggable makeover and some new characters were created to complete the 6. The spirit and concept is still there, but there’s no denying it’s been made over into a much more cuddly package. The compromise also made it a more obscure entity and allows fresh eyes to be brought to the theater before the flood of the all-ages sensibilities come rushing towards you in 3D.

Another big plus was seeing a majority of the cast be diverse both on screen and in voice, especially in the main characters. It’s not stately obvious, but in looking back, what a breath of fresh air it was to see Hiro of mixed Asian and Caucasian descent, (Potter is also of mixed descent) and his inspiration be his brother (Henney was born to a Korean adoptee mother and American-Irish father) raised by their caring though sometimes spacey guardian, Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph). It’s an unconventional family but is such a great representation of the modern American face. Hiro and Tadashi are two of the best Asian-American inspired characters on screen since we were introduced to Russell in Up. Hopefully this approach becomes more and more commonplace in live-action film too.

The rest of the Big Hero 6 roster doesn’t fall through the familiar pitfalls of minority characters that we’ve seen so many times. For one, they all have great scientific minds, so that already bucks the stereotypes of their compartmentalized cultures that typically define them, whether it be their native food, slang, or fashion–that alone is worth commending. GoGo (Jamie Chung), another Asian-American, has a tough exterior and is athletic. Wasabi (Damon Wayans), the team’s African-American, is an overly cautious neat-freak with an equally precise weapon, but he serves as the moral compass. Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) plays to the girls who like to accessorize but is also a lovable and undeniable chemistry nerd. And then there’s Fred (T.J. Miller) who just unfolds his multiple layers through to the very last second of the film (yes, that’s a clue that you have to stay after the credits, because this is after all, a Marvel film, and a fine scene it is). You never feel like the team is a formula, but rather a cross-cut of personalities to help Hiro and Baymax shine.

One never goes hunting for life lessons in children’s movies, but as a parent, I can tell you that it never hurts to see them done so well like they have recently in movies. Kids are invariably going to watch these films on multiple occasions whether it’s in the theaters or once they are home releases. So it does make you feel better when you see ways to spark the interest in the science fields, trusting others for help and teamwork, pushing through life’s failures, or how to channel and cope with the anger and emotions of experiencing personal loss–it’s quite a change from waiting for Prince Charming to come along. How to Train Your Dragon 2 dealt with some similar themes, very powerfully I might add. It’s a sign that we’re in a great period of all-ages films.

Now, I’m not quite as sold on how great Frozen is being perceived to be, but I do understand why it’s popular. Wreck-It Ralph was another modern-day Disney classic that blended all of the things you want to see in an all-ages movie, while pulling in adults with nostalgia. Even though Disney’s Planes was a mess, Planes Fire and Rescue was a pleasant surprise and recovery. We’ve never been shy to show our love for Tron: Uprising at Buzzfocus, even though it never found its audience. Still, it was a risk taken, and Star Wars: Rebels looks like another winner. Now with Big Hero 6, we can see Disney slowly evolving from what they used to be, while still finding their place in the present landscape and still understanding how best to utilize all of the assets acquired throughout the years in fun and imaginative ways. These are exciting times at Disney Animation.

The result of the Marvel-Disney collaboration on Big Hero 6 translates into magic, with plenty of big super hero moments that older audiences have always been drawn to recently, and enough Disney elements to capture the minds of a five or six-year-old without the need to bring in the scarier elements that they’ll surely graduate to in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s no rush though, that world will be around for decades.

San Fransokyo is an awesome and opulent visual delight. It might be hard to pull yourself out of the story and appreciate the level of detail and complexity of this animated world but this is a big and beautiful world the animators have created. There are a few moments that make you stop and gape, like you’re watching a new Hayao Miyazaki world unfold before you, but it’s still very much a Disney film. It certainly strengthens the faith in the Marvel-Disney collaboration and reinforces the team concept of the film, that they can be stronger in this instance, working as a team.

BH6 has the beats of an all-ages superhero film & wonder of a world’s fair wrapped into a fat burrito ready for consumption by today’s hero-hungry world. Baymax is a character who will be–and should be–plastered all over the world. It is funny, inspiring and full of grin-inducing moments that places it immediately amongst Disney’s modern-day successes. Big Hero 6 is a franchise with some seriously long legs.