by D.W. Lundberg

Monday, March 30, 2015


First things first: Big Hero 6, Disney's 54th Animated Classic, is a charming, heartwarming, often exhilarating adventure that also happens to teach a valuable lesson about grief - how we cope with it, what we do with it, and how we channel that grief into something destructive or used for the greater good. (The screenplay, believe it or not, even incorporates Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief to some degree.) Having watched it at home for the 60th or 70th time (my five-year-old is obsessed with it), I can safely say that the fun and impact of the movie haven't lessened a bit since our first initial viewing - a sign of a quality film if there ever was one. What's also clear, and I'm surprised most reviews failed to focus on it, is that Big Hero 6 is very much a Comic Book Movie in the Marvel mold, with cuddlier characters and a CG bubble gum sheen to rank with Disney's finest.

"What's this?" you ask. "Big Hero 6 is based on a comic book?" "Why, yes," I reply, but one so obscure you're forgiven if you've never heard of it. Created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau (who own and operate Man of Action Entertainment, a writers' collective responsible for cartoons such as Ben 10 and Generator Rex), Big Hero 6 first appeared in a three-issue Marvel mini-series in September of 1998. They were a group of highly-intelligent super-beings, sanctioned by the Japanese government to protect the country from enemy attack. The team's initial roster included Silver Samurai/Kenuichio Harada (whose name should have extra resonance for X-Men fans), Sunfire/Shiro Yoshida, GoGo Tomago/Leiko Tanaka, Honey Lemon/Aiko Miyazaki, and Hiro Takachiho and his monster guardian, Baymax. (Future team members included Ebon Samurai, Fredzilla, and Wasabi-No-Ginger.) Needless to say, their comic book incarnations differ greatly from the characters in the film.

Friday, March 20, 2015


So here we are, back for another round of celebrity doppelgangers. Believe it or not, I'd just barely finished up our previous post on the subject when I immediately thought of 15-20 more AWSPOAFMs who could have just as easily made the cut. But that's all for the greater good, I guess, since I was hoping to expand this into a regular column anyway.

As expected, the reaction was a typical one, with enough Facebook friends submitting their own ideas for future brother/sister/parent pair-ups to last us an additional post or two. Also as promised, I will be taking those suggestions and including them here, one per post, in addition to some of my own. As always, your recommendations are welcome, either below or on FTWW's Facebook page. Let's keep this game going for as long as we can!

Friday, March 13, 2015


A couple of months ago, a friend messaged me on Facebook, asking me for a recommendation on which film he should see on the big screen for the weekend. Browsing the showtimes for local theaters, I told him to avoid Taken 3 at all costs (the big release for that Friday, and, let's face it, a ripoff of The Fugitive, with bigger explosions and less logic) and heartily recommended The Imitation Game instead, starting Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. "Oh, yeah," my friend wrote back, "[that] reminded me of A Beautiful Mind a little. I'm sure it's very different, but the decrypting idea was similar."

Immediately I jumped to the new movie's defense. "Except the encryption stuff in The Imitation Game actually happened," I snapped, and instantly regretted it. First of all, who was I to say that the film shouldn't remind him of A Beautiful Mind? Both are period pieces. They're both shot in the same drab monochromatic browns. Both feature eccentric actors at the height of their star power. And yes, if you watch the trailers for both, they each seem to center around code-breaking and high-stakes government intrigue. But the simpler truth is that Biopics have always been known for futzing the truth when it comes to their larger-than-life historical subjects. What makes The Imitation Game any different? Though the film doesn't shy away from the fact that Alan Turing was homosexual, the events leading up to his arrest for "gross indecency" in 1952 Britain (among other things) differ greatly from how they're presented on-screen. Details about the codebreakers' work ethic have been glossed over, characters have been left out completely or invented for dramatic purposes, and it's even suggested that Turing suffered from Asperger Syndrome (he didn't) to make his actions seem more heroic. And yet we're meant to accept all this as gospel truth!