Which Should I See: Interstellar or Big Hero 6?

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By now, you’ve hopefully read this week’s Weekend Warrior where I talk about the box office prospects of this weekend’s two big releases, and as you can see, it looks like both of the new movies–Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Walt Disney Pictures Animation’s Big Hero 6–should do very well. Both movies are exciting takes on the sci-fi genre, each taking their own unique stylistic and tonal approach, and honestly, I feel they’re both worth watching.

I think the real question on many minds is not which movie to see, but “Which movie should I go see first?” I know my editor and a couple of my colleagues will already have an opinion on this, but I actually liked both movies equally, and would give each of them an 8.5/10, even though I’ve only officially reviewed Interstellar so far.

I’m going to break it down for you into categories, hopefully an easier way for you to determine what’s important, because there’s more to discuss here than just one or two (or a couple of dozen) opinions about either movie when making your own moviegoing decisions. (I’m going to leave out “story” as a factor, because both movies involve interesting premises and solid storytelling all around.)

Director

Trying to compare a movie directed by Christopher Nolan, a movie that everyone knows is directed by Christopher Nolan, to an animated movie directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, both long-time Disney writers who few will know by name (although Williams did get an Oscar nomination in the animated feature category for Disney’s Bolt)? No contest here.

WINNER: Interstellar

Star Power

Like with director, there isn’t much comparison when you have a movie featuring three Oscar winners as well as two other actors who have been nominated. When you look at the box office success of Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway alone, there isn’t really much competition there with Interstellar well ahead of Big Hero 6, whose voice cast includes T.J. Miller and Damon Wayans, Jr. as secondary characters, “30 Rock’s” Scott Adsit (i.e. Who?) as the voice of the popular Baymax, and super-hot actresses like Genesis Rodriguez and Jamie Chung, but who are voicing characters who are underaged. Interstellar also has Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine and other strong dramatic actors and people will be going to see the movie as much based on the actors as on Nolan himself.

WINNER: Interstellar

Talking Robots

Now this is where things get fun, since both movies do have talking robots as part of their main plotline with the crew of the space shuttle in Interstellar having a couple of robot companions who offer help in some of the tougher situations as well as a great quip or two. On the other hand, the central character of Big Hero 6 is Baymax, a nursing robot that’s converted into a fighting machine, and it’s the type of lovable and unforgettable character that Disney has done so well at creating, especially in their animated movies. I expect Baymax will have as many fans as Elsa did in last year’s Frozen or other characters who have become a part of the public consciousness, so sorry, TARS, you just aren’t cute and pudgy enough to win here.

WINNER: Big Hero 6

Bad Guy

Not a particularly fair fight because who is the bad guy in Interstellar? Man, for making the Earth uninhabitable? There is a character who takes on an antagonistic role that we can’t reveal, but Big Hero 6 has a definitive villain in a kabuki mask that’s up to a dastardly plan that essentially brings Big Hero 6 together in what is an origin story. While the identity of said villain might not be too big a shocker, he does use these cool “Microbots” to help with his evil plans so that gives Disney’s movie an advantage in this category.

WINNER: Big Hero 6

Science and Technology

This is where things get interesting. Both movies deal with science and technology in a way that makes you more interested in some of the topics, although Christopher Nolan basically had physicist Kip Thorne on board as his film’s executive producer and consultant, and that’s a guy who really knows a lot about wormholes and how they affect space and time. Big Hero 6 has some fun with technology that’s not too far out there from what is possible although it’s clearly been enhanced to make it a fun action-adventure and there’s quite a few things in the movie that just wouldn’t be feasibly possible. Interstellar, on the other hand, uses real world technology in terms of space travel and it just plays with some of the concepts of space and time in a way that probably can’t be proven.

WINNER: Interstellar

Fun and Humor

Big Hero 6 wins this category hands down, because Interstellar is pretty grim and any humor in it is found in the interaction between the humans and the robots and it’s pretty subtle stuff. Big Hero 6 is funny from beginning to end, even during some of the more serious sequences, because it has a lot of funny characters voiced by great comedic talent like Miller and Wayans, Jr. If you want to laugh and cheer and have a good time, then the Disney movie is the way to go.

WINNER: Big Hero 6

Action

This is a tougher call and possibly not altogether a fair comparison, because Interstellar isn’t meant to be an action movie, even though it does have a couple of solid action sequences, mostly as the main characters try to get out of some form of danger. Big Hero 6 is a definite action film which involves superheroes fighting bad guys using cool technological weapons and that makes Big Hero 6 far more exciting in terms of the action.

WINNER: Big Hero 6

Drama and Tension

On the other hand, while both movies offer some emotional and dramatic moments on very different levels, as well as some tension, it’s harder to believe things won’t turn out just fine while watching a Disney movie compared to Nolan’s fairly dystopian vision of where the world is heading. You also have three really strong dramatic actors in McConaughey, Hathaway and Jessica Chastain who you know will take the more intense moments even further while there’s only so much you can do with animated characters. But to Big Hero 6‘s credit, they do get a lot of emotion out of a couple of scenes, including the mourning after the death of a character, something one might not see handled so seriously in another family film.

WINNER: Interstellar

Fight Sequences

There’s only one real “fight sequence” in Interstellar so if that’s how you gauge whether you want to see a movie or not then it’s clear that a movie about superheroes is the way to go.

WINNER: Big Hero 6

Running Time

This one will depend on whether you like to get a lot of movie for your bucks or would rather just spend a couple of hours being entertained and then get out of that smelly movie theater as fast as humanly possible. If you ask most critics, they’d probably lean towards the latter, and at over two-and-a-half hours, Nolan’s movie is NOT SHORT and for some, that’s just too freakin’ long. Not only is Big Hero 6 a much more reasonable running time, but there’s also an awesome animated short in front of it called “Feast” and that’s still under 2 hours for the whole package so clearly…

WINNER: Big Hero 6

Cool Executive Producer

Interstellar has Thomas Tull, the President of Legendary, that’s been doing some cool stuff in recent years like the recent Godzilla movie, and they have other cool stuff on the way like Skull Island. It also has physicist Kip Thorne as an executive producer and consultant in order to add some veracity to some of its space/time concepts. But Big Hero 6 has Pixar Animation’s Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter as it’s Exec. Producer, so we have to give this one to the Disney movie. Sorry Tom and Kip!

WINNER: Big Hero 6

Awesome Visuals

This may be one of the tougher choices, because we’re comparing a live action movie enhanced by CG with a fully CG animated movie and both are visually terrific, really showing animators at the top of their game, although in the case of Interstellar, they’re taking us out into space and through a wormhole in the most realistic way possible, really making you feel as if you’re out in space with the astronauts and scientists. The planets they visit also offer a number of cool environments unlike we’ve seen before that enhances the experience (and makes it worth seeing in IMAX).

WINNER: Interstellar

Music

I’m not the only person who really loves soundtrack music, both while watching films but also listening to soundtracks on their own, although sometimes I feel like I’m a rare breed among film critics. Big Hero 6 has a perfectly fine score by British composer Henry Jackman, who also did the score for Disney Animation’s Wreck-It Ralph as well as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it’s a fairly typical action movie stuff and nothing that memorable. Hans Zimmer is doing some next level stuff for Nolan’s movie, and it’s unlike any of the scores he’s done previously. It’s great to see a talented composer like Zimmer who could easily fall back on usual tricks to evoke emotion with his music going a different route than his previous collaborations with Nolan and for that…

WINNER: Interstellar

“Secret” After Credits Sequence

Well, we already know how Christopher Nolan feels about these, so just stick around through the entire credits of Big Hero 6 for a really fun scene that’s well worth staying a few extra minutes to watch. You probably should be sticking through the end credits for movies like Interstellar anyway to give everyone responsible their proper due, but as someone who regularly leaves once the credits roll, I can’t talk.

WINNER: Big Hero 6

Going by the above criteria, Big Hero 6 would win with a score of 8 to 6 over Interstellar, but instead of taking my word for it, why not go to see both since they each offer good reasons to see them and what else are you planning on doing this weekend?