Big Hero 6

  • Director: Don Hall & Chris Williams
  • Rating: PG
  • Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, TJ Miller, Maya Rudolph, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr, Genesis Rodriguez, James Cromwell
  • Screenplay: Jordan Roberts, Daniel Gerson, & Robert L Baird
  • Based on Comics by: Duncan Rouleau, Steven T Seagle
  • Music By: Henry Jackman
  • Cinematography/Art Direction: Scott Watanabe
  • Running Time: 102 Minutes
  • Premiered: November 7, 2014 (US Release)

Synopsis: This film explores the special bond that develops between an inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada. After a devastating event puts the city in danger, Hiro and his friends band together to stop the evil villain before it is too late. Follow this group of friends as they transform from science “nerds” to superheroes.

Review: Big Hero 6 is this year’s answer to Frozen, a robotics driven fairy tale for adventurous kids who cannot relate to a princess with latent ice powers.  Of course this is not a standard Disney film; it is based off an obscure Marvel comic book series. So Marvel is moving in on the younger generation, it was only a matter of time. The story is set in the fictional city of San Fransokyo, which is an interesting conglomeration of San Francisco landmarks with a futuristic Japanese aesthetic.  Our hero is a genius fourteen year-old named Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter). He is a child prodigy who graduated high school at thirteen and is aimlessly drifting through existence. His one goal in life is to be a champion bot fighter. Tadashi, Hiro’s older brother, encourages Hiro to apply to the college he currently attends. This institution is a self-described “nerd-school” full of intelligent students creating technological advances to usher in the future.

Of course the secondary hero is Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit), a huggable robotic health care provider created by Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney). All the charming and amusing parts of the film are built around Baymax. He is programmed to provide health care to all individuals, even the man in the Kabuki mask looking to eliminate Hiro and company.  The main emotional drama comes from the relationship between Baymax and Hiro. Their interaction is both amusing and dramatic, but not overly sappy. After Hiro meets Baymax, he is inspired to apply to the college. This causes Hiro to enter a competition to impress the faculty and sets up the plot drivers for the rest of the movie. A horrific accident occurs and Hiro becomes reclusive and grief-stricken. Baymax , sensing Hiro’s distress, activates and embarks on a mission to help Hiro recover. Along the way, Hiro connects with four of Tadashi’s college friends.  These four secondary characters are incredibly one-dimensional and are only included to add some dimension to the story. The side kick characters are Wasabi, Fred, GoGo, and Honey Lemon. Of them all, Wasabi is the best developed and provides the voice of reason. Fred is the requisite overly enthusiastic character with no discernable skills.

Overall the film does is action packed and has a lot of humorous moments. It was a semi-lighthearted superhero movie for people not old enough for the more mature Marvel films. I say semi-lighthearted because Hiro spends most of the film dealing with grief and survivors guilt, which are not themes normally found in animated movies. The film also has some great messages built into the story: don’t waste potential, if you think it you can do it, killing is not always the answer, causing harm will not lessen your pain, and sometimes the right thing is not what you want to do.  I was actually surprised with some of the emotional drama built into the film. Most children’s movies these days are all about empowerment, feeling good about yourself, or not marrying the first guy you stumble upon. However, since it was a kid’s film, most of these themes are not explore din depth. Instead, they float around the narrative and pop up once in a while to propel the narrative forwards. The script is quite funny and not in the forced way of some other animated films. The jokes appeals to all age groups, most of the parents in the theatre were laughing harder than the kids.  It is nice to know that Disney is still capable of creating a film that is funny without caricaturizing one group of people for laughs. I hate it when children’s films make adults and parents seem like imbecile s in order to drum up some shallow laughs. I do not find it funny. Thankfully, this film does not go down that road.

My one grip with the film is its length. Parts of the film drag a little and some scenes are little too long. I think the narrative would have been stronger if it was about 10 minutes shorter.  For an animated film, the cinematography was excellent. Animation has come a long way since Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and the graphics are quite astounding.  Big Hero 6 is a pleasant way to pass 102 minutes and is probably my second favorite animated film of 2014. The Lego Movie holds the top honor. If you are looking for a superhero film without the grownup drama, this is the film.

 

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