Since Disney acquired Marvel Comics back in 2009, the metaphorical door of what the studio could come up with using the properties from the famed comic book house was endless. But instead of going the obvious route by having an animated adaption of an A-list title like Avengers or whatever property they had the rights to, director Don Hall went with a lesser known title called Big Hero 6. We could have gotten a straight up adaptation of the comic book itself, but we get something else. We get something that we have all be waiting for in these kinds of superhero films, a refreshing take that is not only grounded, but good wholesome entertainment.
Big Hero 6 mixes Disney’s gorgeous animation with Marvel’s sense of comic book action well, and Hall and co-director Chris Williams even throw in a few curve balls that changes the traditional storytelling seen in animated films, much like how Frozen changed the way we see characters and themes. The film swings for the fences, and hopefully it will inspire some of the younger audience members to see science in a new light. Hit the jump for the full review.
Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) is a highly intelligent 13-year old with no goals in life. Having graduated high school at a very early age, he spends a majority of his free time participating in illegal bot fighting. His activities get him into trouble, and his brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henny) has to bail him out, of course their Aunt Cass has to bail the both of them out when they get in over their heads. So to inspire his younger brother, Tadashi takes Hiro to his college to inspire him to make better choices. Hesitant at first, Hiro’s visit inspires him to attend “nerd school.” He presents his mircobots, an invention that has many applications from construction, transportation, and more. His presentation is the talk of the science convention, and he is immediately accepted into college. But just when things are going Hiro’s way, tragedy strikes, and Tadashi dies. Hiro’s purpose his lost, but that’s when Tadashi’s invention, healthcare companion Baymax (Scott Adsit) appears to help him with the tragic loss. When the two discover that a masked man has been producing more Mircobots for nefarious purposes, they team up with four other friends to help find out who the person is and stop him from using the Microbots.
What makes Big Hero 6 different from the traditional superhero movie is that our heroes didn’t acquire their powers from a magic amulet, or the sun, or their genes. Big Hero 6 tells us that science is behind their powers. Sure it may resemble Iron Man a bit, but the film seems to be driven by the science that already exists. Another exciting aspect of the film is that it says you don’t need to be smart to be a superhero or have friends, and that it is okay to be different when everyone around you does the same thing.
The film trades in being overly preachy for being charming, funny, exciting, and heartwarming. Trouble is, Hiro seems to learn new lessons every five minutes. But that seems to be a minor oversight, because even though these lessons come at a rapid fire pace, Hiro does grow as a character, and the film does tackle the theme of loss and devastation in ways we don’t see in other films.
While the action has that exciting comic book feel, I loved the relationship between Hiro and Baymax. Think of it as a softer, kinder, and gentler version of the relationship betwen John Connor and T-800. It is hilarious to see Hiro teach Baymax figures of speech or how to fist bump, and it is even more hilarious to see Baymax actually adapt to what he is learning by seeing him fist bump with others or use these figures of speech correctly.
With the film being so science driven, it will be exciting to see how the audience reacts to the characters being so grounded and educated. The speed obsessed Go-go (Jamie Chung) has a sassy attitude, but her heart is in the right place. The bubbly chemist Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) naturally cares for her friends. Wasbi (Damon Wayans Jr.) is a student studying laser technology but is a bit of a precision freak. And then there’s Fred (TJ Miller) a comic book geek doesn’t actually study at the school, but that doesn’t bother him, as he can make friends easily, and is willing to help them out in an instant.
Big Hero 6’s setting is truly exciting. San Fransokyo is gorgeous. The hybrid city of San Fransisco and Tokyo is breathtaking no matter what time of day the film takes place. The microbots being used by Hiro has more of a free flowing feel to it, while our villain’s use is constrained to look like a circuit board.
Though Big Hero 6 is a traditional animated family film, it doesn’t try to be like its predecessors. It shouldn’t have to be a Frozen, because the themes are slightly different, the film was made for a slightly different audience, and the source material is in no way the same. Big Hero 6 succeeds on so many levels, and doesn’t even need to flex its muscles to prove that.