Big Hero 6 Review
DISNEY’S ANIMATED SUPERHERO
JAUNT SOARS HIGH
Last November, Disney released their 53rd animated feature Frozen. This Disney-esque take on the Hans Christens Anderson’s Snow Queen was met with overwhelming praise and joyous fanfare. Critics and moviegoers fell in love with Elisa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf as well as its enchanting musical songs, making Frozen an undeniable success (Grossing over 1.2 billion at the box office worldwide). Many believed, given Frozen’s popularity, that Disney would already have a Frozen 2 already in the pipeline or even, keeping with Disney’s traditional identity, produce something similar with fairy tale-esque princesses, talking creatures, and catchy musical numbers. However, Disney’s latest animated film takes a more contemporary approach, jumping head first into the superhero foray with the movie Big Hero 6. Does this superhero feature continue Disney’s success from last year or does it drops the ball with this CG misfire?
Set in the city of San Fransokyo, Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a genius teenager who has no guidance or ambition in his life, wasting his intellect and time on fighting robot battles. In an attempt to guide Hiro, his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) introduces him to the wonders of the science department at San Fransokyo Tech, introducing Hiro to his colleagues / friends. After successfully gaining admission into the university via impressing Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell) with his work on microbots, Hiro’s world crumbles when his older brother dies in an accident. By chance, Hiro, dealing through his grief, comes across Tadashi’s invention Baymax (Scott Adsit), an inflatable robot nurse with specialized programs to heal the sick and wounded. As things progress, Hiro learns that a villain in a kabuki mask is using his microbot for nefarious reasons and begins to take charge against the masked individual by reprogramming Baymax into a fighting machine and calls upon Tadashi’s tech pals to fight alongside him, transforming them into superheroes in the process.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
As I stated above, Disney, who several years ago acquired the comic book juggernaut Marvel, choose to forgo the more traditional approach that they courageous embraced last year with Frozen with some more in tune with current pop culture relevance…superheroes. Big Hero 6 represents the studios first attempt to adapt a Marvel comic as an animated cartoon and choosing a lesser known comic book series such as Big Hero 6 to adapt is a bold move indeed. Fortunately, Don Hall and Chris Williams (Both of whom have previously worked on several Disney animated films as writers / directors) step up to meet the challenge as duo directors for Big Hero 6, creating a feature with a mixture of big superhero action and Disney’s signature heartfelt sensitivity.
The production team behind Big Hero 6 is worth noting, imaging such a dazzling world that combines Japanese influences, futuristic aesthetics, and San Francisco iconic landmarks (Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, etc.). The end is result is wonderful that seems both familiar, but also otherworldly with vibrant colors and details that go hand in hand in creating such an urban cityscape highlighted in San Fransokyo. The movie also makes the notion that scientific discovery is “fun” with its characters celebrating curiosity and innovation; a true positive message for kids that science is cool and, through perseverance and dedication, can blossom into endless possibilities.
Perhaps one of the best parts about Big Hero 6 is, of course, Baymax himself. It’s almost virtually impossible not to fall in love with this loveable marshmallow of a robot that the filmmakers brought to life. His squishiness and rotund figure makes for instant comedy as he waddles around to and fro with gingerly movements accompanied by his voice, supplied by Scott Adsit, brings a naïve, but endearing vocals to Baymax. You just simply cannot get enough of this plus size plushy robot who will instantly charm his way into your heart with a smile.
As far as voice talents go, Big Hero 6 enlists several unknown actors and actress to bring its characters to life with a couple of well-known ones to mind the gap. Unknown actor Ryan Potter does a good job as Hiro, providing the right sort of arrogance, charm, and guile for the main protagonist of the feature. Along with Daniel Henney, who provides the voice for Hiro’s older brother Tadashi, Hiro meets and eventually teams up with a group of youthful individuals at San Fransoyko Tech. This includes GoGo (Jamie Chung), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.), and Fred (T.J. Miller). These character, though colorful and punctual in interjecting humor to the film, are a little bit flat and stereotypical stock characters, which is a miss opportunity to clearly define Big Hero 6’s other team members. Other notable voice talents include James Cromwell as Robert Callaghan, a professor at San Fransoyko Tech, Maya Rudolph as Hiro’s aunt Cass, and Alan Tudyk as Allstair Krei, a scientist motivated by wealth and opportunism.
Being a superhero feature (And an origin story), Big Hero 6 falls into the same beats that so many others do in both the superhero and Disney genre. This brings about an all-too-familiar premise to viewers and can be a little of a letdown as the movie becomes a little predictable, letting the twist and turns that Big Hero 6 throws at you deflate its impact. I found myself guessing and / or already knowing what’s going to happen at certain points of the movie like something tragic is going happen to Hiro at the beginning of the movie, or who the main bad guy of the feature is before he’s unmasked. The movie also lacks a great sustainable villain for Hiro and friends to combat with, delegating that task to man in the kabuki mask. While there’s a sense of mystery of the masked figure upon first glance, the villain doesn’t grow and the reason behind his villainy is a little half-baked. Superhero films need supervillians and the man in the kabuki mask isn’t a sizeable threat for what this animated tale wants to project.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the animated short that precedes Big Hero 6 titled Feast is terrific and heartwarming. The animation for this short is also worth with a mixture of 2D style created in 3D computer animation, similar to what Disney did for their previous short Paperman (Shown before the feature Wreck-It Ralph several years ago).
Is Big Hero 6 better than Frozen? Personally, I would say no, but this animated superhero film does make a sincere gesture of wholesome entertainment and joyous fun. It’s a great kids flick (For this Holiday season) for youngster and for those young at heart with touching moments, hilarious humor, and superhero frivolity. While it doesn’t quite deliver on a particular new storyline (Being a conventional narrative of sorts) and not devoting enough time to other team members and its baddie, Big Hero 6 still produces a vibrant animated tale of a boy and his robot and the special bond they share with each other.