Big Hero 6
Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams
Starring Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, James Cromwell, Alan Tudyk and Maya Rudolph
Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: Nov 7, 2014
Watch out, WALL-E. There’s a new robot in the neighborhood to adore. Meet Baymax, the huggable and heroic star of Disney’s adaptation of a Marvel comic.
Big Hero 6 earns much respect and a high ranking in the canon of productions by Walt Disney Animation Studios. Disney is showing its studio competitors who remains boss in this business. Baymax, Hiro, and company prove that to be at the top of one’s game, you need to work hard and act with good intentions. They check off nearly every box in the book.
Big Hero 6 reminds me why I love Disney. The animated division of the studio has experienced only a few streaks of consecutive films that define a generation and the best in film. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through Bambi launched this off. Disney animation’s second renaissance kicked off with 1989’s The Little Mermaid and continued through much of the 1990s. In many ways, The Princess and the Frog — or Tangled, depending on who wants to make the argument — started off the third. Each film since has continually increased in quality and all of them have won critical and viewer acclaim. Brace yourselves, Frozen fans. Big Hero 6, albeit a completely different type of film offering compared to the 2013 hit’s musical comedy theme, can stand toe-to-toe with Anna and Elsa’s movie.
What makes Big Hero 6 so special? Like its recent predecessors, including Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, this superhero flick trusts its audience as intelligent and familiar with what makes a great story. At its core, you need relatable and real characters, even if they do not exist in the same realm as us. Hiro Hamada, a teenage robotics savant, shows the complexities accustomed to a 14-year-old, especially one who must deal with loss. Unlike Lewis, a similar genius in 2007’s scattered Meet The Robinsons (which premiered just after John Lasseter and gang stepped in to modify Disney animation), Hiro feels like one of us. He’s not just a wacky wiz kid, but rather an empathetic and troubled adolescent who relies on his abilities to craft a more hopeful future.
Living in the awesome metropolis of San Fransokyo, first shown at the 2013 Disney D23 Expo, Hiro utilizes giant marshmallow-like Baymax, a personal healthcare companion device, to solve his problems — that I will not share here, based on the spoiler it would elicit — and essentially help save his city. Joining Hiro and Baymax as part of this team of unlikely superheroes, an adage that luckily does not come off as tired in Big Hero 6‘s presentation, are a handful of oddballs. GoGo Tomago represents the epitome of a “tough girl” who surprises you, whereas the sweet and spunky Honey Lemon offers just the right amount of spice. Wasabi, a compulsive scientist, contrasts the super cool and mellow dude that is Fred. If Baymax is the new Olaf, then that makes Fred the latest Sven. He may not be a reindeer, but this goofball (with some of the best quotes in the film) just makes you smile, even when he does not speak. All of these characters bring unique qualities and the appreciated addition of diversity, often not found in animation.
Once you have characters and a neat setting, which Disney utilizes to the max in one of its most labyrinthine universes ever created, you must have an accomplished narrative to make these figures and locations simply irresistible. The film’s first act briskly introduces the main individuals and gives us a clear direction of where the story heads. However, several surprises come along the way to add some much-needed intensity. An unexpected villain enters the mix, very much in the vein of Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen. A touching, if not calculated, ending wraps up any loose ends. Big Hero 6 has sequel potential, which would come as most exciting if that materializes. What Disney’s 54th animated feature film in the canon achieves most effectively, though, is its competence in making the whole product feel complete without coming across as bloated.
Big Hero 6 has the emotional core sometimes amiss from action movies. Its best comparison, The Incredibles, obtained praise for its effortlessness in mixing the two. Big Hero 6 possesses both the major motion-filled sequences and stirring conversational scenes in a balanced format that causes you to wonder why all films cannot be like this. Big Hero 6 may not only be the best film using Marvel characters — I know, aficionados of Marvel’s The Avengers, this might seem hard to digest — but also may very well showcase the most hypnotizing pieces of computer animation since Tangled or even Disney-Pixar’s WALL-E. Disney has outdone itself in crafting a thorough and spectacular atmosphere that would draw millions of individuals if it truly existed.
Not to be forgotten are other characteristics that give Big Hero 6 its splendor. Henry Jackman’s energizing score contains some of those electric elements found in Wreck-It Ralph and works here, too. The main flying scene, especially, captivates both our eyes and ears. Credit Tim Hertens for his fast-paced and skilled editing. The team of writers frames a powerful story. Last, but not least, each of the animators and members of the crew must have worked tirelessly to form this motion picture event. Kudos to all and smiles all around. I watched Big Hero 6 in a packed theater, many of whom were under 10. Their immense laughter during the admittedly hilarious moments and near silence when Hiro’s story takes a more poignant turn may only be one indicator of its success – with the younger audience crowd at least.
But this young adult viewer can see why this generation of kids is lucky. I grew up on Disney’s second generation of animated classics. Now they have this third renaissance. Big Hero 6 proves that Tangled nor its successors were flukes. Disney knows how to create movie magic. For some years it seemed lost. It’s back and better than ever. Hiro and Baymax can stand alongside Aladdin and Abu as icons of a regenerated animated era of excellence, one I hope will not fade to black anytime soon.
What did you think of Big Hero 6? Share your thoughts!
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, Thursdays on Geeks of Doom.