Big Hero 6 is the next hugely-anticipated film from Disney’s Animation studio. If you’ve seen the trailer but still aren’t sure, read on and I’ll tell you whether this is something to go see or not.
Without going into too much detail, Big Hero 6 is set in the fictional futuristic city of San Fransokyo, and tells the story of Hiro Hamada, a young genius who inherits Baymax, an experimental medical robot. Undoubtedly, Baymax is the big attraction here, and the big, squishy robot is brilliantly conceived and animated. Much of the humor is organically derived from the Baymax’s nature as a caring robot, and as a big, squishy vinyl thing filled with air. Alongside Hiro and Baymax are team mates Go Go, Honey Lemon, Wasabi, and Fred. Although these last four don’t get as big a billing as Hiro and Baymax, they’re just as important to the story, and honestly, in the light of these others, Hiro isn’t my firm favorite character in the film.
If you’re not aware yet, Big Hero 6 is an adaptation of one of Marvel’s lesser-known comic book series. It feels more like a reboot than an adaptation, really, but that’s quibbling with the nomenclature. I feel that the only people who are going to be severely disappointed are the diehard fans of the original comic series. All two of them. Big Hero 6 is, after all, reasonably obscure, even for a Marvel comic.
Big Hero 6 is one brilliantly fun run through a lovingly realized city. I thought I’d figured out the plot a quarter of the way through, and was getting prepared for a fairly run-of-the-mill ride, but the twists come thick and fast. Ryan Potter, the voice of Hiro, is completely believably as the character, and plays the part of a 14 year old kid without being overly angsty or annoying (and you’ll be happy to know that Ryan Potter reprises his role for the Disney Infinity 2.0 set—reviewed here). Baymax is voiced by Scott Adsit (Pete from 30 Rock), and despite the robot’s onscreen lack of visual emotion, Scott’s voicework is amazing. He brings the character to life, treading that fine line between human and robotic voice. San Fransokyo is utterly, utterly gorgeously realized. The animation is crisp and colourful, and the action sequences are fast and smooth. According to Disney Animation Studios, the city model has over 83,000 buildings. That’s a huge set and a lot of detail.
On the downside, there seems to be many missed opportunities for deeper meaning. For example, the main villain wears a kabuki mask (hinting at the Japanese end of San Fransokyo, and despite the fact that Kabuki theatre uses facepaint, not masks), but there’s no indication that there’s any understanding of the deeper meaning behind the Kumadori paint colours and style on the mask—and believe me, there’s a lot of symbolism to be had. Much of the movie looks like it was done to make it easier to cash in on merchandise. In other words, the kinds of design decisions made by someone with money, and not meaning, on their mind. Yes, it’s still a movie for kids, but there’s very little respect for the source material. Furthermore, the villain leaves a few fairly large plot holes. Why does he use his powers in one way, and not in a more efficient, more effective way? It’s the kinds of questions that keep me awake at night.
Despite that, it’s still a brilliantly fun journey. Just because it’s aimed at kids, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t just forget the real world for a bit and enjoy the ride. Younger kids may find it a little overwhelming, and may not fully understand the story, but they’ll still fall in love with, and want their own Baymax. And honestly, if Disney doesn’t make a TV show out of this, I will be very, very upset.
Final Score: 8.5 Big Hero Prawns out of 10
Director: Don Hall and Chris Williams
Producer: John Lassiter and Roy Conli
Screenplay: Dan Gerson, Rob Baird, Jordan Roberts
Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, TJ Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Genesis Rodriguez, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell
Studio: Disney Animation Studios
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Age Rating: All
Release Date: 24 December 2014
Running Time: 102 minutes