written by Mark Oguschewitz
With the box-office success of the superhero genre in today’s movie marketplace, it seems only natural that Disney would incorporate it into their animated library. Now the audience just needs to sit back and wonder if “Big Hero 6” is going to be a mediocre genre film like “The Amazing Spider-Man,” made only to cash in on this success. Well, I am happy to report that although it would not stand side-by-side with a film like “The Avengers,” as it’s aimed at a much younger audience, “Big Hero 6” is a fun adventure story. It’s part action, part character drama and part comedy, with everything working together to create an enjoyable time at the movies.
The story takes place in the not-so-distant future city of San Fransokyo, where a young genius named Hiro (Ryan Potter) wastes his talents building robots for an underground sport called “Bot Fighting.” To him, school is a waste of time. That is until his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) introduces him to the lab at the University he attends. This is where all the sharpest minds, including the legendary Dr. Callaghan (James Cromwell), are inventing the future. Hiro becomes intrigued and decides that this might be the perfect place for him to fit in. As part of his application to get accepted, he creates the amazing microbots, which can be manipulated into whatever their controller instructs them to be. This includes basically anything their controller can imagine. Of course, this catches the eye of the movie’s villain who sees great potential for the microbots.
Unfortunately, at this point in the story, a tragic event occurs, leaving Hiro devastated. Feeling alone and depressed, he finds comfort in the form of his brother’s Robotic invention, a prototype, semi-inflatable, “personal healthcare attendant” named Baymax (Scott Adsit). Hiro and Baymax team up with four friends from the University to become the Big Hero 6, in order to track down the masked villain that has stolen the microbots.
Like “The Book of Life,” which came out earlier this year, “Big Hero 6” takes on a very difficult theme. With the death of a loved one, Hiro must learn to deal with his heartbreak and move on. Although we have seen this theme dealt with in Disney films before, here it feels a little more direct. Thankfully, the filmmakers handle the idea of death in a very tasteful and gentle manner that kids can learn from. The film mixes its serious side with site gags and true humor to lessen the impact while teaching an important lesson.
The cast of characters are well written with a wide assortment of personalities. The actors bring a fair amount of fun to their roles, while also creating a sort of individual charm to each of their characters. The two standouts are Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Fred (T.J. Miller) who add most of the humor that makes the film so enjoyable to watch.
Unfortunately, I found the character of Baymax to be the weak link. He seems more like an attempt to develop a character in order to sell stuffed dolls in stores at Christmas time. He works wonderfully as a sight gag, almost like a big walking marshmallow, but he mostly strolls around as a clueless entity. Then, when he’s finally given something interesting to do, he just comes off as a big “Iron Giant” rip-off.
Still, the directors Don Hall (Winnie the Pooh) and Chris Williams (Bolt) do a great job balancing the thrills, emotion and comedy that make up the tone of the film. The humor remains strong and the majority of the characters are likable enough to get around the stiffness of Baymax. “Big Hero 6” stands out as an exceptional example of fun family entertainment, perfect for kids and adults alike.
On a final note, it wouldn’t be right to talk about “Big Hero 6” without mentioning the short film that Disney has placed on its front end. It’s called “Feast.”
“Feast” is about one man’s relationship with his dog and the changes it goes through when the man meets the woman of his dreams. This touching tale is as simple as they come, yet in its simplicity finds a way to tug at our heartstrings like no other film so far this year. The dog “Winston” is a character everyone will fall in love with and I dare any pet owner to get through this short film without a tear forming in their eyes. As much as I liked “Big Hero 6,” this short is the real reason to go to the theater. It should be a strong contender for the Best Animated Short category at this years Oscars, but if it were up to me, I would call it the Best Animated Film of the year, even if it’s only a little over 5 minutes long.
To hear more from interviews with the directors, producer and cast on the making of “Big Hero 6”, check out this piece.
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About The Author:
Mark Oguschewitz moved to Los Angeles, California after graduating with a film degree from Columbia College in Chicago, Ill. Pursuing a career in the industry, Mark became an award winning freelance editor. He is also known for being the creative consultant for the podcast “Skywalking through Neverland” and co-host of the Podcast “Talking Apes TV.” Mark’s short film “Gourmet” took the Best Micro-Short honor at the International Horror and Sci-Fi film festival in 2007. His spare time is all about movies. It’s not just entertainment, but has become more of a real passion, as he tries to see everything he can. Art house or Blockbuster – It doesn’t matter, he loves them all.