Review: Big Hero 6
PLOT: A team of young geniuses and an inflatable medical robot team up against a supervillain threatening the city of San Fransokyo.
REVIEW: To start off simply, BIG HERO 6 is enjoyable, fast-paced family fare that will have your kids salivating like dogs at the prospect of running straight to the toy store. In that regard, Disney Animation has certainly succeeded. But if we're going to compare it to some of their recent films - like WRECK IT RALPH and FROZEN - it falls short of achieving the sort of sublime spectacle that has marked the studio's recent upswing in quality. It is also not exactly the epic Disney Animation/Marvel hybrid one might have hoped for, or at the very least, might have been expecting.
But I can't complain too much. After all, BIG HERO 6 delivers Baymax, the sweetest, most lovable character the studio has offered up since Wall-E. Baymax alone is worth the price of admission; only the coldest cretin wouldn't find a smile widening on their face at this puffy android's every appearance. In a way, Baymax embodies the movie's M.O.: He's cute in a harmless, uncomplicated way, sure to drive younger ones wild while giving adults something to appreciate.
I'll admit I was completely unfamiliar with the Marvel comic that inspired the film, although some quick research reveals that the inspiration is quite thin. The comic seems to be keeping in Marvel's penchant for darker, adult-themed stories, while BIG HERO 6 the movie is a candy-colored playground aimed squarely at an elementary school audience. It gets ever-so-slightly grim in a handful of sections, and it does the requisite heartstring-tugging, but otherwise it's a very easygoing 90 minutes. If anything, the main inspiration appears to have been Brad Bird, with notes of THE IRON GIANT and THE INCREDIBLES both keenly felt throughout.
The action takes place in the futuristic, multicultural city of San Fransokyo; young genius Hiro (voice by Ryan Potter) is wasting his potential hustling backalley robot-fighting events with the clever, unassuming bot he's engineered. His older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) is a grad student at a prestigious MIT-esque university, where he and his fellow "nerds" spend their days building fantastical inventions. Tadashi sees potential in his younger brother and wants him to enroll, and while at first reluctant, Hiro eventually agrees, making quick comrades out of Tadashi's inner circle.
Soon, tragedy strikes (in the way Disney's animated movies require) and Hiro finds he must grow up quicker than expected. A villain wearing a kabuki mask has stolen one of Hiro's great inventions - microbots you can form any shape with just by thinking about it - and is causing mayhem across the city. Hiro needs help to defeat this menace and he finds it in the unlikely shape of the aforementioned Baymax (scott Adsit, perfect), an inflatable medical robot. Baymax is a pure innocent, unequipped to handle anything other than a basic medical need, so Hiro outfits him with armor and a fighting program that makes him a karate expert. After helping his fellow nerds out with a variety of nifty superhero suits, the titular crew is ready - sort of - to take on the threat to their city.
Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams put on a nice show once these kids are ready to go into action, with nifty, tricked-out weapons and engaging flying sequences (Baymax gets wings!). The city of San Fransokyo is lusciously realized, a fully-formed metropolis we actually wish we could spend even more time flying around. The movie's entire palette is pleasing to the eye, and in 3D it all literally pops.
The problem - if it can be called that - with BIG HERO 6 is that it doesn't resonate much beyond the initial viewing. There's no particular message you walk away with, and the characters are more or less forgettable other than Baymax. Unlike the best animated movies, it feels very much like a cartoon as opposed to animated feature. That may be a case of semantics, but there's no doubt BIG HERO 6 comes off like an extended pilot for a forthcoming Disney Channel series. And that's okay, I guess. If this spawns a new franchise (it almost certainly will), there's room for the characters to grow and for even more impressive cities to visit. For now, BIG HERO 6 is a mild, good-natured beginning.
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