When Disney bought Marvel it was inevitable that we would see the mouse house bring some animated superheroes to the big screen. Big Hero 6 is the first to fall into that category.
Though it isn’t marketed as such, the film is based on a lesser known Marvel property by the same name. From what I’ve found, “inspired by” is probably a better term to use here. While there are obvious parallels to the original version, it seems the film primarily uses the comics as a jumping off point to create a whole new world. I’m sure there are a few purists out there not happy with this, but don’t let that fact deter you – what ends up on the screen is a quality product, even if it might not be the same thing as the source material.
Featuring a somewhat less star-studded voice cast than we’ve grown accustomed to, there are still a few recognizable names here, including Damon Wayans, Jr., Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell, and Maya Rudolph. Stick around until after the credits for one more amazing cameo.
The time, somewhere in the future. The place, San Fransokyo – an East meets West city blended together with just a hint of cyberpunk. Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) is a fourteen year old genius who uses his robotic talents to win illegal bot fights. His older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) convinces him that his skills have better uses, however.
Tadashi introduces him to his “nerd friends” at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology – Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) – meta-materials magician, GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung) speed demon – , Wasabi (Wayans, Jr.) laser wizard, and last of all, Fred (T.J. Miller) – enthusiastic school mascot, who has bestowed everyone else with such delightful nicknames.
The two most important introductions that seal the deal for Hiro, though, are the world famous Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell – of course) and Tadashi’s pet project – Baymax. Voiced by Scott Adsit, Baymax is an inflatable robot dedicated to helping and healing. Think of him as a balloon robot version Star Trek: Voyager‘s holographic doctor, but with a much better bedside manner and a childlike personality.
Things are looking up for Hiro as his revolutionary new “microbots” gain him a spot at the university. When tragedy strikes, however, Hiro and his new friends – including Baymax – band together to form the Big Hero 6. A group of wannabe superheros, their mission is to catch whoever is responsible for a deadly disaster. Suspect number one? Rich scientist businessman, Alistair Krei (Tudyk) who was suspiciously interested in Hiro’s inventions.
This film has been primarily sold on the antics of Baymax, and for good reason. An instant classic, he is destined to join the ranks of favorite cinematic robot companions with the likes of Wall-E, The Iron Giant, and R2D2. In some ways he reminds me of something out of the Portal universe, which is a good thing. His sincerity and innocent nature coupled with his awkwardness makes for some touching and outright hilarious moments. He steals the show any time he’s onscreen, providing inspired comic relief as well as some of the more emotional moments.
As a superhero origin story, Big Hero 6 excels. Just self aware enough not to fall into cliche territory too easily, it’s a fun adventure that doesn’t take the obvious path all the time. All the elements are there for being the start of a larger universe, but it doesn’t get bogged down by setting up later installments. Sure, a sequel will most likely be announced at some point, but the story is self contained and fulfilling all on its own.
Packed with action, humor, and adventure, this is the perfect family movie for kids and adults. The animation is wonderful, managing to maintain a fun cartoon style while still existing in a world that feels very real, lived in, and full of detail. Refreshingly, though there are plenty of feel-good themes interwoven, this is not a story dependent on being a parable for friendship, being yourself, compassion, or any other important virtue. Yes, all those things exist in this film, but they occur organically rather than being an obvious crux of the plot itself. It makes for a much better story overall.
If I had to find one negative thing to say about this film, it would be that it was too short – yes it’s an appropriate length for a movie with a younger audience, but I wanted more!
Mrs. Hamster says:
“It was perfect, but now I don’t know if The Lego Movie was the best animated film of the year or not!”
My rating: Five out of five hats
Big Hero 6 inflates into 3,761 theaters in 2D and 3D November 7