Review: Big Hero 6

bighero6 When Disney acquired Marvel, fans imagined insane crossover (like Donald Duck fighting Wolverine) and all kinds of meddling from executives, but Disney surprised everyone by announcing an animated revamp to a mostly neglected Marvel property. Big Hero 6 takes a few core ideas from the source material and weaves them into a kid-friendly, heartwarming adventure with a diverse cast of characters. Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams take us to San Fransokyo, a strange amalgamation of Californian and Japanese culture, and deliver fast-paced superhero action and lots of laughs. San Fransokyo takes common visual motifs from primarily Japanese culture and slaps it on a super high tech version of the famous Californian city. The intersection of cultures works well to create a whole new world for the hyper-intelligent characters and also serves to justify the advanced tech present throughout the story. Robots are 3D-printed from home and no one bats an eyelash, which leaves more time for the film to traverse the plot and get right to the action.

The story focuses on brilliant 14-year-old, Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), as he hesitates to put his intellect towards a good cause.  His brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), steers Hiro towards attending his school by showing off Baymax (Scott Adsit), an advanced healthcare robot, and introduces Hiro to his classmates. Much of the plot revolves around Hiro and Baymax’s growing bond as they confront a threat to the city with the help of their peers.

Each member of the Big Hero 6 team shines in their own unique way, even before donning super suits. GoGo (Jamie Chung) is tough as nails, Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) always finds a silver lining, Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr) is level-headed, and Fred (T.J. Miller) is… Fred. While the team’s personalities are clearly distinguished, I left the viewing itching for a little more about them all. Hiro and Baymax guide the action of the plot and there simply isn’t time to veer off course, but this film leaves Disney in a great place to spawn a franchise.

There’s heavy themes the story covers, such as dealing with loss, and the script manages to weave in references to Asimov’s famous laws of robotics. Certain lines become empowering mantras that are repeated just enough to inspire, not annoy. Baymax serves as the main source of comic relief, and some of the slapstick humor obviously aims at the younger target demographic. However, while Baymax does manage to get the occasional big laughs from all ages, most of the comedic moments of the rest of the team struggle to land amidst the more chaotic scenes.

This film felt like a true integration of Eastern influence into Western media with an ode to intellect and technology. Also, the character designs and settings feel like a celebration of the prominent parts of the Californian way of life. Big Hero 6 excels as a kids’ movie with action and high-powered entertainment from start to finish, but many adults might find it too predictable to get incredibly invested.

(Also, not to spoil anything, but there is a stinger scene that the older comic-book reading audience is sure to get a kick out of.)

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