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Big Hero 6 (Review)

 

"On top of great, sound morals, Big Hero 6 instantly wins thanks to a cuddly and lovable hero, Baymax, who finds ways to charm with his straight-forward nature and his strive to make everyone around him comfortable."

by Steve Pulaski

It didn't really hit me why I eagerly anticipate animated films each and every year, whether they be from high stakes studios like Pixar and Disney or low-key efforts from Blue Sky Animation or Rainmaker Entertainment. To me, every animated film is an opportunity to showcase different writing and directing talents, as animated studios rarely keep the same director for every single project. Sure you have directors like John Lasseter or Pete Docter that frequently direct films for certain studios, but often, you get a solid variety of films made by people you've never heard of and that provides for a film experience akin to watching a filmmaker's directorial debut.

I only noticed this when I reflected on the bulk of Disney's films at the turn of the decade, from the enjoyable Tangled, to the joyous Winnie the Pooh, the incredibly fun and, my personal favorite in years, Wreck-It Ralph, and the beloved and cherished Frozen, the studio has consistently churned out a wide variety of films from a barrage of talented people. Disney's latest, Big Hero 6, as expected, is no exception; this is a briskly-paced and different film for the animation studio, as it adopts a structure more akin to the one we've seen Marvel take on in recent years, and creates a film from the ground up that keeps its morals in check and its checklist of adventures in mind every step of the way.

Big Hero 6
Directed by Don Hall & Chris Williams
Cast Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung
Release Date 7 November 2014
Steve's Grade: B+

The film follows Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter), a fourteen-year-old technology prodigy from San Fransokyo, a city built and thriving on technological innovation. Hiro, despite having the intelligence and time to spend on debatably more significant projects, enjoys the concept and strategy of "bot fighting," or the act of two small robots dueling until ones destruction. Hiro is kept in line and motivated by the work of his older brother Tadashi Hamada (Daniel Henney), a skilled engineer, who has created a tubby white robot named "Baymax" (Scott Adsit), who is designed to monetize the healthcare system in America by providing non-threatening and responsive care upon hearing the expression "ow" from a person.

In the midst of all this, Hiro gets in contact with Professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell), a renowned technology guru who becomes attracted to the fourteen-year-old upon viewing a tutorial of his invention of "mircobots." Microbots" are tiny, metallic links that swarm and fit together to create whatever the human mind can imagine, proposing immense innovations and efficiency in architecture and transportation. However, after tragedy strikes, Hiro's motivation flatlines, and it's only him, Baymax, and a group of Tadashi's loyal workers that can stop a potential threat to technological and scientific evil.

When Hiro and his band of inventors band together to form a group of superheroes, Big Hero 6 easily could've opted for a sound and lights show, disregarding all the potential morals and ideas it laid so neatly on the table. However, despite a narrative structure that reminds us of the many Marvel superhero films we've seen this year, Big Hero 6 keeps key morals in place, some of which are understanding the differences between external and internal pain, as brought on by the presence of Baymax and how unprecedented scientific innovations can be used simultaneously for good and bad. We see all of these ideas pan out and develop over the course of the film's runtime and never does the film become too rushed or too simplified to the point where lofty morals are sacrificed for rock-em sock-em action; the balance is delicate and well worth commending.

On top of great, sound morals, Big Hero 6 instantly wins thanks to a cuddly and lovable hero, Baymax, who finds ways to charm with his straight-forward nature and his strive to make everyone around him comfortable. Baymax steals almost every scene he is in, and meshes quite well with the other characters, working germane to their characteristics and never undermining the true force of Hiro as a character. The film, in addition, is predictably gorgeous, with eye-popping colors and wonderfully animated surroundings, effectively delivering the aesthetics as well as the morals in a neatly-wrapped package. Big Hero 6 may not rank as highly as Wreck-It Ralph, but seeing as it operates on a minefield of pitfalls and destructive forces, the fact it succeeds this well is a small miracle in itself.

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