What happens when you give Disney a faceless Marvel property and invite them to creatively bring their classic heart and charm to play in a superhero sandbox? Big Hero 6. And the movie far exceeds the sum of its parts.
The film centers on a 14 year old boy from the futuristic, fictional city of San Fransokyo, named Hiro. He is a robotics engineering prodigy who begins the film by wasting his talents in back-alley robot fights. The movie opens in this setting and it a surprisingly gritty introduction to the world. It also calls attention to how photo-realistic the 3D animation is, particularly with the robots themselves. His older brother Tadashi rescues him when he gets in over his head and encourages him to use his gifts to advance scientific study, much like he does at a world renowned research facility. Tadashi introduces Hiro to his prized invention, a healthcare robot called Baymax. However, this is before classic Disney tragedy strikes.
Disney's animated films have always managed to carry surprisingly mature stories whose emotional impact is felt by both young and old. From Bambi's mother being shot, to Mustafa getting trampled in the canyon in The Lion King, their movies are at their best when they are dealing with family and how to cope with loss. These are staples of Disney's classic animated tradition, however seeing the story unfold in a superhero landscape is invigorating. Perhaps because death is so pliable in the comics world, while in Disney's history, it has always been finite.
What is so unique about this particular story is that it isn't based on some random event like a strike of lighting or laboratory experiment gone wrong, which creates the heroes. These normal people become extraordinary, by the using their minds to create fantastic inventions which enable their heroics. The film sends a very powerful message about the power of science and the endless limits of what we can achieve with our minds. It's extremely refreshing to have protagonists that aren't measured by their physical strength, but by the size of their brain and ingenuity.
One of the biggest successes of the film is that until the beginning of the second act, you may actually forget that you are watching a cartoon. It isn't just the detailed animation that creates an allusion of reality, but the strong acting, character designs and gravitas that the story carries, all combine to create a movie that has unquestionable emotional depth. Not until Baymax is introduced and the adventure begins, does the picture remind you that you are watching an animated feature.
Honestly it's surprising that the film is even called Big Hero 6. Hiro & Baymax would have been the more well-suited title since the plot and emotional hook hinges completely on their relationship. The supporting cast is extremely diverse and they do a serviceable job with their voice performances, but they aren't really asked to do much more than to be one-dimensional archetypes. However, T.J. Miller is a standout as the ultimate slacker, Fred.
Big Hero 6 is a love letter to geeks and nerds. Without being heavy-handed, it makes a strong argument that the coolest person in the room isn't the one with the biggest biceps, but the person who has the most creative mind. In the era of Point of Geeks, we can't see a better message for a film to share. It is also the type of movie, possibly like the Star Trek TV show may have done in the 1960's, to inspire the youth to grow up and create the next wave of technology. Much like there was a kid who grew up watching Captain Kirk talk on his communicator and grew up to invent a cell phone. There may be thousands of burgeoning scientists and engineers inspired by the message and hope for the future that this film gives.
It's always satisfactory to have a movie that entertains you in your seat, however it is much more rare to find a movie that can inspire its audience after the credits roll. The marketing benefits the movie as well, because despite all the "we jumped out a window" and "hairy baby" references, it really has not given much away. Big Hero 6 is the perfect compromise movie for the entire family. So expect to go in for an unexpected ride and to leave with a huge smile. Big Hero 6 delivers in a big way.
What was your favorite part of Big Hero 6? What did you think about the after credits scene? Let us know on the comment boards!
Source: Point of Geeks