Big Hero 6
Directed By: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Written By: Jordan Roberts (screenplay), Don Hall (story)
Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, Daniel Henney, James Cromwell
Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
At the end of the weekend, Big Hero 6 ended up on top of the box office, even beating out Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and I think it’s totally justified. I know that some are tired of the superhero genre, especially the origin story gimmick, but I, for one, couldn’t be more glad to see these stories becoming mainstream. Origin stories inspire greatness, with heroes stepping into their respective roles from all walks of life. Disney’s foray into the money-making Marvel-verse, Big Hero 6, is an origin story based on a Marvel comic book series of the same name; and while some of the looks and names are similar, Disney has watered down the story for younger audiences. And the result is a resounding success.
Big Hero 6 takes place in the fictional city of San Fransokyo, a world of rolling hills, dumpling emporiums, trolley cars, and pagoda-topped buildings. Here, we met Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), a 14-year-old child prodigy who uses his gift for robotics to hustle the bot-fighting underworld. A kid after my own heart. But Hiro’s sweeter and more sensible older brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), wants more for his little law-breaking sibling, so he takes him to–wait for it–Robot College Without Rules. Okay, it’s actually just the robotics lab at his university, but Robot College sounds way cooler. At RCWR, Hiro meets a group of awkward but lovable nerds and after seeing his brother’s medical project, Baymax, he begins to respect what Tadashi does with his also ridiculously over-sized brain. As often happens in real life, a music montage plays and Hiro crafts the innovative micro-bots, his application for entrance to the RCWR. At the demonstration, the micro-bots are a success, even impressing Professor Callaghan so much that he is accepted into the school. The happiness is short-lived, however, as a fire breaks out at the university with Callaghan and Tadashi inside. Soon after, a creepy man in a Kabuki-mask appears, and with Hiro’s thought-to-have-been-destroyed micro-bots. The rest of the film follows Hiro and crew as they try to find out the villain’s identity and stop him before he hurts anyone else.
Like most Disney/Pixar movies, the above growth and tragedy occurs within the first twenty minutes of the film. It’s sad, of course, but it’s not exactly new material. The movie doesn’t take off until Baymax enters the story permanently, and when he does, the story becomes infinitely more engrossing. Until that point, the most exciting part of the movie is the setting, the city of San Fransokyo, and the unique mix of Asian and Western culture. Baymax is kind of like a talking Wall-E, if Wall-E were an inflatable marshmallow capable of what, I can only assume, are the best hugs. He’s naive, honest, and his entire purpose is to act as a caregiver to those around him, appearing anytime someone utters the word, “Ow.”
The bond between angsty Hiro and empathic Baymax is what drives the entire movie: their ADORABLE fist bump (Bodolololooo), the silent exchange at the police station, the gorgeous flight over San Fransokyo, and of course, Hiro’s unwillingness (but need) to be Baymax’s patient. Without these moments, the movie would flounder almost as bad as Wolverine: Origins. The plot unfolds predictably and the supporting cast are convenient and good for a chuckle, at best. Okay, that was harsh. I retract that statement about being worse than Wolverine: Origins. But let’s be honest: Big Hero 6 is not The Incredibles.
BUT! (Put away the pitchforks.) That doesn’t mean Big Hero 6 isn’t a fantastic movie. When it comes to children’s movies, I don’t expect earth-shattering storytelling. In fact, I’m an advocate for seeing children’s movies with children. As I looked around the theatre, every kid was on the edge of their seat, rapt with joy. They didn’t care about exciting plot twists or realistic supporting character development. To them, the movie was about a boy and his robot, a robot who was endearing, silly, supportive, comforting. I can guarantee to you that after seeing the movie, one of the kids in that theatre will go home and want to build a robot. Not learn karate. Not beat up the bad guys with violent gadgets. Instead, they’ll have to use their mind, their creativity, school and those around them in order to save the world. It’s a message that doesn’t come across in any of the other superhero movies, and so for that, thank you, Disney.
Big Hero 6 is a movie chock-full of humor and even more heart. I’ll have you know I only cried three times in the span of two hours. Four if you count the sobs after watching Disney’s short, “Feast,” that aired before the movie. Whether or not you have children, you should take the time to see Big Hero 6. It’s a wholesome superhero experience that eschews the dark hero comic book trope. Besides, Baymax only wants us all to be healthy, and you wouldn’t want to make him sad, would you?