Review: “Big Hero 6” Is Heartwarming, Heartbreaking, And Perfect For The Entire Family
Title: Big Hero 6
Director: Don Hall and Chris Williams
Screenwriter: Don Hall (story), Jordan Roberts (story), Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson (screenplay), Jordan Roberts (screenplay), Duncan Rouleau (based on the comic by), Steven T. Seagle (based on the comic by), and Paul Briggs (head of story)
Principal Cast (voices): Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, T.J. Miller, Genesis Rodriguez, and Damon Wayans Jr.
I’m truly a kid at heart and there hasn’t been a better time to be one than right now. Culture has latched onto anything that was popular with children thirty years ago to sell back to adults and hook an entirely new generation. Hobbies like collecting comic books or playing video games that were once shunned are now so mainstream that no one bats an eye when you’re in your late twenties and still doing these things. However, with the good comes the bad. I got to see The Avengers and the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but I’ve also had to sit through four Transformers movies that were awful. So I tend to be leery when it comes to kids stuff, because good source material does not equal a good movie. See: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle this year or don’t because it’s terrible. When I first saw the trailers for Big Hero 6, though, I felt pretty optimistic. I’ve been a Disney fan my entire life, and Marvel hasn’t let me down yet, so it quickly climbed to the top of my anticipated list.
Big Hero 6 is funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking in the best possible way, with movies that are truly for the entire family.
Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) is a fourteen year old robotics genius living in the town of San Fransokyo. He isn’t doing anything with his intelligence, though, until his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) takes Hiro to his college San Fransokyo Tech. There Hiro meets Tadashi’s friends; GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), an adrenaline junkie who is trying to build the fastest motorcycle, Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), a slightly neurotic scientist working with lasers, Honey Lemon (Génesis Rodríguez) a quirky chemistry whiz, and Fred (T.J.Miller), the school mascot. Hiro also meets Tadashi’s project; an inflatable robot called Baymax (Scott Adsit) designed to be a healthcare companion. A series of circumstances cause Hiro to team up with Baymax and his friends as he outfits them in high tech gear so they can save the day.
That summary is a little awkward and vague but I really don’t want to give anything away about this fantastic film. Big Hero 6 is so good I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out of there was anything I didn’t like about it. What I did like I could go on and on about, so I’ll just explain the best I can why I think you and your entire family should go see this movie on it’s opening weekend. This is an absolutely fantastic story. It’s a kids movie so it’s pretty standard, but I wouldn’t call it predictable. There is an undercurrent of intelligence that runs throughout the entire movie because this is a story about “nerds”. There was never a moment when I felt like it was trying to dumb itself down for children or appearing too smart for them either.
The story also does a great job of punching you in the gut with sadness. There have always been sad moments in movies but, for some reason, it seems like kids movies always have the ones that make me cry the most. Big Hero 6 is no different, and the moment that is heartbreaking rivals that of the great sad moments in movies like the opening to Up or any sad moments during the Disney golden age.
A good story can’t function without good characters and there are plenty of them here. I feel like I should forewarn parents that Baymax is going to be their kids favorite thing from now on. Scott Adist, who voices Baymax, does a great job of giving a robot (that is essentially a walking balloon) a lot of personality. Baymax easily has the funniest moments in the entire movie. He is a medical robot and sees Hiro as his patient, and manages to come across as genuinely caring. I also really liked Hiro as well. Teenagers in films are often over exaggerations of what young adults are actually like in the real world. Hiro, however, does go through mood swings and is reckless, but he never becomes insufferable. The thing that really humanizes Hiro is his relationship with his family. I haven’t seen a brother relationship portrayed this well in years. Hiro and Tadashi obviously care about and get along very well, especially considering their age difference. The boys are under the guardianship of their Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph), and while she is a cute character and enthusiastically supportive, she doesn’t have much screentime. I liked her and wanted more of her.
The supporting cast is also very well done. Much like how I was convinced I wouldn’t like Olaf the Snowman when the trailers for Frozen dropped last year, I was worried I wouldn’t like Fred. The goofball characters can make or break a group like this, and Fred is hilarious. The rest of the group is also very likable. Honey Lemon is terrifying when she finally cuts loose, and her purse with the different chemicals is a really inventive piece of machinery. GoGo was fun even if she didn’t have much to do. Out of the four supporting characters, I liked Wasabi the most. He seems to be the only one who realizes how crazy everything they are doing is, and announces it often. I felt like I could relate to someone who gets thrown into a situation where they are uncomfortable, but power through it because it’s the right thing to do. Wasabi also has some great one-liners.
The animation is well done and beautifully created. The futuristic mash up of San Francisco and Tokyo is very impressive on a visual level. I also really enjoyed the designs for each character’s robot suits. They were all different enough that it’s very easy to tell who is who. I was also very pleased by how uninvasive the 3D for this was. When I saw The Book of Life I had to take my glasses off halfway through and rub my eyes from the strain. When I left Big Hero 6 I only felt the normal eye strain that comes from watching movies in the dark. Despite the 3D everything was still bright, vibrant, and never looked blurry.
If the movie stumbles at all it’s the villain. I can’t say that much about him because that would count as a “spoiler” but I will say that he isn’t very developed. His motivations make sense once they are revealed, and the reveal as to who they are was not quite what I expected. The movie felt like it was much more interesting in interpersonal relationships and Hiro’s development than the villain. He existed more as just an obstacle for Hiro to compete with, and didn’t evolve past that. The rest of the film is more than enough to make up for it.
I highly recommend that if you’re planning on seeing Big Hero 6 that you arrive early so you can see a short called Feast. It’s about a dog who sees his owners love life unfold through the meals that they share together. It was made by quite a few members of the team that made Paperman back in 2012. In the span of six minutes I nearly started crying with how cute it was. This is a short that pet lovers will devour (I’m sorry) and everyone else will just love.
Finally, this is a Marvel production even if they haven’t been marketing that too much, so stay through the credits. There is a post credit scene that is all at once hilarious, meta, and opens up a world of possibilities for sequels.
Big Hero 6 is going to be one of the best films of the year. People of all ages are going to fall in love with Baymax and the rest of these characters and, while it is setting up another franchise, it also works perfectly as a stand alone film. Whether you have kids or not, you owe it to yourself to see this movie.