Though Hiro Hamada has bots on the brain
And uses his genius for fun and for gain,
His brother impresses
That cooler successes
Result from hard work to assist those in pain.
The huggable Baymax, Tadashi’s creation,
Is there for young Hiro through grief and temptation.
When evil arises,
His crew improvises,
Inventing a tech-fitted team transformation.
Revenge and respect struggle in good and bad,
And heroes are born from the hopes of a lad.
To overcome grief
And a merciless thief,
New bonds must be forged to replace what he had.
After so-so CGI attempts like Bolt and The Wild and vastly improved near-classics like Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, it’s now safe to say that Disney animation has found its stride. As an animated superhero film, Big Hero 6 doesn’t just copy The Incredibles but succeeds as a unique and entertaining fusion, of Disney storytelling and Marvel action, of Californian and Japanese culture, of soft-bellied caretakers and hard-edged vigilantes.
Too often lately, animated films give so little away in the trailers that it’s hard to get excited about a film we know little about. Thus, while I was tempted to see Big Hero 6 in the theater, I opted to wait for the DVD, a decision I now regret. It has everything you could want in an animated superhero tale. The animation is crisp and detailed, and the characterization of Hiro and his friends is smooth and effortless, elements that serve to heighten the tension and appeal of the action sequences. It’s rare nowadays, but I found it refreshing that every character (aside from the villain) was smart and likable, with the stand-out being the film’s mascot Baymax, that marshmallow man whose endearing innocence and literalness manage to keep the superhero team grounded. Again, I was pleased at how fond I became of this lovable sidekick, sort of like how I was surprised that Olaf was one of the best aspects of Frozen. The character designs and voice acting are perfect, especially for Hiro, Go Go, and hilarious Aunt Cass, and once the fully powered team assembles, the action occasionally approaches an Avengers level of awesomeness, offering new angles and even the unwritten rules of car chases. In addition, the film passed my personal test for animated films, in that I immediately wanted to see it again.
With mind-controlled microbots, experimental wormholes, and unexplained kite turbine things floating above the city (seriously, what were those things? Wind power?), this is obviously not the real world, if the culture-clash of San Fransokyo wasn’t a clear enough hint. Yet the film’s moral speaks to very real emotions of grief, anger, bitterness, and letting go. Hiro’s relationship with his brother Tadashi defines his goals for the future, and despite the holes in his heart, it is encouraging and touching how Baymax manages to fill them. While the film overall is refreshingly original, the core bond between Hiro and Baymax has recognizable resonances with The Iron Giant, and anyone who enjoyed one will most likely love the other. (At one point, I almost expected to hear “You go; I stay,” but that would have been too obvious a connection.) Big Hero 6 also completes an unexpected trilogy of films in which James Cromwell plays the father of some great advancement in robotics, the other two being I, Robot and Surrogates.
While the film’s science is clearly comic-bookishly advanced, certain up-and-coming real-world technologies were included as goals to strive for, such as the idea of a soft care robot or the 3D printer that Hiro uses to create everything from robot parts to costumes. It’s been said that the “geeks” and “nerds” are the ones who change the world, and this film is part of a growing trend to put animated nerds in the heroic spotlight (like Hiccup’s reading in How to Train Your Dragon or Flint’s inventing in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs). Big Hero 6 is a home-run for Disney animation, which has now firmly planted itself above DreamWorks and just short of Pixar. From the funny and sweet short film Feast before it to the unexpected after-credits scene that cements this as a Marvel movie, Big Hero 6 is a super hit from start to finish and deserved its Oscar win.
Best line: (Aunt Cass, having prepared hot wings) “All right, get ready to have your face melted! We are gonna feel these things tomorrow, you know what I’m saying?”
VC’s best line: (Baymax, referring to the cat) “Hairy baby, hairy baaaby!”
© 2015 S. G. Liput
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