‘Big Hero 6’ is an Enjoyable Mash-up

by Trevan McGee on November 7, 2014

in Blogs

Rating: Solid Rock Fist Up

On its surface, Big Hero 6 looks like it could be the first in a new era of Disney animated films. It’s a Marvel adaptation. Like its predecessors Frozen and Wreck It Ralph, it’s a remarkably confident and capable feature that lacks the Pixar name. It’s an action/comedy movie that is also a pastiche of Anime, Mecha, Manga and Western sensibilities that somehow manages to be a cohesive, entertaining movie.

But at its core Big Hero 6 has more in common with traditional Disney animated features than you’d expect by that initial description. It’s a coming-of-age story sure, but tucked in between the robot fights and rampant comic relief is a story about grief and mourning. And it’s the moments when the plot actually explores that quintessential human experience that it becomes more than just another kids’ movie.

Set in the fictional and visually arresting city of San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 follows Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter), a boy genius who spends his time in the futuristic city winning robot fights and squandering his sizable intellect. Luckily Hiro has an older brother Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney) who introduces him to Baymax, a robot of Tadashi’s own design. It’s not long until there’s a freak accident, add a little power and responsibility to the mix, and you have the recipe for a hero’s (Hiro’s?) origin story.

 Big Hero 6 doesn’t waste a lot of time setting up the origin, and instead wisely focuses on the relationships between characters, taking time to give them each distinct personalities. Some work more than others, particularly T.J. Miller‘s character who grates more than endears. The relationship between Hiro and Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit) is easily the movie’s highlight, as it toes that line between schmaltz and earnestness.

But when the movie switches gears and becomes an action film, it’s more than capable. Scenes are kinetic and brisk, but easy to follow and the sense of pacing is absolutely spot-on. It’s too bad that the climax of the movie underwhelms, and that the movie feels the need to throw some additional plot twist into play, which is unnecessary and kind of cheap.

Fortunately, Big Hero 6 has enough personality to be bigger than its shortcomings, but only just barely. When it fires on all cylinders, it’s a confident, exciting ride that doesn’t sugarcoat big life events like death, even if it has to use a big, inflatable robot to deliver the bad news.

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