Big Hero 6 (movie)
Set in the near future and fictional setting of San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 concerns the exploits of a young genius (Hiro) and a medical robot (Baymax) created by Hiro’s older brother. When Hiro is the victim of a horrible tragedy he becomes the unwitting patient of Baymax who wants only to ease the boy’s pain. Hiro chooses to cope by turning Baymax into a crime-fighting super robot. The plan soon escalates when Hiro’s friends attempt to help with the coping and become caught up in his plans as well; each one gains a science-powered super suit that focuses on their own areas of expertise.
Working under their own mostly-ridiculous nick names (Wasabi, Honey Lemon, Fred…), the six individuals quickly band together and become San Fransokyo’s most prestigious super team: Big Hero 6.
The Good: There is so much to love in this movie. To get the balloon-bot out of the way I’d have to say that Baymax is fore front of it all. From his inspired, practical, and comical design to the perfect way he is voiced. Baymax never strives for comedy, he simply does and the results are so earnest and awkward they amuse. He has fast become a favorite, at first due only to “Hairy baby” but evolving into a good heroic role model. His only goal is to help and heal, but he does eventually resort to violence and danger in an effort to stem criminal elements; finally eschewing it when the violence begins to damage those around him. And he’s so cute.
The rest of the characters are also well done, though the film focuses primarily on Baymax and Hiro. While they may get a bit shorted on screen time they do all carry strong personalities and get a couple of moments each to shine. Fred seems like the easy favorite but I really liked Wasabi as the almost ‘everyman’ of the group; also Hiro’s aunt.
The design and art direction is very pleasing to the eye. San Fransokyo is a lot of fun and the villain comes across as pretty creepy in a cool way. It’s almost a testament to the character design that they all seem to get a bit less interesting when they put on their uniforms. Still awesome though. They also capture the eye well and help ground the movie’s action scenes. This lets the film use its medium to do fast past, over the top action but still keep it grounded and believable. No one feels floaty or gets lost in the shuffle.
Big Hero 6 runs a pretty tight line between exciting and funny. Baymax’s initial awkwardness during tense moments gives way to honest affection and dedication. As does Fred’s nerdy behavior and his own excitement over becoming a hero. They manage to generate a lot of heartfelt laughs that help drive the movie when it goes into action mode and ultimately gives the movie a lot of heart.
The Bad: The movie does feel a bit short. Its early game is very good but when the end hits, the viewer is left with a bit of unfulfilled expectations. I almost felt like it reached a point where they had to check off boxes on some sort of list. This is not meant to undermine the film entirely, it’s a lot of fun and I enjoyed it, but once the kids becomes super heroes the movie ramps up to the final conflict pretty quickly.
Big Hero 6 also doesn’t do enough with its primary assets. With several enjoyable characters it does relegate most of them to ‘other guy’ status. This movie is very much “The Hiro and Baymax show” and Hiro’s conflict is central to the film’s plot, nearly eclipsing any super heroics. Between that and my preference for balloon Baymax over super-Baymax I was left with a bit of a lopsided feeling over all. This sounds very much like a fiddly problem (as both halves are done decently to great and I feel unsure on them) but it does hurt the film over all with uneven tonal shifting.
The Fiddly: Not much here. I will say that while not a fan of the Big Hero 6 comic book I have done a bit of research into it. The movie and comic are both separate entities but I do appreciate how the creators attempted to stick with existing character names and managed to duplicate the powers (roughly) but from a science medium. Very cool way to adapt and update an existing franchise.
As a final note I do frown a bit at how the names (in film) are achieved. In short, the character of Fred is described as attributing the nicknames to each character. While funny, this does feel like it is in danger of becoming an overused trend (Michelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Cisco on The Flash comes to mind as immediate examples.), and an almost a sad way to write off ‘silly’ names for characters. Again, it usually amuses me (Especially Micky; he got name game, son.) but it does feel like an easy out to explain away aspects current audiences might question.
Final Statement: While not the best film in any of the categories it falls under, Big Hero 6 is an awesome film that deserves watching and delivers laughs, action, and drama. Baymax is a great example of a hero and it’s nice to have a world where friends help each other and no one is too cool to accept a hug from the big, warm, balloon robot.
1- A cool idea or minor sprinkling of moments.
2- Just short of being ‘good,’ maybe catch it on TV
3- Perfectly serviceable; you should see this, maybe not in theaters
4- Absolute must see; a fine example of film making
5- Either a game changer, or a time worn tale done near perfection