I don’t get to the movies as often as I would like, which means sometimes I am a bit late seeing things. But they give me space to write here, so here’s a quick review of Big Hero 6.
There may be some mild SPOILERS after the cut.
Big Hero 6 is based off a somewhat obscure Marvel superhero team created by the guys at Man of Action studios. They get around. They’re also responsible for the Cartoon Network series Ben 10 and its various spin-offs.
Anyway, I don’t know much about the original Big Hero 6 team, aside from the fact that they’re apparently a Japanese super team, which in American comics means you can count on someone with a large robot, someone who knows some kind of martial arts associated with Japan (ninja or samurai preferred), and someone with light/flame/solar powers because of the whole Land of the Rising Sun thing.
Among the members of the comic book version were the mutants Sunfire and the Silver Samurai. Combine them with Baymax and Hiro, and you have a stereotype, ladies and gentlemen. Of course, those two guys are associated with the X-Men, so Marvel can’t use them in a movie unless Fox gives that money-printing franchise up. Further, the comic book version of Baymax was a shapeshifting robot programmed with the memories and personality of Hiro’s late father by Hiro himself. He tended to get a lot spikier than a balloon.
Clearly, the comic was an inspiration, but a very, very loose one. No one would consider the original Baymax cuddly.
And yet the better-recognized movie one is rather cuddly. That’s in the movie’s favor. This is a movie, after all, that got onto both Watson’s (#26) and Ryan’s (#2!) lists of best films for last year. Granted, both those guys saw the movie more than once, and I only watched it last night, so it appears to be a movie that grows on the viewer with each viewing.
Anyway, the design of the movie was outright fantastic. Merging San Francisco with Tokyo for a unique look worked out really well, creating a vivid, imaginative sort of place that a viewer might want to visit. It’s both delightful and creative, as well as being somewhat real in a way Oz or the Shire never could be. A young boy named Hiro loses his beloved older brother to a fire and becomes obsessed with catching the man who not only did that, but also stole Hiro’s own invention of microbots. All Hiro initially has going for him is Baymax, a robot balloon his brother built to provide medical care. Since the permanently calm Baymax sees Hiro as a patient needing treatment, he goes along with Hiro’s plans to make the inflatable robot into a superhero who can stop the kabuki-masked villain behind both crimes.
Eventually, Hiro gains some teammates in the form of his brother’s genius friends (and Fred) who all adapt their technology to super-suits and weapons to bring down the baddie. Plus Fred, a scene-stealing character whose main superpower seems to be genre awareness.
Toss in your required Stan Lee cameo at the end and you have a fun, fun movie.
That said, the plot doesn’t seem to be much. Seeing a computer-generated animated feature, one would hope Disney might scoop a bit from Pixar for some emotional complexity. There is a bit more than I am used to seeing from the House of Mouse, but the story was a bit more straightforward and not the emotionally-complicated sort of thing you might see in, say, an Inside Out. The story here is entirely appropriate for a superhero origin, and that’s fine, but outside of Baymax, seems to be largely by-the-numbers in many ways, with one noteworthy exception.
After Wreck-It-Ralph, I was inclined to be wary of any character voiced by Alan Tudyk. While he’s not a heroic character this time around, he also wasn’t what I thought he was, so good work there.
Let’s say eight out of ten low batteries for now, with the possibility of gaining more with a repeat viewing.