Movie Review: Big Hero 6

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A young inventor puts together a team of superheroes in order to confront a villain who stole one of his inventions and killed his brother.

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Don Hall & Chris Williams, 2014

Orphaned teen genius Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) allays his boredom after finishing high school early by creating robots to fight in underground matches. His brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) wants better for his brother than the illegal world of robot fighting, and introduces Hiro to the university program where he studies. There he meets Tadashi’s fellow students: Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), a rule-following laser expert; Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), a sweet, warm-hearted chemistry whiz; GoGo (Jamie Chung), a tough mechanical engineer; and Fred (TJ Miller), more a fan of science than a scientist. Hiro makes it his mission to join the program, and in order to impress he creates microbots, tiny robots controlled by a neurotransmitter. On the evening that Hiro showcases his microbots, a fire breaks out in the university, and Tadashi runs into the flames in order to save his professor, Callaghan (James Cromwell). Tadashi dies in the blaze, leaving behind his health care robot Baymax (Scott Adsit). Hiro and Baymax form a bond as Hiro discovers that his microbots were stolen by someone who also set the fire. In his quest for revenge, he creates suits and upgraded gear for the science students, Baymax, and himself, and they team up to form a group of superheroes.

bighero6

For a movie I enjoyed so much when I watched it, Big Hero 6 didn’t leave much of a lasting impression on me. Setting place in the futuristic San Fransokyo, it’s more ethnically diverse than a lot of Disney fare, which is nice. There were a couple of fun scenes and it looks very slick. The plot is pretty straight-forward, and it doesn’t present a lot of concepts or information that haven’t been covered in other movies, but it does what it does well. The real genius here is Baymax, a fully formed character whose every on-screen moment is adorable, poignant, or funny. He’s the big soft heart of the film, created by the gentle, caring Tadashi to help as many people as possible. In contrast, Hiro tends to make robots that create or destroy. He’s an impatient prodigy, but there isn’t much to his characterisation that can’t be explained by being a teen genius; he’s mostly defined by what happens to him. The loss of Tadashi hits him hard, and the boys’ guardian, Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph), is sweet, funny, and well-meaning, but doesn’t fully understand what Hiro’s going through. Baymax paves his road through the pain and back to a more positive life.

Honey Lemon and Wasabi were stand-outs for me among the supporting characters. I love Damon Wayans Jr’s shtick, and it comes to the fore in a hilarious car chase in this film. Wasabi drives by the rules even with a monstrous robot-enhanced kabuki mask-wearing supervillain right on their tails. Honey Lemon is a great role model for girls, an enthusiastic scientist who loves flowers, blowing things up, and hugs. The message of love over hate is a good one, but there’s something about it that doesn’t completely connect. Ultimately it’s Baymax who connects; representing the hope for humanity and goodness of Tadashi, he is the most fully formed character in the film, despite being a robot. There’s a rushed nature to some elements of the plot, as well; they’re dropped in favour of furthering the emotional arc of the film, which is understandable, but not the best way to go about things. The design of everything is hugely marketable: the toys will sell like hotcakes, and I’m sure people will enjoy dressing up in the costumes of their favourite Big Hero. Still, the kids in my cinema seemed to love it, and if they love a superhero movie that’s as inclusive and kind-hearted as this one, so much the better.

Big Hero 6 on IMDb

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