(If you read nothing else, know this: stay until the credits are done.)
Big Hero 6, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ follow-up to the runaway smash hit Frozen, is awesome. For me, it’s Frozen for boys, an almost anti-Frozen, if you will. Male-centric, non-musical, set in a slightly futuristic landscape, and the main character is poor. Similar to Frozen, the parents are still missing, and there’s a non-human, all-white entity with a penchant for simplistic answers and warm hugs, but that’s where the similarities end. However, Big Hero 6 wears a lot of hats as a film about family, friends, the loss of a loved one, and how we deal with loss. And it’s an origin story, to boot!
There’s nothing not to like about Big Hero 6. Each character is strong – even the goofy comic relief is vital and necessary to the plot. There is no filler or nothing unnecessary in this film at all; each moment lives to tell a part of the story, and if a movie’s made up of a strong structure and narrative, there’s no stopping it. Also, it doesn’t hurt that this film champions nerdy smarts and brain power, something that a lot of films (either animated or live-action) don’t do for the sake of a wider audience and more laughs.
Instead, Big Hero 6’s charm and laughs come from the partnership between Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) and Baymax (Scott Adsit), respectively the 14-year-old brother and the robotic creation of Tadashi Hamada (Daniel Henney). Hiro spends his nights illegally betting on robot fighting, hustling dangerous people for stacks of cash, relying on Tadashi to bail him out of sticky situations. Tadashi, hoping to encourage Hiro to use his prodigious mind for good, lets him have a glimpse at the “Nerd Lab” at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, where he meets chemistry guru Honey Lemon (Génesis Rodriguez), laser cutting genius Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.), inventor GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), and genial school mascot Fred (T.J. Miller).
During this visit, he also meets Baymax for the first time, along with Professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell), the head of Tadashi’s robotics department, whom Hiro idolizes. Callaghan slyly hints that there might be a place at the school for Hiro if he can develop something new to show off at the school’s tech expo. Rising to the challenge, Hiro develops a fascinating kind of tech that, unfortunately, gets stolen in a deadly tragic fire. Using his smarts and skills, he programs Baymax to help him uncover the conspiracy behind the fire, eventually enlisting Tadashi’s school friends in the endeavor.
Loosely based on a Marvel comic book series (this is not a Marvel Studios film), Big Hero 6 is a kid’s dream. Who didn’t wish they had a mind like Hiro’s when they were young? Hiro can do anything he puts his mind to, including creating game-changing robots that would make life as we know it easier. He can also change Baymax’s programming from being a medical assistant to a karate-choppin’ bodyguard. What he can’t do is slow down enough to be a normal kid for a bit, or accept life after the fire. That’s where Baymax comes in, and the fun of this movie is that we get to see them grow up and grow together, no matter how comically awkward it might get; the film’s true irony is that an unemotional robot manages to teach a human how to be a human.
Hiro’s San Fransokyo (Japan and America must’ve joined forces in the future) is full of colorful people, places, and wonder. One of the more memorable sequences of the film features Hiro learning to fly Baymax, taking him from the waves on the San Fransokyo Bay to atop floating advertising blimps above the clouds. It’s scenes like this that make Big Hero 6 wondrous in its scope and thrilling in its excitement. Shades of Blade Runner, Joss Whedon’s Marvel’s The Avengers, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man are seen here, but the film manages to retain an original feel and quality, standing well enough on its own. However, it must be said that watching it in 3D is unnecessary, as the 3D doesn’t do much but enhance the picture – not your enjoyment – slightly. The real enjoyment of Big Hero 6 can be found in its touching story of a boy and his robot, seeking justice for wrongs committed. Be sure to stay tuned after the credits for one of the most epic and fun post-credits scenes in any movie.