Big Hero 6 (2014) / Animation-Action
MPAA Rated: PG for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements.
Running Time: 108 min.
Cast (voices): Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, James Cromwell, Alan Tudyk, Maya Rudolph
Director: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Screenplay: Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, Jordan Roberts (based on the comic by Duncan Rouleau & Steven T. Seagle)
Review published November 7, 2014
Like most superhero projects that are put up on the big screen, Disney's Big Hero 6 has its origins from the world of comic books, though this take is very loosely adapted from its inception in the pages of a Marvel comic that wasn't exactly a best-seller. The comics catered to the two largest markets for comic book consumption -- the United States and Japan -- and crafted a fictional city that incorporates elements from both, San Fransokyo (a portmanteau of San Francisco and Tokyo, of course). As a superhero movie, it's fairly standard stuff in plot, but it it definitely elevated by very likeable characters and some cute and funny moments throughout.
Ryan Potter ("Supah Ninjas") provides the voice of a young teen named Hiro Hamada, a boy genius living a pleasant life, often sheltered lovingly by his older brother Tadashi (Henney, The Last Stand), who is himself a genius scientist and inventor. Baymax (Adsit, St. Vincent), who resembles a giant, inflatable snowman, is one of Tadashi's inventions, built to be a courteous and gentle medical examiner. After Hiro puts on an amazing demonstration of his new technological invention -- microbots that can be manipulated with the mind to form a variety of shapes and functions -- he is allowed in the school for super-smart inventors for young geniuses. When Hiro's invention, presumed lost in a fire that mysteriously erupts at the school, ends up found in the possession of a kabuki-faced super-villain, Hiro turns hero by tying to stop him, along with trusty Baymax and the rest of the students at the school who all use their own inventions to become a super-team.
The climax is a bit prolonged and I can tell you that I did zone out through most of the action, as character touches mostly take a backseat to the conflict between the good guys and the not-very-interesting villain. The best parts of the film are the ones that feature the fish-out-of-water interactions of Baymax with the curious world around him, especially in the friendship that forms between him and the rambunctious Hiro. I'm a tough sell when it comes to actually laughing out loud while in the movie theater, but this one got to me on a handful of occasions, such as a really cute and amusing scene of Baymax misinterpreting how to do a proper fist-bump (you have to see it to understand).
The super-team is also fun to watch in their camaraderie, especially in their pre-battle scenes, so there's enough good humor and touching moments regarding friendship and family to make for an amusing and affecting story for most of it. It's a shame there eventually has to be a climax, as most of what we've come to love about the movie has to be put on hold for a long stretch, as the conflict hashes out. It's not nearly enough to break the film, but when the build-up is more exciting than the pay-off, it would suggest that perhaps a formula superhero film was not the best way to go. Keeping things small and simple would have ruled the day.
Beautifully animated in cartoon style, with spot-on voice acting, cool character designs, and plenty of humor and emotionally resonant content, we can overlook the formula plot for the sake of the overall enjoyment of seeing a well-rendered and playful world full of mirthful characterizations come to life.
-- There is an amusing extra scene after the credits.
©2014 Vince Leo