BIG HERO 6 (2014)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 48 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG for Action and Peril, some Rude Humor, and Thematic Elements

BHero6 poster

Directed by: Don Hall & Chris Williams

Written by: Robert L. Baird, Dan Gerson & Jordan Roberts

(based on the BIG HERO 6 comics)

Voices of: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, James Cromwell, Alan Tudyk & Maya Rudolph

Disney is known for tales of princess, far off lands, and immensely creative retellings of classic stories. Every now and then, Disney tries something new or unusual out for size. Sometimes, this approach comes out with a new classic (WRECK-IT RALPH), but it can also result in a flawed or mixed bag (ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE, LILO & STITCH).  BIG HERO 6 is Disney’s first adaptation of a Marvel comic into an animated family film and winds up being a decent enough movie with some frustrating problems.

BIG HERO 6, from left: Hiro (voice Ryan Potter), Baymax (voice: Scott Adsit), 2014. ©Walt Disney

In a colorful futuristic city called San Fransokyo, Hiro Hamada (a 14-year-old genius) spends his time hustling at illegal bot fights (think cock-fighting by remote-controlled robots). With Tadashi’s (Hiro’s older brother) guidance, Hiro is interested in attending a high-tech university, but disaster strikes. Hiro teams up with the gentle giant Baymax (Tadashi’s invention: an inflatable nurse-like robot) to stop an evil villain, but he’ll also need the help of four friends to take down the masked baddie. This is pretty basic stuff for a superhero origin story, but it’s executed fairly well for about two-thirds of the movie.

BIG HERO 6, from left: Fred (voice: T.J. Miller), Honey Lemon (voice: Genesis Rodriguez), Hiro

BIG HERO 6 takes place in an awesome world. The visuals are beautiful and there’s a lot of creativity on display. A scene in which Hiro flies on Baymax’s back through the skies of San Fransokyo reminded me of the best scene in HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON because of how gorgeous the animated environment looked around them. There’s also a unique style to the animation itself in that this almost comes off like an anime met up with regular computer animation and had a baby. A few characters look like they’re right out of a manga (Hiro, Tadashi, etc.) and others look like they’re from typical animated designs, but they blends seamlessly into one big world that is very cool to look at. It’s an awesome film in terms of pure animation, but the script itself is where things falter.

BIG HERO 6, Yokai (voice: Charles Adler), 2014. ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/courtesy

The characters in BIG HERO 6 are fun to watch, but pretty standard. With the exception of Hiro and Baymax, everyone else comes off as a one-note joke and don’t receive enough time to develop into actual characters. Hiro is a sympathetic teenager who’s suffering from severe depression and Baymax shows a remarkable amount of emotions for a robot (as well as providing the best comic relief in the whole movie). There’s genuine friendship between them that’s the best aspect of the film, besides the unique animation. However, BIG HERO 6 tries to have it both ways in terms of being a rocking superhero movie and a cutesy kid’s film. This isn’t a great mix and it’s clear that a lot of things were compromised in terms of making this child-friendly (just wiki some of the details about the source material for examples). BIG HERO 6 works very well for the first hour (maybe a little longer) thanks to well-placed humor. It’s a fun and entertaining flick that is almost compromised by a rushed climax.

BIG HERO 6, from left: Hiro (voice Ryan Potter), Baymax (voice: Scott Adsit), 2014. ©Walt Disney

All the momentum and entertainment nearly goes out the window in the final third. We are given the reveal of who the kabuki-masked villain is and I will give BIG HERO 6 praise in it being not completely predictable, but the details surrounding the bad guy are so rushed that beating him almost seemed like a shrug-inducing obligation. The stakes weren’t too high and the final battle is an afterthought. The climax isn’t compelling or very exciting. There are even a couple of plot holes introduced by the rushed showdown. It’s almost like you’re on a really fun rollercoaster ride and the cars stop for the final third, so you’re forced to get out and walk the rest of the track. That’s the exact same effect of watching BIG HERO 6.

BIG HERO 6, from left: Baymax (voice: Scott Adsit), Hiro (voice Ryan Potter), 2014. ©Walt Disney

Depending on how well it performs at the box office, BIG HERO 6 is likely to become a new franchise for Disney. I liked the world of this story enough to watch a sequel, but this film is just okay overall. It’s a decent enough origin story that doesn’t develop the colorful characters enough to make me care about anyone other than the two leads and nearly falls apart completely in the last third (opening up a big plot hole and cliché that you can see coming from a mile away). BIG HERO 6 is satisfying family entertainment, but you’d expect more from both Marvel and Disney (let alone a combination of the two).

Grade: B-

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