Cast: (voiced by) Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, T. J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr., Génesis Rodríguez, Maya Rudolph, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell
Directors: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Writers: Jordan Roberts, Dan Gerson, Robert L. Baird
Nobody does animation like Disney. For nearly a century they’ve made dozens of incredible films and are still going strong. So, with the recent ascent of the superhero genre brought about in large part by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it seems right that Disney should have a go at making a superhero film since they haven’t really done one before. A combination between Disney and Marvel seems like a guaranteed recipe for success and so I was absolutely looking forward to seeing the result. Ultimately, the result is pretty good. Not bad and not great, but pretty good. It has all the elements that it needs to be a good film: the story is pretty good, the animation is pretty good, the characters are pretty good and the action is pretty good. As a matter of fact I’m kind of stumped over what else I should say about this film because “pretty good” more or less sums it up for me. However I’ll try to go into more detail.
The protagonist, a 13-year-old robotics genius called Hiro (see what they did there?), lives in the futuristic San Fransokyo and spends his nights taking part in back-alley robot fights. His older brother Tadashi, who often has to bail Hiro out of whatever trouble he’s gotten himself into, sees Hiro for the child prodigy that he is with limitless potential and feels that all he needs is a bit of direction. Tadashi takes Hiro to the robotics lab at the university where he and his fellow students are working on groundbreaking inventions and discoveries. Hiro is amazed by what he sees and is inspired to enter a competition that will allow him entry to this university. He comes up with an invention that wows the crowd and the judges, winning the competition. However Hiro’s glee is short-lived when a fire breaks out in the building, claiming Tadashi’s life.
Having lost his older brother, who was both a father figure and role model to him, Hiro falls into a depressive state and secludes himself from his family and friends. A few weeks later he accidently activates one of his brother’s inventions, and thus we are introduced to Baymax. Baymax is an inflatable robot designed as a healthcare attendant. His one and only desire is to help people and he views Hiro as a patient in need of his care. His complacency and robotic cluelessness make him an endearing character, and the bond he forms with Hiro (which kind of reminded me of John Connor’s bond with the T800) in an effort to help him overcome his grief proves to be the highlight of the film. When a masked villain emerges onto the scene along with Hiro’s invention, which was supposed to have perished in the fire, Hiro calls upon his friends and on Baymax to form a team of superheroes.
The team consists of Hiro, Baymax (who has been updated with a martial-arts program and an armour-plated suit), and the four students from the university who worked with Tadashi. The other four members of the team are pretty basic and unimaginative. There’s the lazy stoner; the ditzy, hyperactive geek; the cool one who chews gum; and the big, strong one who’s actually a softie. There’s nothing wrong with them per se, they’re not bad nor are they unlikeable, it’s just that they aren’t exactly new. They are characters that we’ve all seen in other films before this one. In fact, the same thing can be said about everything else in this film.
Big Hero 6 is a very safe film. There’s nothing actually wrong with it, it’s only vice is that it doesn’t offer us anything that we haven’t seen before. The characters are safe, the humour is safe, and the story is safe. It is a fairly enjoyable film but it is also fairly predictable. It’s not as if the filmmakers were lazy or uninspired, it’s clear that a lot of effort and creativity went into this film. It’s just that they never took any risks with this film and never dared to venture further than the films that had come before.
There is however one aspect worthy of praise and that is the relationship between Hiro and Baymax. Baymax is quite a loveable character because of how complacent he is. He exists only to help others in need and has no other wish or desire except to fulfil his purpose. There is nothing he wants more than to help Hiro through the tragedy that he has suffered and his function is not complete until Hiro is satisfied with his service. It is both touching and enjoyable to see how dedicated Baymax is to Hiro and how much pleasure and satisfaction he gets from helping him. It is no wonder that Hiro is eventually won over by his companion. Overall it makes for an enjoyable, if otherwise unremarkable, film.