Looking Back at 2010s Films: Big Hero 6 (2014)

19 Nov

By Tanner Smith

I’m going to get to writing about “Frozen” soon enough, because it’s Disney’s biggest hit (to say the absolute least!!). I already talked about “Tangled,” a very enjoyable romp. Other terrific Disney animated films from the 2010s include “Zootopia,” “Moana,” and “Wreck-It Ralph”–but today, I want to talk about what I think is their most “pure fun” animated film from this decade: “Big Hero 6.”

Remember when the Oscars didn’t nominate “The Lego Movie” for Best Animated Feature? Well, I feel a little better about that since they gave Disney’s “Big Hero 6” the honor.

“Big Hero 6” is conventional, cliched, and kind of predictable…but damn it if it also isn’t a ton of fun!

It’s an origin story for a team of superheroes, as a lovable collection of techno-savvy geeks band together and decide to suit up as a super-team to go up against a techno-savvy baddie. To their aid is a robotic companion, now programmed to kick some serious butt. Along the way, there’s tragedy, comedy, and of course, a life lesson that our main hero has to learn as well as the main villain.

Would it surprise you that this is based on a Marvel comic? Didn’t really surprise me, either.

Oh, and it also takes place in a future city known as San Fransokyo, a hybrid of San Francisco and Tokyo–there’s not any explanation for this joining, but it makes for a pretty visual sight when we go to some different spots of this world here and there.

It begins as Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) is convinced by his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) to join his science college to better his creative mind. Hiro comes up with a unique robotic invention and unveils it at a science fair, but it seems someone is out to get it for himself and starts a fire in the building that claims the life of Tadashi. (It wouldn’t be a Disney movie without some sort of tragic death, right?) Hiro is left with Tadashi’s own robotic invention–a portly Pillsbury Doughboy lookalike designed as a health care robot, named Baymax (Scott Adsit). At first, Hiro doesn’t want to admit he needs help in any way, even though he’s clearly suffering from loss of his brother. But when it becomes clear to him why his brother died (that it was no accident), he decides to get to the bottom of it. He rallies Tadashi’s genius classmates–cowardly laser specialist Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), quirky chemist Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), bitter engineer Go Go (Jamie Chung), and comic-book loving slacker Fred (T.J. Miller)–to help him out, and he also reprograms Baymax to become a lean (er…OK, not lean), mean (actually, he maintains his calm manner) fighting machine (thanks to karate styles in movies) to back him up.

Baymax is adorable. He speaks in a soothing voice, has many resources (including hugs) to help those in need of medical attention, and is the perfect toy for Disney to sell to children.

They go through all the motions of the origin story. They encounter a masked supervillain that they think is someone in particular but really turns out to be someone else for another reason. And of course, the villain’s motivation mirrors the hero’s selfish desire, which leads to a moral that both need to learn before the credits roll. Yes, admittedly, “Big Hero 6” doesn’t have much that’s “new,” per se, but when it works, it’s not only one of the most entertaining animated movies of the decade–it’s also one of the most touching. By the end, I wanted to tell Hiro that everything’s going to be OK and we all suffer and get through loss at some point of our lives.

Hiro is the most well-developed of the kids, which mostly comprise of generic types–the stoner, the goth, the wuss, the loony. But I like them all for the same reasons I like the kids in “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” who were also generic types. They’re more than likable enough to follow and they add to the fun. They each get their time to shine.

The action is fun and wonderfully animated (like I would expect anything less from Disney animation). The themes of loss and redemption are well-done. And when it’s all said and done, it doesn’t matter what we have or have not seen before in other movies before–what matters is how well it’s all handled. “Big Hero 6” is a ton of fun.

Also, stick around after the end credits (this is a Marvel movie, after all). It’s a pretty golden moment that follows.

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