Big Hero 6 Offers Big Entertainment but Routine Storytelling
Big Hero 6
Review by Daniel Rester
Big Hero 6 is the first Disney animated film to feature characters from Marvel Comics. I’m sure it won’t be the last either as animation and superhero ingredients mixed together are bound to spawn a box office smash. While the film will definitely please many children and adults alike, I wish this sort of genre crossover would have resulted in something a bit better than what it is.
Based on the Marvel superhero team of the same name, the film revolves around a genius boy named Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) who lives in a city called San Fransokyo. The kid wastes his potential on underground robot fights until his brother, Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney), convinces him to try and join a competitive university. One thing leads to another and tragedy strikes.
After certain events, Hiro must team up with a group of nerdy college students in order to form a (inexperienced) superhero team. Hiro also makes use of Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit), an inflatable healthcare robot that Tadashi created. The misfit team sets out to stop a masked supervillain who has links to Hiro’s past work.
Big Hero 6, written by many and directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, is a colorful and entertaining animated ride to be sure. It features impeccable visual and sound design, wonderful vocal work by all, and a standout character in Baymax. The inflatable robot asks many questions and takes things seriously a lot of the time, providing for perfect deadpan humor. The comedy elements are clever, but the script also has heart and deals with themes like grief, forgiveness, and diversity (the team features a welcome variety of different sexes, classes, and races).
Despite all of its great parts though, the whole of Big Hero 6 leaves something to be desired. At least in my eyes it does. The central relationship between Hiro and Baymax is well-realized, but what surrounds the characters and their fun — but mostly one-dimensional – sidekicks is a plot that lacks surprise. From just the first 15 minutes I guessed about 75% of where the plot ended up going later on. This predictability sank a lot of the enjoyment from the picture.
At a certain point in the film a female character is introduced. She is vital to the plot in establishing certain arcs, yet her introduction feels more rushed and forced than organic. More forgiving viewers won’t mind this as much, but to me it felt like a cheap plot device used in order to move the story forward and reveal certain truths. With this character, the overall predictability, the sometimes-clichéd treatment of the heroes, and elements that seem to borrow off of Star Gate (1994), How to Train Your Dragon (2010), and other films, Big Hero 6 lacks in ways.
Hall and Williams’ film is still worth seeing. Hiro and Baymax are terrific characters — as is Fred, a comedy relief character voiced by T.J. Miller – and the technical aspects deliver in a lot of ways. But while the film is rich in many ways (from design detail to use of mature themes), the storytelling is a far cry from the quality presented in classic Disney animated films.
Score: 2 ½ out of 4 stars (Grade Equivalent for Me: B-).
MPAA Rating: PG (for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements).
Runtime: 1 hour and 48 minutes.
U.S. Release Date: November 7th, 2014.