Directors: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Cast: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, T.J Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, James Cromwell, Daniel Henney, Maya Rudolph, Alan Tudyk
Plot: Hiro (Potter) is a super-intelligent thirteen year old with no ambition in life. His brother (Henney) tries to channel his knowledge with an invitation to a science college for the brightest inventors. This is where he meets Baymax.
It is a tough month for a family film animation to come out. With the cinema packed with hard-hitting OSCAR nominations, dissecting the mentality of an American Sniper or plotting out the lifespan of Stephen Hawking, few will have the time to sit down to watch an animation film that is based on a superhero comic from Marvel. However, Big Hero 6 has enough heart to earn a place on your cinema schedule this February.
Our lead character is Hiro that correct mix of rebellious but brilliant that goes down a storm with a younger audience. He is endlessly brilliant, putting Tony Stark to shame when it comes to building equipment for his superhero team. It is also refreshing that his young age never becomes a factor in this movie. Despite being the youngest by a long way in the character list, his age is never used as something against him. He is clever enough to do the job, so no one gets in his way – something that must be a dream world for the age group that will probably love this movie. But if that mash of personalities is a little Hero in a Disney Film 101 for you, then Baymax will surely be Man of the Match for you. He is a Health Care Companion Droid, miles away from the robotic warrior originally written in the comic book series, whose primary function is to heal, rather than fight. However, after a few manipulative conversations and an additional hard-drive added to bulk up Baymax’s karate skills, Hiro finds himself his key player in the superhero team, tasked with taking down the masked super-villain terrorising the city. Baymax will be the endless source of comedy and heart that this movie really becomes so great with. He isn’t very expressive, his facial features fixed into an endearing smile. His voice has the range of Siri’s, calming and smooth, but not able to deliver any tone that isn’t in his programming. Yet how does he cut right to your heart, delivering some of the most powerful emotions in the story? Baymax is one of the most loveable creations to come out of an animation film and that is a very tough category to break into with Toothless, Puss N’ Boots and Dory being the competition. Yet, even when Baymax isn’t tugging at the heart-strings, he is delivering the perfect gag, either by his clumsy stroll, the way he calmly states ‘oh no’ when danger rushes around the corner or perhaps his greatest triumph this movie is a new take on the fist-bump that will be adopted by fans everywhere.
The setting is a city crossed with Japan and the United States of America, playing with the concept of globalisation. The lead characters come across as a smooth blend of the two nationalities, appealing to a wider range of audience. The city itself also gives Disney some great visuals to concoct. The first shot might confuse the viewer if they are actually watching an animation or a live action film, the city so life-like and realistic. This could be some of the smoothest animation that I have seen in quite some time. The plot relies heavily on Hiro’s invention for his audition for the Robotics Lab he wants to study at, micro-bots, thousands of small robotic devices that can connect together at will and build an infinite amount of objects, granting the user almost limitless power. The one plot hole to Big Hero 6 is that this invention will probably surpass anything that Hiro could come up with working in the robotics lab for the rest of his life. However, story gripes aside, the animation really needs to pull a rabbit out of the hat to get this creation looking real on-screen. Thankfully, this is some of Disney’s finest work yet and some of the most visually spectacular moments come from seeing these small micro-bots come together in various shapes and sizes. The keen animation also really helps when the second half kicks in and the action sequences come to life. Animations usually crumble on the action set-pieces, unsure how to go about keeping the ‘larger than life’ appeal, yet making the action grounded enough to actually hit home. Despite a few unbelievable moments, which comes from most family films, the animation is strong enough that the directors can treat the action in Big Hero 6 as if they were directing a live action film. A car chase in the second arc is gripping and astonishing, the visual effects team deserving all the praise in the world for pulling it off.
Maybe the action does get in the way slightly. As the superhero team finishes up their well-crafted origin story, there is something a little by-the-numbers about the ‘catch the bad guy’ routine. As the team learn to use teamwork as their greatest weapon, there is a sense of ‘we have done all of this before’. However, even then, there are a few gems littered in these set-pieces that make Big Hero 6 so worth it. The final fight ends and there is an additional sequence tagged on once the battle is over, which is both shocking, exciting and emotionally resonant. However, my favourite scene in this movie, and there are a lot of good ones to pick from, is the moment where Hiro stumbles across the twist in the movie (you will see it coming long before he does!) Filled with the rage he has kept bottled up, since the start of the movie, he explodes in a way only an underage superhero, unable to control the power he has been given, could. His anger climaxes in removing Baymax’s healthcare chip and leaving him with only the programming of karate left. The result is a shocking, disturbing abuse of power, as Baymax evolves into a killing machine with one desire at heart. It is not the fear for his victims that gets to you, nor the corruption of Hiro’s once noble superhero leader, but the aftermath, as Baymax’s consciousness kicks back in and he realises what he has done. How can you break it to a being whose only goal in life is to heal that he, for a split second, became an unstoppable killer? It is powerful stuff and one of the key things, among many more, that has actually made Big Hero 6 one of the better movies I have watched this month. And again, this is a month packed with OSCAR nominations…
Final Verdict: Baymax might be the main draw here, but the story and characterisation around the character is so well-crafted that you don’t want it any other way.