Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Big Hero 6

Directed by Don Hall.
2014. Rated PG, 102 minutes.
Cast
Ryan Potter
Scott Adsit
Daniel Henney
Jamie Chung
Damon Wayans Jr.
T.J. Miller
James Cromwell
Alan Tudyk
Maya Rudolph
Stan Lee

Hiro (Potter) is a robotic genius, but he likes to live on the edge. He uses his creations to win 'bot fighting competitions with the local riff-raff. His brother Tadashi (Henney) is also a genius. However, Tadashi has focused his energy in a much more positive direction, attending school with like-minded individuals. After a particularly sticky situation, Hiro decides to give school a try and is on the verge of making it big with his latest invention when he's approached by some corporate big wigs at the greatest science fare in the history of the known universe. Unfortunately, disaster strikes when the fare catches fire and takes his brother's life. Hiro mopes around for a while. To keep him company is Baymax (Adsit), an invention of Tadashi's. Baymax is an inflatable nurse that instantly fills itself with air whenever there is a need for any sort of medical attention. Soon, it comes to Hiro's attention that the fire that killed his brother may not have been an accident. Tadashi's friends from the school don costumes in hopes of helping Hiro crack the case, but they need help. Hiro reconfigures Baymax into something a bit more...super.

Right from the beginning, Big Hero 6 maintains a wonderful balance of comedy and action. Both elements work very well through the use of impeccable timing. The jokes are mostly situational as opposed to a string of barely connected gags, as in a lot of kiddie fare. This grounds the humor in the foundation of the movie, giving it more resonance than pratfalls and fart jokes. I'm not talking about adult-based comedy that flies over the kids' heads, either. It's legitimately funny stuff that they will laugh at right along with the grown-ups. The action is just plain fun to watch. It's all bright and colorful and shows our heroes doing lots of cool stuff. The best part of it is we don't have to wait long to get to it. When we do wait, there's the humor to keep us entertained.


Action and humor are great, but what really makes BH6 click is its heart. After we get over the initial, and typical, Disney sadism of stripping its main character of family members, the movie ticks all the right boxes. It does a fantastic job developing the relationship between Hiro and Baymax. We realize that Baymax is wholly incapable of emotion, yet we can sense a kinship with the machine growing with Hiro. He comes to regard Baymax as not just a robot, but a friend in an odd, but lovable way. More importantly, that Baymax is the only remaining link to Tadashi is never lost. This simple fact gives the interactions between Hiro and Baymax a palpable emotional heft that carries the film and gives us the occasional punch in the gut when we realize all that this robot represents.

While all those things are bubbling beneath the surface, what skins it gives us the visual treats we crave. It's a gorgeous looking movie featuring some excellent artwork. The character design for Baymax is a wonder in itself because it is incredibly simple yet ridiculously pliable. Lots can be done with the character, both as a piece of art and as a full-fledged entity in this film's universe without compromising the integrity of either. Also at work is the kid-friendly runtime. It's just a shade over 100 minutes, but zips by due to marvelous pacing. This makes it go faster than many other similar movies. By similar, I mean superhero origin flicks, which this is, at its core. Thankfully, in the name of giving us a fuller viewing experience, it handles the origin part justly and succinctly. The effort is worth it.

10 comments:

  1. I'm glad you liked this, I was really unimpressed with the whole thing. It felt very generic to me. Nice write up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too bad you didn't like it much. Funny enough, the way you feel about this is how I feel about How to Train Your Dragon 2.

      Delete
    2. LOL, I think I said that same thing to Britt when she reviewed this ;-)

      Delete
  2. YES! The heart really grounds this. I remember when I reviewed this saying that the Oscar was going to this film based on the scene where Baymax shows Hiro the video of his brother. That moment made the whole film rise to this other level of emotional connect. It works on so many levels. I think I like this movie more and more the more I rest on it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a fantastic scene. It's one of a few that stand out and elevate the film. The sign of a great movie is that it gets better as we continue to think about it

      Delete
  3. Great review! This was an enjoyable movie and I liked how the friendship between Hiro and Baymax played out. I still laugh whenever I see the Baymax fist bump scene.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! My kids hate that scene because I've been trying to fist bump everyone ever since I did, lol.

      Delete
  4. I wasn't expecting to like this that much, but I really enjoyed it. It had solid characters and was a lot of fun as well as being very emotional.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I went in low expectations as well. I did think I would like it, but had no idea I would love it.

      Delete