Big Hero 6 is a fun and intelligently written animated movie that further cements the idea, which began with the release of Frozen last year, that Walt Disney Animation Studios is back on track.
Disney’s return to animation prominence is undoubtedly due to John Lasseter’s role as chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Since 2007 he has overseen all of the studio’s films as executive producer.
It helps to have a couple Pixar veterans involved with the script, written by Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson and Jordan Roberts, and Disney alumni behind the camera, with directors Don Hall and Chris Williams.
Given the blockbuster success of the Disney-Marvel partnership it’s no surprise the genesis for Big Hero 6 came from Marvel comic book series, albeit one that was not widely known.
Both Frozen and Big Hero 6 feature emotionally complex characters and interesting stories, which are all hallmarks of Pixar films. Even the “villain” of the story is not strictly evil as past Disney villains have been portrayed. In a move that shows a maturation of the Disney formula, an explanation for the villain’s actions is given and the plot doesn’t just break down into “good versus evil.” With Big Hero 6 it also feels like Disney is finally speaking to today’s youth.
The action-packed comedy-adventure follows the friendship that develops between robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada (voice of Ryan Potter) and a plus-sized inflatable robot named Baymax (voice of Scott Adsit of 30 Rock). There are some wonderfully sweet and funny moments between Hiro and Baymax as their friendship grows.
Big Hero 6 is set in a futuristic city called San Fransokyo, which is beautifully imagined by production designer Paul A. Felix and art director Scott Watanabe. The scenery is rendered in vibrant pastel colors and the architecture feels familiar. The setting comes across as a future that is not that far off. It’s nice that the movie really makes robotics “cool” and it wouldn’t surprise me if more kids get into science after seeing it.
Hiro is introduced as a cocky teenager who hustles underground bot fights with his state-of-the-art battle bot. His brother, Tadashi (voice of Daniel Henney), hopes to redirect Hiro’s talents into something more meaningful by taking him on a tour of the robotics program where he is enrolled at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.
The strategy works and soon Hiro sets his sights on getting into the school by impressing professor Robert Callaghan (voice of James Cromwell). Hiro succeeds and attracts the attention of Callaghan and tech guru Alistair Krei (voice of Alan Tudyk). Of course, since this is a Disney movie, triumph is followed by tragedy, which puts the real story in motion.
Hiro turns to Baymax—a medical assistance robot created by his brother—and his close friends, adrenaline junkie GoGo Tomago (voice of Jamie Chung): neatnik Wasabi (voice of Damon Wayans Jr. of New Girl); chemistry whiz Honey Lemon (voice of Genesis Rodriguez); and fanboy Fred (voice of T.J. Miller of Silicon Valley). Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called “Big Hero 6.”
Expanding on the breathtaking visuals employed in the flight sequences in this past summer’s How to Train Your Dragon 2, there is a fantastic sequence that takes place when Hiro tries out Baymax’s upgrades.
Thankfully the spectacular action sequences aren’t the only reason to see this movie, which is filled with warmth, humor and heart. Lucky for us, Lasseter’s magic touch extends beyond Pixar.