Big Hero 6 is a special kind of movie. It’s a classic Disney movie in every way you’d expect, which does mean it falls victim to some common Disney kid-flick missteps, but it has the appearance and kinetic energy of a modern day superhero movie that makes the film feel both charmingly familiar and excitingly original. It’s an absolute blast to watch, and is easily one of the most enjoyable animated films of the entire year.
While the movie is technically based off an obscure Marvel comic, the story is not bound to it by any means, and very much has its own take on what can be simply described as a superhero-like origin story. The plot kicks off by introducing us to young, thirteen-tear old Hiro Hamada, a brilliant child prodigy who has already graduated highschool and now spends his free time engaging in illegal robotic fights.
He’s an arrogant yet likable character who wants to do bigger and better things with his talents beyond his simple hobbies, but when tragedy strikes close to home, as it often does in Disney movies, Hiro finds his future uncertain. In an attempt to find a purpose for his skills, Hiro commits himself to going after those responsible for his loss, and in doing so, is challenged to both grow and adapt in order to survive.
Hiro is an instantly likable character, and thanks to Ryan Potter’s impressive voice-work, he’s someone that both kids and adult can identify and easily relate with. He comes off as a bit cocky, to be sure, but it’s all a part of his character arc that, while undeniably predictable, still feels genuine and leads to some really emotional, memorable moments later on in the film’s story.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Hiro is surrounded by a beautifully diverse cast of characters either, who all manage bring their own unique quirks and oddities to the group’s already fun dynamic. Once again, however, these supporting characters feel very much like classic Disney stereotypes, and while I still greatly enjoyed each one of them, some extra individuality would’ve gone a long way in making them a little more memorable.
The voice work is great on all fronts, as can be expected from a high-budget Disney flick, but Big Hero 6 seemed especially impressive in more than a few ways. Everyone gives it their all, and in the case of the supporting cast, it’s the individual actors and their playful banter and snappy dialogue that helps to bring a new life and energy to their otherwise familiar characters.
However, the true star of the film, and the focus of all the movie’s many advertisements, is the huggable medical healthcare robot Baymax, who was designed and created by Hiro’s older brother Tadashi as a sort-of nurse/caretaker for Hiro. Baymax is a brilliant and immediately lovable character who steals every scene he’s in, and he’s probably one of my favorite original characters that Disney has come up with in a long time.
Baymax’s clear-cut robotic programming creates for many of the film’s best comedic moments, but as he evolves and develops a real, heartfelt friendship with young Hiro, Baymax transcends the typical role of a robotic sidekick and becomes the heart and soul of the entire film. The voice-over work of Scott Adsit is truly impressive, and he really does bring life to a character that is sure to become a colossal hit amongst viewers worldwide.
The one thing that came off as slightly disappointing for me, however, is just how predictable and clear-cut the story became in the end. While the plot had some strong progression and didn’t waste any time on needless exposition, I was still able to predict every major plot twist from a mile away, and as I said above, there are times when the movie relies too heavily on the classic archetypes of other Disney stories.
This is never more apparent than in the case of the film’s major antagonist, who shares more than a few familiarities with many of Marvel’s villains in their live-action offerings. While he is certainly menacing to look at, and his ability to control thousands of tiny microbots at will creates for some astounding action sequences, his motivations end up being so shallow and bland that he becomes nothing more than a tool designed to keep the plot moving forward.
As you can imagine, however, one of the biggest draws of Big Hero 6 is its stunning, wonderfully colorful animation. Disney always delivers in this regard, but something about Big Hero 6 makes it stand-out even more than Frozen did. The colors are vibrant, pristine, and the entire city of San Fansokyo, which is a clever aesthetic combination of San Francisco and Tokyo, is just breathtaking to look at.
There are beautiful vistas to gaze at, explosively dynamic action sequences, and emotionally expressive facial animations at every turn, and the movie does such a great job at changing up the environment and setting that I never once found myself bored or tired of what I was seeing on-screen.
Big Hero 6 is, without a doubt, my favorite animated movie of the year. Sure, it strays into some overly familiar territory at times, but it’s lively animation, fantastic sense of humor, and clever, endearing cast of characters are so much fun to watch that it becomes easy to look past its few flaws in favor of just enjoying the movie as a whole.
The world and its characters are absolutely ripe with potential for future sequels, and I am very excited to see where Disney might take them next now that the obligatory ‘origin story’ is out of the way. This is a movie bound to become a classic hit for both kids and adults alike, and is an experience you really don’t want to miss in the theater.