Big Hero 6 (2015)

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So, major Disney releases now come without taglines. Clearly, advertising is changing.

Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams
Starring Ryan Potter, Scot Adsit, TJ Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr, Genesis Rodriguez and James Cromwell

In the megalopolis of San Fransokyo, robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada (Potter) is shocked out of his lackadaisical attitude when his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) introduces him to the cutting edge research at his ‘nerd school’. Hiro designs a winning entry for the university’s open audition-cum-science fair application process, but then the auditorium catches fire and Tadashi is killed trying to save his mentor, Professor Callaghan (Cromwell). Falling into a funk, Hiro is roused only by the intercession of his brother’s last project, a medical aide robot called Baymax (Adsit).

With the aid of Baymax and later his brother’s classmates – Gogo (Chung), Wasabi (Wayans), Honey Lemon (Rodriguez) and Fred (Miller) – Hiro sets out to find the man who stole his microbots and killed his brother, beginning with prime suspect, industrialist Adrian Klei (Alan Tudyk). The trail leads to a microbot-wielding supervillain in a kabuki mask, and to fight him, Hiro and his friends need to upgrade; to become a superteam.

What’s wrong with it?

Big Hero 6 heavily Americanises Marvel’s Japanese flagship national superteam; not that Big Hero 6 were terribly well known or anything.

San Fransokyo does my nut. What sort of phenomenal seismic shenanigans leaves San Francisco and Tokyo near enough neighbours for their  suburbs to grow together, but leaves the world with a sufficient scientific and industrial base for a super-advanced robotics programme?

What’s right with it?

The film is a pretty good super science team origin, with gorgeous animation and very likable characters. The action scenes are jaw-dropping and the microbot shoggoth is truly eerie; it scared the hell out of my daughter.

Given the scale of whitewashing even in very recent films, it’s good to see the voice cast for this movie so well-populated with Asian-American talent (although admittedly only Potter is of Japanese heritage rather than Korean; I… actually don’t know if that’s better or worse, now I come to think of it.)

How bad is it really?

Once more, really not bad at all. It’s exciting, the characters are broadly drawn but appealing, and Hiro’s central journey from slacker to avenger to hero hits all the right beats. If there’s a criticism it is that it is slick textbook cinema rather than something utterly standout, but at that point I’m either criticising professionalism or getting into a whole area that needs an article of its own.

Best bit (if such there is)?

There’s a lot to like in this film, but the first major encounter with the overwhelming force of Kabuki mask and the ensuing car chase are a definite highlight.

“There are no red lights in a car chase!”

What’s up with…?

  • Seriously; what happened to the Pacific? Did Japan slide?

Ratings

Production values – Having recently watched The Little Mermaid, I wonder how the animation will hold up in twenty years, but right now it looks pretty damned shiny. 2
Dialogue and performances – With animation, this category is really a combination of voice acting and character animation, and both are excellent in this instance. Baymax is a stand out, being both a charming medical aid and a wonderful hero for peace. It’s kind of telling just how alarming it is when Hiro sends him into killbot mode. 4
Plot and execution – Big Hero 6 is a little bit by the numbers, but done excellent right well (I have no idea where that phrasing popped out from.) 8
Randomness – Look, I don’t mean to harp on this, but the Pacific, dude; it’s a bit on the large side. 6
Waste of potential – So, there’s a very different story to be told with the original Big Hero 6 from Marvel’s comics, but I don’t know if it’s a better one. 4

Overall 24%

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