Past the Popcorn: Disney Has a Hit on Their Hands with Big Hero 6

by Jeff Walls

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is dominating the live-action box-office with some of the publisher’s more well-known characters, some of the lesser-known characters are finding a home in the animated world.  Disney’s latest animated effort is based on a lesser-known Marvel property.  They may have been lesser-known characters going in, but the heroes of Big Hero 6 likely won’t remain so obscure for long as this movie is primed to be a major hit.

big-hero-6-insetThe movie focuses on the appropriately-named Hiro, a young genius who graduated high school at thirteen, but doesn’t have any ambitions outside of hustling some money by participating in local remote-control robot fights.  However, after his older brother gives him a tour of his college workshop where he and his friends are working to turn science fiction into reality, Hiro is instantly motivated to do something more.  He decides right then and there that he wants to attend that school and enters an invention contest which would award the most impressive participant admission to the school.

Hiro dazzles the head of the school with his presentation and is granted a spot in the school, but an unexpected tragedy leaves Hiro depressed and uninterested in attending any of his classes.  Things change, however, when Hiro finds the marshmallow-soft medical assistance robot named Baymax that his brother had been designing.  With Baymax’s help, Hiro stumbles across a villain who is using Hiro’s own invention for some devious purpose.  Repurposing Baymax as a fighting (and flying) robot and getting the assistance of his brother’s friends, Hiro forms a team of self-made superheroes who seek to save the city of San Fransokyo from this evil menace.

As we have come to expect from Disney, the animation is top-notch.  The visuals seem to blend the styles of Japanese anime with that of traditional Hollywood animation to create characters and cityscapes that seem right at home in the fictionally blended city of San Fransokyo, where the movie takes place.

The most inventive character in the film is of course Baymax.  The friendly robot looks like a smaller and less sticky version of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters and interacts with the world with the innocence of the title character of Wall-E.  Although I am not willing to call Baymax a more lovable robot than Wall-E, there is no way audiences will not fall in love with this robot designed specifically for one reason: to make you feel better.  As it turns out, he’s also quite the hilarious drunk when his batteries are running low in a scene that may just be the funniest scene of any movie I’ve seen this year.  His fist bump is pretty wickedly entertaining as well.

A cute, cuddly robot is not all that this movie has going for it, however.  It is, after all, a superhero movie and as such it pulls off some quite impressive action scenes.  There are also a few tender moments between Hiro and Baymax that lend the movie some emotional weight.

Big Hero 6’s lone weakness is the ultimate identity of the villain and his motivation.  The bad guy is unconvincing given how the character is set up in the first part of the movie.  That’s a small complaint, however, in an otherwise fantastic movie.  Make sure you get to the theater on time, too, because the short film called Feast that plays before the film just may be one of the best animated shorts Disney has ever created

Big Hero 6 opens today at the AMC Southcenter 16 and the AMC Kent Station 14. Won’t it be nice when Des Moines has its own theater again?

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