written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
It's been a while since I've seen an animated picture with this much heart... I laughed... I (almost) cried... I reveled in the action... and was touched by the interactions between characters. Big Hero 6 is Disney's take on superheroes, much like how other Disney animated pictures adapts stories from literature like in Frozen or Tangled, Big Hero 6 takes on the cape and cowled bunch with a distinctly Disney touch.
Based on the Marvel Comic of the same name; Big Hero 6 follows the adventures of Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) an incredibly gifted robotics prodigy who initially competes, and hustles, other roboticist at illegal bot fighting rings. Sure gambling at bot fights brings in some serious cash, Hiro's older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) has more ambitious aspirations for his gifted yet unmotivated little brother. Hoping to inspire his brother, Tadashi takes Hiro to his school and convinces him enroll. Every superhero needs a tragic origin and this is no exception, after presenting his revolutionary nano-bots... tiny robots that can build/create anything as long as the user wears a neuro-linked headband... a fire breaks out at the school and Tadashi dies in the explosion.
Set in the fictional city of San Fransokyo (a portmanteau of San Francisco and Tokyo), the world is vibrant and colorful, borrowing aspects of both San Francisco and Tokyo in the design and layout. When a mysterious man in a kabuki mask is seen using Hiro's nano-bots, the young robotics prodigy takes it upon himself to find this man and get answers for who he believes was responsible for his brother's death.
Enter Baymax (Scott Adsit), originally created by Tadashi to be a personal health care robot who responds to when a patient exhibits signs of pain/trauma. Very different from his comic book counterpart, the film version of Baymax is less bad ass monster-robot-looking and more cuddly. This guy stole the show, delivering some of the most heart-wrenching emotional scenes and being equal parts cute and sweet. Hiro and his relationship with Baymax is one of the central themes of the whole picture, along with being his brother's passion project, with a few modifications, Baymax becomes like a bulky Iron Man that Hiro can ride on much like how Hiccup rides Toothless in How to Train Your Dragon.
Eventually Tadashi's best friends join the fight, getting slick new armor utilizing their individual scientific gifts into their powers. Gogo Tomago (Jamie Chung), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Fred (T.J. Miller) round out the rest of Big Hero 6. I loved the designs of their costumes, much of it reminded me of super sentai heroes from Japan like the Power Rangers. Personally, as an avid con goer and sometime cosplayer... I can't wait to see what the cosplay community can do with these character designs.
The character I loved the most though ended up being Hiro and Tadashi's aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph). Overworked and running a popular bakery/coffee shop in San Fransokyo, Aunt Cass raised her two nephews for ten years since the death of their parents. Cass is exuberant and always supportive of her genius nephews. Always looking to make her boys smile and perpetually ready with a hug. She didn't appear much in the film, but the scenes she did spoke volumes. From ebullient displays of pride when her boys succeed, to being the supportive mother-figure after Tadashi's untimely death. Aunt Cass made every scene she was in feel so full of light, I wished she had a larger role.
The strength was in the story telling, though Disney does own Marvel... I'm glad they didn't go full into making a faithful recreation of the Big Hero 6 comic book. While the heroes are part of the greater Marvel universe, Silver Samurai is part of the team in the comics, setting it in a fictional city allows them to set it apart from the already huge Marvel cinematic universe. Plus, this creates a whole new subsect of fans of the series, you don't have to read the comics to enjoy this story. While Disney takes liberties here and there in regard to the source material, everything came together so perfectly that I can't complain.
Big Hero 6 takes the superhero formula and gives it a distinctly kid-friendly twist. Lessons like cherishing family, believing in your potential, and to always believe in yourself are prominent throughout. I laughed and almost cried... but more importantly... even at the age of 32... I watched this movie with the wide-eyed wonderment of a child. That alone was worth the price of admission.
ED NOTE: since I incorporated the Fall Out Boy track "Immortal" from the soundtrack into the title, here's the music video.