Thursday, November 13, 2014

Movie Review: Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6’

**** out of 5
102 minutes
Rated PG for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements
Walt Disney Animation Studios

Article first published as Movie Review: Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6’ on Blogcritics.

It was only a matter of time before we finally got a big screen computer-animated superhero movie. And is it even slightly surprising that Disney was the first out of the gate? The biggest surprise may come to unknowing audience members who don’t know that Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel comicbook. I’m sure they had a feeling it was based on some kind of comicbook, but Marvel’s name was never mentioned in any of the promotional material until recently. It’s a good thing they started association with the Marvel brand, because Big Hero 6 fits right in their wheelhouse. Full of heart and action-packed, directors Don Hall and Chris Williams have crafted one of the best animated features of the year.

Big Hero 6, Disney, Marvel, Stan Lee, T.J. Miller, Scott Adsit, Baymax, Jamie Chung, Ryan Potter, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Alan Tudyk, Maya Rudolph

In Big Hero 6, we’re introduced to the young,  brilliant Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter), living in the futuristic San Fransokyo, with a penchant for robot fighting. His older brother Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney) wishes he’d use his brain for a higher power, so one night he takes him to his “nerd school” (aka university) and introduces him to his friends: GoGo (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), and Fred (T.J. Miller). While there, he also gets a look at Tadashi’s personal healthcare robot named Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit) and Professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell) who is immediately impressed with Hiro’s microbots.

Tadashi convinces Hiro to enter a science convention showing off his microbots – telephathically controlled with a neural-cranial transmitter – to gain him admittance to Callaghan’s school. Here, a fire breaks out and Tadashi is killed in an explosion trying to save Callaghan. Hiro is sent into a bout of depression and becomes anti-social until one day he accidentally activates Baymax who informs him that his sole nanobot is trying to go somewhere. The two are lead to an abandoned warehouse where they are attacked by his own creation, controlled by a man in a kabuki mask. With the local authorities failing to believe his story, Hiro decides to upgrade Baymax into an armored karate-enhanced super machine, and together with Tadashi’s schoolmates, ban together to find the masked villain and save the city.

Whatever Big Hero 6 lacks in the originality department – it is afterall, yet another superhero origin story (hilariously pointed out by Fred every time a new plot point comes to light) – it more than makes up for in its own unique take on the subject. The hybrid city of San Fransokyo alone is a brilliant meshing of east/west cultures. The voice cast are having a ball and the action looks spectacular, especially in 3D. Screenwriters Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, and Jordan Roberts have taken a few liberties with Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle’s original material, but there’s no denying the amount of fun in Big Hero 6.

While it may not be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it has all the same amount of adventure they can get away with at a PG rating. This is almost Marvel-lite, but is there anything wrong with that? Absolutely not. Big Hero 6 is one of the last animated films of the year – the only remaining offering is DreamWorks’ Penguins of Madagascar – but isn’t quite the best. I’d still give that title to both The LEGO Movie and The Boxtrolls. But if you’re looking for something more family-friendly in your action films – something you never see these days – Big Hero 6 delivers in spades.
Also be sure to be on time so you don’t miss the fantastic short Feast and stay through the credits for a hilarious cameo.

Photos courtesy Walt Disney Animation Studios

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