Big Hero 6, based off of the Marvel comic book series, is the story of a child robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada living in the futuristic city of San Fransokyo who sets out to exact revenge on his brother’s killer. Hiro teams up with a group of science students, who went to college with his brother, and a robot, Baymax, his brother’s “personal health care assistant”. Big Hero 6 is not the best Disney animated film, but it is nevertheless entertaining, fast paced, and funny with a unique team of new superheroes and fresh story.
First, the architecture and design of San Fransokyo is absolutely incredible. The integration of each city’s recognizable elements is perfect. San Fransokyo has the charming houses, the iconic red trolleys, and the rolling hills and picturesque parks of San Francisco with the bright color scheme and quickly growing, high tech environment of Tokyo. It reminded me of Chinatown, where the buildings and streets look so distinctly San Francisco, but the culture emulates the idealized, pixilated world that is Tokyo. I liked how the creators incorporated wide panoramic shots of the city, showing off the detail and thought put into its design. The setting of San Fransokyo is creative and fun to explore, while remaining realistic and recognizable to the audience (and also, it is just so pretty to look at).
I also appreciated that Big Hero 6 is a story about a group of teens that all share a love of science and technology. The characters specifically praise intelligence and innovation and serve as excellent role models for kids who are interested in anything from engineering to physics to chemistry. One of the main themes that the characters learn is to “look at things from a different angle”, or that problems can be solved in multiple ways if we are creative and think out the box. This team is also one of the most diverse group of characters I’ve seen in a Disney animated film, including Go Go (Jamie Chung), an independent and driven adrenaline junkie, Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.), a heavily-built OCD laser expert, Honey Lemon (Génesis Rodríguez), a stylish and quirky chemist, and Fred (T. J. Miller), the easy-going and nerdy mascot of the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. Each member of the group is distinct and their chemistry together is well crafted.
Of course, I have to talk about the two main characters, Baymax (played by Scott Adsit) and Hiro Hamada (played by Ryan Potter). Baymax reminded me of Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy in that he is a very straightforward, blunt character who doesn’t understand sarcasm. This results in some pretty hilarious one-liners and scenes based off of misunderstood concepts. Baymax is so lovable and good-hearted that I completely forgot that he was a robot; his character was vibrant and alive. I also enjoyed watching the evolution of Hiro, who begins as a snarky, moody teenager and transforms into a mature, loyal young adult. The lessons he learns about grief, seeing scenarios from different perspectives, and the art of letting go are poignant and tear worthy. This duo also reminded me of one of my favorite adventure-seeking pairs: Hiccup and Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. Like Hiccup and Toothless, Hiro and Baymax are the perfect match. Baymax is the muscle and the rational and ethical partner while Hiro is the mastermind and instinctual partner. They balance each other out well and create a memorable on-screen bond.
Unfortunately, Big Hero 6 is not perfect. At the beginning, the pacing was awkward and it felt as if the writers were trying to cram as much backstory and information into the first 15 minutes of the movie as they could. While the relationship between Hiro and his older brother, Tadashi, is well established, we know nothing about Tadashi’s professor or his professor’s rival, who both turn out to be important characters later in the story. If more time had been spent properly developing these characters, along with Hiro’s life and personality before he creates the microbots, then the story wouldn’t have felt so rushed. Also, while Hiro creates these amazing costumes and weapons for his team, they seemed almost useless until the final battle scene. We never saw the extent of their capabilities because as soon as a battle would begin, the entire team would become trapped. I wish there had been more time dedicated to showcasing their superpowers.
Still, Big Hero 6 is a wonderful film for this new technology-driven generation. Disney has once again created another delightful animation sure to please audiences of all ages.