Disney Canon: Big Hero 6 (2014)

Big Hero 6

Hiro’s robotic friend Baymax is the standout in the otherwise generic ‘Big Hero 6’.

Before I get into my review of Big Hero 6, I have the urgent need to tell you that Feast, the six-minute short that plays before the movie, about a dog’s relationship to food, is not only one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen, but a pretty fantastic piece of short-form animation. Don’t except the best thing you’ve ever seen, but I’ll be struck by lightning if you aren’t delighted by this little gem. Anyway, on with the actual review…

It is abundantly clear, now more than ever, that the Walt Disney Company’s marketing has reached a level of perfection so astonishing, that nobody would think you are a crazy person if you truly believed that their primary goal is world domination. One of the reasons their marketing strategy is so effective, is because their products seem to be tailor-made for certain audiences. If you look at Walt Disney Animation Studios, their main animation division, for example, you will find that they have, for a long time, separated their productions into “boy movies”, and “girl movies”, taking into account -despite the fact that they always want to reach as wide an audience as possible- who their primary audience is.

Now, as the ubiquitous term “Disney Princess” would suggest, the Studio has been famously successful with their “girl movies”. So much so that most of the milestones in the Studio’s history have been movies with Princess protagonists: Their first ever feature-length production was Snow White and the Seven DwarfsIn the fifties, they regained their popularity and were saved from bankruptcy by Cinderella. After a decades-long lackluster period, the studio jumped into one of its most successful eras with The Little Mermaid. And if this weren’t enough, one only needs to look at the massive success of last year’s Frozen, which is now the highest-grossing movie in the Studio’s history. As far as “boy movies” are concerned,, well, that’s another story…

This is probably why, when the Disney conglomerate spent a small fortune to bring Marvel Comics into their corporate umbrella, the Animation Studio quickly searched Marvel’s library for a property that could be easily and effectively adapted into the mold of a Disney animated movie. The result is Big Hero 6, which not only fits perfectly into the “boy movie” category, but by being for all intents and purposes at least partially a Marvel product, comes with assurance that there is a way of successfully marketing it to little boys. So make no mistake. The Marvel logo may not appear anywhere during Big Hero 6, but no one will leave the audience not realizing that it is, for better and for worse, a Marvel movie through and through. Mostly for worse.

The relationship at the center of the movie is that of young boy-genius Hiro (Ryan Potter) and his equally smart older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney), who live in the fictional city of San Fransokyo (a beautiful-looking mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo). Hiro spends his hustling his way through illegal robot-fights. Tadashi, who sees the folly in throwing one’s life away in such a dubious pastime, helps Hiro catch the scientific bug by taking him to his university and showing him all the crazy cool stuff he and his peers spend their time inventing, like Tadashi’s biggest invention, a robotic nurse called Baymax (Scott Adsit). But everything takes a turn for the worse when Hiro’s biggest invention are stolen and used by a mysterious man in a Kabuki mask.

The relationship between the brothers make this feel a little bit like a male-oriented version of Frozen, but is more aptly compared to the caring bond between the sisters in Lilo & StitchIt’s not the most original dynamic, but it does a very interesting and valuable thing in that it positions science and innovation as the coolest thing you could do with your life. It’s a movie about celebrating intelligence, which is always nice. Sadly, this doesn’t last very long, since the latter part of the film -when this group of geniuses decides to become superheroes- turns into your typically uninspired Marvel movie, complete with unmemorable villain and a third-act inter-dimensional portal that threatens to destroy a city. The movie is basically a preschool version of The Avengers, and pretty uninspired on most fronts.

The big exception to the flatness comes in the character of Baymax, whose design as a non-threatening robotic balloon makes him one of the most memorable animated characters of the past few years. He is so enjoyable precisely because his charm is not only in what he says (he is very funny), but in the way he looks and moves. On this front, the animators do a fantastic job, and the middle section of the film, in which Hiro and Baymax start going on adventures together, is by far the most entertaining and exciting. The job the animators do with him is so good that it comes close to making up for the rest of the movie, which isn’t exactly bad, but just bland… At least Feast is pretty awesome.

Grade: out of 10

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6 comments

  1. smilingldsgirl · November 9, 2014

    Ouch harsh. 6 out of 10? I really thought the villain was clever and his motivations and actions surprised me a little. I thought the heart was great and it reminded me of Up in the way that a relationship is established early and then that relationship is a palatable force throughout the entire movie. Tadashi is there for his brother and that moved me. Baymax was a lovely character and I liked the Big Hero 6 team. I liked how diverse they were and loyal. It was like The Incredibles but with friends not family.

    I’m really surprised you were so underwhelmed by it. Did you like Sanfransokyo? I thought that was clever and one of the first cityscapes Disney has done since Oliver and Company. I liked that it was about a boy not a young adult which most Disney movies are. I enjoyed the score and was glad the few pop culture pieces didn’t last too long. It didn’t have much cheeky pop culture references so I think it will age well. I just thought it was very likable and it made me laugh and cry.

    I’m surprised you found it bland. Oh well. Can’t win them all I suppose.

    I did love Feast too!

    • Conrado Falco · November 9, 2014

      I really liked San Fransokyo (I haven’t been to either San Francisco or Tokyo, but I thought it looked pretty cool based on what I’ve seen in movies and such), and like I said in the review, I loved Baymax. But yeah, I was really underwhelmed. I just didn’t find it special at all.

      Feast tho! Sooo good.

      • smilingldsgirl · November 9, 2014

        Fair enough. I really loved it. I thought it had something for everyone and was just really entertaining. Made me cry and laugh. I liked the characters and action. But to each his or her own. Sounds like you aren’t much a Marvel fan in general. I actually prefer the marvel movies to the downbeat DC movies. I hated Man of Steel. It was ponderous, preachy, violent, garrish and so slow. I would take a light, fun Big Hero 6 over that any day. But just me.

      • smilingldsgirl · November 9, 2014

        Here’s my review if you are curious or anyone else reading my comment http://54disneyreviews.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/movie-54-big-hero-6/

  2. Pudge123 · March 4, 2015

    Kinda harsh dontya think? I mean I agree that the Villain was just, not relevant at all, that it was just the “must-be-there-villain” and they didnt even make a scene where he reunites with his daughter, which… was the reason why baymax to sacrifice himself in the first place.

    I do agree with you that it feels like another superhero movie and that it was pretty predictable, but I do have another opinion in other aspects. I felt like it was more of a Teen Titans ripoff than a Marvel movie, I mean 1 cute, nice, happy and “pinky” girl; 1 badass, dark, kinda cool girl; 1 big bulky, black, cyborgman; 1 funny guy with a power that doesnt even help and the leader that doesnt really do anything, he uses items/tecnology-things as weapons… pretty mucho (except mb for the leader) teen titans.

    One thing I really liked about the movie is the meaning of the characters names, Tadashi means Loyal, Correct and faithful (rings a bell?) and Hiro means generous and tolerant, but I think that in that case they were just playing with “Hero” and “Hiro”, anyway I looked up the meaning of the names because their relationship reminds me of the one Sitka and Kenai shared in the movie Brother Bear. Tadashi (Sitka) being the big, mature and kindhearthed brother tryies to lead his young inmmature and stubborn brother Hiro (Kenai) so he ends up being the best he can be, later in the movie he dies sacrificing himself in orden to safe another persons life. His dead makes the main character rethink his life and ends up changing his behaviour because “thats what Tadashi (sitka) would have wanted”. I think that Tadashi as well as Sitka reappear in the movie as a ghost / video and thats the moment when Hiro / Kenai have their big breakthrought.

    In what animation is concerned, I love San Frantokio, but I have to give the Gold to How to Train your Dragon 2. The creativity was great in BH6 but HTTYD2 made me feel the textures of the dragons, I mean I knew how the alphas scales felt without touching them because it was so well designed, which didnt happen with Baymaxes suit for example or any of the geniuses inventions.

    now that I have seen both (HTTYD2 and BH6) y think that the oscar should have gone to How to Train Your Dragon 2. I mean it is just a better movie, it made me cry a little, be actually happy and excited for what was happening and even amazed me with the quality of the animation. I Agree with you 6/10 in BH6 but I think you should rewatch Dragon with maybe a clear mind.

    • Conrado Falco · March 6, 2015

      I guess the fact that you can so easily compare the movie to Guardians of the Galaxy, Teen Titans, and Brother Bear speaks for how unoriginal I thought it was. Even the part I loved the most (the middle section with Hiro and Baymax) lifts a lot from The Iron Giant. I still think Baymax is awesome, the movie not so much.

      And as for Dragon, I must admit I was so bored when I watched it in the theater I’m afraid of disliking it even more if I watch it again.

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