Rental Corner: “Big Hero 6” packs fun and emotion
It was about time I finally got to see “Big Hero 6” after so many of my colleagues have been talking about it and recommending it left and right. And I’m going to be honest, I went in with extremely low expectations with the feeling of another “Frozen” ordeal. “Frozen” had great ambition and some unique elements but it seems its stay of praise has over extended. The Snow Queen adaption was good to my taste but not to the point where it stands like timeless classics along the lines of “Beauty and the Beast” or “Mary Poppins.” So you can imagine how I was feeling for the most part. Even I felt its win for Best Animated Feature was sketchy but then again Disney has had this streak and I’m not a fan of the Oscars to begin with. Though to my surprise, it wasn’t the first half that makes me recommend this but more of what happens in the second half that won me over.
Set in a futuristic San Francisco that is combination of American and Japanese elements, a robot prodigy named Hiro Hamada uses his technology skills for underground robot fights as opposed to something more. His brother convinces him otherwise after introducing Hiro to his college pals that his robotic work could be more than just street fighting. After inventing a set of microbots to get the notice of the professor, things go from good to bad as a tragic incident kills his brother and his invention with it. But a masked villain appears with his tiny robots as he plans to unmask the culprit for the memory of his older sibling. Equipped with a robot his brother made and his pals, Hiro plans to make a superhero team out of team in hopes of capturing the masked man.
What works best about Big Hero 6 is the two leads and their chemistry; Hiro and his sibling’s robot Baymax. The boy and robot angle is something Disney would do and easily make for a family film. But there is something here that makes it more unique and fresh. Hiro is trying to coupe with the loss of his brother while Baymax tries to stick with his nursing/hospital program that his brother made. There is no implication of Baymax wanting to be human or anything of that angle as his monotone voice and personality leads to some comedic moments as well as some touching ones. Instead of giving Baymax a human personality, we often question his emotion being a machine without human features as his actions go either way.
Hiro is different as his character is given a lot to work with. He is trying to move on from a traumatic moment in his life while also using his abilities for a different cause or trying to find one. Its the typical stuff till midway the movie shifted to a parable about how unfulfilled revenge can be. Without giving too much away, this is this big plot twist that changes the attitude of the story. No longer is it about trying to deal with loss but trying to move on. It wasn’t till right at this moment, I was immediately sucked in and interested. Not only does Hiro have to deal with what is around him but also what path he must take with his life. I thought it was clever and certainly added a lot of heart to the movie.
So, your probably asking what about the rest of the characters and that is my biggest problem. For the first 24 minutes, we do get introduced to these supporting characters and elements that come into play later but with so much focus on Hiro and Baymax that they feel underdeveloped in my opinion. We get the lazy surfer dude, the hyper excited inventor, the cool one, the muscular one that worries a lot and so forth. I kept thinking why the other half worked more and I just kept going back to Hiro and his robot. Its clear they are the better focus of the movie but I felt like there could have been more elements with the other characters. There’s a big twist with the reveal of the masked man which does work but I felt it could have been a lot stronger.
Aside from that, I will admit the animation is good as always. Its Disney so you know there will be effort involved. The fight scenes are done with style like out of Astro Boy or Battle of the Planets while the futuristic version of San Francisco looks like a cleaned up take from Blade Runner. Even without end credits, Big Hero 6 is roughly 90 minutes long but I wish it went on a little longer. Again, maybe give some breathing room to the side characters and perhaps a little more to the story. To compare, The Incredibles spent a good bulk setting up its characters, the relationships and at least was able to craft a plot to tie everything together. But on the upside, “Big Hero 6” is a delight I’m sure everyone will enjoy.