Review: Big Hero 6
The first twenty-five minutes from Big Hero 6 are some of the finest animation that we will see all year. To start with, the short film Feast, which opens the film, is tremendous. The vividly realized aesthetic of San Fransokyo absolutely shimmers in the opening sequences of the film, set within the world of robot fighting, enjoyed by teenage genius Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter).
Hiro’s older brother Tadashi (Ryan Tenney) shows him that he can make better use of his prodigious talents, so he brings him to his laboratory at San Fransokyo Tech, where they meet his quirky lab partners Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung) and mascot Fred (T.J. Miller), as well as gruff but lovable Professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell).
Callaghan encourages the precocious Hiro to enroll at San Fransokyo Tech, which he proceeds to do, and finds a sense of maturation. This trip to the lab was also fateful because Hiro is introduced to Tadashi’s creation: a healthcare companion by way of a vinyl robot named Baymax, (Scott Adsit) who serves as the most winning Disney sidekick in a long time.
However at this point, Big Hero 6 still has about seventy-five minutes to go, and though an unexpected plot development pays dividends and is emotionally effective, the rest of the film takes a sharp left turn, and becomes too reminiscent of other animated ventures.
It does not help that the material is based off of a Marvel property, (though not the same Marvel Comics being developed as live-action films), and that the audience almost feels that they have entered the action in media res.
The film, directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams feels enough based upon its source material to be similar, but yet different enough that it plays like an effort to break free. A bumper shown after the closing credits feels almost insulting, though eagle-eye audience members will have spotted a clue early on.
Worst of all, parts of Big Hero 6 just feel derivative, like we have been there before, and others, nonsensical, like Baymax acting drunk when his battery is running out. The film has a tender heart at its core, and Hiro, Tadashi and Baymax make for an interesting dynamic, especially with their Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph), the owner of the bakery and coffee shop of which they live above.
But had the film played out as a kind of educational special about the power of robotics, and not felt compelled to rely on its Marvel background, the film may have resonated more powerfully.