Dissecting Big Hero 6

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Big Hero 6 is Disney’s best animated film in years, with a great pro science message that kids need to experience as much as they need to meet Baymax.

Zac: I have been a fan of many John Lasseter produced Disney Animated films in recent years, but none have swept me up the way that Big Hero 6 did. Right from the get go I got pulled into this story about science, family and friendship, and even though the film doesn’t try to reinvent the superhero genre, it does all of the tropes so perfectly that you can’t possibly complain unless you are just done with these sorts of films in general.

Elevating the formula is the excellent writing, humor, action, imagination and animation on display. Everything is firing on all cylinders here and if it wasn’t for Marvel absolutely killing it right now, this would easily be the best superhero film of the last couple of years for me.

**Warning! Spoilers may be littered throughout**

Lauren: Well you can throw this right in with that list of Marvel hits when you consider a certain cameo. It’s no Avengers, but this is another team I definitely want to see more from.

But first a word from detail oriented, left side of the brain negativity Lauren: San Fransokyo? What the heck is that? This city mash-up haunted me throughout the film and I could never let it go because all I wanted to know was how this came to be! Did Japan invade America? Did the countries merge to create the ultimate powerhouse? Because Firefly told us it was going to be America and China and I was already printing God Bless Chimerica shirts…

I get it, Japan is a force to be reckoned with on the technological front so it more than makes sense to use this country as inspiration, but why not just set it in Japan? Sure, San Francisco has a famous bridge to fly around and roller coaster streets for chase scenes, but we’ve got a Japanese lead character, a Kabuki mask wearing bad guy, a random blonde girl who goes hardcore on the accent when pronouncing the main character’s name even though no one else does… So just make the leap already. You can still use a diverse cast considering the inclusion of a top of the list technological college that all nerds will be salivating to be accepted to, so just go for it.

Or just blend the aesthetics of both places like the movie does and name it something else. Problem solved!

Phew! Ok got that out of my system. And I must say, if that’s the only complaint I can come up with when looking back on Big Hero 6, then this film clearly did a whole bunch of stuff right. Right Zac?

Zac: It sure did, and as someone who watched the movie in San Francisco, I was happy to enjoy the setting. Plus, San Francisco is just the sexy movie city everyone wants right now; it will pass I’m sure.

But on the movie, if you couldn’t tell, I was a big fan. The pro-science first act just pulled me right in love with the film, and I only hope the messages of the film inspire kids the way I felt inspired watching this as a thirty year old child. They show how cool science can be, even if it is a heightened sci-fi science, and what the film does best is capture the wonder and possibilities of inventing and creating new things. The film integrates all of the respective sciences seamlessly into the characters’ respective superpowers, all the while continuing to be both inventive and inspiring through the power of science.

Speaking of characters, most of the peripheral characters might be a bit one dimensional, but everyone is written so strongly and balanced so well against one another that I just found myself appreciating the quality over the familiarity. Everyone is given plenty of bits of humor and distinct personalities and I really hope we get to know them more in future films.

Lauren:  The peripheral characters were definitely one of many highlights of Big Hero 6 (Hiro’s aunt should be included), partly because of the voice acting that brought a deeper interpretation of the characters to me based on previous work I’ve seen them in, but mostly just because of who they were. I didn’t really see them as simple, one dimensional characters because from the first meeting on they’re part of a team, part of a whole. So one dimensional works. Not only that but how each is identified characteristically makes their alter egos, if you can really call them that so much as suits, all the more special. I loved the montage of seeing them suit up! Not to mention that the differences in their abilities spawned by their scientific/technological prowess just seemed so refreshing and exciting.  Super strength, flight, invisibility and all those classics will always be strong go-tos, but each character reveal had me excitedly ooo’ing and aah’ing.

Zac: As much as we can agree in the strength of this ensemble cast of characters, the real draw of the film is the Hiro and Tadashi/Baymax relationship.  Simply put, it is the heart of the picture. The brotherly relationship between Hiro and Tadashi is just pitch perfect and inspiring to all big brothers out there, and when Tadashi tragically dies in an accident it is a huge punch in the gut. That relationship hangs over the rest of the film in the best way possible, and all of your sadness quickly gives way to pure joy as we get to know Baymax.

I LOVE BAYMAX! I want his fistbump explosion as my ringtone forever.

Lauren: La la la la! Or however many of those there were.  Baymax does it much better than I can…

Most people, at least the kids, will probably think back to Baymax’s drunken power draining scene because this sequence got a lot of laughter, and eservedly so, but there was just something so calm and compassionate in this puffy robot that got me. It’s not like he was Wall-E evolving into a loving robot, but he was designed in such a way that his programming gave him the type of “loving” personality that’s easy to connect to. Almost as if Hiro’s brother was still alive through the robot (which I’m sure was the intention), hitting me hard in the feels.

On top of it all, the designers clearly had a lot of fun with Baymax, which comes through loud and clear in how they play around with his physicality. So even as I try to think deeper about this robot on an emotional level and how it represents this brotherly relationship because I am a grownup with my big girl pants on, I laughed just as loud as the kids at the fart noises.  I’m only human.

Zac: I agree 100% with your assessment of Baymax. The drunk scene is a comedic highlight of the year, maybe any year for animated films, but that isn’t the reason I got all teary eyed in the other dimension at the end. We connect with Baymax because of everything he represents and everything he is capable of being, and while I wish the film might have delayed his resurrection a bit longer, I’m not going to lie, I was ecstatic to have him back and still being the same ole Baymax.

If all of the humor, characters and story weren’t enough, the film’s set pieces are also all pretty great on top of all this. The micro-bots allow for some awesome abilities from the villain, and the car chase running away from them was inspired both in its action and humor about car chases. The aforementioned training scene is great as well, with both of the boss battles near the end of the film giving everyone a chance to show off their powers. The film even sneaks in a smart little message to rethink the situation from an alternate angle, allowing us to see everyone’s powers in a slightly different way.

Lauren:  When you think about it, the villain is actually pretty dark for kids, most specifically when you consider his origin in obtaining his “powers.”  I was honestly pretty disappointed when he seemingly felt no regret or sadness for causing the death of Tadashi, a student that went back in to save him, no less, and that carried over into his fights with the rest of the students later on.  So even when considering he is motivated by seeking revenge for the death of his daughter, it’s pretty hard to feel sympathetic to his situation.  He’s not a mustache twirler by any means, but a little emotion other than rage would have gone a long way for me because I love when villains are multilayered like that.  To understand is to forgive, and all that jazz.

Granted this also made it much easier to cheer for the kids to beat his face in, and as you said the students sure brought it when trying to take down the master.  The fight sequences were really well done, integrating all of the characters in ways that kept the action fluid and evenly dispersed between all involved.  More specifically, it is something so simple, but I was actually very impressed with the animation of the micro-bots.  They flowed like water, yet they retained enough detail so that you could see what every structure the villain could think of was being created out of.  Granted as long as it is way better than Green Lantern’s use of his power ring I probably would have been impressed: Look at me fighting crime with a hot wheels track!  Or was it a train… Either way it was stupid!

Zac: Yeah, the villain’s motivation was a bit underserviced, even if I loved the potential of an interdimensional teleportation machine. I wish they would have gotten into that potential a little bit more than they did, but at least the imagery inside the portal during the finale was pretty awesome.

All in all, I think Big Hero 6 is an easy recommendation: funny, action packed, beautifully animated and full of heart. Simply put, Big Hero 6 is a superhero film for everyone.

Lauren: Everyone and their friendly, healthcare providing robot.