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November 30, 2014

Big Hero 6

by Franz Patrick


Big Hero 6 (2014)
★★★ / ★★★★

Having graduated high school by the time he was thirteen, Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) likes to spend his time building robots and participating in robot fighting in the back alleys of San Fransokyo. His older brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), knows he can do a lot more with his life and insists that he not waste his potential.

To help him consider and possibly pursue an alternative track, Tadashi arranges for Hiro to visit his lab at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, a place where the boundaries of robotics are pushed to the limit. There, the fourteen-year-old meets his brother’s fellow inventors and sees the kind of technologies they have cooking. Highly inspired by what he has seen, Hiro becomes determined to attend the university… until tragedy strikes.

“Big Hero 6,” directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, is a funny, creative, modern, and at times poignant story of a young teenager who goes through a loss with the help of a huggable marshmallow-looking robot named Baymax (Scott Adsit), a personal healthcare companion. It is so energetic and amusing that at times I was reminded by Brad Bird’s excellent “The Incredibles.”

The setting of the story is inspired and beautifully rendered. Truly an amalgamation of Tokyo and San Francisco, one tends to notice and want to linger on the background—the sorts of people walking in the streets, the little trinket shops, the modes of transportation—even though the characters are chasing something important. This is one of a handful qualities that separates mediocre animated pictures from those that will be remembered fondly by adults—once children—fifteen to twenty years from now. Since the movie is generous in giving “something extra,” it is never boring nor is it a one-dimensional experience.

The action scenes in the latter half when it becomes a superhero film are more or less standard but it does not mean they are not enjoyable. It helps that each member of the group has a specific set of powers and unique personality. Perhaps it would have been more engaging if the screenplay by Jordan Roberts, Daniel Gerson and Robert L. Baird, took more risks by putting the characters under more intense levels of peril. I think the children that this movie targets can handle a bit more danger.

Most entertaining are scenes between Hiro and Baymax. This may sound strange but there are moments when my mind referred to John Connor and The Terminator’s relationship from James Cameron’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” the relationship between man and machine. Baymax says and does so many hilarious things that I’ve lost track the number of times I laughed because it was either so silly or very clever.

The film offers entertainment for kids and adults—without having to rely on innuendos to appeal to the latter. This is another positive quality that separates “Big Hero 6” from lesser animated pictures with even fewer ambition.

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