Disney explores the deep emotion of loss with Big Hero 6 – A Review


A superhero film with a lot of heart

Yes, Big Hero 6 is a fun animated superhero action movie. It is a Disney film that is loosely based on a Marvel Comic Book, seemingly being the culmination of the joining of these two companies. However, at the heart of this film, it is about loss, and how people cope with that loss. It is this emotional core that elevates Big Hero to heights far above what one might have expected.

Big Hero 6 takes place in the future city of San Fransokyo, a weird amalgamation of San Francisco and Tokyo. This begs the question, “Does this mean America lost World War II?” Sadly, this question is not even brought up, let alone answered. We must accept San Fransokyo for what it is and enjoy the unique cityscapes that it has to offer. In fact, the animation in this film is absolutely beautiful. (Author’s note: I might be a little biased, as I am a Bay Area resident and San Francisco is my favorite city.)

Our film opens on Hiro Hamada, a 14-year-old robotics genius who uses his skills to hustle people in illegal robot fights. His older brother, Tadashi, is worried about the path his brother is going down and takes him to the local university to meet his friends, his professor and his creation. His friends are GoGo Tomago, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred. His professor is Prof. Callaghan and his creation is Baymax, a pillowy personal healthcare robot programed to help people. Hiro is so impressed that he decides to apply to the school.

It is interesting here to compare the comic book versions of these characters with their movie counterparts. Hiro is the same, a young super genius, in the comics Baymax is built by Hiro rather than his brother and can change shape into a dragon and other things rather than being a cute pillowy thing in armor. GoGo, Wasabi, Honey and Fred are all members of the comic team, each of their powers is a variation on what it is in the comics. For example, in the comics Fred can actually turn into a monster while in the movie he wears a suit that makes him look like a monster. Also, Sunfire, a popular X-Men character for a while, was a part of the comic team, however he is nowhere to be seen here. Anyway, back to the movie.

The application process requires Hiro to come up with a new invention to wow Callaghan. What he comes up with are mircobots, tiny robots that work together in any arrangement imaginable. Hiro gets into the school, however there is a fire. Tadashi learns that Callaghan is still inside and goes in after him. There is an explosion and they both die.

Hiro is devastated to the point where he decides not to go to the university after all. In fact he’s pretty much given up on life, hiding out in his room, avoiding his aunt, who takes care of him since his parents died when he was very young. All this changes when Hiro accidentally activates Baymax and uncovers one remaining microbot hiding under his bed. Together the two go off to investigate and they uncover a horrible reality. Someone saved his microbots from the fire and has been mass producing them.

Before they can escape a man in a kabuki mask attacks them and they barely escape. Hiro decides to upgrade Baymax so he can fight this masked man blaming him for Tadashi’s death. When they go after the masked man they end up meeting up with Tadashi’s friends. After another chase escaping the masked man they decide to team up together to help stop him.

This is most certainly a super hero origin story. Hiro uses his technological genius to create unique super suits for each of his new friends; together they becomes Big Hero 6. What follows is about what you’d expect from this kind of action movie. The friends need to work together and also solve the mystery of who the masked man is, what his plans are and more importantly, how to stop him.

As I said at the start Big Hero 6 is about loss. Primarily it is a film about Hiro coming to terms with the death of his older brother. There is a dark moment when the group are confronting the masked man when Hiro almost turns down a dark path in order to stop him. Luckily, his friends are there to help him see the error of his ways.

Besides Hiro’s loss, the movie’s antagonist has also suffered a tragedy. It is interesting to see how the film juxtaposes how he and Hiro react to this loss and choose to deal with it. The juxtaposition offers the true heart and the film’s central theme. Big Hero 6 may be very funny and action-packed, but is is the sad and emotional moments that elevate beyond its this film.

The acting across the board is great with 30 Rock’s Scott Adsit being the star as Baymax. He has some wonderfully written dialog and really brings Baymax to life; he makes this robot one of my favorite characters of the year. Ryan Potter (Hiro) and Daniel Henney (Tadashi) are great, as the two build a relationship quickly. Tadashi isn’t on screen very long, but his character is so strong that when he dies we see the struggle that Hiro is going through and anyone who has lost someone will identify with it.

The rest of the cast is rounded out by some great voice actors and comedians including the always hilarious T.J. Miller, Maya Rudolf, Alan Tudyk and James Cromwell. Oh, and be sure to stay put for a fantastic cameo after the credits.

I was pretty excited for Big Hero 6 from the moment the first teaser dropped. But even with that excitement I was not prepared for how great this movie really was. This is easily one of my favorite films of the year and a crowdpleaser for sure.

Director: Don Hall and Chris Williams
Notable Cast: Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, T.J. Miller, Maya Rudolph, Alan Tudyk, Damon Wayans, Jr. and James Cromwell
Writer:Robert L. Baird, Dan Gerson and Jordan Roberts

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