BIG HERO 6
**** (out of 5)
November 7, 2014
Scott Adsit as BAYMAX
Ryan Potter as HIRO
Daniel Henney as TADASHI
T.J. Miller as FRED
Jamie Chung as GO GO
Damon Wayans Jr. as WASABI
Genesis Rodriguez as HONEY LEMON
James Cromwell as ROBERT CALLAGHAN
Directed by: Don Hall and Chris Williams
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I have to admit that I am thrilled at the direction of Disney animation lately. Sure, I will always love Pixar, and while it has been associated with Disney since the release of the first “Toy Story” almost two decades ago, it’s still an outside entity that they have acquired (similar to the Marvel and Star Wars properties).
Disney Animation Studios has its roots in the greatest legacy of animation on this planet. Ever since Walt Disney took a huge risk and made “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” almost a century ago, the Walt Disney company has been the gold standard in animation. That was threatened with the advent of digital and CGI animation, which was painfully apparent several years ago when I had the fortune of visiting the old ink-and-paint division of the Mouse House.
What at the time amounted to a few humble rooms in an out-of-the-way building on the Disney campus has been partially revitalized by the medium that had threatened to destroy it. Disney animation is alive and well, utilizing computers now, and it is delivering some of the most unique films of its own. Its resume includes the earlier installments of “Chicken Little” and “Meet the Robinsons,” as well as more recent hits as “Bolt,” “Tangled,” “Wreck-It Ralph” and last year’s mega-hit “Frozen.”
Now, Disney Animation Studios gives us another winner with “Big Hero 6.” Branching out from the standard fairy tale rut that put the studio into limbo in the 80s, Disney Animation works outside of the box from a story perspective. Sure, “Frozen” was based on a Hans Christian Andersen story and introduced the world to a brand new Disney princess, but the studio also pushes wholly original ideas like an 8-bit video game hero with “Wreck-It Ralph” and now the family superhero adventure “Big Hero 6.”
This film follows a middle-school-age boy named Hiro who is a genius in robotics. At the urging of his brother Tadashi, he applies to a robotics college to develop his skills, but a freak accident leaves Tadashi missing and Hiro depressed. Soon, Hiro activates the health care robot Baymax that Tadashi left him. After giving him some upgrades, Hiro turns Baymax into a superhero, and they team up with some friends to try and defeat a masked super-villain who is threatening to wipe out the city.
Like many of the classic Disney animated films, “Big Hero 6” offers a lot of heart and good spirits throughout the film. Sure, it deals with heartbreak of the brother dying, but it is also ultimately uplifting as the friends band together and Hiro finds a new extension of his family. After all, what Disney film isn’t complete without a certain degree of tragedy?
What makes “Big Hero 6” work so well is the chemistry between Hiro and Baymax, which is technically artificial but the essence of humanity. Baymax represents an enigma in itself: a personal hero to a boy who needs a friend, someone who lives to serve and make one feel better, but in the process becomes an action hero. We’ve seen this before in many other films – from “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” to “Reel Steel.”
Gosh… don’t we all want a Baymax in our lives?
Striking a perfect mix of action superhero film and tender heartfelt family comedy, “Big Hero 6” works a triumph in animation. The artistry of the computer animated detail rivals that which you’ll see in a Pixar film, and the sweeping hero shots are a thing of beauty. This doesn’t top Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” but doggoned it if it doesn’t come close.