I will continue to assert that Aladdin should have been named Genie. It felt like you were watching Robin Williams doing stand-up comedy as a shape-shifting genie in the middle of a legitimately good Broadway musical. Genie is what makes Aladdin from a good movie into a great movie, providing much needed energy to an otherwise serious children’s film while remaining crucial to the story, making the romance both possible and complicated, as their friendship forces Aladdin to find out what is important to him. Meet Baymax.
Baymax, as adequately called “balloon man” by a police officer, is what makes Big Hero 6 just an average kiddie affair to a very satisfying and enjoyable picture. He is the heartbeat of Big Hero 6, winning over more of the audience with each and every scene he’s in with his naive programming and dedication to his job as a nurse. It’s strange to see this huggable, inflatable figure transform into an Iron Man-like superhero, but the movie knows it, and it makes for some hilarious humor.
The other characters were alright, Hiro being my second favorite of the six. He’s initially made out to be a nervous, timid nerdy kid, but then turns out to be more of a rebellious, edgy nerdy kid, which is more in line with the recent social acceptance of nerds and geeks. With the entire cast being composed of nerds, the film showcases a real love for robotics and technology, something I always love to see in cinema.
Visually, the movie is glorious. I still think Tangled is the best textured computer animated film to date, but the flight scenes are How to Train Your Dragon good. I also don’t think I’ve seen as many moving pieces in an computer animated film besides maybe The Lego Movie and Up’s balloon sequence, as the villain’s technology requires impeccable animation. What really sets Big Hero 6 apart from any other animated movie I’ve seen is the size of its setting, a fictional fusion of San Fransisco and Tokyo. It’s gigantic. And it’s probably the largest playground an animated action film has had to work with since the jungle chase scene in The Incredibles. Also, the lighting is quite remarkable, made more obviously by the short that precedes Big Hero 6, Feast. My enthusiasm for the eye-candy, however, was off-set by some really bad soundtrack choices.
Comparisons will inevitably be made to The Incredibles, and even as I think The Incredibles is overrated, I would take The Incredibles over Big Hero 6. While Big Hero 6 is more fun and upbeat, a winning trend of Disney’s newest batch of movies, at least The Incredibles was original. Big Hero 6 is a standard, rather predictable superhero origin story, with the exception of maybe one twist. Like almost all superhero movies these days, it seems a sequel is destined, but I can’t say I’m too upset by this. I’m actually sort of excited to see where Disney can go with this set up.
People may be wondering, “Why follow the success of Frozen with this superhero flick?” I mean, Disney didn’t. It takes at least 2 years to produce an animated film (of Disney and Pixar’s caliber), so Big Hero 6 was already well underway as Frozen premiered to great success. Disney had already bought Marvel, so they now had access to Marvel characters. It makes sense that Disney do something besides the Broadway musical, because the Disney Renaissance proved its fallibility. Many fellow bloggers have compared Frozen to the likes of The Lion King and predicted Big Hero 6 to falter just like Pocahontas did. The difference here is that Disney learned their lesson, and as a result, Disney animation has had their longest stretch of diverse and fresh films in its new computer medium: Bolt, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and now, Big Hero 6. It goes to show that the musical format is not a necessity for Disney, as the studio is consistently nailing its comic relief characters, pacing, and jokes.
While I would have liked to have cared more for the main human characters, this movie is more about the connections between its characters than liking the characters themselves. Baymax constantly asks, “Are you satisfied with your care?” But with the last few times he says it, it’s more like he’s saying, “Are you satisfied with this movie?” I can’t imagine anybody saying no at that moment when Baymax asks those questions. As long as you have your expectations straight, I guarantee that you will have a good time.
Final Grade: B- (81%)–An average superhero story turned into something more through a touching friendship.