I’ve always grown up a big fan of Disney but Big Hero 6 was, much like Frozen, a title amongst their recent catalogue I was never compelled to rush out to see in theaters on its first day. There was an idea that came by to which I was vaguely interested in the product, for the fact it was based on a Marvel comic at least had a clear calling for subversion because of the fact that the times are being overpopulated with superhero films (especially the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whose films have gone amidst a pattern that has only grown tedious). It was clear that Pixar has managed to turn such rules around on their own knees when The Incredibles had come out ten years prior, and now with an actual Marvel source, where did Big Hero 6 end up landing? It was only in part what I feared it would be. In some sense a subversion and another, the same old superhero film I’m tired of.
Our star is Hiro Hamada, an inspiring inventor who graduated from college at the young age of 13. In part, his origin story is one of the many greater aspects of Big Hero 6, for it turns around what could have been any ordinary superhero’s origin story into a mature handling upon grief. Hiro and his older brother Tadashi have a good relationship with one another as established, and after Tadashi’s death, Hiro is now left with a healthcare robot his brother was responsible for named Baymax. It is from this section where I find myself really liking Big Hero 6 but the unfortunate aspect to this is that it never lasts long enough in order to form a lasting impression by its conclusion.
It seems Disney has a clear aim with establishing the relationships between its protagonist and a figure reminiscent of what is missing from Hiro’s life: his older brother. This relationship between Hiro and Baymax is incredibly moving, for it shows a level of maturity that has always worked in Disney’s favour to elevate the concepts that they already have at hand in order to create greater impact. Baymax soon becomes the star of the film in this sense, and it goes without saying that he turns out to be the very best aspect of the film. He carries the film’s heart and soul all throughout, for the programmed good intentions allow a spark of life to shine where Big Hero 6 most needs it.
Despite the well-intentioned relationship of Baymax and Hiro and the beautiful animation giving life to the film’s setting of the futuristic San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 finds itself falling victim to where many modern Marvel films find themselves. Big Hero 6 transitions from being potential for an even more complex look at grief to go down to a generic superhero movie by the structure – and lifelessness soon becomes all the more evident from there. Even though I was never a huge fan of Frozen, it was never a film to which I found myself detached to, which is the bigger case when talking about Big Hero 6. As tropes become all the more prevalent, many of its bigger moments and supporting characters (especially the team) and even the protagonist become even less compelling and overall render themselves forgettable.
If the forgettable nature of Big Hero 6 was not already troubling enough, the humour doesn’t manage to lift what already exposed many boring roots up higher. Comic relief, one of my many issues with Disney’s animated films, comes prevalent again through T. J. Miller’s Fred, but even he isn’t as big an issue as the many jokes that feel beaten down to death. Had it not been any more troubling there, the antagonist Yokai exposes another one of the most prominent of weaknesses from Disney’s animated fare, the flat villain. James Cromwell is a talented enough actor but his delivery behind the role feels so dry much like most of the film. He’s not nearly as forgettable a villain as Hans was in Frozen, but he’s barely even one worth noting going by their recent standards.
Maybe the title was already representative of something that I was set to expect of Big Hero 6 – a generic superhero film that I’ve seen this many times to the point that I’m tired of it. It’s a beautifully animated film, that I have no doubt, but just like the many superhero films that have come present in this day and age it repeats a formula that has only grown all the more tedious. There’s a portion of Big Hero 6 that calls for greatness and it would ever be found within how it handles grief within its protagonist but afterwards the film seems to dump away that idea, making the final product all the more disappointing. A few heartfelt moments then and there, sadly sandwiched by a whole plethora of what ultimately rings as generic. At least Baymax is adorable.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Disney.
Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams
Screenplay by Jordan Roberts, Dan Gerson, Robert L. Baird, from the comic by Man of Action
Produced by Kristina Reed, Roy Conli
Starring Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, T. J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr., Génesis Rodríguez, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell, Maya Rudolph
Release Year: 2014
Running Time: 102 minutes