Big Hero 6 is a 2014 CGI-animated superhero film directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams. It is the 54th film in the Disney Animated Canon and is very loosely inspired by the Marvel Comics series of the same name. The film tells the story of Hiro Hamada, a young scientific genius with a talent for building fighting robots, his interactions with his older brother Tadashi, Tadashi’s university friends, and a healthcare companion robot Tadashi designed named Baymax. Without giving any explicit spoilers away, Hiro eventually finds himself working alongside Baymax to stop a man in a Kabuki mask who is cooking up a nefarious plan that could hurt the citizens of San Fransokyo.
Yeah, that’s the name of the city. We’ve all got to live with it. Fortunately, the movie is about equally as good as that name is terrible. It is another hit in Disney’s recent list of successes such as Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen.
The focus of the film is on the relationship between Hiro and Baymax, and they are the characters I want to talk about most. However, I will take a moment to say that most of the supporting characters work for me. The heroes have enough personality to not be forgettable and the villain has a good enough backstory to give him some layers. I would have liked to have seen them develop these characters a little bit more, but for their roles they are good. I also appreciate that if one looks up the Marvel characters that Honey Lemon, GoGo, Wasabi and even Fred are based on, it is easy enough to see how they inspired their film counterparts. Tadashi is also a good addition to the story and the bond between Hiro and Tadashi feels real and natural, which isn’t as easy to accomplish as some might think.
Hiro is one of the more lead characters in a Disney film in quite some time, for me at least. Part of that is because Disney leads are usually young women, and most male leads tend to be a little older. The last young male lead in a Disney film was Jim Hawkins in 2002’s Treasure Planet, so this is really Disney Animation’s first go at this type of character in a generation. So do they pull it off? Pretty well in my opinion. Even though he’s absurdly intelligent, Hiro still comes across as a believable thirteen year old kid. I especially enjoy how utterly flawed he is as a human being. Frozen had two girls with communication issues and Wreck-It Ralph had a misunderstood but nice enough guy in the video game “villain” Ralph.
But Hiro is a brat. And that’s glorious.
When I say he’s a brat, I mean this as a compliment to the writers. Hiro is stubborn and full of himself, he can be very moody, doesn’t listen very well, and often rushes into things without thinking of the consequences. All of this just makes him feel like a real teenager, and I think that kids will have an easy time relating to him. I enjoy that Disney was willing to present a character that has definite flaws but still has plenty of heart, brains and mental toughness that we can enjoy him and root for him. I’d like to see more of their characters presented this way; the more flaws a character has, the more human the character feels and the easier it is for an audience to relate to said character.
That said, the film is absolutely stolen by Baymax. The robot is one of my favorite characters from any movie in 2014 and managed to steal the crown of “most lovable” from Groot. It’s close, but Baymax wins. I want a Baymax. He may actually be Disney’s best supporting character since The Genie, and indeed, the relationship between Genie and Aladdin may be the best comparison for how Hiro and Baymax play off of each other. Hiro has serious problems that he has to address and Baymax is the only thing around with enough patience and empathy to really get to him and help him. He’s also insanely funny without trying to be. There is a lot of physical comedy that is mined from Baymax’s status as an enormous balloon.
Overall, Big Hero 6 is a movie I would grade as a B+. The main focus of the movie works very well, but the overall plot sometimes falters and the characters other than Hiro and Baymax, while colorful, are underwhelming. I personally preferred Disney’s last two efforts, but taking a small dip in quality here is much better than say, the bomb that Pocahontas was after the smashing successes of Aladdin and The Lion King. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a “good” movie; plenty of movies don’t even make it to that level. Kids will love it, and adults, especially parents with teenagers, will probably find plenty to like as well.