With all the heart and humor audiences expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios, "Big Hero 6" is an action-packed comedy adventure that introduces Baymax, a lovable, personal companion robot, who forms a special bond with robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada. When a devastating turn of events catapults them into the midst of a dangerous plot unfolding in the streets of San Fransokyo, Hiro turns to Baymax and his diverse group of friends - adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred - who transform into a band of unlikely heroes. Bring home Disney's "Big Hero 6," featuring comic-book-style action and hilarious, unforgettable characters - it's fun for the whole family! (from Walt Disney Pictures)
With the immense popularity of superheroes and superhero-themed movies, it's probably no real surprise that Disney would bring a new group of animated heroes to cinemas. What might be surprising, however, is the source material. Big Hero 6 is an obscure Marvel comic book that's given the high profile treatment here, and its time in theaters proved that it was right up the fans' alleys.
The film version of Big Hero 6 is set in a colorful and bustling animated world that takes place in the clearly fictional San Fran Sokoyo (which mixes Japanese and Americans in the same city). The story setup is a little slow-going, but once a life-altering event happens for the main character, Hiro--which, honestly, is pretty grim and kind of a downer--the film begins to really come to life. The show-stealer is clearly the lovable Baymax, a robot designed by Hiro's brother Tedashi to serve people's medical needs. Hiro quickly adapts Baymax's abilities to serve his needs in solving a mystery, which leads them to discover a villain named Yokai, who then becomes Hiro's main target. Hiro and his friends then realize they can't fight Yokai on their own, and these little scientific geniuses design their own super suits to band together and try to stop the evil Yokai.
These days, as a parent of a young boy--who's 4 now--I tend to watch movies like this through the lens of whether or not it's appropriate for him (as opposed to usually just enjoying it for myself). He's seen and loved the Toy Story films, Wall-E, Incredibles, Finding Nemo and the Despicable Me and How To Train Your Dragon films (and its TV series). I was surprised, however, to find this film dealing with a character losing a close family member and then struggling with depression for a little bit afterwards (with their "emotional state" being a recurring theme). It's not the heaviest material you'll see in a PG-rated animated movie, but I for one wasn't expecting it. (And honestly, it's not necessarily a "bad" theme for children to learn--because we all lose loved ones--but if you're not expecting it, you'll be blindsided if you were expecting nothing more than a cheery action movie.) Then there's a short sequence where Baymax is reprogrammed to destroy and he's repeatedly instructed to pursue and destroy the villain. His eyes turn red and the once huggable Baymax goes on a violent and destructive rampage. It's also surprising at the time, so I can imagine some parents will find some of the themes a little rougher than they expected. Granted, I do remember seeing far more inappropriate PG-rated movies in my day (like Ghostbusters, Goonies and Back to the Future, for example), but with this one being animated and expressly directed at children, I suppose some of the content just surprised me. As an adult viewer, it works as a great story and a really well-executed one. But for kids, I'm not sure some parents will be ready for their young ones to watch a film that so clearly focuses on coping with grief and familial loss (or, worse yet, you may just end up seeing it at the wrong time. The movie UP touched on a miscarriage theme which just came at a really bad time for my wife and I). I'm not saying it's all bad or ruins the film; it's just something some parents will want to be warned of.
Otherwise, honestly, Big Hero 6 is a lot of fun. The voice cast is strong, the superheroes and their abilities are pretty cool, and Baymax is as lovable as his instant popularity suggests. Some of the plot is just a tad bit predictable (like who the villain is behind the mask. I was sort of 50/50 on who it was, but found one solution too obvious while the other just seemed kind of obvious as well), while other aspects -- like Fred's family's secrets -- are just plain surprising and fun. It's probably the best family friendly superhero movie since Pixar's Incredibles, and I can see great things coming from this potential franchise should Disney take advantage of the possibilities here.
As far as content goes, the only stuff to really note is some action violence, an explosion that presumably kills two characters, and the aftermath of a kid having to deal with the loss of a close family member. Some other violence suggests potential other deaths, but we learn that some characters we think die did not die (or did not die "fully"). The ending is a little bittersweet too, but the filmmakers take strides to make it right, thankfully. And, finally, seeing Baymax go into battle mode is pretty intense; I imagine some young ones could have issues with that.
Overall, Big Hero 6 is another solid Disney animated film. If Frozen was tailor-made for girls, with aspects that guys would like too, then Big Hero 6 is the equivalent for boys (with female characters the girls can love too, like Honey Lemon and Go Go). It's fun, exciting, adventurous, creative, funny, touching, and well worth revisiting again and again.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 2/21/15)
Theatrical Short: Feast (6:13) - This is an adorable short story told through the eyes of a puppy who is found by a bachelor on the street one day and we see him grow over time as he's fed one heaping pile of junk food after another (like pizza, burgers, french fries, etc). Soon the bachelor meets a health-crazed girlfriend and the puppy discovers his diet changing (much to his chagrin). But while the puppy is depressed by this change in his menu, it's not until his owner and his lady friend break up that the puppy gets his choice junk food back. But the puppy then notices how heartbroken his caretaker is, and tries to reunite the two... which leads to other life-altering developments. It's a very clever and unique storytelling, and a nice addition to this set.
The Origin Story of Big Hero 6: Hiro's Journey (15:10) - Here we learn how this story came from the original comic book idea, the reimagining of those characters for the Disney cinematic world, and the personalities of each main character. We also find out here that Baymax's design was inspired by real robotics technology, and then how his walk was inspired by a baby with a full diaper! The featurette then talks about the villain, the story progression, and the theme of loss and how important it is.
Big Animator 6: The Characters Behind the Characters (6:39) - The animators sit together and talk about their inspirations to animate, their process, being Disney fans growing up, etc. They did an animated character test in a cafe to find the individualities for each main character. Also, we see very brief snippets of the voice actors in the studio as they recorded for their characters, but we don't hear any interviews from the cast here (or anywhere on this set, unfortunately).
Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Directors Don Hall & Chris Williams - 13:10 - There are 4 deleted scenes with director intros. First is an alternate opening scene that serves as a prologue and we see it storyboarded here in animated sketches (the same goes for all four deleted scenes). Here, Hiro tells his origin story as a little kid genius and how he advanced through grades, etc. The directors decided to cut it because they found it too slow in comparison to the bot fight they used in the final version. It does, however, show more of the relationship between Hiro and Tedashi and the boys with their Aunt Cass. Next is another alternate opening that shows the portal scene as the start of the movie (but they thought it was too disconnected from the rest of the film). But this actually is kind of a cool way to open the story. The third one shows Yokai had united several other villains (not in the final film) to pull off a heist. Finally is a really early storyboarded concept where Fred has the idea for them to do a superhero team and tries to get Hiro out of his house using a grappling hook up to his window (ineffectively).
Big Hero 6 Theatrical Teaser (1:41) - The theatrical teaser shows Hiro putting a suit on Baymax in footage that isn't in the finished movie. I remember seeing this in the theaters, not knowing a thing about the story; it's cute.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 2/21/15)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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