REVIEW: Big Hero 6: A comedic poor man’s Marvel movie
Premiering this weekend, following last year’s Academy Award-winning Disney animation movie musical “Frozen” comes “Big Hero 6,” another one of Disney’s attempts to make a successful, 3D animation movie without the Pixar masters. After their success with last year’s snow-capped musical about two sisters battling to simultaneously kill and save each other, Disney’s going to try to merchandize their way into keeping up with the current slew of multi-million dollar superhero franchises by using Marvel comic book characters. This year’s typical, baby-faced, big-headed, small nosed protagonist is a boy genius who, with the help of his marshmallow-like healthcare provider robot, attempts to use science to beat science. Oh Disney, when will your plots ever stop going in circles?
Will it do well in theaters this weekend? Probably. It’s got a “Guardians of the Galaxy” band of misfits feel, combined with do-it-yourself “Iron Man” tech, a hint of anime, and Nickelodeon’s "Jimmy Neutron."
The film, based on the Marvel Comics series of the same name, is set in San Fransokyo, a hybrid city of San Francisco and Tokyo, which wouldn’t be a bad combo of worlds for the China Town and the Wall Street folks from the financial district. Robotics prodigy, Hiro Hamada, voiced by Ryan Potter, teams up with highly loveable Baymax, an inflatable robot designed to be a personal healthcare companion and, unintentionally, a hypochondriac’s greatest dream. Though the story is about the trials and tribulations of Hiro, it’s clear that his helpful, slow-paced, but entirely awesome balloon sidekick is the real star.
As the two interact with each other of the course of the movie, the disconnect between human emotions and robotic programing is perhaps what makes the duo so hilarious together. Baymax is the perfect household doctor; he immediately responds to pain, he listens, he provides quick analysis, he will not rest until your ailments are cured and his hands can even act as defibrillation paddles. Screw ever paying for a doctor's bill and putting up with unsatisfying, crummy medical services again. Baymax has it all.
The story gives us the impression that with the right kind of science and programing, basically anyone can be a superhero, and a super villain for that matter. Hiro takes a group of physically unskilled nerds, puts them in a bunch of pretty incredible homemade costumes and, after a three-minute montage of training, turns them into a winning team. Though they collectively go through their moments of doubt, it only takes the 14-year-old’s pretty pathetic ‘just figure it out’ words of wisdom to help them through.
Does good win and evil triumph? Yes. You can’t even consider that a plot giveaway. Seriously, when has a Disney movie ever not had a positive ending? They are about as predictable as Tom Hank’s film characters are favorable. Everyone knows his character will always come out on top, even when faced with Somali pirates. It’s just a given.
Of course, it looks like Disney will try to milk this new franchise of superheroes to death, which could have been the most unfortunate bi-product of this film. But what are these new superheroes supposed to do? What is the potential problem for them to solve? Unless the plan is to have the protagonist continue to make messes and use this band of misfits to clean them up, it really doesn’t look like there will be a whole lot to do in this stable looking futuristic town. Even still, there's no way they would ever stand up against the family from 2004's superior "The Incredibles."
Pixar originally teamed up with Disney following it’s renaissance in the 1990’s to help them keep up with the modern world of CGI filmmaking. Now that Disney’s imagineers have established their own department and have had some success with recent releases, it looks like Disney will attempt to try to raise its own CGI empire.
Unfortunately though, thus far, Disney 3D animation movies have barely been able to scratch at the surface of the original, imaginative and legendary films created through their collaborations with Pixar.
Yes, “Tangled” and “Frozen” were cute musical narratives typical to Disney. Yes, “Meet the Robinsons,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Big Hero 6,” and “Chicken Little” managed to cater to the nerds for life in the audience. But the reality of their films so far is that they are not much when compared to beloved Pixar 3D animated movies like “Wall-E,” “Ratatouille” or “Finding Nemo.”
Maybe if they didn’t insist on singing everything for the past 77 years, they would have established someone to write them a decent score by now to make at least some parts of their movies feel dynamic.