Big Hero 6 (2014)

Review #1,105

Director:  Don Hall & Chris Williams
Cast:  Ryan PotterScott AdsitJamie Chung
Plot:  The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.

Genre:  Animation / Action / Adventure
Awards:  Won 1 Oscar - Best Animated Feature
Runtime:  102min
Rating:  PG for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements.


Big Hero 6 will surely go up against the likes of The Lego Movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and The Book of Life for the Oscar next February.  I believe all four of them will be the eventual nominees, with a foreign-language gem lining up for the last slot. 

But no one seems to be the frontrunner at the moment, though I would place my bet on either The Lego Movie or Big Hero 6 edging the competition out.  As far as the latter is concerned, it should live quite long in the memory banks of little kids and their parents.  The reason is probably because of the healthcare robot Baymax, a cushiony, inflated snowman of sorts.  So huggable, so awkward, so patient. 

Not since Brad Bird’s The Incredibles (2004) have we seen an animated feature market its superhero themes so conspicuously.  We are now living in an age where the superhero movie reigns.  It wasn’t quite the case ten years ago.  That was why The Incredibles felt so creative and original, so breathtaking and fresh. 

That’s not the case for Big Hero 6, which is essentially a recycling bin of ideas.  It is not a rubbish bin, mind you, but a recycling bin.  I mean it to have a positive connotation.  Its familiarity, of story and characters (there’s by default a super-villain), exude a kind of warmth that ultimately wins you over.  Through a balance of emotions associated with loss and friendship, and humour both physical and verbal, Big Hero 6 very much stays true to the spirit of the family movie with loads of heart. 

The animation is visually pleasing, and a movie made and marketed by Disney has that requisite quality, polish and gleen.  Whether it will be as popular as last year’s hit Frozen (2013) still remains to be seen, but the early numbers are excellent. 

By mixing elements of East and West, particularly of Japanese popular culture and their fascination with technology, the film reaches a new level of audience accessibility, not that the medium of animation is not already universal enough. 

This might be a bit too far-fetched to consider, but the film’s recyclist nature may also be read as a veiled attempt to point a sarcastic finger at the Japanese for being great copycats.  Well,  why thank you very much, but then don’t we all live in the age of the postmodern?

Verdict:  It recycles what’s out there, but its familiarity ultimately wins you over because of humour and emotion.


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