The movie Big Hero 6 is the first animated Marvel film released theatrically by Walt Disney Animated Studios, and it sets the bar sky high! Loosely based on a Marvel comic book of the same name, Big Hero 6 is a heartfelt, action-packed story of what it takes to be a real hero.
The aptly named, Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) and his brother, Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney) live in San Fransokyo, a futuristic, albeit alternate version of San Francisco with their Aunt Cass. Thirteen year-old, Hiro, is an uber-intelligent high school graduate, who uses his brilliant mind to build robots for a hustle at “bot fights” (think Robot Wars). However, gambling at bot fights is illegal, which lands Hiro in a bit of trouble. Tadashi, being the responsible older brother, decides it’s time for Hiro’s genius to be put to good use. He brings Hiro to his lab at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, where Hiro is pleasantly surprised to see it is not the “nerd lab” he had always assumed, but a place of invention, imagination, and innovation. He meets the colorful bunch of Tadashi’s co-workers: Gogo (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), and Fred (T.J. Miller), as well as the Institute’s big brain, Professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell). Tadashi introduces Hiro to what he has been working on; a personalized health care assistant named, Baymax (Scott Adsit). The giant, huggable balloon robot, can scan a person and determine what issues may need to be addressed to better said person’s overall health, and administer or recommend various treatments. When you say you are “satisfied with your care,” Baymax will deactivate. Hiro decides he must attend this school and be a part of the amazing things he has seen. In order to do so, he must wow the professor and his colleagues with a new invention he must submit at the upcoming showcase.
Though Hiro makes a spectacular show, impressing even the great tech guru Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk) who offers to buy Hiro’s invention on the spot, tragedy strikes at the showcase and it seems all for naught. His invention seemingly gone, his life forever altered, Hiro is on his own to determine where to go from here. Unless you count Baymax whose job it is, as a personal health care provider, to get Hiro through his difficult times. Most of the humor and heart of this film come from Baymax, the ever evolving, anthropomorphic robot. I’m certain Baymax’s catchphrases and idiosyncrasies will become a lasting part of pop culture, as well as his own endearing version of the fist bump.
As we see Hiro’s technology mysteriously resurface in the possession of a man in a kabuki mask, Hiro, Baymax, and his new friends from the lab must determine what really happened at the lab the night of the showcase and how to stop whatever nefarious plans the man in the mask may have in mind.
Doling out plenty of action and gut-wrenching emotional scenes, BH6 is a movie both children and adults will relate to. While the plot twists might be relatively predictable, it is still exceptionally entertaining. The characters and scenery are beautifully animated (when Hiro sharpens a pencil, the camera zooms in on the tip showing perfectly rendered wood grain) and the voice work is well cast. Due to some of the more intense and difficult emotional scenes, very young viewers may be a little shaken, even scared, hence the PG rating. However, as a family film it definitely caters to all and sets a high standard for future Marvel/Disney animated adventures.
A lovable group of characters anyone would want to know, a squeezable, stuffed buddy sure to end up in many stockings this Christmas, Disney Easter eggs and cameos scattered throughout, and a story that speaks to our needs for community, inspiration, and creativity, Big Hero 6 is work of art you will want to contemplate long after the credits roll. Speaking of which, be sure to stick around until the end of the credits for a trademark Marvel extra scene. 😉