Two weeks ago, I was staying with my girlfriend’s family in Washington D.C. for Christmas. There were six of us adults and two of my girlfriend’s cousins, ages six and eight. On Christmas we all wanted to go to the movies. Half the adults wanted to go see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I tried to get into The Lord of The Rings last year by watching The Fellowship of the Ring, but I just found it insanely boring. The rest of the adults wanted to see The Gambler, which I refused to see because it has Mark Wahlberg. I will not watch Mark Wahlberg or support anyone who was in The Happening.
Want to know what’s not happening here? A good movie!
“Well,” I told everyone, “why don’t I just go take the kids to see their own movie?” Heaps of praise were rained down upon me by their parents, so I suggested taking them to see Big Hero 6. I’d heard through the grapevine it was good, and I always enjoy watching kids’ movies and shows to serve as inspiration for Continuum, the series I’m developing.
We were the only ones that day who enjoyed our movie.
I was hoping for a good film, but I wasn’t expecting to be so completely blown away by Big Hero 6. Not only did I adore it, but I left the theater with even more motivation to get back to work creating my own show. So I thought I’d share my thoughts on this movie in this blog’s first film review.
You know you’re in for a great ride when the mini-movie before the feature film makes you cry.
So first, what is Big Hero 6? Set in the near future in the sprawling metropolis of San Fransokyo, this film follows 14 year-old genius Hiro Hamada. Hiro is an orphan and cared for by his older brother Tadashi and his aunt Cass. When tragedy strikes his family again after a mysterious fire claims someone he loves, Hiro vows to apprehend the culprit. To do so he recruits his friends GoGo, Fred, Honey Lemon, and Wasabi, along with his brother’s naive medical robot Baymax. Hiro uses his genius to turn his friends into superheroes, and together not only solve the mystery, but defend San Fransokyo from a new supervillain.
Just your standard coming of age tale.
- Big Hero 6‘s opening scene immediately entertains and draws you into its world. We start off with a gorgeous pan through the city, highlighting this film’s incredible animation. Then we get our first look at our protagonist, Hiro. He seems to be a clueless kid out of his element in the underground bot fighting scene, but he quickly reveals himself as an ingenius hustler. Just as he’s about to get beat up, his brother Tadashi bursts onto the scene with his moped and a quick chase ensues. This 5 minute sequence immediately gets across everything great about this movie: its humor, some cool action, beautiful animation, and true caring between the characters.
Tadashi, brilliantly voiced by Daniel Henney, is the best big brother ever. He’s wonderfully caring, but sarcastic and fleshed out enough that he doesn’t seem fake or sickly sweet.
- As hinted at above, the voice acting in this film is great. Of particular note are Daniel Henney’s portrayal of Tadashi & Maya Rudolph’s performance as Hiro’s Aunt Cass. Maya nails every one of her lines, which are surprisingly great for such a minor character. Ryan Potter also does an amazing job as main character Hiro. His voice often cracks with anger or wavers with sadness, and he really brings the boy to life.
- Complementing the voice acting, this film has several really good characters. Hiro, Tadashi, Baymax, and Aunt Cass are incredibly fleshed out and feel like real people. I really don’t think the people behind this film could have improved these characters in any way; they’re just amazing.
- This film has great messages for its audience. It’s not just something empty to put on if you want to keep your kids occupied for two hours. Themes such as love, the futility of vengeance, the importance of forgiveness, and how awesome science can be are all handled perfectly. All of these are a big focus of Big Hero 6, but they’re not shoved down its viewers’ throats. And as far as the science goes, no film that I can remember has made being smart seem so cool. America really needs more films like this right now.
I will always be a sucker for a group of people coming together and admitting they’re not just friends, but family.
- Branching off its educational theme, another thing I really loved about this movie are the way it portrayed female scientists.
One is the typical girlie-girl, the other’s a tomboy. Can you guess which is which?
These two characters are relatively cliched (this will be harped on more below), but overall it’s a great message that not only can you be a girl and like science, but you don’t have to give up your identity as a girl. You can wear dresses or not, you can like pink or not. Science and femininity are not mutually exclusive. These two characters are telling kids to do whatever makes them happy, and that’s a wonderful thing.
- There’s a lot of great humor in this film. Everyone in the theater was chuckling every few minutes, and whenever Baymax comes onscreen you’re guaranteed a brilliant one-liner or some great physical comedy.
“I am not fast.”
- One of the things I most respect about Big Hero 6 is its tone. There’s a real sense of danger throughout, which goes a long way in keeping the adult viewers’ interest. Death is a very real threat and occasionally occurs. This is one story that absolutely earns its PG rating; I don’t think kids under 8 years old or so will be able to appreciate or possibly even handle this film.
This is the vilain’s first appearance. It’s even creepier in motion. Seriously, this is not a movie for 5 year-olds.
- I’ve said before that there’s a lot of funny lines in the film, and that’s definitely true. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of dialogue that flops. While generally well written, there’s some jokes that fall flat and a couple of really weird lines that shouldn’t have made it past the first draft.
Tadashi: “What would Mom and Dad say about this?
Hiro: “Who cares? They died when I was three.”
Well…that was certainly expository.
- As I said above, there are some awesome characters. Unfortunately, all of Hiro’s friends save for Baymax are little more than one-note cliches.
I’m sorry Wasabi, but being a neat freak and having anxiety issues do not make a great complex character.
These characters still have good lines and can be amusing, but they don’t have nearly the depth as the other good ones I’ve mentioned. There’s also very little sense of how they relate to each other before Hiro comes along. GoGo can be standoffish to everyone, but that’s it. These characters do have great potential and hopefully they can be greatly expanded upon if there’s a sequel.
- The plot twist that occurs roughly 2/3rds of the way through the movie is very underwhelming. You know a twist is coming because the story would be laughably simple without it. But what they chose is just very…basic. The story is passable, but isn’t anything special.
- Very strangely, Hiro is the team’s leader but doesn’t give himself any super powers. He relies entirely on Baymax for support in battle. Going along with Hiro problems, the other characters look to him for guidance too often. In a tense situation, even the independent and feisty GoGo asks Hiro, “What now, genius?” It’s as though the movie forgets that all of these characters (save for Fred) are also brilliant scientists.
- Lastly, the movie ends with a rather quick and boring voice-over, which is odd since the movie didn’t start with one. The beginning was so incredible, but the last scene just seemed kind of tacked on.
Overall, BIG HERO 6 is a great movie with some areas that could clearly be improved. It’s enjoyable for both kids and adults, has great lessons, and is visually gorgeous. I’d definitely recommend anyone watch it, and if they’d rectified some of the above issues then this would be an instant, irrefutable classic. But as it stands, it’s still easily worth two hours of your time.
Big Hero 6 gets an 8.5 / 10 – Great