The Disney Marathon: 'Big Hero 6'


The story so far…

My children and I have picked up a subscription to Disney+ (along with a billion other people) and have challenged ourselves to work through the back catalogue of animated Disney films and rank them. I’m curious as to how the rankings of a nostalgic almost 40 year old, a Princess loving 7 year old and a stoic 9 year old gamer differ.

You might be wondering why we have jumped from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves all to way to Big Hero 6. It’s simple – we’re randomising the viewing order. Otherwise they’d be some rough patches.

Film: Big Hero 6

Released: 2014

Director: Don Hall and Chris Williams

Cast: Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, James Cromwell, Alan Tudyk, Maya Rudolph

Plot: Hiro Hamada is a young teenaged robotics prodigy who, upon his brother’s death, adopts a huggable nurse robot named Baymax. When he learns that the death of his brother involved foul play he turns Baymax and his friends into a team of superheroes.

Review: When Big Hero 6 arrived on screens five years ago it marked a sudden departure from the expected Disney fare. It barely looked like something Disney would make, having taken its inspiration from a little known Marvel comic of the same name. Blending Western and Eastern design elements (most notably represented in the fictional city of San Fransokyo) it looks, well, much cooler that what the House of Mouse usually makes. Unlike some earlier efforts (such as Chicken Little), it also doesn’t feel like it’s aping the Dreamworks style of comedy and instead becomes its own thing.

With all that praise on the table, Big Hero 6 falls into a trap common to movies riding the zeitgeist. Only five years on the movie is starting to feel dated. Superhero films have shifted styles and the soundtrack firmly puts it into a specific time frame.

Hiro (Potter) is a fun character who remains likeable in spite of his shitty attitude. Being a highly intelligent teen with an incredible insight into robots and AI, it’s little wonder that he instinctively looks down on people and the world but we want to see him learn to embrace his gift for good reasons rather than selfish ones. This is where Tadashi (Henney) comes in, Hiro’s older brother. While he might not be as gifted as Hiro, he’s a harder worker and has dedicated his time to created Bayman (Adsit). This inflatable and loveable machine is downright adorable, and represents Tadashi’s worldview. Naturally Tadashi proves too beautiful for this world and gets the Disney Parent Treatment when he dies trying to rescue people from a fire along with his mentor Professor Robert Callaghan (Cromwell).

Fortunately Tadashi had introduced Hiro to his friends – stoic electromagnetic expert Gogo, obsessive compulsive laser engineer Wasabi, chemistry genius Honey Lemon and goofball Fred (Chung, Wayans Jr., Rodriguez and Sex Offender Miller). When Hiro and Baymax discover that a masked figure has stolen Hiro’s revolutionary microbot technology and may be responsible for Tadashi’s death he convinces his friends to help him investigate. Taking inspiration from comic books, Hiro constructs them all high-tech suits based on their areas of specialty. They initially suspect tech-mogul Krei (Tudyk), they learn that Callaghan had been habouring dark secrets.

The plot is more complex than usual when put on paper, but it’s a well told story that maintains a steady pace. The script is lean, exciting and engaging with Hiro, Tadashi and Baymax being immediately likeable. You can’t get through this film without wanting a Baymax of your very own to hug and love. Even after he gets a battle armour make-over, Baymax is one of the most surprisingly adorable characters in Disney history. Although not all the characters are as well fleshed out as the heroes they all have their own distinctive personalities and mannerisms and it’s easy to find your favourite.

Another feature of the film that stands out from the Dinsey canon is the high energy, extensive action scenes. They’re visually imaginative and almost blindingly fast. It’s remarkable that we can follow the action at all given the speed, and it says something about the directors that they can make them so watchable. All the characters have a weird habit of saying what they’re doing out loud every few seconds, and that gets annoying real fast.

In short, this movie is a banger. Although it won’t be long before it is looked back on as a product of the time it was created in style and tone it has enough heart and fun to make it a classic. If you didn’t see this on the first run, make sure you make up for that.

Cool Easter Egg: You only get a split second to see it during Baymax’s rocket fist demonstration, but the statue he blasts into pieces is Hans from Frozen.

Rating: NINE out of TEN

THE RANKINGS

In this section myself (39, film critic and teacher), Amelia (7, princess and Pokemon fanatic) and Joshua (9, gamer and artist) will rank the Disney movies we have seen. Although this is only the second film…we all agreed.

ME

  1. Big Hero 6
  2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

AMELIA

Amelia cited her favourite thing about Big Hero 6 as being unique from the usual Disney Princess film (surprisingly, because she spends much of her time wrapped in a white sheet and singing ‘Let It Go’). She also like Honey Lemon and her equipment.

  1. Big Hero 6
  2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

JOSHUA

Joshua also placed Big Hero 6 above Snow White, giving us some consistency. He found this film much more exciting and also said Honey Lemon was his favourite character, wanting to see more of her different chemical bombs in action.

  1. Big Hero 6
  2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves