13-19 March 2015 #749

Big Hero 6

A charming film for kids but also worthwhile for adults
Sophia Pande

Normally, I wouldn’t really gravitate towards watching an animated film named Big Hero 6, a rather banal title that connotes a dodgy sequel to a probably bad original film. However, this particular Walt Disney Animations Studio production did win the Best Animated Feature Film award this year (not that this is always a great indicator of quality) and I found myself curious about the film behind the absurd title. I admit I was surprisingly entertained and frequently delighted by a film from which I had pretty low expectations.

Don’t get your hopes up though, Big Hero 6 is no Princess Mononoke (1997), just one of the fierce, enchanting, animated films that are the product of Studio Ghibli, the brainchild of the great Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.

Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, Big Hero 6 is adapted from a Marvel comic by the same name, though the writers chose not to base this screenplay off of a particular comic book storyline choosing instead to try and develop slightly more original content.

While they have not necessarily succeeded in this endeavour (the plot is fairly hackneyed), the creators have managed to bring to life a fully fleshed out world complete with some pretty memorable characters that include the titular “Hiro” (voiced by Ryan Potter) and an inflatable white marshmallow like robot named “Baymax” (Scott Adsit) who manages to charm while never changing his expression.

Big Hero 6 is set in the futuristic, fictitious San Fransokyo (another terrible name), a weird amalgam of San Francisco and Tokyo, where the precocious 14-year-old Hiro and his equally brilliant brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney), live with their loving aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph) above a coffee shop that Cass runs which is completed by an adorable, very fat cat.

Hiro’s slight delinquent tendencies are put to the test when his brain wave controlled microbot creation gets stolen by a masked man who uses the bots for nefarious but mysterious purposes. Aided by an oddball mix of Tadashi’s nerd-scientist friends, Hiro embarks on a mission to retrieve his invention and discover the identity of the masked man.

As with all good animations, the creators of Big Hero 6 understand that captivating your audience requires digging deep into the characters and their backstories so that all of the motivations and the actions of the characters ring true. This is true of Big Hero 6 making it therefore a charming film for kids but also worthwhile for adults (though the villains won’t scare you too much) for the subtle nuances about parenting, loss, and self-sacrifice. There is plenty of humour but also some essential principles that children can absorb while watching some pure fun.