After last year’s smash hit “Frozen”, I applaud Disney for trying something different for their latest film. They could’ve taken the safe route and done another fairytale musical that would’ve guaranteed them a box office success, but instead, they went for a superhero action movie that feels more like a Marvel film than a Disney film. This makes sense, because Big Hero 6 is in fact based off a very obscure Marvel comic of the same name. This also marks the first time that Disney has made an in-house movie based off of one of Marvel’s properties since the companies merged. Did the gamble pay off? Read on to find out.
The heart of Big Hero 6 lies with it’s two main characters, namely Hiro, a young boy genius (no, not that one) and his big squishy robot Baymax. The two of them share a friendship that really carries this movie, and I’d go as far to say that it’s one of the best relationships in Disney’s history. The rest of the superhero team (GoGo Tomago, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred) don’t get as much screen time as I feel they should, and feel more like supporting characters rather than part of the film’s main cast. When they do appear on screen, they’re completely memorable and loveable, as you’d hoped they would be (Fred in particular reminds me a bit of myself.) The main focus is really on Hiro and Baymax for the most part. Speaking of Baymax, he completely steals the show. When he’s onscreen, he’s either offering the biggest laughs, or the most emotional moments. I want to call him one of Disney’s best comic relief characters, but he’s more than that. Baymax is one of the most irresistible and loveable Disney characters in general.
Once all six members team up and start working together, the movie becomes very action oriented, but sadly, none of the action scenes really struck me as being all that great. It doesn’t help that the identity of the film’s masked villain isn’t as shocking as it should be. As a matter of fact, the entire third act of the film is pretty weak in comparison to the first two acts. It just feels rushed and clunky whereas the beginning and middle of the film felt well paced. What saves the action (and the third act) from being completely dull, however, is the animation. As per the norm for Disney, the animation is some of the best you’ll see all year, and that alone makes this movie worth seeing on the big screen. One of my favorite things about the movie was the use of the microbots. The way they’re animated is incredible, and the way the characters in the film used them was often creative and unexpected. I especially love the scene where Hiro is presenting them for the first time, and his monologue sounds like Walt Disney himself wrote it. Walt was always fascinated by technology, and I have a feeling he would find a lot to enjoy about this movie.
Mild spoiler warning ahead: One of the things Big Hero 6 excels at however, is its core theme of losing a loved one. This may seem like a scary thing to throw into a movie aimed at kids but the fact is that it’s something that everyone goes through and can relate to at some point in their lives. Seeing Disney delicately handle the concept with this film’s plot is surprising, but I was impressed by how well they handled it. I mentioned that the film’s climax wasn’t too great, but the ending (everything after the big battle) is brilliant and may even make you shed a few tears. I know I certainly did. This not only makes this one of the most mature Disney films out there, but also one of the most heartfelt. On top of that, the movie is also very funny. The humor ranges from smartly written dialogue to slapstick, and nearly all the jokes work. I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard at a Disney film since 2000’s “The Emperors New Groove”. The film’s terrific balance of humor and heart alone makes this a must see this holiday season.
In some ways, Big Hero 6 is the Incredibles meets the Iron Giant (with a little bit of The Avengers thrown in) yet it still manages to stand on it’s own as not only a great Disney film or a great Marvel film, but just a great film in general. I do wish the third act was stronger, and I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it more than Frozen. Dispite it’s flaws, the beautiful animation, loveable characters and mature story make this a very strong entry in this new era of Disney classics.
And don’t forget to stay after the credits!