Big Hero 6 (2014)
From the creators of Wreck It Ralph and Frozen
Disney, the place of magic. Even a macho man can find something they like amidst the ever-growing licenses nestled under Disney's imaginative wings. BH6 has a pitch that interests me - superheros, animation, and of course robots. I love robots - small robots, big robots, boxing robots, shooting robots, intelligent robots and controlled robots - to the point that I can recall a certain line such as "Chicks dig giant robots," regardless of how accurate that may or may not be. The question here is if I can find it in my heart to love a squishy Disney robot. Will it be the big hero Disney deserves, or just another in the 6-dozen other Disney movies on your shelf?
This is the start up story of a group of superheroes. Beyond that, it's the story of a boy and his robot. Deeper still, it's a story about loss. You could almost say it's actually a pretty typical Disney flick really, although maybe a bit more interestingly handled than some for sure. Our main focus for this journey will be a young fella whose smarter than one normally is at his age. He's fallen a bit to the "dark side" of sorts, using his smarts in the robot battle circuit - an event that although not illegal in itself becomes illegal when betting happens, which is precisely what our young hero likes to do. After a daring rescue by his brother after a competitor gets a bit rowdy about being scammed, the two end up spending a bit of time in the local holding cells until their Aunt comes to bail them out. This is when we get informed of the boys loss of their parents, and a very important event unknowingly looms on the horizon.
Under the pretense of taking his younger brother to another fight, he actually tricks him into going to the "nerd lab" - a robotics college lab where various different experiments are going on. The younger brother instantly is seen to warm up to the place, and his interest only keeps building as he goes from experiment to experiment. After being shown his brother's neat inflate-a-bot medical assistant Baymax, the younger brothers interest finally peaks when meeting the professor - quite a well known man in the robotics field. That creative fire is sparked, and our young hero sets on his journey to build something super impressive for the science fair and get himself into the school - to which he does with flying colors after some sage words of advice from his brother. His night of spectacular victory soon turns to one of loss however, when a fire breaks out in the building and his brother goes back in to try and rescue the professor - only to have the building explode.
It's at this point we get the tale of a boy and his robot, in which an accidental moody command ends up discovering a sinister plot using the robots our young hero designed and though had burned in the fire that killed his brother. After a narrow escape and a police officer that won't listen to him, he outfits his robot companion with some armor, uploads some kung fu, and the two set out to find this man and capture him - only to be interrupted by his brothers friends from the lab (whom Baymax has contacted earlier). After yet another narrow escape, our young hero and his friends decide this man needs to be caught, and a superhero scheme is concocted. Can our young lad keep his head on his shoulders in pursuit of the man who may have killed his brother? Will our team of super-science'd folks be able to keep anyone from getting hurt? Will Baymax stop being cute long enough to be menacing?
How's it look? It looks great, of course, as you can probably see in most trailers, previews, or images. Animation here is pretty well top notch, and certain moments really just take advantage of what they have to work with - particularly a big air-filled robot and a creepy Kabuki mask wearing guy in control of a bunch of little micro-machines. It manages to be colorful while at the same time having an equal amount of dark to it, which is a nice balance to keep the entire thing from seeming too lathered in blacks and greys. You don't always notice it, but sometimes that color palette can be real important to a mood of the setting, so when you see plucky heroes and bright colors, it just naturally meshes in your head without much though. Granted, it's not exactly breaking the mold with colorful heroes and colorless villain, but if it works why fix it right?
In-art costumes are pretty well dredged up as well. Our villain may be rather stereotypical black trench coat evil, but he at least he has the Kabuki mask to help break up his colors without robbing him of his 'dark and brooding' vibe. Our heroes on the other hand have some pretty Mega-Man styled outfits, looking pretty well like they are something make-able (although maybe not by modern means on the science end of things), and Baymax with his white air-filled goofiness is certainly not something I've seen much of before, unless you include a wacky waving arms inflatable tube man. If there had to be a winner to the costume contest as it were, it would probably be the goofiest of human heroes, complete with his monster-themed fire-breathing suit. It certainly looks like a monster, albeit pretty goofy, but really fits the character well while being the most out-there of the outfits.
Sound here does fine, voice actors do a good job, and sound effects come across at the right levels. The biggest thing most people will come out of this with is the comedy moments (such as Baymax "leaking air" or petting the "Furry baby"), although the ones who like to look deep will get treated to the whole "violence isn't always the answer", "how to deal with loss", and "friendship is magic" that you can actually find in a lot of Disney flicks, just not with as particular a setting as this. Although it does handle these deeper elements well, there's certainly some ham-handed handling of a few of the moments (go from "I wanna kill that foo!" to "we should do the right thing" in a very fast time).
Wanna watch it? Don't feel bad about it, go check it out. By all means, it might not be completely out-of-the-box thinking and brand spanking new ideas or anything, but it's still a fun movie to watch. It still contains a lot of those Disney elements - the tear jerker, the comedy, the quirky cast - but it shaves off a lot of the things that might normally turn some off to them as well - for instance, the lack of musical numbers. It's fun, its funny, and it's well animated. Probably worth a rent, maybe even a buy. I mean, there's a reason Disney is still in business and buying up all these other licenses you know.