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He Said, She Said Review Site

Big Hero 6

What She said:

He

Big Hero 6 is the latest offering from the Walt Disney Animation Studios. I guess it’s important to delineate that this does not appear to be a Pixar film. It is considered the 54th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classic series, and apparently is based on a comic book superhero group. I honestly did not know too much of what the movie was about beforehand, and so the whole superhero thing was news to me when it began to unfold on screen.

The film is the story of a boy named Hiro. He’s a 14 year old robotics genius who graduated from high school the year before and whose life has stagnated a bit since. It’s not to say that Hiro has been doing nothing—he’s been creating some pretty complex robots, including these things called microbots—but he has not done much in the way of continuing his formal education. Hiro’s brother, and closest friend, Tadashi is a student at a local university, and brings Hiro with him one day to show him the robotics lab there. Hiro meets Tadashi’s friends, GoGo, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, and Fred, and sees a new healthcare robot that Tadashi has been working on named Baymax. Hiro is impressed enough that he’s motivated to apply to the college and join the group in their research. However, first he actually has to get into the program.

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As part of his application, Hiro must do a presentation in front of the head of the robotics department, Professor Callaghan. He shows of his technology, the microbots, and everyone is blown away by how impressive they are. Hiro finds out he’s been admitted, but just after the presentation a fire breaks out at the university and Professor Callaghan is trapped inside a building. Tadashi leaves Hiro and runs into the building to try to save Professor Callaghan. However, there is a huge explosion and Tadashi is killed. This puts Hiro into a tailspin. He doesn’t end up enrolling afterall, and falls into a depressed funk at home.

One day, Hiro stubs his toe and accidentally activates Baymax. Baymax is a pretty spiffy robot, but also quite awkward. He’s this big inflated teddy bear of a thing. Hiro notices that one of his microbots is freaking out, and so he and Baymax follow it to an abandoned warehouse where they discover that a masked man is mass producing them to no doubt use for evil purposes. Hiro knows that he must stop the man from using his technology for evil, and so he ends up teaming up with GoGo, Wasabi, Honey, and Fred to create a group of nerdy superhero misfits. They may not have super strength, but their technology is awesome. Hiro also creates a new chip for Baymax that transforms him from a healthcare robot into a battle machine. As the group tries to bring down the masked enemy and his legion of microbots, their morals are questioned and their smarts are put to the test.

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As mentioned, I wasn’t really expecting this to be a superhero movie. I honestly knew very little about it, or I had just forgotten what I had seen in trailers, and so I thought it was just going to be about a boy and his robot. The film seems a little slow to start, but once Tadashi dies, the viewer gets to see the exploration of adolescence and coping feelings of loss as well as a broken family. It is, at times, pretty introspective. I really liked that element.

On the downside, I wasn’t in love with most of the characters of this movie. Hiro and Tadashi are fine, and Baymax is adorable. Actually Baymax really steals the show and was, for me, the driving character in this film. But the friends from the lab were kind of annoying and unimpressive. We didn’t learn too much about them, other than that they’re brilliant researchers, and they’re really not as funny or clever as they could have been. Maybe I just had the bar raised a little too high for them, but I really thought they’d be wittier than they turned out to be. Also, and I’m not sure how this is even possible in an animated film, but I just didn’t feel the right chemistry from the group. When they were on screen, I felt like the film became a good 40% less interesting.

The core of this film is the relationship between Hiro, Tadashi, and Baymax, and then eventually just Hiro and Baymax. That is where we find its best and most entertaining moments. Baymax is pretty darn funny because he’s clumsy and awkward. But he’s also shockingly compassionate for a robot, even if he doesn’t realize he is. He’s exactly what Hiro needs, and it’s nice to see their relationship develop. I kind of wished that this entire movie would focus on the two of them. I don’t mind the superhero angle, but I think this would have been better if it was just Hiro and Baymax vs. the bad guy, rather than including everyone else. The strength of this film is in that relationship, and the other characters just get in the way.

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Production-wise, this film is extremely appealing to look at. At times, the animation looked very real. I think the technology of CGI animation has come so far that it’s possible to achieve this exceptional level of realism. It’s really nice to watch. I’m not sure if this was considered a big-budget film, but it certainly appears that way on screen. So I certainly have to give kudos to the animation team on this flick.

Big Hero 6 is strikingly complex in that it’s a mash-up of different influences and themes. As mentioned, the plot is divided between being a story of a boy and his robot and being more of an action superhero flick. But visually the film is also divided between influences from Japan and California. This is openly acknowledged through the setting of the film, a futuristic city called San Fransokyo, which is both traditional and new-age and blends Eastern and Western cultures. It’s fascinating, and for the most part works.

You won’t recognize too many voices in this film. Hiro is voiced by Ryan Potter, Baymax is Scott Adsit, and Tadashi is Daniel Henney. If you look up these actors on IMDB, you may realize who they are. Otherwise, they aren’t huge standouts. Other actors lending their voices to this film are T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, James Cromwell, and Alan Tudyk. And yes, Stan Lee does make an appearance in the movie, which acknowledges that this is indirectly a Marvel-influenced film (the comic it is based on is from Marvel).

Overall, it’s not a bad movie. Not my favorite one either. It has a little heart, and I was hoping it would have pushed that theme a little further. Seems like they’re setting up future movies with this one. I’m thinking there will be a Big Hero 6 franchise coming. Parents, get ready.

Thumbs mostly up.

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What He said:

He

Hiro Hamada is a boy genius. He is just 14 years old, but has already graduated from high school. That’s pretty impressive, right? Well Hiro ( Ryan Potter) hasn’t really done much with his extremely intelligence since that accomplishment. It’s not that he stopped being smart – he’s actually been tinkering around with a few impressive inventions – it’s that is hasn’t applied himself to anything. He isn’t going to college, he doesn’t have a job, hasn’t sold any of his inventions, he sits around like a deadbeat roommate.

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His Aunt Cass – who appears to be his caretaker – and his brother Tadashi have tried their best to motivate him to no avail. One day Tadashi (Daniel Henney) decides to take Hiro to the university where he is studying. I forgot to mention that Tadashi too studies robotics. He is impressed by all of the students technology, but the one that stands out the most is Tadashi’s. He has invented a robot called Baymax, who is a big doughy simple thing who is intended to serve as a personal health care assistant. Tadashi’s plan works and Hiro is motivated to enter the program.

Before he can be accepted, Hiro must create a project and do a presentation on it. If he impresses the man in charge – Professor Callaghan – he’s in. He gets admitted to the program, but as the She already mentions, tragedy strikes. Both the professor and Tadashi are killed in a fire.

This puts a halt to Hiro’s plans to enter college. Understandably, he becomes depressed and withdrawn. He never enters the program at the university and spends most of his time just sitting in his room. One day he accidentally injures himself. I forget whether it was a paper cut, stubbed his toe, or something else. My point is, while minor, it’s enough to “wake” Baymax (Scott Adsit) up.

Baymax asks Hiro what ails him and assesses that his injury his minor. Baymax also notice that Hiro is not happy. He doesn’t pick up on his demeanor so much as he scans his vitals and notices the physical signs of somebody who is under emotional duress. Hiro tries to explain to him that he’s upset about his brother, but Baymax doesn’t understand. Through a series of events I will not mention, Hiro discovers that his brother might have been murdered. This motivates him to find whoever did it and get revenge. Baymax, wanting nothing more than to help Hiro’s pain, decides to help.

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Long story short, Hiro builds Baymax some armor, creates some new programming for him so that he can become a crime fighting machine, and teams up with Tadashi’s friends to find the bad guy.

I have to agree with the She on several points. Aside from the very opening with the robot fights – which was pretty funny – the movie felt a little flat at first. The jokes weren’t great and it even some of the early action was a little bland. I also agree that some of members of Hiro’s team were hit or miss humor wise. Not all of their jokes fell flat, but enough that you would notice. It wasn’t every joke, just enough to get your attention.

Fortunately, Baymax is pretty damn funny. He’s a robot – and a new one at that – so he has little experience with humanity. He’s kind of a dopey. He’s very loveable, but not too experienced, and it’s amusing at times, as is his big, slow, and clumsy demeanor. If it wasn’t for this character, the movie would have been very forgettable, but Baymax himself and his bond with Hiro salvaged it. It is a touching relationship that provides a lot of laughs too.

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The villain was also pretty cool too. He had a hella cool costume (that can go far), his powers were just as cool, and his motivation was fitting. A good villain can make up for a lot. How to Train Your Dragon 2 was a better movie, and certainly did not have a bad villain, but this villain was more memorable than the guy in that movie. He was better developed and was pretty rad look, style and ability wise.

You expect a lot of humor out of an animated movie anymore, so when some of it falls flat, you notice. Luckily Baymax saved the day in both the humor and heart department. He was very cute in a big dopey, but well-meaning kind of way. The core message of this movie had some real touching moments. It’s also more of an action adventure than a comedy and it succeeds as that. The animation is also quite good. I thought these were some of the more expressive faces I’ve ever seen in a 3D CGI movie. The technology has come a long way. It’s made more advances than CGI in live action movies in my opinion. It’s not the best movie, but it’s still an enjoyable watch.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on March 15, 2015.