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A 3D computer animated film, Big Hero 6 is based on the Marvel Comics of the same name. It follows the story of young, sometimes troublemaking, Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter), living in the future city of San Fransokyo with his aunt (Maya Rudolph) and older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) after the death of his parents. Hamada is gifted, developing a new robotics technology that allows microbots to swarm in a cloud, forming any conceivable shape in an instant. At a science fair, his work gets noticed so he is offered a place at Krei Tech University, but won’t sell his invention to Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell), the head of the university’s robotics program. A short time later, a fire sweeps through the building and not only are Hiro’s robots lost, but his brother Tadashi and Professor Callaghan perish as well.
Weeks later, Hiro accidentally activates Tadashi’s unfinished healthcare robot, Baymax (Scott Adsit), a man-sized chubby, lovable inflatable AI. The two soon discover that someone has been mass-producing the microbots Hiro invented, and have an encounter with a master fighter wearing a Kabuki mask. Hiro contacts his friends Go-Go (Jamie Chung), Fred (T. J. Miller), Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.), and Honey Lemon (Génesis Rodríguez) to help track the mysterious figure and take back his microbots. Secrets are unveiled and an emotional journey is begun.
Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, Big Hero 6 is a surprisingly effective film, capturing much of the energy and vitality of the comic. The animation is superb with great attention to detail and lots of bright, inviting colors. Steering clear of much of what comic book heroes tend to spend all their time doing–fighting–Big Hero is about the characters and gives us plenty of time to get invested. While it stumbles in the end, failing to truly innovate, Baymax is a sure-fire winner, a creative and unique persona children can get behind. Baymax feels authentic and the overall message against violence is well played throughout. The relationship that is nurtured between Baymax and Hiro is easily some of the the films’ best features, endearing the charming medical robot to our hearts. While it might not have the staying power of other Disney animated films, it is a beautifully made movie with great voice acting, a fun and often moving story, and lots of colorful characters.
After his brother is killed in the fire, Hiro sinks into a terible depression. When he activates Baymax, a passion project of his brother’s, he begins to feel a little better, a new connection to his past. Things get complicated though after he and Baymax discover a masked figure at a warehouse mass producing the microbots, threatening disaster. To combat the powerful villain, Hiro fits Baymax with a suit of shiny red armor and inserts a microchip that teaches Baymax expert karate. When they and their friends track the villain to his hideout. Hiro learns a terrible truth about his invention, but worse, about his brother, who died for nothing in the blast. He reacts harshly, removing Baymax’s personality and behavior chip and orders it to kill the masked man. Fortunately, Go-Go re-insets the chip at the last possible second causing Hiro to become enraged with his friends and so flies home without them. A short time later, alone in his house, he desperately tries to remove the chip again, but Baymax refuses to open the port, telling Hiro vengeance is not what his brother Tadashi would want. He then plays a video recording on his internal monitor that shows Tadashi attempting and failing many times to make Baymax work, bringing Hiro to tears.
Tadashi was more than a brother to Hiro, he was a mentor and friend. He understood the talent and genius Hiro possessed and always tried to nurture and guide his little brother. When Tadashi dies, it sends little Hiro reeling, after losing his parents earlier. Baymax is an unemotional creature that somehow feels just the opposite. Influenced (and programmed) by Tadashi, he holds the same beliefs and motivations. Young Hiro, who is already swept up in the loss of Tadashi, is stunned and angered by the real events and reasons behind his brother’s death. After he learns that the masked man is behind it and that his death was senseless, Hiro can’t help but be overcome with vengeful desires. His friends and Baymax recognize this and know that even if Hiro was able to kill the masked man, it would not stop the heartache he feels for losing his brother.
The moment is especially important in teaching children that violence is not the answer. While nearly every other film, particularly superhero stories, always commit the bulk of their running time to fighting, Big Hero 6 does not (the ending is a clever twist on this trope). Baymax, grasping that Hiro needs reminding of the values Tadashi stood for, plays a clip of his inventor trying to activate him, it showing Tadashi tirelessly failing before finally making it work. Hiro sees the persistence and patience, the warmth and compassion and it quickly quells the fury within him. The touching moment has great impact because it also reminds us of the value of never giving up and does so without hammering it over our heads. Not overly-sentimental, it is instead a fitting recall to the real motivation of the story and sets Hiro back on the right path.
Don Hall, Chris Williams
Jordan Roberts (screenplay), Robert L. Baird (screenplay)
Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, T. J. Miller, Maya Rudolph, James Cromewell, Génesis Rodríguez, Damon Wayans, Jr.