Big Hero 6 Review
All movies made for young kids and teens aren’t created equally.
Last night I came back from seeing a screening of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Our review for that will be up by Friday. But before the movie started we got a teaser for the sequel to Divergent. Trust me when I say that the teaser makes the sequel look even dumber than the first movie, and that’s a hard accomplishment to achieve. That started me on a rant about these really dumb movies meant to appeal to kids and teens and take advantage of the fact that they don’t know any better. I actually try to avoid going to most animated kids films and I do avoid most teen movies when I can. It’s because I know no matter how bad the film is, folks will give it a pass. “It’s made for kids” is the reply I always get. But I think we need to take a stand against this lazy kind of film making. There are a good number of films out there that are made to appeal to little kids and teens that are also good even to adults. We really need to stop giving filmmakers passes for making films that only appeal to the 8 year old mind and can’t survive the test of puberty and getting a simple understanding of how things work.
So why did I add that little mini-rant at the beginning of this review for Big Hero 6? Because Big Hero 6 is one of those GREAT movies made for kids that even adults will love. It proves that parents don’t have to suffer silently in movie theaters watching terrible movies just because their kids focused on some cute, animated character in a trailer. It also means they can stop lying about how really bad kids movies “Aren’t that bad”. Big Hero 6 is here to save you
I will be honest. Despite the buzz for this movie, I wasn’t in any rush to go see it. None of the trailers really stuck out to me but I’m so glad I forced myself into the theaters to see it. This movie is smart, funny, emotional and heartwarming. The thing that makes most films targeted at kids good is when they weave in adult themes into the film while still maintaining a sense of humor and charm so that young kids barely notice them. The protagonist, Hiro, has a series of really tough emotional moments in this film. We start off the film with both Hiro & his brother Tadashi living with their Aunt Cass because their parents died when Hiro was young. While they don’t harp on that, it’s clear that losing his parents affected Hiro. He starts off the film using his genius intellect in ways you’d expect a genius acting out and rebelling would. His brother Tadashi tries to help give him purpose and direction. And then another tragic event happens. There are a lot of emotional moments in this film that just show up suddenly and punch you in the gut. By the end you are so emotionally invested in this film, you might end up leaving with a bigger smile on your face than the kids who saw it.
The voice acting in this movie is really good. Hiro is voiced by Ryan Potter and Tadashi is voiced by Daniel Henney. Not only did I love their voice work for this move but the characters themselves really nail the little brother-big brother dynamics in a refreshing way. Typically you get the older brother who is always mean or teasing his little brother. But in this movie, Tadashi almost takes on the role of father figure and sees that his little brother is so smart and can do so much more with his talents. Maya Rudolph voices Aunt Cass. She’s the aunt turned mother of two boys. She clearly feels like she’s in over her head with Hiro and Tadashi but also loves both of them very much and wants the best for them. Again, she’s not the stereotypical mean adoptive parent sometimes seen in these types of films. The rest of the characters aren’t fleshed out as much but are still solid in their roles. Go Go(Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) & Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) are all solid support characters and it’s pretty cool seeing the way they become “super heroes”. I do have to mention Fred (T.J. Miller) though as the other standout character. He’s basically a “science groupie”. While the others are all students working in the advance robotics lab at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, Fred is just the mascot. He hangs out with the others hoping that they’ll figure out some way to give him super powers like the comic books he reads. Fred was definitely one of my favorite characters.
And then there’s Baymax…the inflatable medical robot. Without giving too much away, Baymax is a personal healthcare companion that Tadashi builds. Eventually Hiro tries to find “other” uses for him but at his core, Baymax is always a healthcare companion. It’s awesome watching Hiro become attached to Baymax as Baymax tries to “heal” Hiro’s emotional pain and hurt. This whole movie is really about putting a fresh spin on classic stories and themes and Hiro’s relationship with Baymax is really a fresh look on the “Boy and his robot” theme. Yes, it will have you in your feelings. And you will deal with it.
Visually this movie looks great. Animation has come so far since I was a kid. Not only does the story do a good job of including emotional moments, but the film can show it as well. You can feel and see the excitement, joy, fear and sadness in every moment. The action sequences are excellent. The first time Hiro and Baymax go flying is a thrill ride. I didn’t get to see the movie in 3D but I have no doubt that it makes excellent use of it. One thing I do want to point out is the deliberate decision to blend an American & Japanese look and feel to this movie. The city it is based in is called San Fransokyo so it’s not like it was a big secret there. The movie has a distinct blend of the two cities and cultures.
Big Hero 6 is a great movie for not only kids but adults as well. I didn’t want to go too much into the story because it would spoil too much and I really think this is a movie you should go and experience for yourself. Disney could have gone the easy route and just phoned it in and raked in some money. Instead they put some effort into it and gave this movie a heart and soul. This should be the standard and what we demand from ‘kids movies’.