Movie Review: Big Hero 6

Walt Disney Studios, who now distribute any current Marvel Studios productions, strike again, with somewhat greater success this time around.

Based on one of the lesser Marvel Comics franchises (Stan Lee’s attempt to merge American sensibilities with those of Japanese Anime), BH6 didn’t enjoy much box office success but that doesn’t make it a bad bit of business.
In fact, the lack of prior knowledge of the franchise is one of its greatest charms and advantages, since most viewers come to it with few preconceptions or expectations.

BH6_Team_Transparent

Aimed squarely at the traditional fan boy audience, this CGI animated feature tells the tale of a band of nerds who experience a technically enhanced metamorphosis into a six-person team of super-heroes. Challenging at least one stereotype, two of the nerds are attractive females.

Big Hero 6 alter egos

Hiro, (“hero”?) a pre-teen boy who happens to also be a prodigy in the fields of robotics and engineering, finds himself recruited to study at the West Coast equivalent of Stanford or MIT. His older brother, who dies mysteriously in a fire and explosion, has already developed Baymax, a robotic medical diagnostic aide.
After his brother’s death, Hiro discovers the robot is still operational. His late brother’s former lab-mates take him under their collective wing to console him during his grieving process.

Baymax and Hiro

There’s a sub-plot concerning a character obviously based on Steve Jobs and/or Bill Gates and the technology of a transporter-like device with military overtones. But it is the story of the boy, his robot, the older students and the collaboration of this band of misfits that carries the movie.
At this point there’s no longer any novelty in CGI animated features and the Japanese Anime influences are not as great as they could have been. The city of San Francisco is here presented as “San Fransokyo”, Baymax bears a distinct resemblance to a Sumo wrestler, the mysterious villain wears a kabuki mask and one of the students is nicknamed “Wasabi”. Another of the students is more deeply steeped in the Anime culture than just about any other factor in the story.

Big Hero 6 in costumes

Beyond these points, this could just as easily have been “Wall-E” as “Big Hero 6”.
Voiceovers are all delivered with skill and several members of the cast are Damon Wayans and Maya Rudolph, although theirs are supporting roles and the leads are all comparative unknowns.
The soundtrack includes the hit “Immortals” and it really works especially well in this setting.
One student, an archetypical super-hero fan boy type, carries a lot of the comic relief, although the robot character, which looks very much like the Michelin Man, has some of the best bits of business in the movie. Mr. Wayans and Ms. Rudolph, although given less to work with, also pull their fair share of the comic weight.
The story moves briskly and the humor, while a little reliant on body functions and stereotyped characterizations, is still warm and surprising in its ingenuity, coaxing laughs from audience members of both genders and a good range of ages.
The ending works and the doors are left gaping wide open for future installments of the franchise if anyone cares to write and produce them.

Stan Lee in Big Hero 6

And it should surprise no one that there’s even provision for the now obligatory Stan Lee cameo, which I believe is his first in a CGI production. But you have to be patient if you want to see it.
For once that patience is justified.
(4.25 out of 5 stars)
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About jaypochapin

Married adult human male, father, brother, son, writer, voiceover actor and humorist. Frequently funny, sometimes snarky, occasionally profound. Beatles, Stones, Who, Python, Firesign Theatre, Shakespeare, Bogart/Bacall, Marx Brothers, Alice Cooper and more besides. Have worked as many things: traffic reporter, disc jockey, newscaster, interviewer, producer, copywriter, voice over talent, teacher, emcee, housekeeper, janitor, uniformed security officer, bagel baker's assistant and more, but don't let the uniform fool you, baby! I ... AM ... THE WRITER!

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