Heartfelt and entertaining, Big Hero Six proves yet again that animated films are not just for kids. Gemma Pecorini Goodall reviews…
Since I was a kid I’ve told people that if I could have a career writing or working for Disney I could die happy. In my book, very few things are better than a good animated film. I don’t just mean good animation – that’s only part of the package. A good animated feature film is well written, superbly directed, brilliantly cast and visually mind-blowing. I was raised on a strict diet of cartoons, and Disney was the lullaby that put me to sleep at night. However, somewhere along the path to growing up we are taught to lose interest in animated films and they suddenly become ‘kid’s’ movies. Production companies market animated films towards a younger audience, and the screenwriters include the odd ‘adult’ joke to entertain the parents forced to sit through it. The adults who flood the cinema at the release of the new Disney or Dreamworks film get labeled as geeks or are generally considered immature.
Big Hero Six (2015) film poster. Source: Disney Insider
Riding on the coat tails of 2013’s Frozen, Disney’s latest blockbuster hit Big Hero Six is a film that challenges the stereotypes associated not only with animated films but also those that fall under the category of superhero flick. Based on the Marvel comic book series of the same name, Big Hero Six is as much a Disney film as it is a Marvel film, complete with earth-saving action and badass super powers. In the fictional city of San Fransokyo (yes, it is a mix of San Francisco and Tokyo, in case you were wondering) we meet a group of self-proclaimed nerds that manage to save the world through their ridiculously amazing nerd powers of intelligence, friendship and general badassery. Early on in the story we meet Hiro, our protagonist, who, at the young age of fourteen, has already developed his talent at robotics and graduated high school. Thanks to Hiro’s older brother Tadashi we also meet a group of equally smart characters that attend San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. We have Wasabi; the super ripped physicist, GoGo; the quiet and slightly frightening engineer, Honey Lemon; the super girly chemist and Fred; the school’s mascot who encapsulates the stereotypical comic book nerd. The band of intelligent friends is finally completely by Baymax, Tadashi’s senior robotics project, who was created as a medical aid to help those in need. When San Fransokyo Institute of Technology’s student exhibition goes up in flames, Hiro loses not only his brilliant nano-robot technology but also his big brother. It isn’t until Baymax sets out with the one remaining nano-robot, following its pull, that we learn the robots are safe and in the hands of a masked villain. To get them back, Hiro and his group of super intelligent and talented friends form a superhero team that could rival the Avengers any day.
Big Hero Six (2015) film still. Source: HD Wallpapers
The film was spearheaded by directors Don Hall (‘Winnie the Pooh,’ 2011) and Chris Williams (‘Bolt,’ 2008). Besides brilliant direction from the two Disney alumni, the fact that the target audience is children means that the unavoidable Marvel action sequences are not as long and therefore not as dull. The fight sequences, montages and costumes are all so bright and iridescent that the superhero clichés almost evaporate. Big Hero Six shows that superhero flicks don’t need to have dark colours and minimal light to have the strongest visual impact (I’m looking at you Avengers). Written by Daniel Gerson and Robert L. Baird, who teamed up to write Monsters University for Pixar in 2013, the script is as emotionally resonant as it is comic. The adult notes and jokes are all very evident and entertaining, including a scene where Baymax, running low on battery, perfectly portrays that drunk friend you need to sneak into your house without your parents noticing. I ask myself why all superhero flicks can’t be written with the same genuine emotions as Big Hero Six, since it is capable of bringing a tear to the eyes of both adults and children.
Despite following the basic ‘oh look, we need to save the world’ formula, Big Hero Six is an astonishingly beautiful film. The animated cinematography rivals the 2015 Academy Award nominated films and helps to perfectly capture the intricately architected city that is San Fransokyo. The film’s editing team did an astonishing job in truly rendering the film as effective as possible and the addition of an almost exclusive Fall Out Boy soundtrack is particularly resonant to those of our generation.
Overall, I believe Big Hero Six succeeds in reinventing the superhero film as well as elevating the animated medium and glorifying the nerd. Both visually and emotionally vibrant, the film is bound to be a huge success for audiences of all ages. I think it’s time to let go of the stigma that comes with the nerdy adults who love animated films and television shows and pick up a copy of Big Hero Six on DVD and enjoy this cinematic masterpiece with family and friends.
P.S. – Just because Disney pioneered this Marvel inspired project doesn’t mean certain Marvel tropes are left out. Keep your eyes peeled for a certain comic book legend’s cameo and stick around for the famous Marvel post-credit scene.