Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung
Directed by: Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”)
Written by: Robert L. Baird (“Monsters University”), Daniel Gerson (“Monsters University”) and Jordan Roberts (“You’re Not You”)
As part of Disney’s never-ending drive for world domination, the giant company acquired Marvel Entertainment in 2009 for an astounding $4 billion. While Disney has since raked in the cash from the unstoppable force that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they have yet to dive into the Marvel catalog to make films geared at younger kids. With “Big Hero 6,” Disney finally takes the leap and adapts a Marvel property under the Disney moniker.
In a hybrid of cities called San Fransokyo, a teenaged robotics fiend named Hiro (Ryan Potter) finds himself hustling people in robot fights for cash. Destined to get him into something greater, his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) convinces him to apply to the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. When an tragic event happens that changes everything for Hiro, he decides to band together with his school friends and a healthcare assistant robot named Baymax to form a superhero crew to try exact revenge on the supervillain Yokai.
One great quality of “Big Hero 6” is its ability to impressively set the table for the events to come. First and foremost, and in typical Disney fashion, it is able to create palpable emotion with enough respect to be handled by smaller children while being affective to adults. Beyond that, the film’s greatest moments come as we get to know Baymax. As an inflated and clumsy vinyl robot, Baymax comes to life in hilarious sequences of dialogue free physical comedy. He’s extremely ungraceful and maneuvers around objects so slowly and carefully that watching him dawdle around is pure, unadulterated, adorable joy and by far the best element of the film. There’s certain sweetness to Baymax (voiced wonderfully by Scott Adsit) and his unbridled desire to make Hiro feel better that fosters the best relationship of the film, even in its weaker moments.
The film takes a bit of a turn, however, when Hiro decides to seek revenge and turn him and his group of science geek friends into superheroes. It is here where the film becomes a bit generic and less unique. The initial motivation for Hiro manages to become a bit lost and even motivation during the turn involving the villain is a little difficult to wrap one’s head around. There are nuggets of great moments to be found, namely a sequence in which Baymax tries out flying for the first time, but the superhero story in the film feels a little standard, which is surprising given the connection to Marvel.
In fact, the most surprising element of “Big Hero 6” is just how little of Marvel’s fingerprints are present. Sure, some of the action sequences involving the characters in superhero are fun to watch, but most of them are formulaic enough to be thrown together by any studio. The same can also be said for the narrative of the film as the superhero storyline comes front and center and falls into the same beats seen in most origin stories. Despite its shortcomings, “Big Hero 6” is sweet, funny and adventure-packed enough to be an entertaining, albeit underwhelming experience.