Title: Big Hero 6
Based On A Marvel Comic, Yes? Any Cameos? You won't see Dancing Baby Groot anywhere, but there is a post-credits scene.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three Mummenschanz (Mummenschanzes?) out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Kid programs killer robot to avenge brother's death. Kind of.
Tagline: "From the creators of Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen."
Better Tagline: "Did we mention Frozen? Everybody liked Frozen, right?"
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Even though he's enjoying success as a "bot fighter," teenager Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) is nonetheless convinced by big brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) to compete for admission to the robotics department at San Fransokyo's (yes) Institute of Technology. Things look great for Hiro his newly invented "microbots" when Tadashi is killed in a tragic accident, Hiro withdraws, but is coaxed out of his depression by his new classmates and Tadashi's medical robot Baymax (Scott Adsit). Before you can say, "Balloon man blew up in my hand," he finds himself embroiled in a mystery involving his brother's demise and the theft of his invention by the masked villain known as Yokai.
"Critical" Analysis: In case I haven't mentioned it lately, now's a great time to be a fan of animated movies.
I'm not talking about myself, necessarily - I tend to be like Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus, only instead of hearing "too many notes" my eyes start glazing over at the sheer tonnage of cool shit on the screen. However, if you enjoy the craft involved, Big Hero 6 is just the latest in a series of fantastic looking films. The skyline and vistas of San Fransokyo (how the hell does that work? Did continental drift push California and Japan together? Did someone build a really long bridge?) are amazingly rendered, while everything from Hiro's simple fighting robot to the intricate constructions of his "microbots" come alive admirably onscreen. A regular goddamn feast for the eyes, it is.
And story-wise, if you're going to make a future version Scooby Doo, right down to a villain red herring but with a massive, vinyl robot instead of a stoner Great Dane, Big Hero 6 starts off pretty strong. Hiro's smart (like Velma), but not so annoying we wish he'd swallow drain cleaner (like Fred). Tadashi's death, and the fallout for him and their Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph), is handled realistically enough, to the point where the (re)introduction of anti-Terminator Baymax and the Robo-Bunch makes some sense.
The second half (third act, really) is where things start to go off the rails. As superhero origins go, there's nothing really wrong with the not-so-sinister six, even if their transition from "nerd lab" techs to supers is necessarily rushed. Audience members over the age of 10 aren't going to see anything new here, though some of the tech is inspired and Silicon Valley's T.J. Miller - as usual - steals the show playing "Fredzilla."
But it's Baymax who'll get the most love. Visually, he's great to watch, and Adsit brings genuine warmth and character to a frigging robot (albeit a cuddly and wholly non-threatening one, think the Iron Giant crossed with the Michelin Man). My kids have also been pointing at dogs and cats and yelling "Hairy baby!" before collapsing in laughter ever since they saw it, so that's ... something.
Big Hero 6 is touted as coming from the same folks who brought you Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen, and while that's true, it lacks the relative emotional weight of either. Hiro's character arc glances off the usual adolescent highlights, but it's hard to get too engaged with him when things finally go full "Biff! Kapow!"
Yeah, I know his brother dies. Stop living in the past.
Finally, it's sort of refreshing to see a movie as unabashedly optimistic about our future as BH6. All evidence points to grim times ahead for the human race, but "San Fransokyo," as far as I could tell, is powered solely by nuclear fusion and Zen koans. Maybe I've seen too many dystopian visions of our eventual doom, but it was nice to fool myself into thinking everything will be all right, even if it was only for two hours.
Big Hero 6 is in theaters today. Why not adopt your own hairy baby for the holidays?