There’s nothing I love more than a solid animated film. It harks back to my days as a kid, spending hours at my grandparents house on holiday with my cousins. We would be doing one of about four things: swimming in the pool, taking turns playing CoolBoarders or Tekken on the Playstation, eating something amazing our Nana had made, or watching a Disney film. We always picked which characters we were going to be, and being the oldest girl, I always got to be the princess. Or mermaid. Or samurai. You get the point: I grew up envisaging myself in Disney films. And my love for Disney has endured well into my mid-twenties.
2014’s offering for the Christmas holiday movie season is Big Hero 6. Thanks to my pal and fellow film-nerd Sophie, I learned that Big Hero 6 is actually an adaptation of a Marvel comic, since apparently Disney owns Marvel now? Anyway, after 2013 gave us the eternally-joyous Frozen, I think it’s fair to say Big Hero 6 had a decent size pair of shoes to step into. And didn’t it just.
To say I loved this film is a mild understatement. With an awesome plot, incredible graphics, and characters you could hold onto, there is nothing wrong with Big Hero 6, except that it ended. I wanted more!
Hiro, a 14-year-old crazygenius, is hellbent on using his insane brainpower to participate in (and make some sweet mulah from) dodgy, maybe even a little bit illegal, robot fights. His older brother Tadashi attends the nearby tech university, where he and four other students are working on some ridiculously cool technological advances. Tadashi’s project is Baymax, a big squishy robot dedicated to personal healthcare and wellbeing. And when I say dedicated, I mean, that’s Baymax’s only concern. He’s totally adorable and hilarious, and entirely responsive via voice recognition. It’s at this point in the film where I reflect on my own lack of any technical genius and weep.
Anyway, Tadashi saves Hiro from being arrested/murdered at one of those robot fights, and takes him on a tour of the university lab. Hiro is immediately enamoured and subsequently realises he just has to attend the university, so conceives the idea for MicroBots to showcase in the hopes of subsequent admission. Tragedy occurs after the showcase – where Hiro had obtained an invitation to attend university – and subsequently Hiro’s MicroBots are destroyed and other things happen that affect his desire to take up his position.
From here we launch into the meat of the story: were the MicroBots really destroyed? Is someone using them secretly for evil? How can Hiro stop the masked man, and who is he?
When Hiro and Baymax team up to get to the bottom of these questions, both hilarity and heartbreak ensues. Tadashi’s lab friends all team up with Hiro and turn themselves into superheroes – yeah, you read – to stop the masked evil dude using the MicroBots for unpleasant things.
So, firstly, MicroBots are fucking cool. And I want someone to invent them right now so I can have all-purpose robots to do my bidding. I’m not telling you any more about them because it would ruin the surprise of how cool they are when you see it.
Secondly, the fact that Hiro et al are self-made superheroes made my heart palpitate with joy. There was no accident with dire/awesome consequences, there was no radioactive spider. There was a bunch of people who cared about each other and wanted to do something about the evil occurring, so they used their skills, their talents and their knowledge to create the technology required to become superheroes. I still get shivers about it tbh, because it’s just so GREAT.
Big Hero 6 is also a beautiful and fresh look at what it means to be a family. Hiro and Tadashi are brought up by their Aunt Cass after their parents died, but this isn’t made a big deal of. There’s a lack of importance placed on the fact their parents are dead, and it’s really refreshing not to have tortured orphaned characters take centre stage. Tadashi and Hiro have an outstanding relationship as brothers, and Baymax assimilates quite quickly into a similar role. Outside of that, the lab students – GoGo, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred – create a sort of subfamily for Hiro and Baymax, which is essentially fortified when they team up to be the Big Hero 6.
The supporting cast outside of Hiro, Tadashi and Baymax are well-rounded, and I truly hope a sequel is on the cards, so that we get to explore more of their individual stories. I was also massively impressed with the casting, as each of the characters was voiced by an actor of the same ethnicity. Also, anything with T.J. Miller gets a big tick!
I was waiting for this kickass piece of cinema to be tainted by an awkward and unnecessary romantic subplot, but was pleasantly surprised to find the only love story was one of familial love and support. There is also a really important look at grieving as a teenager, and I can’t even count how many times I cried at some beautifully crafted scenes exploring this. As a nice contrast though, there are quite a lot of laugh-out-loud moments that bring balance to the film.
In all, I don’t think I can recommend Big Hero 6 enough. Everybody should see it; kids, mids and oldies alike. And as far as Disney films go, it’s one of the best I’ve seen in a long, long time.