Don’t be fooled by the adorable, marshmallow-esque robot or colourful comic book world, Big Hero 6 is a fantastic adventure about journeying through grief with the help of your friends and honouring your loved ones past.
When robotics wunderkind Hiro (Ryan Potter) experiences the tragic loss of his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) he’s inconsolable; until he discovers his brother’s final invention; Baymax the healthcare robot. When San Fransokyo is threatened by a mysterious figure wielding the power of Hiro’s own ‘micro-bot’ creation, thought to have been destroyed in the accident that caused his brother’s death, Hiro enlists friends Fred (T.J. Miller), Go Go (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) and an upgraded Baymax to unravel the enigma.
The Marvel comic that inspired the film shares none of the connective tissue to the X-men or Spiderman spheres of the overarching Marvel comic galaxy; instead it’s a wholly independent world. Big Hero 6 went through a significant evolution during its production, especially in the wake of test screenings, and there’s a cavalcade of writers that have contributed to crafting the film. Screenwriters Jordan Roberts, Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird and Duncan Rouleau as well as Joseph Mateo being on board as head of story have crafted an extremely focused narrative about how we deal with grief despite the chorus of voices. Hiro and Tadashi were orphaned a decade earlier, resulting in Tadashi stepping into a more parental mentoring role as an older brother. In Tadashi’s death Hiro is faced with the loss of his entire family (except for his Aunt Cass played by Maya Rudolph). The writers create an emotionally authentic space for an adolescent to deal with the loss of his family all over again. There’s just something so beautiful about the relationship between brothers Hiro and Tadashi. The older brother sees all the potential and volatility in his younger brother and instead of prescribing him what he thinks he should be doing, he encourages and provides the space for him to be inspired. Especially at the depths of his grief when Hiro begins to turn down a potentially dark road, it’s the reminder of his brother through Baymax that guides him through. Crafting the interconnectedness of the human imprint left upon the technological creation is an incredibly sophisticated science fiction philosophy, hidden within what’s essentially a kids film.
Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams are visually on point and craft great voice performances. The animation is glorious, the merger between eastern and western architecture San Fransokyo (a merger between San Francisco and Tokyo) is ideal for the pastel aesthetic. The old world charm of the Shinto shrines of Tokyo and the trams of San Fran form the scaffolding for this futuristic city to burst forth. The character design at a base level holds to similar design sensibility of Disney Animation studios characters in Frozen, Tangled or Wreck it Ralph but it’s also heavily informed by the manga character design in original comic. The design and physics of the squishy Baymax create a character that’s almost unbearably cute.
The voice performances strike a great balance between knowing how to play for laughs, and simultaneously garnering warmth. Scott Adsit, who most people would recognise by sight as Pete Hornberger from 30 Rock, is completely disguised as the doughy balloon Baymax. Slavishly attempting to satisfy his patients, he’s so completely sweet and adorable in his ignorance of impending danger. Adsit does a fantastic job of infusing Baymax with a combination of the passiveness sweetness into the linguistic formality of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Watching Baymax desperately trying to ingratiate Hiro’s slang into his speech will keep you cackling every damned time. Mr. Potter gives Hiro the authentic brashness that you’d expect out of a teen. Mr. Henney has a reassuring Zen with Tadashi that commands you to listen despite feeling like he doesn’t really raise his voice.
Big Hero 6 has style, humour and a big, squishy heart.
Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to legacy audio reviews on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.
Directed by: Don Hall and Chris Williams
Written by: Jordan Roberts and Daniel Gerson & Robert L. Baird, Duncan Rouleau (based upon the characters created by) (as Man of Action) and Steven T. Seagle (based upon the characters created by) (as Man of Action) Paul Briggs, (head of story) & Joseph Mateo
Scott Adsit – Baymax (voice)
Ryan Potter – Hiro (voice)
Daniel Henney – Tadashi (voice)
T.J. Miller – Fred (voice)
Jamie Chung – Go Go (voice)
Damon Wayans Jr. – Wasabi (voice)
Genesis Rodriguez – Honey Lemon (voice)
James Cromwell – Robert Callaghan (voice)
Alan Tudyk – Alistair Krei (voice)
Maya Rudolph – Cass (voice)