Reviews and entertainment articles by Dave Simpson
Walt Disney Pictures brings superhero ensemble Big Hero 6 to life in their latest animated action-comedy. Adapted from the pages of Marvel Comics and jammed full of colourful characters, the script contains all the ingredients necessary for a fun and exciting escapade. It’s only a shame that it doesn’t end up capitalising on them very well, ultimately falling rather flat.
The plot centres around 14 year old Hiro Hamada; a young super genius living in the fictional city of San Fransokyo. Upon discovering that an innovative invention of his has fallen into the wrong hands, Hiro decides to form a technologically enhanced super-squad. Thus, Big Hero 6 are born.
While the movie does have its moments, the pace tends to drag, particularly at the beginning. It’s a long time before we get any action involving superheroes or, indeed, any allusion to the concept whatsoever.
A substantial proportion of the narrative is spent dwelling on the brilliant but lackadaisical Hiro and his wasted potential. The result is that by the time he and his companions do suit up, it actually feels a little abrupt and out of line with what has been established up to that point.
There are a few nice action sequences and the animation is state of the art. A presentation introducing Hiro’s microbots is particularly arresting and the climactic showdown is fast paced and substantial. However, none of it packs much of an emotional punch, even when it feels like it should. This is largely owed to the fact that most of the characters just seem to exist to make up numbers and are given next to no development.
The only individuals that are fleshed out in any great depth are Hiro and his burly robotic sidekick, Baymax. After a point, the movie revolves more or less exclusively around their burgeoning friendship and subsequent familial bond.
Were circumstances different, this may have been fine. In fact, if this had have been an original movie in a similar setting, focusing on how a lost and hurting teenager realises his destiny through the guidance of an unlikely robot friend, it probably would have been a lot better. However, that is not the case. It is a movie based on a comic about a team. Key word being team.
It’s perfectly acceptable to have things unfold through the eyes of a single protagonist, but that doesn’t mean his supporting players should be tossed aside. Unfortunately that is the case in relation to the rest of Big Hero 6.
Team members Wasabi, Gogo Tomago, Fred and Honey Lemon are given a few individual quirks when they’re introduced but their development doesn’t extend much beyond that. Instead they become a bunch of interchangeable background characters. The only purposes they serve are to give Hiro some recruits and to pad out the action sequences.
Their friendship with Hiro is also largely sidestepped in favour of his relationship with Baymax. After we see them meet, we are essentially just told they have become close friends of the protagonist rather than shown.
This tell don’t show policy can arguably be applied to the character of Baymax too. He’s not a bad character, but there’s just something lacking about his portrayal. It often feels as if we’re being made to believe we should fall in love with him because he has the appearance of a quintessential adorable mascot. This harms the plot at some key moments that should be very affecting, resulting in a dissatisfying emotional payoff.
The motivations of the main villain are lacklustre at best. While the reasons for his ire and vengeful disposition are understandable, they don’t justify the extent of his homicidal tendencies.
All in all, Big Hero 6 feels like a missed opportunity. All of the elements were present to craft something special, it’s just unfortunate that they weren’t nailed down more smoothly. When all is said and done, this ends up being a mildly entertaining but largely forgettable animated adventure.
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