By Michael Tuns
Big Hero 6, Walt Disney Animation Studio’s most recent release, is a familiar romp that serves as an enjoyable, albeit empty, distraction from the mindless superhero films that have conquered the box office over the last few years. Set in the futuristic San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 follows Hiro (Get it?) Hamada, a brilliant youngster that spends his time seeking thrills instead of contributing to society, a fault that his older brother Tadashi is constantly trying to correct. After a tragic explosion claims Tadashi’s life, Hiro teams up with his brother’s greatest invention in order to avenge his brother and save the city from a villain using an army of microbots that were seemingly destroyed in the fatal explosion.
The highlight of the film is universally recognized to be Tadashi’s invention, a huggable vinyl robot named Baymax who’s sole care in the world is providing optimal healthcare to his patients. Baymax is almost sickeningly loveable. His innocence warms the cockles of my heart as he struggles to learn the complexities of such everyday activities as fist bumps and sneaking past Mom. The strongest moments of the film come not from the zany, colourful action (that the animators are clearly too proud of), but the quiet moments between Hiro and Baymax. These scenes become increasingly rare as the film drags on, with the second half of the film only having one standout moment amidst a sea of tired tropes.
Unfortunately the other characters are less memorable. With the exception of the one brilliant scene in the later half of the picture, the peripheral characters are little more than cardboard cutouts from other boring films. Even Hiro, who’s emotional journey is the focal point of the film, goes through the familiar steps that all moody teenagers in film go through. He’s angsty, then he’s beginning to open up, no wait, he’s angry at everything again, etcetera etcetera. The four other superheroes, whose names are as bland as their personalities, are carbon copies of characters that were already stale when Dreamworks started using them. There’s the strong, confident student that’s obsessed with girl power; the big, burly man that is *hilariously* sheepish; the sunny, bubbly girl who’s quirkiness fails to compensate for her lack of personality; and the slacking underachiever that turns out to be a huge help to the film’s hero. If the movie had focused less on these characters learning to be superheroes and more on Baymax interacting with Hiro while they search for retribution, the film would have been a much greater success.
We are living in a modern renaissance. Disney Animation Studio’s recent works, which include such gems as Frozen and Winnie the Pooh, are as imaginative as they are unique. This film feels different from the rest of Disney’s more recent works as it focuses more on blending two different styles of film into one rather than ignoring what’s being made and being its own film. In trying to amalgamate action-packed superhero films and heartfelt Pixar films, Big Hero 6 fails to find its own identity, instead coming out as something that we’ve all seen before. While the action is dull and most characters are immediately forgettable, Baymax alone makes the film worth watching at least once. It’s a film that I’m very happy to have seen but feel no urge to see again any time soon.