Big Hero 6

big hero 6 2.jpg
UK Release Date 30th January 2015
Director Don Hall, Chris Williams
Starring BAYMAX!
Runtime 102 Minutes
Certificate PG
Reviewer Si
Reviewed 28th January 2015

We’re huge fans of animation here at BS Towers. The Lego Movie was probably the most outright fun we had at the cinema in 2014 so when a rotund balloon with eyes started showing up in Disney trailers, we could barely contain our excitement…

So Big Hero 6 came with a great deal of expectation for us. Born of probably the most obscure Marvel comic of the same name (I checked, the characters do broadly the same thing, absolutely nothing else has been used apart from their names) and in no way fitting into any part of the current live action universe, this is a movie about a boy who loses his brother, gains a healthcare robot and saves the world. 

No part of this would be over any interest to you, the discerning cinema lover, were it not for Baymax. A giant, round inflatable chap, built on a fancy exoskeleton and charged with continuing to look after you from the moment you exclaim pain to the moment you pronounce you are satisfied with your care. No wordy description is going to quite capture just how wonderful a creation this character is. Voiced by Scott Adsit (for crying out loud, somebody give this man more parts… Actually, keep an eye out for him in the inspired Appropriate Behaviour later this year), Baymax is your healthcare companion.

I’ll back track a bit. Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a somewhat listless teenager who employs his savant like intelligence to constructing small robots to challenge very big robots in a future city called San Fransokyo. His older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) is at the local robot university and is making significant progress with his healthcare project when an expo goes horribly wrong and he enters face first into a building demolishing explosion. Hiro retreats to the bedroom the pair shared at their aunt’s house (I forget what happened to their parents but I’m assuming it was tragic) and abandons his plans to follow his big bro to the big university. Until one day he stubs his toe and Baymax inflates at his cry of pain.

Hiro (I swear, if my computer autocorrects that word once more…) rediscovers his nanobot and realises that although he thought the others he made were destroyed in the fire that claimed his brother, they are still very much active. He enlists Baymax’s help to track them down and when he is attacked by a masked man wielding the nanobots, he heads straight for the police station. Which obviously doesn’t go well so he heads to the university to enlist his brothers geeky friends as gadget assisted superheroes and to save the world.

I mentioned The Lego Movie at the top of this review for a few reasons. One is the absolute TRAVESTY that is its omission from the Academy Awards nominations this year, something that is even more incredible when you realise both this movie and How to Train Your Dragon 2 have both been nominated, the other is that in many ways this movie and the Lego one are opposites of each other, despite sharing a save the world scenario. The Lego Movie was awesome because it was bursting with ideas, energy and adult friendly humour, its minor characters were also far better than the two, pretty ordinary leads. This movie has probably one of the best animated characters to date and a wonderfully touching central relationship between him and Hiro but the remaining characters are there purely for novelty value and to make up the superhero 6 of the title, the script beyond Baymax didn’t hold my interest and again, beyond Baymax there isn’t a great deal to laugh about. I suspect this is probably a distinctly adult viewpoint but other movies have managed to amuse both the kiddies and the grownups in equal measure.

But. It does have Baymax and that alone is absolutely reason enough for you to head out for this one. The first third of the movie drags as we wait for the main man to turn up, but once he appears on screen, and in the sections where he’s just interacting with Hiro and fleeing from bad guys rather than saving the world, he is an absolute joy. The animation over the whole movie is up to Disney’s usual high standards but the character design for Baymax is a step somewhere beyond perfect. His body shape, the two black eyes in an otherwise featureless face, the way his movements are modelled, the cadence of Scott Adsit’s voice, everything, just everything adds up to a marvellously expressive, comedic performance. And when its dealing with Baymax, the script seems to have its head well and truly screwed on. This isn’t a simple novelty robot there for cute laughs, you do genuinely get an impression of depth and you’re left in no doubt that Tadeshi has created something that would actually care for you both physically and mentally. The robot’s attempts to relate to its charge are heartfelt and occasionally really touching - witness his attempts to replicate the noise Hiro makes after a fistbump. There is simply no way that you will not be desperate to leave the cinema with your very own healthcare companion.

So it’s a shame then that he and Hiro are left in such a messy movie. Once the need to save the world is established, we whizz off to the super villain’s super base, Hiro gets carried away with his programming, leading to a very awkward ‘Evil’ Baymax moment and… well, just a whole mess of stuff happens to fill in for a script that simply can’t keep up with the charm of its central character. Although the animation of the super villain is particularly impressive, a deliberately contrasting realistic effort with a swirling coat, he is otherwise pretty bland so when his identity is finally revealed, we don’t really feel that much.

Big Hero 6 isn't a bad movie but its success depends entirely on its absolute standout central character, the kids will flock to it in droves and with the usual wholesome Disney message, it’s difficult to argue with that. And for the grownups, well, just go along to fall in love with Baymax. Because you will. He is an inspired piece of work and if he doesn’t make you well up through your laughter on at least one occasion then the problem isn’t with the movie….

Check out the trailer here.

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