If you’d told me that Disney were going to create a superhero movie – one that wasn’t handled by Marvel directly, it wouldn’t have exactly filled me with confidence. Wreck-it-Ralph was very good but hardly broke the mould when it came to animated features and Frozen didn’t live up to the hype that still surrounds it. From the moment I saw the trailer though, it was clear that there was something different about Big Hero 6.
For starters, you wouldn’t know that it’s a “superhero” movie. The trailers showcased the movies best aspect, Baymax, who stumbled and tripped through some great comedic scenes and was then kitted out with a new armoured suit. It gave little away but managed to peak interest. What it also did was give the audience a sneak peek at the movies strongest element.
The film isn’t really a superhero movie at all. It is more about a relationship between a boy and the machine he needs to cope with grief. Early on, the hero of the story, Hiro, loses his brother and then struggles to deal with the loss. To it’s credit, the movie took it’s time to develop this relationship so when the death does occur, it has a huge impact. It also means that Baymax’s introduction and his role in the story also work very well too.
Baymax is a healing robot and he wants to “heal” Hiro and this is the biggest strength of the movie. The relationship between Hiro and Baymax is both touching and very funny. Hiro is a moody teenager while Baymax is the unaware, goofy robot that doesn’t understand what Hiro needs while inadvertently helping him. It leads to some fantastic scenes, from Baymax obviously walking through a busy city to the beginning of making the robot the superhero the movie promises.
This is the aspect of the movie that is actually the weakest. The superhero element of the movie feels slightly bolted on and is never given time to develop properly. The introduction of the movies villain is great and the scenes involving just Baymax and Hiro work very well but when it tries to become something bigger, the magic begins to wane slightly.
Not that there isn’t some parts of the superhero story. The villain is introduced on-screen in an amazing way, delivering an intense and scary threat to our heroes that seems insurmountable. This is repeated later with a very cool car chase that showcases that threat further.
The rest of the four heroes are a decent addition also. They all have very unique abilities which work well during huge fight sequences and spectacles but seem quite silly and pointless when on their own. Hardly a threat to The Avengers. Their individual characters range from the dull and lifeless (Honey Lemon) to the decent comic relief (Fred). When the six are working together, it makes for some quite impressive action sequences which are exciting to watch.
The problem is, the superhero element is clearly an after-thought. The fact it is made by Disney, with a younger target audience, begins to shine quite glaringly. The focus and subsequently best parts of the movie involve Baymax and Hiro. It means that the villain becomes very beatable with a quite dodgy motivation for his evil. It also means that we get a lazy finale, with easy surmountable obstacles and a cheesy ending.
It does show promise though and the best compliment to give the film is that I wanted to see more. Now that the “origin” is over, there is potential for a decent superhero franchise that doesn’t necessarily have to compete with the bigger, more recognisable brands and can be delightfully different with a cooler, unique edge.
Overall, watch Big Hero 6 for Baymax. He is worth the heartbreaking moments at the beginning, will make you laugh through the slapstick antics in the second act and then will keep you engaged when the superhero elements take hold and the movie begins to lose its way. There is a lot of promise for a decent franchise but it’s still slightly too Disney.
Rating – 4
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