Disney’s latest production, Big Hero Six, an adaptation of the Marvel graphic novel series, has been a roaring success. With a combination of these two fantastically popular franchises, it’s highly unlikely that the film would be anything short of well-received. The movie follows its protagonist, Hiro, along with the personal healthcare robot Baymax, and the spectacularly zany side characters; Gogo, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred. Although a little heavy handed in the moral messages delivered, the film still manages to have the audience rolling in the aisle, gasping in terror, and shedding heartfelt tears, in 108 minutes flat.
Set in San-Fransokyo (The forcing of western-culture into a Tokyo based story being slightly painful), we meet Hiro Hamada, and his older brother Tadashi. Having graduated high school at age 13, Hiro has apparently decided that his calling is in the illegal, underground world of ‘Bot fighting’. That is, until the disapproving-yet-supportive Tadashi decides to give him a taste of a different world. Bringing Hiro to the university lab, Tadashi shows off the projects he, and his fellow classmates (the aforementioned side-kicks) are working on. Ecstatic at a possible opportunity to study in a place with such fantastic facilities, Hiro becomes determined to earn a place. However, due to a fire, a death, and an apparent ‘super-villain’ in a kabuki mask, Hiro’s course seems to have slipped onto a more Hiro-ic (get it?) path.
First released at the Tokyo International Film Festival in October of 2014, Big Hero six quickly earned a stellar reputation, becoming Walt Disney Animation Studio’s second most successful film opening ever (right behind Frozen). For a film which can be described as an ‘origin story’, that’s a big achievement. ‘The Amazing Spider-man’, ‘Batman Begins’, or the reboot of the ‘Stark Trek’ franchise all faced this challenge, managing to pass to varying degrees. (The set up of a future series has to be both entertaining, whilst providing an intricately designed backstory, and the first villain, hero, or team, faces). Fortunately, this production managed to provide a set up for future adventures, without becoming so focused on the elements of the story that the entertainment is lost.
As previously mentioned, several of the messages delivered by the film appear as slightly heavy handed, which is true of most Disney films. Lilo and Stitch: Your family will always love you. Frozen: Don’t be ashamed of who you are. These dictated morals are certainly quite blunt, but when considering that the films are designed for a young audience, the obviousness of the messages can be forgiven.
Big Hero Six is certainly a film worth watching. The spectacular animation, combined with a well thought out story line, and well-written dialogue creates a heart-warming production with, in true Disney style, levels of humour for all ages. Although the ham-fisted moral messages, and, sometimes, plot holes upset the flow of the film, it still manages to enchant and excite the viewer. As a combination of both Marvel and Disney, nothing less would be expected.