Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review of BIG HERO 6: Disneyfied Marvel Anime

 November 7, 2014

The city is San Fransokyo, a cosmopolitan hybrid between San Francisco and Tokyo. Hiro Tadashi is a bored child prodigy who graduated high school at 13, and whiles his time making fighter robots. His brother Tadashi is in college under esteemed pioneer Robert Callaghan, working on his own project -- a big white inflatable robot nurse named Baymax.

After Hiro develops a highly original, versatile and powerful mind- controlled microbot technology, Callaghan invites him into his program as well. However, that same fateful night, a big explosive fire breaks out at the school building with a tragic aftermath which flipped Hiro's world over. 

With Baymax as his invaluable robot sidekick, Hiro would discover that there was something more behind that fire. Hiro uses his technological genius to upgrade the abilities of Baymax, along with four of his brothers' nerdy inventor friends -- Gogo, Honey Lemon, Wasabi and Fred -- to from a group of six superheroes who sought to apprehend and unmask the man in the Kabuki mask behind the whole thing.

It was only after the film that I found out that Big Hero 6 was actually a group of superheroes from Marvel Comics back in the late 1990s. This is the first Disney animated film that featured Marvel comic characters since the former acquired the latter in 2009. Disney was given license to change the appearances of the characters for the film version, Disneyfying them so to speak.

While watching the film, I got the vibes of "The Incredibles", "Scooby Doo" and various Japanese robot anime. There were even parallels with Dreamworks' "How to Train Your Dragon," especially with the designs of the main human characters. The sequence where the heroes learn how to fly has already been done in various similar films over and over. But this film did have its own memorable moments, mostly thanks to that gentle giant marshmallow of a robot, Baymax.

Even if his name sounds rather clunky, Baymax is really a wonder to watch. His face is nothing more than a two black dots connected by a line. However he can still manage to convey so much with those. The way he walks, the way he falls, the way he squeezes into tight spots, all so adorable. A lot of the credit goes to his animators who were successful to create a genuinely cute character who is not annoying (Olaf anyone?). The spot-on voice acting of Scott Adsit lent Baymax his kind, nurturing and compassionate character. 

If not for Baymax, this whole film would be a generic superhero cartoon with little much to remember it by. We did not really know much the other four members of the team except that they were friends and classmates of Tadashi who had invented some awesome stuff. Hiro is the usual spirited Disney boy hero, but for a change this hero was no fool or weakling. His supreme intellect and engineering skills set him apart, but he seems too perfect.

However, these may all be just nitpicking because as a whole the film was very entertaining and enjoyable for the whole family. The animated special effects were imaginatively conceived, fantastically executed and great to watch. The humor appeals to both little kids and their parents. As a sucker for films featuring brothers, I loved that the story between Hiro and Tadashi which was so touchingly told. I also liked the East-West mix in the artwork.

Since this is technically a Disney-Marvel film, do wait for an important extra scene after ALL the end credits roll. It is worth the long wait. This short scene features a cameo from a guy we see in cameos from most all Marvel films (I'm sure you know who I am talking about). This tells us that a sequel is afoot, and you're sure we will be looking out for that. 8/10.

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