By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A highly intelligent teenager suffers a major loss and hopes to right this wrong. He uses his intelligence towards defeating his enemy and assembles a rag-tag team of heroes to accomplish this goal. This simplified plot synopsis for Big Hero 6, the new film from Disney Animation Studios, does sound strikingly similar to other comic book stories from Marvel and DC. Well, there is a reason for this. This latest computer animated movie from the House of the Mouse is actually loosely based on a comic series from Marvel Comics. Now that Mickey and company own Marvel Entertainment, they have the opportunity to adapt some of its properties for the big screen. This first entry is a sort of Disney /Marvel hybrid that maintains the usual comic tropes, but does manage to have fun with these cliches by making them a source of good-natured humor. What Big Hero 6 lacks in originality, makes up with lots of heart and endearing humor.
Child prodigy Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) has a bright future ahead. At the age of 14, he has already finished high school and now has the opportunity to attend an exclusive school where he can further develop his advanced robotic ideas. When his technology gets stolen by a mysterious masked enemy, he sets out to stop his fiendish foe. With the help of his buddies Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), Fred (T.J. Miller), Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.), and his beloved robot Baymax (Scott Adsit), Hiro hopes to discover the secrets of this masked marauder and stop him from before things get even more out of hand
Don Hall and Chris Williams directs a story and screenplay by Hall, Jordan Roberts, Robert L. Baird, and Daniel Gerson. Loosely based on the Marvel comic by Duncan Rouleau and Stephen T. Seagle, Disney’s Big Hero 6 takes liberties with the original source material and tones things down a bit for family-friendly entertainment. This may upset die hard fans of the comic series, but should please non-fans and the uninitiated. One of my colleagues at the screening, who happens to be an avid comic reader, expressed his repugnance for the original comics and was hopeful that the producers would do things rather differently. Hall, Williams and their writers do keep some of the characters and other elements intact, but add some of that lovable Disney magic that most people know and love.
The detailed animation work by the artists does look incredibly detailed and is an absolute treat to behold. The screening I attended was presented in 3D, but this format failed to impress me. My recommendation is to see the 2D version to enjoy the gorgeous computer animation undeterred. With or without the 3D effects, the action sequences remain exhilarating and spectacular. The directors and their crew have done extraordinary work here.
As I mentioned above, the story doesn’t offer much new in terms of plot and character development. The film does have some nice surprises, but otherwise feels like a typical comic book morality story. Hiro has great intelligence and is highly motivated, but with these gifts come great responsibility. This origin story has the typical path of learning for the main character and that plot line mostly plays out as expected. The movie has humor that mostly works, but a few of the lame attempts at it grated on me a tad. These jokes and gags may go over well with younger audiences, but did manage to irritate the adult in me.
I particularly found the Fred character a bit much too handle at times. It probably isn’t T.J. Miller’s fault because he has a great voice and usually has solid comic timing. The writers, however,should have toned the character down a notch. The rest of the voice cast all perform well. Other voices talents I haven’t mentioned include James Cromwell, Alan Tudyk, and Maya Rudolph.
Big Hero 6 definitely doesn’t reinvent the superhero team movie, but is fun time at the cinema, nevertheless. I am confident that the kids will love this movie and the adults will find some enjoyment in it as well. I am not one-hundred percent sure how some comic fanatics will take Disney’s version of a Marvel story, but I had fun with the action and some of the humor. In all honesty, comic writers have been borrowing and retooling hero origin stories for years now. So it’s not all that surprising that the main character of this film has much in common with his predecessors. I probably wouldn’t recommend paying full price for Big Hero 6, but a matinee will be much more satisfying for families and curious comic fans. Oh, and like the traditional Marvel movies, this one has a nice surprise after the credits.