Cinema-Maniac: Big Hero 6 (2014) Review

Disney….Marvel….okay how the heck am I meant to write an introduction when two of my least favorite examples on storytelling are involved. I might have my complaints with both, but when they make great movies, more likely with Marvel, I applaud them. Sure the methods are reused, but if anyone can create a winning formula, not change it for over seventy years, still get positive reviews for essentially making the same film, and get rewarded with large revenue it’s Disney. Unlike “Frozen” where it had no idea what it wanted to be “Big Hero 6” suffers from the opposite problem of having no personality. There’s nothing in “Big Hero 6” that attempts to differentiate itself from a typical Disney animated movie or Marvel movie. Like it’s prominent hero Baymax, the original creation has heart and thought put into, but in the hands of another creator it’s just something that can reproduce from an assembly line without the same care or thought put into it.

Big Hero 6 is about a bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada. Just like the heroes of the film, “Big Hero 6” is rather aimless. One of the casualties of this film being an animated film by Disney and based around a Marvel comic book combining cliches from both properties. The Disney protagonist parents are dead, the Disney villain is one dimensional with a Marvel revenge scheme that is weak due to poor characterization, Disney supporting cast are wacky given Marvel powers of plot armor, and a Disney ending that removes Marvel character progression. There’s nothing here that has not been seen and is a tedious experience when it never does anything out of the box. For example, Hiro Hamada is proclaim by the other characters to be a genius. This is simply never made true as Hiro spends a majority of the film expanding on other’s creations rather than making his own, and his genius is boggled down by summaries rather than actual scenes displaying how clever this character is meant to be. However, unlike Hiro expansion on other inventions, the script does not expand on the hero-origin story putting more emphasis on being a by the number product than it’s own creation.

Pacing is non existent in the film. Being a showcase of several ideas and that’s all. They’re just ideas that never get time to developed into proper characteristics or working plot points. Within the first act the protagonist, Hiro, does a complete one eighty on his life with no effort to be convinced to change. This sudden change in Hiro is rushed and so is the catalyst that becomes his motivation. During this rush transformation it introduces the viewer to the rest of the cast. Supporting characters are given a single trait to differentiate from one another. They also have no personality. All the heroes are driven by the same singular goal with the same motivation. Resulting in a cast that have no personality when separated and when together becomes a boring team because the heroes all function the same. There’s no team dynamic either despite only knowing Hiro for a couple of minutes they somehow manage to work together flawlessly. Immediately removing an obstacle to the road of recovery.

The villain of the film is very weak. Not only is his motivation all the amount of characterization he gets, but that gets undone by a twist in the climax. Also, it attempt to make the identity of the villain a mystery. It doesn’t work when there’s only two candidates. By doing so, the film incorporate a twist to throw viewers off, but even with that twist spotting the villain will take no less than the first act. As for the world there’s no detail spend discussing how San Francisco and Tokyo merged into San Fransokyo. At least a single sentence would be fine, but if that’s not important than having a good ending is, which probably got teleported to another dimension since that’s gone as well. Simply put in no spoilers terms, the ending would rather keep a character position static over creating a dynamic character whose significant in the story goes far beyond the basic position from the start.

When it comes to animation Disney balances the mixture of both of Western and Japanese culture in San Fransokyo. Blending the architectural designs of Japan’s Pagoda temples with the interior of a Western traditional home. Mixing up building designs with a combination of both or separately while maintaining a unified look. Streets at night are lit up by neon billboards and Japanese lanterns. Small details like the appearances of both Japanese and English writing down to the clothing make the world feel fully realize. It’s all bright and colorful with great lighting. You’ll get to see plenty of San Fransokyo with two chase sequences, and one flying sequence that’ll display the world. These sequences are well animated, but they could have easily been taken out in favor of sequences that could have been beneficial to the story. One area where the animation fails are the action sequences. All the set pieces are a one sided affair resulting in a party unanimously coming out victoriously regardless what the film character will claim. They are simplistic and slow moving not fully utilizing the abilities of the characters until the climax, but even then it’s for a brief period before the climactic set piece comes to an end.

Ryan Potter provides the voice of Hiro, the hero of the story. His work was fine, nothing noticeable to criticize since the poor script it at fault. With that said, Ryan Potter surprisingly makes every single one of his line delivery come across naturally. He’s able to provide emotion in scenes where the material failed to do so. The stand out voice work goes to Scott Adsit and his portrayal of the robot Baymax. Even through an auto-tune-like filter, Adsit was able to give the character life. While Baymax comedic antics revolve on slapsticks and the rule of three (allot) Adist has good comedic timing. Delivery most of the laughs with what he says over what his character does. The best performance in the film belongs to Daniel Henney for his portrayal of Tadashi. Offering the most ranged in his performance and coming across as a likable individual with good intention.

The rest of cast roles require them to be one-note. Leaving little range for T.J. Miller, James Cromwell, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, and Alan Tudyk. Their performances are underwhelming, though fitting for their characters. Whatever the character trait is, the voice cast conveys those characteristics strongly. Unfortunately as stated before the roles don’t offer them much range. Minimalizing their time during the more dramatic segments of the film.

The soundtrack is something I honestly cannot judge fairly. It has a song called “Immortal” by “Fall Out Boy”, a band I grew up with. Of course I’ll be enthusiastic if I listen to “Fall Out Boy”, even if it’s a song from the “PAX AM Days” album (which I dislike). Unlike the film visuals, the soundtrack only contains two tracks that blends Western and Eastern musical influence together. The rest of soundtrack heavily feature technoesque sound that seems more in line for a film about a young-goofball hacker than a superhero film. There’s several tracks in the film where it sounds like random computer noise were randomly inserted being out of place in a track. If it’s a track emphasizing the more innocent or comedic side of the film it becomes noticeable working in the scene. However, none of the more bombastic sounding tracks manage to create a mood of excitement during the set-pieces. Having steady raising buildup, but downplaying the pay off with a whimper. Outside of the film, only Fall Out Boy “Immortal” comes closest to standing on its own without the company of the movie visuals. Aside from that one track it’s instantly forgettable.

Big Hero 6 is the result of Disney handling a property without the effort. It takes the laziest aspects of both Marvel and Disney to create a story where personality and effort is non existent. The technical side of the film are generally above solid. Disney created a wonderful, visual mixture of two different culture that looks unified. While the soundtrack goes more for a Western feel and is instantly forgettable it works for the film. Unfortunately what Big Hero 6 ends up being is missed opportunity to provide a story worth investing in, engaging characters, and memorable world.

5/10

SPOILERS: Heartless Ending

The central conflict of the film is Hiro trying to move on from his brother death. How Hiro copes with his depression is his relationship with Baymax. While the other elements of the film were predictable this central conflict appeared to be going in the right direction when everything else was not. Unfortunately by the third act the whole dynamic of getting past death has been toss aside with a twist eliminating the antagonist motivation therefore removing what little character he had. The ending defeated the whole purpose of Baymax as emotional placement for Hiro Hamada too. A physical being that metaphorically represents the soul of Hiro’s brother, at least that it seemed like the film was going for. If Baymax remained dead along with Hiro brother research data then the whole conflict would have had significant meaning. Hiro would have finally moved on from his brother death and therefore Baymax as a character has more to him than just being a fluffy comedic sidekick character oblivious how to properly act in the world. Unfortunately the film ends with Hiro rebuilding Baymax. Making Baymax into a mascot with no depth only meant to sell toy. So in the end, Hiro’s brother death was unimportant to the story and Baymax was only created to sell toys.

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