Disney’s “Big Hero 6”
Directed By: Don Hall & Chris Williams
Produced By: Roy Conli & John Lasseter
Screenplay By: Robert L. Baird, Dan Gerson, & Jordan Roberts
Based On: Big Hero 6 by Steven T. Seagle & Duncan Rouleau
Contrary to past Disney films, Big Hero 6 only has one song to its name so instead, I will discuss the alterations of the powers/abilities of the team from their comic book counterparts to their animated ones alongside the usual originality of the story and whatever minor nitpicks I have. Now, as a word of warning, this review will contain spoilers so allow me to state firstly that yes there is indeed a secret ending after the credits that is worth seeing as it is mildly plot relevant and extremely humorous. That being said, let’s start the review shall we?
Now, to be fair, I’ve never read the Big Hero 6 comic books and hadn’t even known of their existence until the announcement of the film based on them. That being said, I applaud Disney’s choice in picking a Marvel comic series that is obscure enough that they would, in essence, do to it what they’ve done to many other stories. While some can argue that Disney films don’t stay strictly true to the source material as it sometimes ought to, one can also argue that, in the end, they end up creating something so entirely distinct that it can be said that the result is the offspring of the original concept rather than a mirror-copy rendition.
Big Hero 6 is a tale of growing up, of learning to deal with loss, all the pain that it brings, and the right or wrong ways of dealing with that loss. While the main protagonist is obviously Hiro Hamada, the spotlight also shines brightly upon Baymax, a robot who is not strictly alive as we know life to be nor does he gain the same level of sapience as WALL*E but he comes remarkably close.
His programming, his entire reason for being, is to help people by means of improving their health whether it is physical or emotional. While we see the many ups and downs of Hiro trying to cope with the death of his brother, we see just as many with Baymax simply being himself. He’s a machine and he doesn’t feel as we feel but you can tell, however innately, that he’s growing pretty darn close to it by the film’s end.
As to the comparisons of the team itself, lets go down the line shall we? For Hiro and Baymax, next to nothing has changed for Hiro whilst Baymax was heavily altered to strictly be a, quite literal, huggable robot designed and created strictly for caring for the sick and injured. The crew for the film even went so far as to tour actual robotics that were exploring the very idea of robots being capable of caring for the sick without risk of injuring them via vinyl outer layer.
GoGo Tomago still retains an advanced suit but its geared more towards the concept of utilizing the technology that she was trying to further. That is to say that she’s armed with electromagnetic wheels for impossibly fast speed as well as weapons that can be called back to her hand. In the comics, her armor allowed her to become a living bomb of kinetic energy that she’d first need to build up via extreme speeds beforehand but a piece of that still exists in her ability to make her wheels spin fast enough to be heated by the air friction to cut through virtually anything.
In the comics, Honey Lemon is armed with a specialized purse that she can grab anything that she can conceivably imagine. The comic book incarnation of her purse was a unique blend of wormhole and Pym Particles, that is to say “shrinking/growing” particles that allowed her to store anything she wanted in miniaturized form in an infinite number of pocket universes contained within her purse. Rather than go with that… admittedly over-the-top idea, the animated version sports a purse that creates any combination of chemical bombs that Honey Lemon can think of. As she is a chemist major who is sugary sweetness topped with a dash of mad scientist… that’s quite a lot let me tell you.
Wasabi is an interesting case as far as his comic book incarnation is concerned. Known more formally as Wasabi-No-Ginger, the comic incarnation of Wasabi is a mutant who is able to generate his Qi, his life energy, into bladed weapons. Like with Honey Lemon and GoGo Tomago, Disney chose to stick strictly to the science when it came to Wasabi’s abilities and thus made him a specialist in laser technology. His energy blades are made up of plasma travelling down a monofilament line to form the shape and no, I’ve no idea what any of that means but it sounds more plausible than “just because.”
Last, but certainly not least, is Fred or “Fredzilla” as he calls himself. In the comics, he’s a mutant whose power allows him to project a kaiju like aura over himself that can physically interact with the world around him. In the animated film, he is a man after my own heart in that he is so absurdly obsessed with kaiju that when Hiro presents the opportunity for him, he leaps at the chance of donning a true-blue kaiju suit armed with a Mario-style super jump and a specialized flamethrower located at the chest.
As to the film’s villain Yokai… All that I will say of him is that I wasn’t half as surprised by his identity as I had been when Prince Hans revealed himself to be the true villain in Frozen. I admit, after such a spectacular feint like that, I had my own suspicions as to who Yokai could be and the film played me like a fiddle on those suspicions throughout the film. While not as dramatic as it was in Frozen, they still created a marvelously villainous character out of Yokai in how he moves and operates. He feels every bit the creature that he is named after and even when his identity is revealed and his motives announced to the world, he doesn’t really lose any of it.
In the entirety of the film I only have two honest complaints to make and the first is more a matter of personal preference to me than anything else. That being said, I sincerely wished that “Fredzilla” was designed a bit more… reptilian like I suppose. Don’t get me wrong, he looks good but darn it if I don’t get a severe Monster’s Inc. vibe whenever I see him. Still, props to the most amazing kaiju suit in the entire world. The second nitpick I have with the film overall is that I sincerely wish more time had been given to the other characters. True, the story is about Hiro and, by extension, Baymax but given its title, one would think that a bit more of the limelight could be spared to the other four.
Still, there was more to the film than I had expected, particularly in the way of explaining the characters’ rather eccentric names. Though only stated specifically for Wasabi, who being a clean/organization freak of the highest order had apparently spilled wasabi on his shirt once and had a major hissy fit over it, one can surmise likewise for the girls. In the case of GoGo Tamago, “GoGo” makes sense in regards to her being an adrenaline junkie whose scientific focus is creating the fastest non-motorized bike in the world and “tamago” meaning egg likely is a jab at her favorite food. Honey Lemon… well, lets face it, she’s sweet as honey but with her chemical genius can make one’s face go all puckered like a lemon from sheer bewilderment.
Overall, I give Disney’s Big Hero 6 a solid five out of five stars. Would it win any awards? For Best Animated Picture, possibly if the competition isn’t a fierce one or heavily one-sided as the past few years had been, but for effects? Stars above, YES. While not done strictly for this movie, Disney managed to create a new computer-rendering program. Named Hyperion, this newly designed rendering program allows for an entirely new field of light effects in computer generated films, specifically lighting through translucent materials like vinyl as well as a more realistic lighting scheme overall. I’m fairly sure that we’ll see little to no difference in Pixar and Disney films in the years to come as far as CGI is concerned but until then dear readers, in the famous word of Stan Lee…