Ladies and gentleman, it is time for another fast-paced e-mail exchange from MediaBrewPub! Today, we are pairing the refined, theatrical tastes of Jun with the back-alley, indiscriminate, gratuitous tastes of Andrew. Subject matter: Disney’s latest animated release, Big Hero 6. WARNING: nonsense (and spoilers) may occur. With that in mind, let’s kick this bad boy off…
Andrew’s thoughts are in red, Jun’s in blue.
They put together a great duo in Baymax and Hiro. Baymax is truly “nonthreatening” and lovable, and he balances Hiro’s “pubescent mood swings” quite well. They make an amusing pairing.
The sidekick platter was also strong. Each one had distinctive quirks with minimal overlap. I initially wondered if it would be overwhelming (particularly Fred), but I think they got the formula right. Speaking of formulas, I thought I would hate the Honey Lemon character, but I ended up having quite the soft spot for her by the end of the movie. It pains me to say it (You know, because this is what Jamie Chung looks like), but GoGo might have been my least favorite of the group. That’s not saying much, though, because by “least favorite,” I mean that she was the least awesome.
And I can’t say enough about Tadashi. He was not in the movie very long, but his presence was felt in many scenes. In particular, the sentimental flashbacks on Baymax’s belly (Can I be obnoxious and call him Baemax?) showed something that not enough feel-good films touch upon: the importance failure has on the road to success. Subtle, but I thought it was very well-played.
Alright, I’ve rambled enough. Let’s hear what you’ve got to say, high-class.
Long story short, I enjoyed Big Hero 6. I’d put this one below Wreck-It Ralph when comparing it to the recent Disney animated films over the past few years. I liked exploring the colorful, vibrant city of San Fransokyo, and I thought it was great how the film’s emotional core stems from the relationships between Hiro and Tadashi, and Hiro and Baymax. The movie balanced action and drama very well, and infused the right amount of humor. Voice acting was top notch all around, especially for Hiro and Baymax.
I found it amusing how I got lots of Spider-Man vibes from this movie. Think about it. Our hero is primarily raised by a humorous aunt (his parents died) who is strict when needed. He becomes a superhero to avenge the death of a loved one (Tadashi), and he is somewhat responsible for that person’s death. He gets over his grief and has to learn that with great power comes great responsibility (Baymax’s purpose is to help people). He’s really smart and creates not only his own suit, but also the tools he’ll need (his friends’ weapons). The villain is pretty much Doctor Octopus, what with his scientific background and his utilizing the microbots to carry out his evil deeds. You could perhaps argue how Fred could totally pull a Harry Osbourne in a sequel, but that would be reaching.
My complaints with the movie derive from its length and storytelling. I thought it could have been at least 10 minutes longer, which wouldn’t be a problem since it has a nice, fast pace. That time could have been used to develop the supporting characters (basically, the team sans Hiro, Baymax, and Fred) a bit more. That’s not to say that I didn’t care for the others – it’s just that they didn’t coma alive for me as the others did. I do wish that the movie handled its villain better. It’s pretty obvious from the get-go that his identity is actually Professor Callaghan, and personally, I think any subsequent Disney animated films can stop trying to pull twists with its villains, because this is the third movie in a row to do that, so it’s predictable by now. I also didn’t buy how he’s actively trying to destroy the team, considering that most of the group are his students.
Overall, I give Big Hero 6 a 4.0/5.0.
As the resident Spidey-geek, I’m going to have to disagree with you on the comparison. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to compare Hiro to Peter Parker, as Parker’s life sucks a lot more than Hiro’s. Hiro has a legitimate support team to lean on as a superhero, and for Spidey, not so much. And their personalities are very, very different. The origin similarities are a bit of a stretch too, as Parker feels blame for what happens to Uncle Ben, whereas Tadashi’s death was more of an accident. I could go on but we’re talking Big Hero 6, not Spidey. I will say that when Callaghan was manipulating the microbots, he definitely had shades of Doc Ock.
Funnily enough, I did not see Callaghan as the villain. At that point in the story, there was not enough character info for me to see a reason for why he would become the villain. I figured it was Tadashi instead; he could have worked out a deal with Krei in advance because he wasn’t sure if Hiro would accept the deal. I think that would have made more sense at the time (until they flashed back to Callaghan’s daughter getting sucked into the vortex), but I’m glad they did not go that route. Tadashi was a great “nice guy” character.
We definitely agree that it doesn’t really make sense that Callaghan would be okay with killing his students. That’s a character shift that I think wasn’t adequately explained. It’s not like the microbots fused to his brain stem à la Octavius to alter his mind. I got a little hung up on that.
Since you’re bringing up recent Disney movies, I’m going to ask you: are we in a new golden age of Disney? The last time they put together a string of movies this well thought out was when we were given Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. I’m not saying that Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero 6 are at that level, but they’re certainly doing things right again. It feels like a bit of a resurgence after they basically rode the Pixar pony to animated success over the last decade or so. I don’t know whether these films will have the longevity of their predecessors, but if this is the new way of doing things, I’m excited.
Regarding the villain’s identity – when I was watching the movie, I knew it had to be either Callaghan or Tadashi. It was actually easy for me to rule out Tadashi because the story establishes him as such a loving and nice character that it wouldn’t make sense for him to attack the group with an intent to kill. It doesn’t make complete for Callaghan either, but I think it comes down to the impression that the villain wasn’t written as well as he could have been. I will say, though, that if Tadashi was the villain and was written convincingly such, that would be such great material for Daniel Henney to sink his teeth into.
I was actually browsing Wikipedia to read into what is commonly known as the Disney Renaissance (from 1989 to 1999), and it’s argued that we’re currently in a new renaissance, being referred to as the Neo-Renaissance era, which started with Bolt. Personally, I don’t think any of the recent films are at the level of the three classics you mentioned, though Wreck-It Ralph arguably has the greatest longevity potential, and probably Frozen due to its songs. Time will ultimately tell, but I think that the recent films and any subsequent entries (Zootopia and Moana are next) require tight stories mixing adventure, emotion, and originality to truly be on the same level as the greats. That’s why Wreck-It Ralph is really the only standout for me. I do agree that Walt Disney Animation Studios are heading in the right direction, especially with their emotional beats and telling relatively new stories. Hopefully the Neo-Renaissance lasts for a long time.
I don’t know that I support anything after The Lion King as being a part of the Disney Renaissance. Now, don’t get me wrong – a lot of the movies that followed, I enjoyed, but they definitely don’t have the “classic Disney” feel to them. Not that it matters, but none of my favorite Disney films came from that time period, even though those were the prime years for me to be on board with Disney. Weird.
In any case, I think we can both agree that Big Hero 6 was a very solid showing for Disney, and that they are heading in the right direction for success in the future. Been a pleasure working with you, high-class.
I’m inclined to agree with you, though I’d have to watch most of those films again. I would argue that Mulan can be considered classic Disney down the line out of the ones that followed The Lion King. They’re all solid outings, except for Pocahontas. Personally, my favorite Disney films came from the 40s: Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi – three winners in a row (The last one is my all-time Disney favorite)!
To close, Big Hero 6 is a pretty good movie, which the entire family can enjoy. Cheers, good sir!
* Photos courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures