Big Hero 6

Posted by Joel Copling on November 6, 2014

It was only a matter of time that Disney Animation (a subset of Walt Disney Pictures that has thrived this decade with the likes of 2010's "Tangled," 2012's "Wreck-It Ralph," and 2013's "Frozen") would take on a Marvel property, and "Big Hero 6" is the delightful result. This is a minor work in the company's oeuvre, suffering from familiarity and a chaotic third act, but a surprisingly emotional core remains, and that is where the film garners its success. There also might be a tired villain character with a rote, underdeveloped motivation, but at least there is an adorable sidekick in the form of an overly literal robot destined to become a cult-favorite character.

That robot is Baymax (voice of Scott Adsit), and if one wants merely a single example of his adorable nature, this robot's version of a fist bump (which he adds to his records) should be proof enough. He is the operational health-care professional designed by Tadashi (voice of Daniel Henney), the older brother of our hero (fitfully named Hiro and voiced by Ryan Potter). He is also one of the few remaining objects to remind Hiro of Tadashi when the latter is killed in an explosion. The explosion occurs following an exhibit of microbots held by Hiro, who sees himself as responsible until it becomes clear that the explosion was not a freak accident.

Hiro's grief following his brother's murder is far more affecting than his investigation into the death, which brings him to an island off the coast of San Fransokyo (which is actually what it sounds like) and into the clutches of a villain whose weapon is seemingly unstoppable and whose backstory is just as emotionally charged (with barely a percentage of the depth) as Hiro's trigger to stop him. Hiro is joined in his quest by classmates in his science program under the tutelage of the famous Robert Callaghan (voice of James Cromwell); they include the voice talents of T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., and Genesis Rodriguez, and each of them is a disposable, throwaway non-entity.

But at least they, like Baymax (who ends up becoming not much more than a prop--an amusing one--until the back end of the third act), are fun to be around. The makeshift superheroes they become might be created in a rush of underdeveloped ideas, but the action sequences in which they take part are of the high-flying, rip-roaring variety. The heart of all this seems misplaced in an almost-literal montage of combat and chaos after the solid development of Hiro as a grieving brother (and, now, technically an orphan raised by an aunt for whom an amusing Maya Rudolph provides the voice) and of Baymax as the final bequest from Tadashi that truly heals Hiro. But "Big Hero 6" has heart, and when it's more functional than affecting, at least there is energy to spare.

Film Information

Featuring the voices of Ryan Potter (Hiro), Scott Adsit (Baymax), Daniel Henney (Tadashi), T.J. Miller (Fred), Jamie Chung (Go Go), Damon Wayans Jr. (Wasabi), Genesis Rodriguez (Honey Lemon), James Cromwell (Robert Callaghan), Alan Tudyk (Alistair Krei), and Maya Rudolph (Aunt Cass).

Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams and written by Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, and Jordan Roberts, based on the comic by Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle.

Rated PG (action/peril, rude humor, thematic elements).

108 minutes.

Released on November 7, 2014.