By Muhammad Muzammal COLUMNIST
Gorgeously rendered and highly enjoyable, “Big Hero 6,” is a blend of the innocent poignancy of a Disney film and the epic, superhero action of a Marvel movie. Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams center their film on a young, rebellious, genius inventor, Hiro Hamada (an enthusiastic Ryan Potter), a relatable yet too familiar hero whose sentimental coming of age storyline is a synthesis of both Oliver Twist and Spider-Man.
After losing his brother and fellow inventor Tadashi (a charming Daniel Henney), in a mysterious fire at a local college science fair, Hiro sets out to find the source of the accident. Hiro reaches out to Tadashi’s closest “nerd” friends and configuring with Baymax, an all-in-one robot that Tadashi left behind.
With all its sappy, yet lovable, kinks (like giving automatic hugs to those in pain), Baymax is essentially a healthcare diagnostician that looks like a cross between the Marshmallow man and a fat panda bear. With a comforting, safe presence, the robot is hilarious and never over-the-top, giving way to charm over spectacle, a dilemma many movie superheroes face nowadays.
The titular “Big Hero 6,” refers to Baymax and Hiro and four other magnetizing, playful misfits: the built, yet soft-hearted laser blade maniac Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.); the chemical reactions specialist Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez); the crazed cyclist Go Go Tamago (Jamie Chung); and the best of them all, Fred (T.J. Miller), a freakish messy haired weirdo whose personality is bordering on stoner.
The villain of “Big Hero 6” has a chillingly awesome look with his kamikaze mask and reveals meaning behind his egregious actions. The depth that is revealed in his character, with the gang of misfits and the inclusion of big old Baymax, is what makes this superhero ensemble piece more than a retread of the “Avengers,” Disney’s biggest film.
Yet, the problem is the film does feel at times like a retread. The sense of wonder and wit found in Disney’s greatest works: “Wall-E,” “Up” and to a certain degree, “Toy Story,” is found in patches in “Big Hero 6.” The movie’s greatest virtue is also its anchor – the superhero narrative.
Among one the best scenes in “Big Hero 6” is Morpheus downloading various fighting styles in Neo’s mind in “The Matrix.” Hiro feeds Baymax’s database with many types of martial art skills, giving him neurological karate lessons and an arsenal of combating knowledge.
These partial-origin story scenes work great but are let down by the predictability of the climax, which has the invincible evil superhero villain threatening to destroy the world. This time the villain aims to swallow the visually dazzling city of San Franokyo (an actual fusion of both Tokyo and San Francisco) in a magnetic passageway, which leads passers down a cosmic, never-ending rainbow cave (the film’s visceral standout piece).
“Big Hero 6,” arrives at a tricky time – the last thing Hollywood needs is six more superheroes. Despite the wonderful experience of watching the movie, it ultimately feels uncalled for and not important enough.
Despite all of this, it is an amusing film that finds success in the difficult-to-succeed-in grey area that mixes an adult themed superhero flick and a whimsical kid movie in a more than serviceable product.
If you’re into adventure and want a refreshing superhero film, “Big Hero 6” is a welcoming work.