Child genius Hiro Hamada owes a lot to his big brother Tadashi. It’s thanks to Tadashi that Hiro stops using his talents for petty crime, and starts using them to revolutionise robotics, and is accepted into the prestigious Callaghan Institute of Robotics. But Tadashi’s tragic death leaves Hiro with nothing – except Tadashi’s great project, a prototype medical robot called Baymax. In an attempt to ‘cure’ Hiro’s grief, boy and bot set out on the trail of a mysterious masked man, in search for answers…
As you’d expect of a recent Disney production, the film looks incredible. The spectacle onscreen is – if you’ll forgive the tautology – spectacular; in particular the flight sequences. There’s plenty of noise, colour and movement to hold your attention. The mash-up of Japan and America across the whole film is also rather fun, and gives the usual American-style movie a welcome hint of wasabi.
And can we also take a moment to appreciate how adorable Baymax is? Amidst stereotypical characters, a mild-mannered six-foot high blimp-like creature stands out. With his deadpan plastic face, slow and calming voice and obliviousness to social norms, Baymax is an entertaining character to watch. More importantly, he’s also the heart of the film. The relationship between Hiro and Baymax is touching. It doesn’t matter that he’s a robot – he’s as human as any other character, perhaps even more so.
The centre of this relationship is grief – really, the whole movie is about grief. For all the trappings of high-tech superheroes, at its heart Big Hero 6 is about how people come to terms with loss. Both Hiro and villain are motivated by loss, but how they deal with it makes the difference between good and evil. It may be a bit grown-up for the little ones, but one the other hand, it’s nice to see something serious for the grown-ups to think about.
But there are flaws to this film. There is simply too much going on. The plot swerves from coming-of-age tale to mystery to superhero with little warning. Amidst all this narrative veering, interesting ideas that are raised are run over.
It’s no Frozen, but Big Hero 6 is still a lot of fun, and tries to raise some interesting ideas amidst the colour and movement. It’s just a shame the serious stuff wasn’t done a bit more skilfully.