Film has the capacity to inspire us. It can make us feel sentimental, happy and sad. The greatest power a movie has is the ability to reach out and touch an audience’s heart. Big Hero 6, directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, achieves this and more.
This Disney animated movie (made in conjunction with Marvel Studios) tells the story of 14-year-old genius Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) and his journey through grief and vengeance with the assistance of a robot nurse called Baymax (Scott Adsit). Hiro’s brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), created Baymax in the hopes that one day he would be mass-produced and help people all around the world. The film leaves its audience with a warm heart. The story and its characters – specifically the lovable robot – work together to impart this feeling.
The story begins when a devastating event befalls Hiro’s futuristic hometown of San Fransokyo and catapults him into danger. He turns to Baymax and his close friends, adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago (Jamie Chung), neatnik Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.), chemistry wiz Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) and mascot by day/science-fiction fan by night Fred (T.J. Miller). Together, they strive to uncover the mystery and become a group of high-tech heroes.
Baymax is the heart and soul of the film. He is a robot like no other. In one scene, Baymax is low on battery life and Adsit plays the character as if he’s drunk. Baymax discovers Hiro’s cat, cradles him and says, “Hairy baby! Hairrrry baaabby.” The whole moment perfectly captures his comic relief/caretaker duality while reaffirming his non-human perspective.
Baymax’s other unique quality is his tender nature. This almost parental role fuels the film’s plot. Hiro is bent on avenging his brother, even if that means murder (something that is not in Baymax’s code); the robot’s sole purpose is to help heal Hiro. This dynamic allows for Hiro to grow, adapt and show true strength in the face of revenge. Baymax’s role as a nurse and support to Hiro’s friends is what finally allows Hiro to overcome his loss.
Baymax is far from the only reason Big Hero 6 succeeds on an emotional level. Hiro’s friends also play a big role in the movie’s charm. Go Go, Wasabi and Honey Lemon are all geniuses in the science field and work tirelessly to create new innovations.
Both Go Go and Honey Lemon are amazing female characters. Honey Lemon is fabulous: strong, intelligent and overwhelmingly compassionate. She personally demonstrates that being “girly” is not a weakness. Go Go is Honey Lemon’s exact opposite. She dresses in all black and exudes a tough exterior. But in spite of her attitude, it’s obvious there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to help her friends.
Go Go delivers my favorite line in the movie when she tells Hiro to “woman up” and present a project that will determine whether he gets into his dream college. Normally one might say “man up,” but this change reaffirms the strength of women.
Through these kinds of moments, Go Go and Honey Lemon prove to be positive role models for young girls interested in engineering and chemistry. They show that women come in all shapes and sizes. This kind of writing is a positive example of female empowerment; I hope other films will take notice.
Fred (Miller) immediately comes off as a goof. He has all the qualities of the stereotypical slacker. He hangs around the university’s science labs all day, even though he doesn’t actually attend the college. He just sits around reading comics and telling his friends they should invent invisible sandwiches or figure out a way to allow him to transform into a fire-breathing lizard at will.
But Fred is more complex than he seems. He’s the one who figures out that he and his friends are up against a supervillain, thanks to his love of comic book, and that the best course of action is for them to become superheroes. Fred is not as smart as his friends, but without him, the plot wouldn’t progress.
Hiro’s friends create a dynamic group of complex characters who are still relatable. Wasabi’s OCD, Go Go’s love for speed, Fred’s addiction to comics and Honey Lemon’s girly side are all attributes that someone can relate to. For example, there are times when Wasabi’s dialogue is regularly interrupted due to his OCD. These moments are touching because they remind us that these characters have genuine thoughts and feelings. Moreover, someone with OCD can see that their disorder does not have to hold them back.
Big Hero 6 stresses an important message: people die, but it is no one’s fault. We cannot allow emotions to fill us with hatred. Hiro learns to accept that some things in life are out of control with the help of a strong friend-based support system and Baymax’s unrelenting care. The best way to cope with tragedy is to turn to friends and family. When we shut everyone out of our lives, we end up bitter and alone.
Big Hero 6 is my favorite animated film of 2014, which is saying a lot. It had tough competition with How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Lego Movie. Yet Big Hero 6‘s charm, plot and characters make it a standout success.
Movie Verdict: Win