From Disney Animation, the studio that brought us Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph, comes Big Hero 6, the Oscar Winning film that is an adaptation of a Marvel comic book.
Big Hero 6 follows 14-year-old robotics genius Hiro Hamada, who, after certain events, which are inexplicably spoiled in the trailer, forms a team and uses their intellect to build super powered suits to battle the antagonist.
Note: If you have no interest in the comic book differences and Japanese influences, skip to the next part of the review.
Despite having not read a Big Hero 6 comic, I read a lot about the comic and how the film changes many aspects. Obviously, the comic is not a kid's comic; therefore, the film changed virtually everything to make it family friendly film. Knowing that the film would be entirely different, the alternation of the source material is not an issue for me, aside from the general flaws with the film.
One difference is that the comic is set in Japan with mostly Japanese characters. The film is set in a hybrid of San Francisco and Tokyo, San Fransokyo that blends a few stylistic elements of Japan into the visuals, specifically the architecture. Unfortunately, the similarities to Japanese culture end there with only an occasional reference to Japan. If you somehow do not already know, I am a Japanese anime enthusiast, and I have a layman's knowledge of the culture from various sources, so I would say that about 10% of the film's visual aesthetic is influenced by Japan with the rest being the typical Disney flick. The character designs are do have a slight anime style, although, so did Frozen, which makes sense since Disney's early animation is the reason for anime's visual style.
Directed by: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Adventure, Comic Book, Sci-Fi,
Release Date: November 7, 2014
Running Time: 102 minutes
MMPA rating: PG
The Good: Expectedly high quality animation, Brother relationship, Baymax is genuinely likable and hilarious,
The Bad: Cop-out ending, Predictable, Clichéd 3rd Act,
Plot: 4.4/10- The overall plot follows a familiar family film narrative structure with certain events that set the main character on their journey and a resolution that completely cops-out on the point of the film (more on that later). You could say that I am being too hard on it since it is, after all, a film intended for children and families. My rebuttable is that I am tired of giving a film a pass for being a family flick; however, if you are only interested in entertaining your kids, then yes, this is a great pick. With that out of the way, let's actually critique the film.
Unfortunately, as with most family flicks, the plot goes for the predictable route in the final act. We have seen this final act in nearly every family film: the characters come together and confront the antagonist. *Possible Spoiler* The ending itself starts as something unexpected, but of course, it takes the happy ending route after trying to fake you out. It is far from a bad ending, but rather an issue with family films in general. *End Spoiler*
Old comic books are generally "family friendly" by today's standards, at least Marvel’s, so why couldn't the writers draw from those comics, not necessarily Big Hero 6, to create a story that is different? I only watch the best and most popular new family films, and it is the exact same thing that I have seen so many times.
Characterization: 7.3/10- Hiro Hamada is a typical, albeit likable, boy genius archetype. The only standout aspect of the characters is his relationship with his brother Tadashi. The bond, which is only featured briefly in the 1st Act, is the best aspect of the film. Unfortunately, there is not nearly enough of it.
The rest of the team are all generic and forgettable. None of the characters stand out for being anything other than goofy. The antagonist is typical and his motives are nothing original.
Acting: 7.0/10- The entire cast is as good as to be expected with no standout performances.
Animation: 8.5/10- Disney Animation continues to deliver high quality work with their 3D animation. The visuals for the powers are the most impressive in the film, and the slight eastern aesthetic is always welcome, albeit underused.
Soundtrack: 7.5/10- Henry Jackman's score is fittingly heroic with many fun tracks.
Humor: 7.8/10- For an animated family flick, the humor is above-average. However, aside from Baymax's scenes, the jokes do not really work.
Entertainment Value: 7.7/10- Big Hero 6 is an overall enjoyable experience, although not one that I am interested to see again for a long time.
Overall: 6.7/10- With its exciting visuals and just enough heart to be worthwhile, Big Hero 6 is a fun film for the whole family, despite falling into the same clichés that we have seen so many times in the past.
Closing comments: Good job to the guys who chose Big Hero 6 over the Lego Movie for the Academy Awards; you really screwed it up!
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