Thursday, April 9, 2015

Disney Takes a Step Backward with the Nevertheless Adorable "Big Hero 6"

Big Hero 6 is about a kid coping with the death of his brother via
the help of a robot said brother invented.
In my review of Frozen, I mentioned how far Walt Disney Animation Studios has come over the last decade, steadily improving its output to the point that it arguably has become the premier animation house in Hollywood.

I still feel that way after having seen Big Hero 6, but on the heels of the studio's recent successes, Disney's adaptation of this obscure Marvel property is a bit of a let down. It's solid and occasionally inspired entertainment, but it's a lot more Meet the Robinsons or Bolt than Wreck-It Ralph or Frozen.

That's totally fine -- not every attempt needs to be a classic, which is something I've discussed at length in my coverage of Pixar's output over the years. I'd never argue Big Hero 6 is a bad film -- it's a cute, eye-popping heart-tugger that deftly addresses coping with tragedy and features an absolutely adorable break-out character (that would be Baymax, the inflatable health care robot voiced by 30 Rock's Scott Adsit).

But it's also pretty pedestrian in the way it plays like a vastly inferior version of the similar Guardians of the Galaxy (my review here). Both are obscure Marvel properties focused on a hero with a tragic past who leads a group a misfits in battling a vengeance-seeking villain. But whereas Guardians had a lot of flavor and personality, especially among it's deep supporting cast, Big Hero 6 is woefully undefined. The four teens who make up the back two-thirds of the superhero team are basically window dressing and the villain's descent into callous violence carries little weight and makes even less sense.

Thank goodness then for Baymax, who's as cute as Wall-E or Groot, but about 10 times more huggable and 100 times more articulate. His awkward physicality and matter-of-fact pronouncements are the undisputed highlight of the film, which is ultimately a solid, if unspectacular, offering from Disney. B

This is adorable.