Set in the city of San Fransokyo, we meet the young prodigy Hiro (Ryan Potter), who one days wishes to emulate his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) and be an esteemed inventor. At such a young age it would seem that Hiro has time on his side – but following a tragic incident that befalls his family, he’s thrust into the limelight, alongside a team of brainiacs and the magnanimous, inflatable robot his brother had created, Baymax (Scott Adsit) to discover a way of defeating the brutal and elusive villain who is tearing up the city.
Though dressed up in rather monumental surroundings, at the core of this warm, family tale is the intimate friendship between a young boy and a robot. It’s within these sequences where this picture excels, as there’s something so ineffably endearing about Baymax. Similarly to Wall-E, we play on the notion of literal innocence, as a robot that has been specifically programmed not to be violent, but to care and protect others. As such we strip the character of any flaws and imperfections that human beings have, making Baymax almost angelic. This sentiment is enhanced also by the clumsy and ungainly movement from the character, who is in no way graceful. Similarly to a really loyal, ugly dog. The ones that are even cuter because they are completely oblivious as to how unsightly they are.
However Hall and Williams lose sight of what makes this production so heart-warming, as we venture into the realm of the banal superhero feature, pushing the more poignant, emotional aspects to the side in turn for more conventional action sequences. We see enough of those throughout the year with all of the Marvel offerings, and this felt like the perfect opportunity to be more creative with the genre, and yet fails to deliver. Part of the problem is the lack of character distinction amongst our heroes. All of the supporting roles – and members of ‘Big Hero 6’ are not nearly nuanced or idiosyncratic enough, resulting in a disconnect between their adventure and the viewer, as we simply aren’t invested enough in their respective journeys. Whereas if you take Guardians of the Galaxy, for instance, every single character matters, and nobody is dispensable, and that can make all the difference.
Nonetheless, this film is vying to appeal to a certain audience, and it’s likely that both children and teenagers will adhere to this animation tremendously. Big Hero 6 also offers an accessible study of grief too, which can be a challenging theme to explore in pictures of this ilk. Oh, and the setting is electric and effervescent, with a brilliant clash of American and Japanese cultures. So even if you do have misgivings about this feature, at the very least you can go home and dream of one day taking a trip to San Fransokyo.