“Big Hero 6” tugs on viewers’ hearstrings

When I first saw previews for this movie about a year ago, it didn’t look all that appealing to me (the same can actually be said with two other films from this animation studio; “Tangled” and “Frozen” didn’t draw me in based on their trailers alone). But I’m glad I gave Disney’s latest animated flick a chance. The bizarre — albeit not bizarre for Disney — premise was something that can only be portrayed in an animated film.

I’m betting there are many people, like myself, who had no idea this movie was actually based on a Marvel comic. Well, a comic that was shelfed after it first appeared in 1998 and then relaunched 10 years later in 2008. But as many critics have since pointed out, if Disney can make “Guardians of the Galaxy” into a blockbuster, perhaps they can do it with other not-so-well-known characters. And to me, this film is definitely another success for Disney Animation.

Though there were some critics saying Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi film “Interstellar” would win the box office this weekend simply because “Big Hero 6” is an animated family movie, I feel “Big Hero 6” will win the hearts of everyone — not just families. Currently, Rotten Tomatoes gives “Big Hero 6” a 91 percent on its Tomatometer (with its competitor, “Interstellar,” given a 72 percent on the Tomatometer). And boy, is that 91 percent pretty well deserved.

Our opening scene begins with a panoramic view of the skyline of San Fransokyo. Though it appears to be late at night, the city is lit up with vivid colors that set the bar high for the level of animation in this movie. When the audience first meets Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) and sees him hustle some top-notch fighters during a robot battle, they instantly know this 14 year old is a force to be reckoned with. When Hiro gets in over his head, in comes big brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) to save the day. This first glimpse of these brothers on screen shows the perfect sibling dynamic between the two: while it’s obvious Hiro and Tadashi love each other, they know the quirks and faults the other one has as well. But there isn’t enough time in the narrative for the audience to truly get to know Tadashi before he dies.

When things are looking up for the brothers, Tadashi dies in an lab fire at his university. Though this is pretty early on in the film, his loss not only sticks with the characters during the whole hour and 45 minutes of run time, but with the audience as well. Viewers won’t get to know Tadashi like his friends and brother have, but with the comedic arrival of Baymax (Scott Adsit), we learn Tadashi wanted to help people.

Begin the typical Disney plot where the main characters have lost someone dear to them and are dealing with said loss. While this plot line can be too played out, in “Big Hero 6,” it works. Baymax wouldn’t be able to help Hiro without the loss of his brother, thus the superheroes we’ve seen wouldn’t have been created without a death near to the viewers and characters. The emotions run high and vary accordingly in “Big Hero 6,” leaving the audience needing a hot water bottle for their hearts.

The Easter Eggs in this movie are prevalent too. With the confirmation of “Frozen’s” villain Hans appearing in “Big Hero 6,” I was on the lookout for more Easter Eggs. And the few I found were aptly done. Stitch, AKA Experiment 626, makes two appearances in the film. He first can be seen in what looks like a family photo in Aunt Cass’s (Maya Rudolph) house along the staircase. His second appearance is as a pillow on Fred’s (T.J. Miller) bed when our gang of teenage superheroes are on the lookout for a safe hideout. Another brief, but nonetheless important, Easter Egg that appears is the portrait of Fred’s family. The painting depicts none other than the world-renowned Stan Lee as Fred’s father. These are all more reasons that Disney’s attention to detail is incredible. But these details are also lacking in some parts of the story.

During the six heroes’ Fall Out Boy-fueled origin story montage, I couldn’t help but to think, wouldn’t Hiro’s aunt wonder where he is? Like last year’s hit of “Frozen,” there are many questions left unanswered when the film ends. What happened to Hiro and Tadashi’s parents? How are the laboratories going to be rebuilt? How did all of these characters get there bizarre names? Wasabi? Honey Lemon? Go Go? Are the kids now all forced to deal with secret identities? Will Baymax and Mochi the cat be friends? With these questions rattling around in my head, I give “Big Hero 6” a solid A-.

While the heroes of “Big Hero 6” didn’t set out to be superheroes, as we all know, sometimes life doesn’t go the way you planned. And that’s just how I feel about this animated film. Even though there are questions I’d love to have answered, many of them aren’t critical to the plot. Initially, I wasn’t drawn in on trailer and preview viewings, but after sitting down and seeing the whole film, the animation quality and storytelling I witnessed means Disney has done it again — they have another hit on their hands. Let’s hope they can keep the merchandise on the shelves this time. And for those of you who are quick to filter out of the theater as soon as the ending credits begin to roll, stick around if you’d like to learn more about Fred’s father.


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