'Big Hero 6' is a fine blend of sweetness and spectacle

'Hero' centers on teenager Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter), who encounters a robot named Baymax (Scott Adsit). The movie's first half is buoyant but the film slowly slides into familiar comic book-movie ruts.

'Big Hero 6' features the voices of Ryan Potter and Scott Adsit.

As the Disney-Marvel mash-up "Big Hero 6" moves toward its big-action finale, the images will look strikingly familiar. A supervillain wreaks havoc. A portal to another dimension looms. A showdown goes airborne over a metropolis.

It could be the finale of a dozen superhero films, with one difference: "Big Hero 6" is animated. But the majority of comic-book films are also computer-generated, particularly their large set pieces. Never has that been clearer than witnessing just how similar such scenes look as out-and-out cartoons. It's a little like seeing that the superhero has no clothes.

The 3-D "Big Hero 6" is loosely based on a little-known Marvel comic about a team of superheros. Crafting a more kid-friendly version, Disney (which owns Marvel) has focused on one of the heroes, the aptly named Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter).

With his older brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney) and their aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph), the 14-year-old Hiro lives in San Fransokyo, a beautifully rendered fusion of Tokyo and San Francisco, full of both nighttime neon and steep-hilled, Bay-area panoramas.

Hiro, whose parents died when he was a toddler, is an avid gamer happy to use his technical wizardry hustling unwitting competitors in underground "bot fights." His tiny, gingerbread man-sized robot makes mincemeat of more hulking machines.

Tadashi disapproves but doesn't lecture Hiro, instead casually exposing him to his college, San Fransokyo Tech. Though Hiro initially dismisses it as "nerd school," he discovers it to be a vibrant breeding ground of invention. He's wowed by Tadashi's schoolmates – Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), Gogo (Jamie Chung) and Fred (T.J. Miller) – and their gizmos.

None is more impressive than Tadashi's robot, a marshmallow balloon "personal health care consultant" named Baymax (Scott Adsit), created with a "non-threatening, huggable" design. He's like an Obamacare dream, had the president drifted off during a Michelin commercial.

With a quick scan, he can diagnose any ailment. Looking Hiro over and detecting mood swings, he pronounces: "Diagnosis: Puberty." When his battery life wanes, he loses air pressure and begins to drunkenly slur his speech.

In short, he's an irresistible Disney supporting player, one who will give Groot, the soulful treelike alien of "Guardians of the Galaxy," a run for sidekick-of-the-year.

After a mysterious fiery accident at an invention showcase, Hiro and Baymax set off on an adventure that will gradually gather all the expected superhero conventions, slowly draining the movie's innovative Silicon Valley spirit.

So buoyant is the first half of "Big Hero 6" and so colorful is its bright, Japanese anime-inspired palette, that the film's slide into familiar comic book-movie ruts comes as a disappointment. Could it not have stayed in its rich robotics world as a high-tech high-school tale? Are such Earth-bound stories no longer possible for big-studio animation? Can't a kid grow up without flying up?

Directed by Don Hall ("Winnie the Pooh") and Chris Williams ("Bolt"), "Big Hero 6" is a fine blend of sweetness and spectacle, East and West. The meeting of Disney and Marvel sensibilities, though, is a more mixed union. When the young Hiro and the lovable Baymax strap on the body armor, girding for battle, the movie's charms are camouflaged.

"Big Hero 6" is preceded by a lovely little short, "Feast," a tale of a Boston Terrier's devotion to his owner, told exclusively, and cleverly, through mealtime. It makes for a tasty appetizer.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to 'Big Hero 6' is a fine blend of sweetness and spectacle
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today