Elements from a Marvel Comics series were used to develop this animated film. As such, things feel very familiar. The inherent ideas here are not that far flung The Avengers (2012) or even this year's Guardians of the Galaxy. It's basically the story of how a group of heroes band together to stop a super-powered villain. Big Hero 6 was created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau as a kind of B-team in the X-Men universe. Because the Walt Disney company, which is producing and distributing this film doesn't have the rights to the X-Men universe, screenwriters here Jordan Roberts, Daniel Gerson and Robert L. Baird completely re-imagine things.
The entire movie takes place in a city that looks like San Francisco and Tokyo had a baby. In fact, the fictional city is called San Fransokyo. The story centers on two brothers. The first is 13-year-old Hiro Hamada and the other is his older brother Tadashi Hamada. Both are orphans. They live with their aunt Cass above a cafe that she owns. Both are robot inventors.
Hiro has invented tiny robots called microbots that can assemble and disassemble, as well as continuously combine to shape-shift and form bigger machines or structures to perform any task via mind control. Tadashi has invented a balloon-shaped robot named Baymax, which is designed to be a personal, in-home nurse that can instantly diagnose by scanning people and provide warm, cuddly healthcare.
Tadashi is a student at a prestigious college or institute where he works in a lab. His friends and fellow student-inventors include Fred, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Go-Go. They're all unique and distinctive, and bring their own inventions to the table. Things go awry when a fire at the college destroys Hiro's microbots but also kills two people.
Hiro decides to find out who started the fire and who killed the people inside. To do that, he re-programs Baymax and upgrades him with crime-fighting abilities. A really fun adventure ensues that has a lot of heart and a lot of humor.
There are over-the-top jokes like when Baymax is low on battery, he acts like a falling-down drunk. There are subtle jokes like an unexpected cameo from Stan Lee, one of the key figures at Marvel Comics. It has a flying sequence that trumps anything in this year's How to Train Your Dragon 2. It has a climatic end battle, while similar to that of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, as well as The Avengers, à la a giant portal in the sky, trumps them both.
It's funny that this film is released on the same weekend as Interstellar because both feature a scene of the protagonist watching a series of videos from a loved one. The scene here nails more of the emotional and thematic nails right on the head, and is vastly more moving. There's also a visual of a through-the-portal place that was better designed and rendered on screen here than in Interstellar.
Unlike recent movies, this film doesn't land on killing the bad guy as the solution. It in fact goes out of its way to affirm that vengeance, specifically deadly vengeance, is not the answer, even to something as horrific as the murder of a loved one.
The Disney short film attached to the beginning of this film Feast is absolutely brilliant. It's a bromance and a romance told exclusively from the point-of-view of a dog but not only that, the unchanging point-of-view of the dog eating. It's hilarious. It's cute and sweet. It's quite frankly perfect.
Four Stars out of Five. Rated PG for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements. Running Time: 1 hr. and 48 mins.