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Sometimes life hits you over the head with a cannon ball full of sadness. . . the two pages I had already written for this review are officially lost. So here I am. I will start over and I will show the world how well I can write even if I have to write it a second time!

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Walt Disney Studios officially released their newest blockbuster Big Hero 6 November 7, 2014 as a comedic, action packed animated picture. Based on the comic released in the late 90’s by the same name, this is Disney’s first official animated superhero movie. Disney took a very bold step in making this film. TV producers, movie makers and writers have ingrained superheros into world wide culture for so long it seems impossible to even dream of making something bold and fresh in this genre. Pixar in The Incredibles (2005) surpassed so many expectations when they also played on this genre. So the question remains did Disney deliver with this film or is it another forgettable Disney product?

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PLOT/ EXECUTION/ SCREENPLAY: 5/5

The story begins with an overview of the city of San Fransokyo (obviously a combination of America’s San Francisco and Japan’s Tokyo) as it dives into the underbelly at an illegal robot battle. Hiro Hamada, a 14 year old genius, easily defeats the lead contender but because of his reckless behavior is taken to prison along with his older brother Tadashi, who had come to save him. Worried about Hiro’s decisions and waste of his enormous potential, Tadashi skillfully shows his brother his University lab at the Institute of Technology, his five friends GoGo, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred and their innovative experiments, including his own robotic project Baymax (a personal healthcare companion). Overwhelmed by all Tadashi and his friends are accomplishing as well as his meeting with the head of the robotics department Professor Robert Callaghan, Hiro’s priorities instantly change. He becomes determined to go to the school, follows his brother’s advice and begins his work on a new invention for the University’s science exhibition. Professor Callaghan accepts him after Hiro redesigns his fighter robot into thousands of microbots capable of becoming and doing anything when controlled with a Neurotransmitter. His celebration is short lived because a fire breaks loose and Tadashi dies after the building explodes. The rest of the film focuses on Hiro’s journey to both overcome the pain and grief of Tadashi’s death as well as his apprehension of the one responsible for the fire, a man in a kabuki mask who had stolen his microbots.

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I do not admire this film’s plot for its originality. I actually struggled before writing this review because of how predictable it seemed to me. Stepping back however, I realized that all superhero movies and shows, even The Incredibles, have common predictable story arcs. What is most important is the triumph of good over evil and how well executed the story is. There will always be the cheesy “You have been brought to justice evil villain!” superhero story. Nevertheless, there are also those rare few like the 1990’s show Batman the Animated Series that maintains its predictability while also sustaining a depth and emotionality that sets it apart from others.

Big Hero 6 is not about destroying a “super villain”, rather the evil even the masked villain faced was the hopelessness and grief instilled from the loss of a loved one. That is why Baymax is so important to the story, because he provides the healing necessary to overcome this evil. Though Disney made this film as a superhero movie, I felt that Hiro’s growth and future accomplishments were more important than the super hero team he founded. Also, compared to Frozen (2013), Disney paced this movie remarkably well. Maybe this was because the journey Hiro took was not to a physical place but a more peaceful state of mind. It took its time to flesh out important emotional changes, which made them more believable.

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CHARACTERS: 5/5

I am impressed with how human Disney’s characters feel in their recent animated films. Though it may sound corny, they really are more three dimensional, especially when compared to some of their earlier works in the 2000’s. Though I wish they had not abandoned their work in hand drawn animation, it is because of their newest films that they have created such memorable characters. What sets them apart from those in previous films? They are so identifiable that they help audiences feel that though they accomplish such incredible things at their heart they are just like us; vulnerable, quirky and anything but perfect. For each new film it is as though the characters tell the audience that if they can do such amazing things despite their shortcomings and circumstances WHY CAN’T WE? Disney gives  its audience more than just a story. They give them a glimpse into other people’s lives that we can model our own after.

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Though Tadashi’s run time was not long, his presence and influence remained pervasive throughout the film. His death was particularly tragic because he was so genuine and kind hearted. The story tells so much about his character without any actual explanations. He acts as a friend, companion and mentor for Hiro and probably for his other friends. He seems to me someone who also faced incredible sadness but was able to overcome it. His and Hiro’s parent’s death most likely caused this sadness. Such an even could have hardened him but he obviously overcame it. By doing so, his sole objective in life seemed to be helping and healing others. I admired how well they established his importance in Hiro’s life, even after he had died. He never became a burden. All in all, Tadashi is someone I would love to meet in real life because he is a healer.

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Hiro Hamada

Hiro is not your average rebellious teenager. Though Disney could have made him more obnoxious and moody, he remained for me as kind and genuine as his brother. This was probably because of how much Tadashi meant to him. Since they had no parents, Tadashi became Hiro’s guide through life. It is unfortunate that Hiro had to experience such a heart wrenching separation during his pubescent years but I think Disney wanted to emphasize that transition from boy to man. What kind of man Hiro made himself into was incredibly important. Because of his choices and learning to move beyond his sadness he became a lot like his brother while still retaining his own unique spark and intelligence.

The “villain” adversely faced a similar situation but could not overcome his pain. Though Tadashi’s death obviously hurt Hiro deeply, he did not allow it to rule his life and that is what is important.

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Baymax

I love Baymax for so many reasons: #1 His is rotund, plushy and huggable design (Be honest you want one too) #2 His insatiable curiosity #3 His pure outlook on the world #4 His purpose as a companion and healer #5 How he walks in his samurai getup #6 Bhladaladladala (aka his hand pump) etc. etc. 

Baymax is so important to this story. As I said before, he brings an imperative element into the movie because his sole purpose is to heal others. (He even considered the super villain as one of his “patients”.) The true evil in this movie was an intangible force and not a person. As such, Baymax helped Hiro overcome this great evil not through brute force and skill but through tenderness and companionship. 

He also made it clear what makes us who we are. Though Hiro had seen him fall back into the space behind the portal the chip created by Tadashi was what made Baymax Baymax. This alludes to the existence of a soul and the true nature of death as merely a departure from one place to another. He adds such a pure outlook of the world, just like Olaf except Baymax is more appealing to me in design and nature.

As for Hiro’s other friends, I did not mind their simpler design and personalities. Rather than knowing who they WERE, they became what the audience saw after only a few encounters. Did this make them any less deep? No, not really. They were just people, unique and united in purpose. When we judge others, I think it is a similar kind of situation. We can only catch glimpses of who people really are and we always make assumptions on their character. Are we always right? Again, no. (This is just food for thought)

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ANIMATION: 5/5

The visuals for Big Hero 6 were stunning. The design of the city was familiar yet given new life, the action scenes believable and executed smoothly, and the colors were vibrant and alive. Everything just seemed to glow for me. The scene I liked the most visually was when Hiro and Baymax flew into the portal. I had never seen anything quite like it. (Do not worry I will not spoil it for you). 

I also loved how the animators designed the eyes of the characters. My attention was draw mostly to their eyes because of how much emotion each character could convey with only a simple glance. (In fact, it reminded me a lot of Tarzan for that reason). Overall, Disney animators impressed me again with their magical scenes and designs. I also liked how they portrayed flying. Flying is a symbol of freedom so I have to wonder at the beautiful message hidden Hiro’s first flight with Baymax. {If you recall, Dreamworks did a similar thing in How to Train Your Dragon (2010).}

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MUSIC: 3.5/5

The musical score done by Henry Jackman did not impress me. Though the two songs “Immortals” by Fall Out Boy and “Top of the World” by Greek fire were good the other music (aside from a few spare moments) was average.  My favorite musical moment was after Hiro took out Baymax’s healthcare chip. It was as though the painful emotions Hiro had forced inside came pouring out of him, represented by Baymax’s violent rampage and the sweeping music. Other than that, the best I can say about the score is that it fit the scenes of the movie and did not hinder the plot. I think if Jackman had blended Japanese and Western styles of music (subtly of course) the score would have been a lot more interesting. Music plays an essential role in establishing the tone of a film and since the city blended two different cultures, I think the music should have reflected that.

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PERSONAL ENJOYMENT: 5/5

I liked Big Hero 6 more than I thought I would. It has incredible heart and I love the world that the animators created. I have always loved the worlds shown in animated movies. Things seem so much purer. It is not limited to children. (Just so you know, it is all right for adults to dream of flying.) These types of films provide the heart needed to counteract the sadder and sometimes frightening trials. I would recommend this film to anyone. It is deeper than it initially seems and provides a great blend of comedy and action. Though I hate to admit it, I do not think they could have made this movie so well with hand drawn animation. I hope that Disney continues to release movies like this one. It is not a masterpiece to be sure but I think it captures that irresistible magic that great animated movies provide.

OVERALL SCORE: 4.7/5

Favorite Quote(s):

Baymax: [to Hiro, who’s stuck and buried under a pile of action figures] On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your pain?

Hiro: [irritated] Zero.

Baymax: It is alright to cry.

Hiro: No! No, no, no, no, no!

Baymax: [picks up Hiro and holds him like a baby] Crying is a natural response to pain.

Hiro: [jumps out of Baymax’s arms] I’m not crying.

Baymax: I will scan you for injuries.

Hiro: [firmly] DON’T scan me.

Baymax: Scan complete.

Hiro: Unbelievable.

Baymax: You have sustained no injuries. However, your hormone and neurotransmitter levels indicate that you are experiencing mood swings, common in adolescence. Diagnosis: puberty.

Hiro: [surprised] Whoa, what?

Baymax: [upon fist-bumping] : Balalalala

Baymax: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your pain?

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