Walt Disney Studios has seen several different ages throughout its history. Under Walt himself the studio experienced a golden age, releasing such movies as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella. In the 1990’s, the studio saw a revival of its animation studios—known as the Disney Renaissance—with films like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Now, decades after the Golden Age and Renaissance, Disney Studios is experiencing yet another revival. Sparked by The Princess and the Frog, the first animated princess movie released in some time, this new revival quickly switched from traditional 2D animation to 3D animation with the popular Tangled and smash hit Frozen. But after three new princess movies, I’m sure the 6-12 year old boys were beginning to feel a tad neglected by Disney, despite charismatic male characters like Flynn Rider and Wreck-It Ralph. So before tackling another princess movie—Moana, the story of a Polynesian princess with a talent for navigating expected to be released in 2016—Disney released a new animated film featuring a male protagonist.
Big Hero 6 is about a young prodigy named Hiro living in the Japanese/American city of San Fransokyo. After graduating high school at 13, Hiro wastes his genius in “bot fights”, an illegal robot fight league. His older brother Tadashi, also a genius, tries to convince him to do something with his brain, encouraging him to apply to the local tech college. Though Hiro is having none of it, Tadashi takes him to his lab to meet his friends and colleagues—high speed chaser Go Go Tomago, neat freak Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon, and average intelligence school mascot Fred. Tadashi also shows Hiro the project he’s been working on—healthcare robot Baymax, designed to take care of people’s medical needs. While at the lab, Hiro meets famed tech engineer Robert Callahan and becomes determined to go this college.
In order to get in, Hiro designs a new set of micro-bots that conform to the imagination of whoever wears a special headset. After his presentation at the university, the conference hall catches fire, and Tadashi rushes in to save Callahan, who is still trapped inside. The building explodes and Tadashi is killed. Devastated, Hiro sinks into depression, unable to find a reason to pursue his education or any endeavor at all. That changes when he rediscovers Baymax, left behind by Tadashi. After Baymax discovers that someone has replicated Hiro’s micro-bots and Hiro realizes that the fire that killed Tadashi was no accident, Hiro becomes determined to find the person responsible for Tadashi’s death.
After upgrading Baymax, Hiro brings in his friends Go Go Tomago, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, and Fred to help him catch the man who stole his micro-bots and killed Tadashi. Together, they all form Big Hero 6, and with the help of his friends—especially Baymax—Hiro realizes that he can’t let himself become consumed by thoughts of revenge. And that it is better to help people than to follow selfish motives.
There are a lot of endearing things about this movie. Baymax is a quite adorable and loveable robot. Hiro and Tadashi have a great relationship, as do Hiro and Baymax, and Hiro and his team. Throughout the movie they learn to work together to accomplish things, and they keep each other on track when one of them—Hiro—begins to stray from their mission. As with most Disney movies, Big Hero 6 is full of humor that will entertain children and adults. The cityscape of San Fransokoyo is fascinating, and the movie is fun and engaging.
Children and adults, boys and girls, will all enjoy this movie. It is an excellent deviation from Disney’s princess line. The superhero nature of the film leaves it quite open for another one, two, or twenty follow-up films. We may be seeing a lot more of the Big Hero 6 team, and I hope we do. I enjoyed the movie and look forward to watching Baymax again once he hits DVD.