It really should not be a surprise anymore when a Disney animated movie looks terrible and ends up being great. The family oriented studio giant may have a serious issue in their marketing department, but it is clear that these issues thankfully have not affected their pictures. Last year, “Frozen” blew everyone away when the movie, with moronic trailers, the snowman and the reindeer, turned out to be an amazing musical story woven around two sisters.
“Big Hero 6” is a similar case. The trailers advertised a simple, action filled story with comedic elements and no real surprises. The actual movie may not be a massive piece by piece deconstruction of Disney’s own tropes but it’s a remarkably funny, beautiful, story that combines the best of both Disney’s kids’ adventures and Marvel superhero flicks.
“Big Hero 6” is loosely based on a series of Marvel comics with the same name and tells the story of a group of scientist teenagers turned superheroes whose powers come from the gadgets that they themselves build. At the center of the movie is Hiro, a super genius 13-year-old struggling to get over the death of a family member and Baymax, a huge, talking, huggable-by-design robot purposed to save the world by being an artificially intelligent health care dispensary.
The two characters are refreshingly original not in their origins, but in their story. Hiro is a complex, sympathetic protagonist with the attitude of a 21st century teen. Baymax is the adorable Frosty the Snowman-like creature who came to life and has a lot to learn about human behavior and tendencies. The way he misunderstands the things people take for granted is preciously funny, but at his heart he never loses focus on his purpose of being a health care companion.
The screenplay is easily the movie’s biggest strength. Hiro’s arc follows a rudimentary path but his character design keeps it interesting. A big part of this is the excellent cast of supporting characters who eventually become the superheroes. Despite not being in the movie for very long, all of the team members are incredibly entertaining and manage to not feel one-dimensional. TJ Miller steals every scene as Fred, the only one who’s not a genius and supplies most of the humor through making meta humorous points about how much like a comic book their story feels. The “superpowers” they each get are offshoots of their own scientific capabilities, so their hero personalities are directly tied to their natural selves.
The entire movie is just a wonderful adventure. The hero vs. villain storyline feels very predictable from the beginning, but it was never the focus of the film. Much like this summer’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” the biggest focus is on the relationship between the angsty teenager and his lovable nonhuman companion. All the superhero action is awesome to behold, although it does leave its audience wanting more. With fantastic characters and a truly excellent script, “Big Hero 6” takes all the fun of a Marvel cinematic universe movie and the heart of its classic adventures into a wildly fun ride that’s sure to entertain viewers of all ages.