“It’s just an expression!” as Hiro Hamada would say.
Big Hero 6, which opens in theaters today, is a modern super “hero” tale that follows the journey of a robotics prodigy and an inflatable nurse bot named Baymax.
As the story begins, though small in stature, a young man enters a competition to battle his RC bot. From the first few minutes of the story, we learn a laundry list of things about the main character and the setting of this story. Hiro, the precocious and brainy 14-year-old who seemed to have lost his way, can hustle tough competitors and still land on his feet, even if that means he needs a little lift from his big brother, Tadashi.
Set in the not so distant future in San Fransokyo, Hiro and his older brother live with their Aunt Cass in an apartment above her cafe. Like a good big brother, Tadashi guides Hiro by tricking him and then influencing him to love “Nerd School.” Hiro is immediately enamored by his brother’s classmates and their inventions at Robotics Institute of San Fransokyo, he decides that he, too, must go to the school. But in order to get the attention of the program’s professor, Hiro was tasked with creating something memorable that would grant him admission. Needless to say, Hiro’s creation was life-changing in many ways.
There are many reasons why families should see Big Hero 6, and we came up with our top six reasons that make this film sick.
Right from the beginning, we learn that Big Hero 6 is a special film. It has a unique story, but it’s the animation that helps elevate the storytelling. Because of the dynamic back drop of San Fransokyo, which is a mash up of the best qualities of both Japan and San Francisco, Disney employed a new technology called Hyperion to deliver a rich look to the animation.
Truly, there were parts in the film where I thought I was looking at a real city, rather than an animated one.
The animators did thorough research when it came to designing the characters and their movements. For Go Go, the bold, no-nonsense friend who later uses Maglev wheels as discs and weapons, the animators used bike messengers and speeds skaters as inspiration for her character and her movement.
Blood is thicker than water; this is a familiar theme we’ve seen in popular disney films before. In Big Hero 6, Brotherhood was a major underlying theme that runs its course from beginning to end. Whether it’s your biological brother or your brother for life, the power of brotherhood will sustain you for life and can get your through your darkest days.
As a mother of two boys and having been through a number of dark days ourselves, I thought this theme was poignantly conveyed between biological brothers, Tadashi and Hiro; robot and friend, Baymax and Hiro; and of course, Hiro and the whole gang.
These relationships fueled passion, offered perspective on life and did a whole lot of uplifting. These messages were so well told with imagery alone, I remember sobbing at just a plate of food. (I’m a mess, I tell ya!)
Big Hero 6 isn’t the first animated movie that features STEM within its storyline, but it is, perhaps, one of the more memorable recent films geared to kids where STEM is present at its very core. STEM is practically its own character in Big Hero 6, and its prevalence will keep budding tech enthusiasts engaged.
From Hiro’s bot fighting pursuits to his Microbot creation to upgrading Baymax and his friends, the story effortlessly incorporates science, technology, engineering and math. Hiro’s friends who are just as smart and creative in their own right, all have their own creations that ultimately aids in their friend’s conquest for justice. But it’s Baymax, the healthcare companion engineered by Tadashi, who offers the most heart in this otherwise regimented world. It’s Baymax’s job to care for both physical and emotional ailments, and even though as a robot he can’t have feelings, he is responsible for a lot of the feels—the onset that made me grab for the tissues.
Big Hero 6 is based on the little known Marvel comic of the same name. One of the best quotes that I read from producer Roy Conli that perfectly captures the essence of Big Hero 6: “It’s a Disney Movie with a Marvel DNA.”
If you’re familiar with either of these storytelling powerhouses, then you know that they are both epic storytellers, yet can be very different—polar opposites, even. Since Marvel was acquired by Disney in 2009, this was one of the first big features where I felt a true Marvel presence. Though there was more storytelling and mystery unfolding than there was super heroes saving the world, the super hero theme was prevalent throughout. Tadashi, Hiro’s big brother encompassed some of those super hero qualities with his good looks, smarts and can-do-no-wrong character. Baymax and his upgradable features and inflatable presence was an unexpected superhero with his karate chops and robotic fists. Hiro and his friends, GoGo, Fred, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Baymax combined, form the titular group Big Hero 6.
It’s their major endeavor to find the mystery man who stole Hiro’s creation that makes the superhero tale come full circle, complete with mystery being solved with a Scooby Doo-esque plot twist at the end.
Thanks to Big Hero 6, I now have the theme song constantly running in my head. You know the one: it’s that Fall Out Boy anthem that consists of quietly shouting and chanting, the same cadence that little boys tend to expel in excitement.
At several points in the movie, I found myself either tapping my foot, bopping my head or mouthing, ‘I love this song!’ The soundtrack and score rounded out the effects of this movie, perfectly evoking the love and loss of this modern super hero. And don’t get me started on the one-liners! Like any good kid film, Big Hero 6 had its fair share of witty one liners that will, no doubt, find their way into daily jargon. “Hairy Baby,” anyone?
There’s a lot going on in Big Hero 6, but one of the most important messages is the empowerment. Thinking outside the box, looking at different angles to get out and most importantly, compassion are the most empowering messages in Big Hero 6. I love that this film celebrates hard work and imagination, but also embraces geeky culture.
The smartest people in this world are often the most misunderstood, so it’s up to us to bring out the best in them. In the end, I appreciated forgiveness and compassion. In our world full of intolerance and hate, it was endearing to see Baymax remind Hiro that compassion and forgiveness are powerful tools.
Who should NOT see this movie?
If you have a tot who can’t sit still for almost two hours, I’d wait to see this film. Though it can be fast-paced, this is a full feature film, and so it’s long, but well worth it. Big Hero 6 is rated PG and there are major scenes that involve grief and death. If this is a topic that could cause distress, I’d say wait to watch until you’re ready to discuss. At quiet moments after one of the major scenes, I heard smaller kids who were quite upset. I have an anxious, super hero-loving 7 year old who absolutely loved Big Hero 6 despite some of the trivial topics. He absolutely loved it.
I’m also a super hero fan, who happens to adore Disney AND Marvel, so this film was an all around win for me. This truly is one of those movies I will go and see over and over again, and will be sure to buy it immediately, as soon as the digital copy is available. Also? There’s a majorly awesome after credit scene that you’ll want to stick around for, especially if you’re a Marvel fan like us.
Big Hero 6 is a super special story that transcends a typical superhero story; it’s a heart warming journey about an unlikely bond and their equally admirable crusade.