The latest Disney offering is based on a comic book although it retains little of its initial concept. In this incarnation, the main character of Hiro Hamada is a 14 year old robotics/computer genius who is recruited by Tadashi, his older brother, also a robotics whiz, to join him in a university robotics program. All Hiro has to do is impress the program’s founder at the annual robotics show and he’s in. Needless to say, he does.
What happens after that, though, is where things start to go wrong. When a fire breaks out at the show, Tadashi runs into the blaze to save his mentor. The subsequent explosion kills them both.
Naturally, this affects Hiro, who’s already lost his parents and lives with an aunt (Disney tropes come out to play) who only comes out of depression when he realizes things aren’t exactly as they seem. The “accidental” fire probably wasn’t and now Hiro must figure out who is responsible. Of course, being a Disney film, he can’t do this on his own so he enlists the aid of the other geeks from the robotics lab (who were all Tadashi’s friends) and transforms them all into superheroes. Tadashi himself comes along in the spiritual form of Baymax, the inflatable healthcare robot who serves as Hiro’s guide and friend.
In the end, no surprises, everything works out okay. I say this not to give away a spoiler but because the film almost prides itself on not veering off the traditional storytelling path. Right down to the dialogue, Big Hero 6 is unoriginal. This may be what marks the difference for me between a Disney film and a Pixar film these days. Pixar is mostly devoted to original stories, interesting characters and clever scripts. Big Hero 6, while enjoyable, is really a paint by numbers effort. The only surprise, the actual reveal of the bad guy, doesn’t make much sense even after you’ve been told (or figured out, since this particular plot point is telegraphed from a ways out) the reason behind the action. It’s as if the filmmakers here, Don Hall and Chris Williams, decided cute was better than character.
With all that said, the technical aspects of the filmmaking were top notch. The computer graphics and animation were amazing. The voice actors, including Ryan Potter as Hiro, Scott Adsit as Baymax and Daniel Henney as Tadashi are all fine examples of the art while Maya Rudolph as Hiro’s Aunt Cass and Alan Tudyk as Alistair Krei, one of the antagonists, are both superb. Ultimately, this is a fun but forgettable addition to the Disney animation library. It’s perfect for a rainy day or when you need to keep the kids entertained for 90 minutes or so. Just don’t expect any theatrically released sequels.