If Disney Made an Anime/Superhero Film

Austin Wainscott, Spartan-TV Member

Walt Disney Pictures Big Hero 6 is the 54th film in the Animated Classics canon, and delivers on heart, laughs, and doing what Marvel has been doing so well for the past six years.

That’s right; this film is based on a Marvel comic. It’s a relatively unknown series from 1998 called Big Hero 6. Disney was smart to choose an obscure print so that they can make necessary changes to the story and character designs.

The film takes place in San Fransokyo, a merge of the ascetics of San Francisco and Japanese culture, where a young genius named Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) has already graduated high school, and instead of attending college to further his love of technology, he fights in and bets on underground robot fights. His older brother, Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney), gets him out of a tight spot after a profitable night of fighting and tries to convince him to attend his college. He takes him to meet his group of “nerd college” pals; Go-Go (voiced by Jamie Chung), Wasabi (voiced by Damon Wayans Jr.), Honey Lemon (voiced by Genesis Rodriguez), and Fred (voiced by T.J. Miller), where they show Hiro what can happen when you use your intelligence to further a possible career in science and technology. The cherry on top that convinces Hiro that college may be the right path is meeting Tadashi’s robotic invention, Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit). A combination between a marshmallow and C-3PO, he is a “personal healthcare assistant” that Tadashi created to be a kinder alternative to regular other healthcare robots. Hiro is stunned by Baymax, meets a hero of his, Professor Robert Callaghan (voiced by Oscar nominee James Cromwell), and becomes dead set on inventing something to blow his socks of at the colleges annual tech convention. However, a conspiracy unravels involving Hiro’s invention and a masked supervillain named Yokai, which brings together Baymax and the rest of Hiro’s friends to form the titular, Big Hero 6.

The voice acting is top-notch. Major props go to Scott Adsit for giving Baymax, a nonhuman character, a soul and heart. His performance definitely makes the movie special. Yet that does not mean that that the rest of the cast is over shadowed by him. Ryan Potter especially gives a strong performance as Hiro. He and Tadashi’s relationship is one of the strongpoints of the film and is very convincing. It is very much like how bigger and younger brothers interact with one another, and the brotherly love also transfers over to Baymax when he takes the stage near the second act.

This movie is directed by Don Hall (director of 2011’s Winnie the Pooh) and Chris Williams (co-director of 2008’s Bolt). These two know how to create Disney magic on film. Hall was also the writer for 2007’s Meet the Robinsons as well as 2009’s The Princess and the Frog and he knows how to handle a story. Williams credential with Bolt shows that he, along with Hall, have knowledge of where to take a relationship between two friends, however instead of a girl and her dog, it’s a boy and his robot. It certainly made the story more enriching, and the directors were able to inspire the animators on how to make the characters act and look in certain scenes.

The animation is what one would expect from Walt Disney Feature Animation, wonderfully active and fluid. The animators did a fantastic job with the look of San Fransokyo and making it look like a real city. One of the best examples of how wonderful the animation is how the main villain moves around. It’s almost like they took inspiration from Doc Ock from the Spider Man films and Ursula from The Little Mermaid to get the look of the motion down. They also had an opportunity to show off what they can do with Marvel movie style action, which was also very well done. The soundtrack invokes a Japanese anime style feel and really amplifies when the action gets moving, and it also makes more emotional scenes leave a bigger impact. Like all good film scores should.

Being the big Disney nut that I am, of course I went on opening day, and I was not disappointed. It combines the best of Marvel action, although not being tied with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

There is one major flaw, though; the villain. Over the course of the film, it will leave the audience thinking it is one person, when really it was someone that you didn’t suspect at all. It is a nice twist, but Disney has been doing this for the past few years now, and even Marvel has as well, but the villain is usually pretty weak and does not keep an audience motivated. The last memorable villain that Disney had was Mother Gothel from Tangled, and for Marvel, Loki from the Thor and The Avengers films. The only purpose of the villain is to give the team a climax and lead into a sequel, which I hope we get.

Despite the weakness of the antagonist, Big Hero 6 is another triumph for Walt Disney Feature Animation and is sure to become very successful. It has wonderful characters, an exciting story, and a different aesthetic from other Disney films to make things fresh.  It also displays that Disney, since their acquisition of Marvel in 2009 and their success with Marvel Studios, can adapt obscure works from the company and make them relevant. Who knows, maybe they can tackle Howard the Duck next…

Rating: 4.5 Stars/5 Stars