Saturday, January 31, 2015

Big Hero 6 – Early Thoughts

I made it out to the latest Disney animated feature…two and a half months after its release.  So no one probably cares about spoilers anymore unless you’re in a country where it hasn’t been released yet so I’ll still warn for them.

With the recent explosion of successful superhero films and Disney’s acquisition of the frontrunner in them, Marvel a film like this was likely inevitable.  However, for being basically another origin story film I quite liked it.

The film follows Hiro, his personal healthcare robot Baymax, and his group of friends fighting a villain who stole Hiro’s invention, Microbots, and as it turns out is responsible for the death of Hiro’s big brother Tadashi.  Now the family member dying as the kick off to becoming a superhero isn’t new, Batman anyone?   But I think it’s well handled here because Tadashi’s death is the cornerstone of the entire film.  Rather than being just a shock event for the plot it impacts everything that comes after it.  His line to Hiro about looking at a problem from a different angle line comes up a number of times throughout the film.  In fact the story isn’t about Hiro become a hero as much as it is about him dealing with grief.  Learning the difference between vengeance and justice and how to heal from loss in a healthy way and that really worked.  

Another thing that I found really good here was that the entire team of heroes was made up of characters that don’t have superpowers.  All their gear comes from their intelligence and specialized fields of chemistry, physics, and so on and that was really nice to see as well as a great quality to highlight for the young kids in the audience.  The side characters themselves are also a lot of fun if a bit standard.  The slob with the rich background is something we’ve seen before , the badass gum-chewer, the rule-stickler, and etc.   Heck Hiro himself is the walking trope of the guy with big brains who wastes his talents in the beginning of the movie.  Now this being Disney and a superhero film no doubt there will be sequels I would just rather have had a little bit more development here and little less action.

Not that the actions scenes weren’t good they were.  This is Disney after all so the animation was great.  The city design was cool the depth of the environments and details was great and I don’t want to think about how long it took to get all the Microbots shifting and flying around in the fight scenes.  I bet those scenes took like a week to fully render, but the final effect is awesome.  The only complaint I have about the animation is the design of Honey Lemon.  Her design overall has thin tall proportions and that works, but when she takes off her glasses for the superhero suit it’s easy to see her character model is basically the same as Elsa from Frozen and Rapunzel from Tangled in terms of facial design.  I can’t unsee it now and it’s really distracting.  Look Disney you are a mutil-billion dollar corporation.  If my classmates and I could make distinct characters just using different attributes of the same rig in an intro class to Maya you guys should darn well be able to do better.
One design and character that I thought wasn’t standard was Baymax he is just wonderful.   He has a great design with the whole huggable quality and the simple face.  He has a wonderful soothing and yet distinctly robotic voice and much of the humour of the film comes from him being so literal in his program and following his program so strictly.  One thing though is that I wish they had done more with the healthcare angle rather than just having Baymax be basically a fighting robot by the end.  The fact that Tadashi created this robot to help people in such a specific way I thought was far more interesting.   This nurturing element is so often still considered a feminine thing only so it was really nice to see it come from a male character and not be used for cheap laughs ever.  I would have loved to have seen more of that, but since Hiro is thirteen it makes sense that he would make a kickass robot rather than using Baymax for his primary function and maybe we’ll get to see something different in a sequel.

So to conclude right now I think the movie is good, but rather standard.  Certainly not bad, but not really mind blowing either.  It’s a fun an action packed ride with beautiful animation and some good characters that I wish hadn’t gotten just a bit more development, and a plot that I thought could have benefitted from a few more twists.  In short it’s a good superhero movie hitting all the points these kinds of films should I just think it could have done a bit more to make itself stand out from the rest of the pack.

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