Directed by: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Starring: Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Jamie Chung, Genesis Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr., T.J. Miller, Daniel Henney, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell
Rated: PG for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements.
There are a couple of primary themes in “Big Hero 6,” Disney’s latest CGI kids’ adventure movie, but it has a lot going on besides that. There’s action, adventure, a wonderfully diverse set of characters, and a handful of lessons kids and parents can take away with them to talk about later. Saying that a movie is for all ages is a little trite, but this one really is. Kids too young to deal with some cartoonish action and the idea of people dying are about the only ones who should sit this out.
“Big Hero 6” focuses on young Hiro (Ryan Potter), a child prodigy with robotics who is failing to follow in his older brother Tadashi’s (Daniel Henney) footsteps. He’s unmotivated, disinterested in going to college, and so on – until Tadashi brings him along on an errand to the lab he shares with a group of fellow science students (plus the group’s equivalent of Shaggy – Fred, voiced by T.J. Miller) at the nearby university. They all work on wildly different projects, and before long Hiro has been convinced to take a shot at getting into the school.
Things don’t go as well as Hiro and the audience hope, of course, and soon Hiro is recruiting his brother’s medi-bot to help him investigate a crime. Eventually everyone in Tadashi’s lab gets recruited, each with their own snazzy outfits and cool tools.
It’s exciting to see a crew of robotics geeks on the screen who are not only unabashedly excited about their work but completely oblivious to the gender and race differences among them. Two of the six members are women, one’s a robot, and more than half the humans are people of color – and it’s just not mentioned. One of the women is stereotypically femme, with long blonde hair and lots of pink, but her inventions are just as useful and cool as those of the other gal, who’s short and pretty butch. It’s a wonderful change from the CGI films of recent years where all the women look like the same model with a few tweaks while the men come in all sizes and shapes. “Big Hero 6” is teeming with people, and they all look different.
The animation is a fabulous blend of the cartoonish and the computer-based, just futuristic enough to make the high tech believable, but with enough of the familiar to keep things a bit grounded. The voice acting is solid, the writing is good, the composition of shots and scenes adds to both the humor and the excitement without making things chaotic or unclear. Big Hollywood action movies could stand a lesson or three from “Big Hero 6.”
There’s a lot to love here, including a sweet short animated film preceding the movie, about a dog who loves people-food. If you don’t like movies with comic-book-ish or cartoonish feels, steer clear. Otherwise, if you have any interest at all in a fun movie about young adults and kids teaming up to defend their beloved city, go see “Big Hero 6.”