“Big Hero 6” explores new ground with breakthrough animation

Rating: ★★★☆

Oscar Nomination: Best Animated Feature

After insurmountable success with Frozen in the past year, Disney Animation released “Big Hero 6” (BH6) in November of 2014, a steady continuation of Disney’s developing computer animation style and classic kid-friendly stories.

BH6 is set in the futuristic city of San Fransokyo and features teenage prodigy Hiro Tamada and an unexpected scene-stealer: Baymax the healthcare robot. Baymax is created as a project by Hiro’s older brother, Tadashi, who unexpectedly dies in a freak fire in his university. As a tribute to remember his brother, Hiro befriends Baymax, and an unconventional friendship ignites. Baymax becomes Hiro’s confidant and wise companion throughout the search for Tadashi’s murderer, a plotline which encompasses the movie’s central themes of friendship, teamwork and acceptance. With the help of Tadashi’s university friends, Baymax and Hiro band together to form the Big Hero 6 team and avenge Tadashi’s untimely death, all while Baymax interposes hilariously candid pep talks to motivate the team.

Since his robot mindset enables him to stay calm and loyal at all times, Baymax pacifies the often hot-blooded Hiro from making rash decisions. Baymax’s candidly simple but wise words in sticky situations are highlights throughout the film. In Hiro and Baymax’s first meeting, Hiro accidentally stubs his toe. Too shocked to fully answer Baymax’s healthcare inquiries, Hiro awkwardly injures himself further by backing into a corner. Baymax then flatlines, “It is okay to cry. Crying is a natural response to pain,” and promptly begins to cradle Hiro.

The development of Hiro and Baymax’s unlikely friendship is effectively humorous because of Baymax’s caring and amusing personality. Disney has ample experience with this genre of family-oriented film, as seen in the company’s renown for lovable characters such as Stitch from “Lilo and Stitch,” Mushu from “Mulan” and Sebastian from “The Little Mermaid.” Baymax stands out among this crowd with his disproportionately large features and humanlike traits programmed into a small chip inserted in his “heart.”

Although character development is pointedly comical, BH6 lacks a creative plot line. The film is vaguely similar to the original Marvel comic of the same name, but disappointingly Disney’s rendition altered the story and character roles almost completely. The film’s plot lingers on the verge of being a stereotypical adventure animation movie, where Hiro, Baymax and the Big Hero 6 team work together to fend off the villain who caused Tadashi’s death.

The graphics of BH6 are on par with the Disney’s recent transition into 3D computer graphic animation. The San Fransokyo setting is an East meets West clash, with Japanese cherry blossom trees lining the trolley ways and pagodas set in the middle of the university. Each character is not only developed in personality but also physical features; the Big Hero 6 team is not missing out on vibrant superhero costumes or bizarre and intricate weaponry.

Overall, “Big Hero 6” is a commercial success for Disney and a light-hearted watch for those looking for a humorous and simplistic movie. While it may not live up to Disney’s prior films in plot, BH6 will certainly delight audiences with humor, heart and of course, Baymax.