Now this is the part where Big Hollywood throws its hands up, exclaims “to hell with it” and goes all-out Japandering.
Loosely based on a (rather little-known, maybe even less so than Guardians Of The Galaxy before that fateful summer of 2014) Marvel series created by Man Of Action (aka the creative minds behind Cartoon Network’s Ben 10 & Generator Rex), Big Hero 6 follows teen-aged robotics genius Hiro Hamada as he ascends from the pits of illegal “bot-fighting” into the hallowed halls of the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology (which he initially disdains as “The Nerd Lab”). Along the way, he witnesses the fiery death of his older brother Tadashi; a distraught Hiro then finds solace in Baymax, a robotic “health-care provider” that was supposed to be Tadashi’s crowning achievement.
That sudden loss drives his to pursue his studies at the SFIT, where he was going to meet up with the rest of the Big Hero 6 component team. The sextet then face a formidable foe in The Man In The Kabuki Mask, who has managed to steal Hiro’s own innovation (nano-bots! Ohh, how impressive) and twist it to fulfill his self-serving means.
It is superb, action-filled entertainment, full of slam-bang sequences and shout-outs to classic Japanese mecha (Baymax wields a rocket punch a la Mazinger Z, while the robot on the clock in Hiro’s room bears an uncanny resemblance to Voltes V – or is it Great Mazinger???). The climactic scene where Hiro and Baymax enter the portal is definitely fifty shades of trippy (not surprisingly given that it’s from the creators of the Disney Acid Sequence). Heck, even the fact that Tadashi manages to live on through his creation Baymax is apparently a tribute to Astroboy (where the titular character is supposedly a reincarnation of Dr. Tenma’s deceased son)
Moreover, this film has multiple layers that can be savoured such as dealing with grief and loss as well as coping with such through violence; unlike Disney’s Wall-E, it takes on a technophilic bent toward its approach to robots. Given as to how Hollywood has long “demonized” robotics, it is impressive as how Hiro has managed to convert Baymax from a soft-plastic marshmallow with arms, legs and some sort of head into a formidable, ass-kicking fighting machine.
The rest of the Big Hero 6 lineup (aka Hiro H’s support team), though, is a mish-mosh of barely-sketched stereotypes such as the red-headed genki girl (genki girl genki girl genkigenkigenki girl!!!), the moody brunette with the oh-so-emoooo purply streaks on her hair and the black guy with dreads that just had to be EXTREEEEME (ohh how 90s???). Only Freddy, the kaiju nut, appears to stand out, primarily because of his rich-kid/slacker duality.
Wasn’t impressed though by the accompanying short “Feast”; the cel-shading was much more impressively handled in the Japanese animated feature Re: Cyborg 009. Got to admit though, the dog is quite cute.
Acknowledging its comic-book origins, however, there is a post-credits scene that has to be seen to be believed: Freddy’s immense wealth has to do with the fact that no less than Stan Lee is his father (cue lame Star Wars joke there)