Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Disney Goes Big With Big Hero 6

Disney delights us again with another animated spectacular, this time with a little–known Marvel tale about a boy and his robot.


ARTH VADER (AV): Based on the the short-run Marvel Comic of the same name, Big Hero 6 (BH6) is about a haphazard collection of reluctant, would-be heroes and their quest to do right with skills and powers they newly acquire. Once wrung through the Disney filter of family-centric storytelling, BH6 quickly detracts from it’s original source material but does in such a way as to give the film a unique charm all it’s own. Though stacked with Marvel talent on the consultant and writing side (Joe Quesada & Jeff Loeb we’re looking at you guys) the film feels uniquely Disney and truth be told, there is no Marvel co-branding in the identity and marketing of this movie. An interesting move wouldn’t you say, Pontificator? 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Disney owns Marvel Vader, and they want us to know it. Big Hero 6 is a fun and arguably better departure from the source material. The film differs from both comic iterations with many character details, but the truth is that a straight comic adaption would have been just as lost and ignored as the comic itself. The biggest change, Beymax, is what actually made the film a hit from the miss it was as a comic 


AV: With some decent voice characterization work from some A-List talent, BH6 is a seamless family-friendly story that does not insult the intellect of the adult-minded viewers. The story-centric camera-work of directors Don Hall and Chris Williams do a masterful job of pacing the audience through a new CGI-powered take on the Hero’s journey. The acting was bit campy but we gotta remember it’s a kid’s flick / family film–and ultimately I’m alright with it. V/O performances from Damon (The Other Guys) Wayans Jr., Comedian TJ Miller and Ryan (Hiro) Potter were all great but it was the flat out brilliant voice work of Scott (We’re The Millers) Adsit that was the runaway hit. Portraying the sensible, sublime and low-key robo-oaf Baymax. He was certainly my fav, P-Man. 

TP: The “acting” is really the brainchild of the animators in bringing these characters to life…but more about that in the next section. The actors voicing the characters were excellent choices, despite the biggest name in the cast being James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact). Other recognizable names for me were Daniel Henney (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and Jamie Chung (Sin City: A Dame to Kill for) and I had absolutely no complaints with the delivery of their talent. The pace of the film was certainly engaging and displayed everything at the right moment for a solid film. 


AV: The visual effects are quite familiar so I won’t spend much time commenting there. The art direction however (the visual style of the film) is refreshingly original and bundled together with the right amount of style, attention to detail, and originality. I thought the film did an expert job of depicting different ethnicities, genders and personalities. I didn’t feel the animation was particularly landmark but it was a good looking product. 

TP: After BH6 in regular format, I wish I had taken the initiative to see it in 3D.The special effects were great and exactly in line with what I was expecting from a Disney film. Animation is a serious medium and few do it as well as Disney does.


AV: BH6 fires (and hits!) on all cylinders for me. It taps directly into the current insatiable hunger Hollywood and the movie-going public seem to have presently for super hero. Its fun enough for the uninitiated, dopey enough for little kids and delightful even to the hardcore Marvel/DC/Comic industry fan base. The film hit on all the right beats at all the right times; a sense of loss (first w/parents, then w/the brother), the mysterious villain, the bond that develops among warriors, the ‘rainbow coalition’ of characters who band together to overcome an adversary too intense for any one of them to overcome. Modern humor blended with an almost sickening balance ethnicity, BH6 delivers on every front. What did you think,old friend? 

TP: For a children’s film, this movie really takes a profound look at the human condition. My son (he’s 19), after seeing the film, asked me if I thought the villain was evil. It’s an interesting query as I didn’t see the villain as truly evil as I did broken by grief and anger. These emotions don’t prompt evil in a sense of aspirations of world domination, but a specific  and simplistic goal of revenge. Is revenge evil…or is it extremely human? If we label revenge evil, then how do we also label the motivations for it…namely sadness and anger? I think “evil” is Lex Luthor deriving pleasure from causing the deaths of millions of people, but losing some perspective while dealing with grief is something else entirely different. Even the hero of the film showed the same humanity as the “villain” whereas true evil to me, is a lack of humanity. I’d be very interested in how the young children in the theater with me viewed all this. 


AV: While the Disney movie-deployment model tends not to favor direct sequels, I can see either a direct-to-DVD release or even possibly a weekly-installment cartoons series. I did leave the theater with a favorable take on wanting to see more BH6 in the future. And if the post-credit cut scene is any indication, there is loads more storytelling that can come from this world. 

TP: Of course they should go to this well again and get another bucket of success. The challenge will be to have a story as engaging and connective as the first since the very foundation of the team was the driving force behind the film’s relevance. 


ARTH VADER rates Big Hero 6: In case it’s not clear at this point, I really enjoyed this movie. Doing what it does best, Disney has carefully crafted another winner that is a clear modern story that is richly diverse in culture and character that makes a strong case for making more films with this kind of formula. Colorful, fun and insightfully glib, Big Hero 6 is a solid film for everyone. So with a handful of Nano-bots, I toss nine (9) Busted Blocks right through the portal and watch for more films like this in the future.

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Big Hero 6: With great animation, effects, and acting, this film was a lot of fun to watch and was extremely entertaining. Our humanity was captured, not only in the animated acting, but also displayed in the motivations of both the hero and the villain.  Disney has taken an irrelevant team, and given them new life, busting eight (8) super big blocks.

Big Hero 6: 8.5 / 10 Busted Blocks

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