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Big Hero 6

Entry updated 11 July 2022. Tagged: Film, TV.

US animated film (2014). Walt Disney Animation Studios (see The Walt Disney Company). Loosely based on the Marvel Comic Big Hero 6 by Man of Action. Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams. Written by Robert L Baird, Dan Gerson and Jordan Roberts. Voice cast includes Scott Adsit, James Cromwell, Daniel Henney, Ryan Potter and Alan Tudyk. 102 minutes. Colour.

The time is the early 2030s (see Near Future). 14-year-old genius Hiro Hamada (Potter) is fond of backstreet bot fights but not of further education; so his brother, Tadashi (Henney) takes him to the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, where he works. After showing Hiro his colleagues' exciting Inventions, Tadashi then reveals his: Baymax (Adsit), a Robot resembling a humanoid marshmallow who is a "personal healthcare companion". Using reverse psychology Tadashi persuades Hiro to join the institute's robotics lab, run by Professor Callaghan (Cromwell).

Shortly after, Tadashi and Callaghan die in a fire at the Institute, sending Hiro into a depression. However, he discovers that an invention of his – microbots controlled by an implant, believed destroyed in the fire – were stolen by a man in a kabuki mask. Kiro realizes the fire was started to enable and hide the theft, making the masked man responsible for his brother's death. As the man now controls an amorphous mass of microbots that obeys his every whim, catching him proves difficult even with the assistance of Tadashi's four colleagues from the Institute of Technology, whom he upgrades – along with Baymax – into Superheroes: the Big Hero 6.

The obvious suspect is Alistair Krei (Tudyk), an industrialist who had tried to buy Hiro's microbots before they were stolen; the team breaks into his island research facility, to discover failed portal technology (called Teleportation, but the portals are linked by another Dimension) that had been closed down by the government following the death of a test pilot. The masked man is there, and is revealed to be Professor Callaghan, who stole the microbots to get his revenge on Krei: his daughter was the test pilot. Callaghan plans to throw Krei into the portal, but Hiro and friends defeat him, after which Baymax announces he detects life in the portal. He and Hiro enter and rescue Callaghan's daughter, but Baymax has to sacrifice himself to get the others to safety; however, Hiro is able to rebuild him later from his programming chip.

The setting is an Alternate History: though this is not explained in the film, San Fransokyo was so named following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, when the city was rebuilt by Japanese immigrants. The protagonist and antagonist mirror each other: both seek revenge for the death of a loved one. Enraged by Callaghan's disinterest in his culpability for Tadashi's death, Hiro orders Baymax to kill him, but eventually – with the help of the other members of the Big Hero 6 – realizes this is not the way to mourn his brother.

Big Hero 6 was very successful, being the world's highest-grossing animated film of 2014 and winning the Best Animated Feature award in the 2015 Oscars. It is by no means a bad film – enjoyable, handling grief seriously, with action scenes that look good – but, save perhaps for Baymax, it is not particularly memorable. Spinoffs include two subsequent animated Television series: Big Hero 6: The Series (2017-2021), about the adventures of the superhero team, and Baymax (2022), about the robot helping people (and a cat) in San Fransokyo. [SP]


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