“Big Hero 6” Makes Disney Darker and Better

By Scott Kurland
Film: Big Hero 6
Starring: Ryan Potter, Maya Rudolph, T.J. Miller, Damon Wayans Jr., Genesis Rodriguez,  Jamie Chung, and Scott Adsit
Rated: PG
Directors: Don Hall & Chris Williams

It appears that Disney pictures is getting back to its roots, and by “roots” I mean dark realistic storytelling. Long ago when Walt Disney started making animated features he add a sense of realism. Bambi’s mom died at the hands of the most deadliest hunter....man. The Beast got horrible stabbed and almost bleed to death. Even Jafar tried to force himself on Princess Jasmine in order to rule the kingdom. However, with every “Bambi,” “Beauty and the Beast”, and “Aladdin” you get twice as many “Oliver & Company”, “Chicken Little”, “Home on the Range”, and “Duck Tales the Movie”. These aren’t bad films, but there’s nothing to them, just fart noises, whacky colors, and the occasional Rip Taylor voice cameo. With that said Disney faced a downfall for a long time, until recently. FIlms like “Wreck-It-Ralph”, “The Princess and the Frog”, and this week’s film the Marvel collaborated “Big Hero Six” let us know that a little darkness leads to great light.
In “Big Hero Six” Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a thirteen year old robotics prodigy who uses his brilliance for less than stellar gains. When his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) inspires him to seek a robotics scholarship Hiro is on the right path, until Tadashi suffers a tragic fate. This leads to Hiro setting on a path of vengeance against a mask man. Now with the help of Tadashi’s medical robot Baymax (Scott Adsit), and Hiro’s friends (T.J. Miller, Damon Wayans Jr, Genesis Rodriquez, and Jamie Chung) Hiro uses his robotics skills to form a super hero team known as “Big Hero 6”. Can they stop this masked man or is it too late?
Character development is important for any film style, but animation it’s most critical. You see a voice actor has less time to establish a character than a live action actor. In animation they use talented actors who sometimes are unknowns in order to create originally in said character. In “Big Hero 6” directors Don Hall and Chris Williams casted mainly unknown actors for its leads of Hiro, Tadashi, and Baymax. 
Ryan Potter’s Hiro is one of the most realistic teenagers depicted on film. Hiro is moody and angry, over confident, and rash with his decisions. In most films teenage boys are treated like world weary geniuses who have the world figured out. Potter’s voice adds uncertainty and anxiety to Hiro. Hiro is brash and unruly at times, selfish, and in all honesty he does a few things I find absolutely disturbing including attempted murder...yeah I know it’s a kids film. Yet, all of Potter’s voice acting and agony make Hiro one of the most flawed, likable characters in recent disney history.
The surprise casting for me was Second City veteran and “30 Rock” star Scott Adsit as Baymax. Adsit was one of the pioneers of Second City theater’s reinvention of the mid 90s. But as Baymax Adsit takes his over the top wit and channels it into a loving caring robot. Adsit’s Baymax is one of the most gentle and sensitive robots since “WALL*E”. The great thing about a character like this in a disney film is he teaches children innocence and learning all in one super sentient vinyl based being. Of all the characters in this film Baymax is the one robot but the only character who has compassion, humanity, and whimsy all in one, and it’s all because of Adsit’s gentle timber bringing Baymax to life. If they were to get a big named star like Kevin Spacey or Edward Norton Baymax would not be as life like, because it would be Spacey or Norton as a robot. Getting unknown actors to voice the leads allows use to empathize with them more.
Hall and Williams’ direction of “Big Hero 6” is perfect. These are two directors who have in the past made forgettable animated films like “Bolt” and the remake of “Winnie the Pooh”. Yet, with a source material based in a Marvel centric universe they have full range to adapt what Marvel has done with “The Avengers” and add the animated genius of “Frozen” into one contained film. Hall and Williams’ look of this film is so rich with dark and pastel colors blended beautifully to add a haunting gothic like glow. Also the setting of the factious San FranToyko allows the animators to blend San Francisco and Japan into one unique California town. Hall and Williams have made the most perfect animated film of the year. One of the most thoughtful and tragic stories of a young boy becoming a hero.
“Big Hero 6” is the most visually stunning animated films of the year. What i like that Disney and other studios like Dreamworks is doing is they’re adding death as a teaching tool for coping. In “How to train your Dragon 2” Hiccup suffers a family lose. In “Big Hero 6” Hiro loses his brother and how animation handles this is quite beautiful. Animation shows its ability to be more adult than most R rated dramas. “Big Hero 6” may be this years best animated feature winner at the Oscars. The character growth, design, look, and not to mention Stan Lee cameo are all impressive. “Big Hero 6” is the best animated film of the year.

scott kurlandComment