Movie Review: Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 is a kids’ movie that feels like a cross between The Incredibles and Wreck-It Ralph. It’s also one the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen all year. I’m going to just say right now that unless you’ve all the way grown up and don’t like watching kids’ movies anymore, you will probably enjoy Big Hero 6. Especially if you’ve ever lived in San Francisco.

That’s it. That’s the whole review.




Still here? Okay, I guess I’ll keep talking.

Big Hero 6 manages to hit a lot of my enjoyment buttons. The very opening of the movie pans over San Fransokyo’s [sic] version of the Golden Gate Bridge with torii on top. It doesn’t really make any sense but already it was poking at my sense of fun. From there, it was lots of little things until they eventually got to the university (“nerd school”). The whole point of that scene was to impress the protagonist, Hiro, but it worked on me too. All the things that would have been cool for me as a kid are apparently still cool now.1

From then on I was hooked. Oh, sure, the hero suits they ended up using were really stretching science; sure, some scenes went on a little long (first flight). But it essentially remained fun all the way to the climax, and not just fun…

Well, the plot felt very clunky. The scene where Tadashi dies ends pretty abruptly, and I remember thinking, “Oh, this is just the setup; now we get on to the movie.” But that wasn’t the only scene like that. At some point it was established in my brain that this was a kids’ movie, and that rather than explore the plot they probably want to make sure the (young) audience stays engaged. So, simple versions of a lot of things.

Despite this, the sad moments were still sad, the touching moments still touching.2 Even with the rest of it being fairly simplistic, these parts still worked on me.

*cough* Okay, what else? The setting of San Fransokyo was incredibly fun—they got the essence of several parts of San Francisco in there perfectly while adding some extra vaguely-Tokyo-ish flavor.3 The landmarks, the hills, the buildings all felt like this city. I loved it.

The ending—both parts—were disappointing. The fight scene was disappointing because it didn’t really show anything new: attacks, setbacks, recovery, win. (And gratuitous building destruction.) There wasn’t any clever teamwork, either; everyone just kind of did their own thing. The “rescue” part was disappointing because the real world doesn’t work that way—heck, we’ve seen that at this point with Tadashi. It was just an excuse for…um, that thing that happens during the rescue part.

At one point I thought “wait, isn’t it strange for a group of college students to adopt a young teenager into their group?”, and then I remembered that my Korean class had young teenagers in it as well as people well out of college and we actually got along quite well.

Major points for having an ethnically diverse set of main characters. Some points taken off for both Callaghan and Krei being white men. Super bonus points for Go Go’s “Woman up!”; some points taken off for her saying it twice, which made it feel like a catchphrase rather than just a normal thing to say. Would like to see more character development for Go Go, Wasabi, and Honey Lemon. (Fred? Eh.)

(At first I thought that Kabuki Villain was going to be Krei’s secretary. But it wasn’t.)

A friend asked whether I liked it better than Wreck-It Ralph, since they are from the same part of Disney and do feel kinda similar. I think Big Hero 6 edges out Wreck-It Ralph in terms of fun (and in diversity points), but I was much more invested in Wreck-It Ralph’s plot and characters. (In that sense Big Hero 6 was a bit like Scott Pilgrim in that I was just enjoying watching it.)

There is apparently very little connection with the original comic series. It’s about as related as Frozen was to “The Snow Queen”.

Good soundtrack, been listening to it on Spotify.

Of course the protagonist’s name is Hiro.

  1. Other examples: the Exploratorium and the trains in the Randall Museum↩︎

  2. Even the short beforehand, “Feast”, got me a bit emotional. I miss having a dog. ↩︎

  3. Not that San Francisco doesn’t already have a pretty strong Asian-American flavor! ↩︎