Saturday, November 8, 2014

Big Hero 6 Review

For years Disney was the king of animation. No one really even came close. That reign continued all the way up into the early 90's when Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994) dominated. Then in 1995, a movie called Toy Story was released and the animation game was changed forever. Disney still put out respectable movies, but those movies didn't dominate the box office and for a while, Disney was left in the dust while studios like Pixar and Dreamworks ruled. In fact, from 1995 to 2009, only one of Disney's movies even broke $150 million, and that was 1999's Tarzan with $171 million. Then in 2010, Disney started a resurgence with Tangled. While Tangled was only third that year in the animated box office, behind Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me, for the first time since The Lion King in 1994, a Disney movie had topped $200 million. With the continued success of Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen, it's safe to say that Disney is back in the game.

Big Hero 6 follows the historical run of last year's Frozen, which is now the highest grossing animated movie of all time when you look at worldwide totals (it's behind Shrek 2, The Lion King, and Toy Story 3 here in the U.S.). While it may be unfair to expect similar totals from Big Hero 6, I personally can say that I like Big Hero 6 more than Frozen. And keep in mind, I didn't join the recent movement where it became cool to hate Frozen. I still love that movie. So me saying I enjoy Big Hero 6 more is saying something. In fact, I would say that this is Disney's best animated movie in quite some years. A big part of this reason is that it's really the first time that Disney Animation Studios has put out a superhero movie, which is in no coincidence to the fact that Disney now owns Marvel. After acquiring the rights to Marvel, they looked through the Marvel's property to see what they could adapt and they found this obscure Marvel comic called Big Hero 6. Doing what Disney does best, they took the idea and Disney-fied it to the point where it's only very loosely based on the actual Big Hero 6 comics.

What really makes Big Hero 6 work so well is that it has a little bit of everything. First off, it has a good story with great characters. No, it's nothing deep or unpredictable. I mean, this is Disney here. They have a target audience which includes more than just adults. Disney makes movies that family audiences, especially parents with young kids, can enjoy. And this is just that. Kids will love this movie. It's a simple superhero story where a group of nerds create superhero outfits that they can use to stop a super villain. But it has a whole lot of heart to it. You quickly grow to love this team of six, five humans and one robot. First and foremost is Baymax the lovable, hugable, Marshmallow-like robot. Disney is really good at creating great sidekicks in their movies and Baymax will definitely rival for the best sidekick they've ever done. He's adorable. He's funny. He's brilliant. Most of this is because of his innocent robot-like mannerisms. I definitely would love to have Baymax with me at all times. But Baymax isn't the only good character. The main kid is Hiro and you really feel for him because he is going through quite the rough time. His four friends come to help him out and each of them has a very distinct personality and are very lovable and awesome in their own unique way. Together they make a great team.

Other things that make Big Hero 6 work are the varied emotions in the movie. You know by the most recent trailer that something really sad happens. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, I won't go into details outside saying that the movie is very emotional. After what happens, Hiro is just a teenage kid and he has a hard time dealing with this. This makes for several scenes where you may need your box of tissues if you get emotional during movies. In additional to be an emotional movie, this is a very hilarious movie. Many laughs are courtesy of Baymax, but he's not the only one that provides laughs. Really everyone on this team provides a lot of laughs. And it wasn't just mild chuckles throughout. I was genuinely laughing out loud throughout the whole movie. There was even a few jokes that made me laugh almost uncontrollably. Like I couldn't stop even when the scene was over and we were onto the next scene. I love it when a movie makes me laugh that much because it doesn't happen that often. Finally, in addition to being emotional and hilarious, the movie is also a lot of fun. This is a superhero movie and that means you know you are going to get some action sequences. When they happen, it is just a blast to watch them as this team at first is experimenting with their new suits, but then become quite good as they get more practice with their suits. As a superhero origin story, this movie does a very good job at keeping your interest.

Overall, with Disney's track record, especially of late, I went into Big Hero 6 expecting it to be a good, fun movie. What I didn't expect was how excellent it would be. It had a great story, with great characters that made for an emotional, hilarious, and outright entertaining movie. When you look at the specific list of theatrically released movies from Disney Animation Studios you actually don't see a whole lot of sequels. They're very good at coming up with original ideas. And by original, I do realize that many of their movies are adaptations of sorts, but they change it up enough so that it becomes original. Most of the Disney sequels that you see are done by DisneyToon Studios, most of which are are direct-to-video releases. However, this is a scenario where I want Disney to do a sequel and I want it to be their main branch, not their DisneyToon branch. And when I leave a movie begging for a sequel, you know you did something right. Had not The LEGO Movie come out this year, I would've also called this the best animated movie of the year, but alas it has to settle with second place. However, Big Hero 6 definitely deserves a 9/10.

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