Monday, December 8, 2014

Big Hero 6

Production Team:  Disney; Directed by Don Hall, Chris Williams
                              Screenplay:  Jordan Roberts, Daniel Gerson, Robert Baird

Rating:  ** (2 stars out of 3 possible, "B")

Audience:  Second grade and up  (PG)

If you're like me, this movie will take you by surprise.  Your kids will come home from school begging to see Big Hero 6 and Baymax because all their friends said how great it was.  You will not know what they are talking about.  You will be suspicious, first of all, because everyone likes it; second of all, because it's Disney; thirdly, because it is about foreign concepts like robots, high-tech science nerds and unbelievable super heroes.  Finally, who or what is Baymax, and what does "Big Hero 6" even mean?  What kind of title is that?  Just stay tuned....

For the most part, this movie is a home run hit.  The concepts are fresh and new; the characters are unique and appealing; the plot is creative and energetic; the futuristic setting, San Fransokyo, is clever and attractive; the robot sidekick, Baymax, is entertaining and poignant at the same time.

I'm not sure why Disney continues to write for parent-less siblings, although it's not an entirely inaccurate reflection of our societal norms.  At least this time, the Hamada brothers have Aunt Cass as guardian and general worry-wort.  It's disturbing when younger brother Hiro loses college brother Tadashi early in the film, but this being Disney, one practically expects Tadashi to make a surprise entrance later in the movie.  One also expects a plot twist involving the evil villain.  The twist does not disappoint.  Likewise, someone does return from the dead, but who it is I won't reveal.

One of the best parts of the film is Tadashi and his science-geek friends rescuing Hiro from a future of pointless robot games by inspiring him to use his mind and talents creating useful inventions in a college research lab.  The science focus of the movie, and the smart male and female students will inspire middle school and high school ages.

Another fun part of the movie, especially for grown-ups, is the creation of the Asian/American San Fransokyo.  But the winning stroke of genius is the soft robot Baymax, Tadashi's medical research project.  Baymax will scan you and determine all your health needs, providing diagnosis and treatment until you state "I am satisfied with my care."  When Hiro loses Tadashi, Baymax is activated and refuses to lose touch with his new patient.  This is an insightful commentary not only on the quality of health care we desire, but the quality of our friendships as well.

The questions become:  can Hiro reprogram Baymax to take revenge on evildoers, and should he?

The only drawback I saw to this film was the second half devolving into a sort of random and unbelievable super hero plot.  It is likely no one else will have that problem!  Most people love unbelievable super heroes, but I found the science and the scientists at the beginning much more believable and inspiring.

I also found the comic relief from Baymax to be refreshing and endearing.  (Ten times better than Olaf the stupid snowman.)  Baymax's hilarious low-battery scene, combined with Hiro trying to keep him hidden from Aunt Cass, provided excellent care, indeed.  At one point Baymax is petting the family cat, murmuring "hairy baby...hairy baby...."

There is one memorial scene where Buddhist elements are present:  candles, altars, pictures, Buddha.  This is very brief and it reminds me that the hope of God through Christ will never appear in most Hollywood movies.  Characters are thankful to have each other to trust in, and friendship is usually the most inspiring hope they'll find.

Ultimately, with Big Hero 6 on your side, you can tackle anything.  Even villains can change when shown kindness and mercy.  At the end of this movie, you will most likely state "I am satisfied with my care."  And you'll be a hip parent who knows what their kids are talking about!

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