Friday, February 20, 2015

Big Hero 6

2014, Don Hall, Chris Williams (Bolt) -- cinema

Big Hero 6 is the perfect melding of Disney aesthetics and Marvel source material. Its not whatsoever related to the original story but only via some inspiration, and that is entirely fine. There are superheroes, there is Japanese inspired culture and our main characters or Hiro (perhaps Protagonist?) and Baymax are there. But no Silver Samurai, sniff sniff.

In some of my favourite anime, Tokyo is depicted in what I can only assume is a more realistic fashion. The radical difference-ness of the city, from the narrow back streets with park small cars, to the ubiquitous convenience stores everywhere to the familiar shopping districts full of neon signs and walking streets, I am fascinated. Big Hero 6 is set in a magical combination of said Tokyo and homey, more earthy San Francisco, giving us San Fransokyo. I watched the backgrounds of the movie as much as paid attention to the plot. So beautiful.

Our hero, Hiro, lives with his aunt and brother above a small non-franchise cafe. It is this depiction of a comfortable American-dream lifestyle that sets the tone for the movie. This is the alternate home life that movies are presenting as "normal" now. Now, don't take that as a commentary or normal vs not-normal, but more a love of how a non-traditional living arrangement -- they live with their aunt above a business -- is just soooo bloody warm, inviting and comfy. Hiro and his brother have a good life. They are loved. We don't need to see our hero in a white picket fence home with a mom & dad and suburban lifestyle.

Hiro and his brother Tadashi are pretty much geniuses, but you get the idea that kids are smarter than your average bears in this world. Tadashi goes to the local university, basically inventing super powers with his friends. Hiro makes robots for illegal, back alley fighting arenas. But Tadashi needs him to find a focus, to find some more positive direction for his obvious intellect. He wants him to join him at the university.

Hiro is inspired and brings an amazing tech to his "interview". These microbots, smaller versions of his killer fighting robot, can revolutionize building technology. No sooner than he presents it than tragedy happens, a fire in the display floor and, OMG it was tragic, the death of Tadashi amidst a heroic act. It was heart wrenching because everything we have learned about Tadashi is that he is both big brother, father figure and caring leader of his friends.

Hiro is left alone again, not truly alone as his aunt is always around, but no parents, no brother. And then pops up (or slowly inflates) Baymax, Tadashi's last project --- in inflatable medical robot. Its not a miracle that Baymax has a simple AI, but how Tadashi has had him apply the intelligence. Again, this world is already technologically fantastical so yeah, he's just trying to perfect the warm, caring nurse-bot that can help the world. It latches onto Hiro's mental anguish and helps him heal.

Then the real movie begins, the superhero action flick. Hiro discovers someone has taken his microbots and is doing something all Super Villain with them. He is not sure what, but he needs friends to help. Enter Tadashi's class and lab mates. Go Go, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and ... Fred. They build suits, test them out and head out to do battle with the kabuki masked villain in black. These scenes reminded me much of us bouncing around in City of Heroes, the game where we could make up our own superheroes and punch, zap and burn bad guys.

Its funny, but this is the part that fades the most for me, the most traditional of a comedy action movie fare. Everything, from Baymax's flying to the massive world sucking portal, is awe striking and powerful but felt a little... familiar to me.  I do need to see the movie again, to be drawn back into the story as a whole. I tend to get a little focused on character in these big, glossy animated flicks. I need a few times around the harbour to fully enjoy.

So, that said, time to grab a torrent and see if this will sit next to The Incredibles as one of my favourite animated flicks.