Based on a Marvel comic by the same name, Big Hero 6 is a fun, occasionally brilliant, never boring computer-animated film from Disney. It's a distinctly 21st-century creation, where kids' skills in creating and controlling technology can give them superpowers and allow them to create the kinds of friends they want and need. At times, it's like a candy-coated Blade Runner, substituting the clean, bright lights of San Fransokyo for the grim wasteland of Los Angeles 2019. Like Ridley Scott's seminal vision, it is concerned with the blurring line between humanity and machine, but unlike author Philip K. Dick, it says that we can not only control our creations, but we will eventually put our trust in them and be rewarded.
Maybe I'm diving too deep into a kid's movie right off the bat, but Kids These Days (™) are far more tuned into these ideas than most adults, and stories like Big Hero 6 will be the battleground upon which the future is fought or surrendered to.
- Big Hero 6
Referencing Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, the hero of Big Hero 6 is named Hiro (Ryan Potter), a 13-year-old budding cyberneticist whom we meet hustling back-alley robot fights with his deceptively cute fighting unit. Concerned about his brother's flirtation with the underworld, Tadashi (Daniel Henney) takes him to the university where he is studying, and Hiro falls in love with the idea of school after seeing the gadgets dreamed up by Shaggy-like Fred (T.J. Miller), cyclist Go Go (Jamie Chung), neurotic Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), and chemist Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez). So Hiro enters a tech contest to win a scholarship to the school. His creation, a swarm of nanobots that he can control with his brainwaves, wins the attention of Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell) and entrepreneur Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk). But his triumph is short lived, because there is a mysterious fire and explosion at the school, which kills Tadashi and destroys his nanobot creation. He has one ally: an inflatable medical robot named Baymax (Scott Adsit) that turns out to be infinitely useful as Hiro assembles his superteam to investigate the link between his brother's death and a mysterious super villain who has eerily familiar nanobot servants.
Big Hero 6 is an origin story for a superhero team, but Baymax is the breakout star of the show.
This is not a Pixar film, but it bears the clear stamp of producer John Lasseter, who directed Toy Story. It is proceeded by an excellent short called Feast, the story of a relationship as told from the point of view of an adorable dog that looks more like the now-classic Pixar shorts than a Disney cartoon. Let's hope the cross-pollination between the two studios continues to produce good fruit like Big Hero 6.