Ages 11 and under
Animated Family Movie
After the usual Disney logo makes its grand entrée, we are treated to an aerial view of San Fransokyo: a futuristic city with the cybernetic feel of both San Francisco and Tokyo.
Big Hero 6 then kicks off with a gritty recreational battle between two robots, an illegal act of gambling that only the scum of the city resorts to. Then enters the hero of our story, Hiro. He pits his pathetic looking battle bot against the undefeated champion, shocking everyone as his battle bot suddenly wins the battle before anyone can say, “wow!” Yet the fun all ends as his brother comes to rescue him, a nightly excursion ending in a night at the jailhouse. But don’t worry, their Aunt Cass bails them out right away.
Hiro is not the most memorable or most original of protagonists created by the mouse empire; all the proper character-building rules are followed, but his overall impact isn’t quite there. He lost his parents at age three and graduated from high school at age thirteen, so he’s got the right amount of backstory to make a solid character. He plans to make money through bot fighting, only to change plans after seeing his brother’s institution, so he’s got enough well-rounded motivation for his actions. He even has a knack for inventing spectacular things such as microbots that you can control with your mind, so he’s interesting enough for a lead character. So where does he go wrong then? I’d put the blame on his voice actor Ryan Potter, whose voice is not quite as strong or conflicted to match Hiro’s awkward stage of puberty.
While I wouldn’t have cared that much about the main hero, the emotional trauma that happens to him does win me over. It begins when his emotionally supportive older brother, Tadashi, dies in an attempt to rescue his college professor from a fire, following an explosion, candles, desaturated colors, and umbrellas at a cemetery. Much time is spent on Hiro’s grief from losing his realistically portrayed brotherly love, including a love-filled video message from all of Tadashi’s friends to Hiro. But once Hiro learns of a man in a kabuki mask who stole his microbots after causing the fire that killed his brother, grief turns into revenge.
Yet I still feel like I’ve seen this setup all before. Aside from Hiro, I don’t feel like I have a good knowledge or understanding of the rest of the cast. But then soon enters Tadashi’s most proud invention who pops in for Hiro’s aid: a robotic nurse named Baymax (voiced wonderfully by Scott Adsit). Now, I cannot think of a more lovable walking marshmallow that ever commanded the screen; he squishes as he walks, he stiltedly maneuvers himself around objects, he offers you a lollipop when he’s done healing you, and you just want to run up and give him a big plushy hug. His program also adds some terrific one-liners that will not only get the kids and adults laughing together, but also keep us affirmed of his selfless duty to help others. Even when Hiro suits Baymax up in carbon fiber armor and programs him to learn karate to fight against the kabuki crook, Baymax fails to know how this helps him to become a better healthcare companion.
Then much later, after Hiro builds Baymax a newly upgraded red suit, they take a flight through the skies of San Fransokyo, utilizing the 3D and CGI technology to mark a believable bond between a boy and his bot.
The twosome though are not without some help. Four of Tadashi’s closest friends join Hiro for his pursuit against the Kabuki mask foe, each one decked out with their own super suits. There’s Wasabi the reluctant big-guy, there’s GoGo the slow and cool gum chewer, there’s Honey Lemon the wild one of the group, and there’s Fred, who sees himself as a fire breathing lizard. They’re not the type of supporting cast you’ll be crying over, but as far as a bunch of college-aged inventors go, they are rather believable in their unfamiliarity with the crisis.
Big Hero 6 follows Marvel’s tradition of reviving forgotten comic book heroes for a new generation. This was basically Disney Animation’s version of Guardians of the Galaxy, for a much younger audience not suitable for PG-13 viewing. And you know what? I think this movie has the right idea about what superheroes really should be about. It’s not just about a bunch of grown professionals in colored outfits fighting supernatural forces just for the heck of it. This time, there are two viable reasons why the main protagonist wants to defeat crime, each one conflicting with the other: helping others, and revenge.
Big Hero 6 as a whole is a well-meaning story about the difference between revenge and helping those in need, but because of numerous plot holes, coincidences, predictable gags, obvious foreshadowing, and a cheap nonsensical ending, this is not going to fall under “classic Disney” territory like Frozen already managed to do. But is it worth it? Well, it’s great for your Avengers-happy little boys, that’s for certain.
Big Hero 6 won the 2015 Oscar for Best Animated Feature for a reason: it spoke out about the shallow standards of comic book movies being about seeking revenge (Man of Steel, Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War) and this emotional adaptation from a Marvel property attacked those standards, proving how a real hero is supposed to help the sick and injured.
I feel that with our never-ending obsession with superheroes, and with their movies so focused on themes of revenge and hatred, people are becoming more and more confused about what makes a hero. The same goes to somebody who’s on the autism spectrum, it can be tough for them to know the proper qualities of a hero in society.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #81: They Hold On To Their Grudges.
It’s always been the case for me: if somebody mistreated me, even once, I remember it forever. There are some cases where I can easily forget what someone has done, but even then, it’s more a factor of the number of nice things they’ve done to make up for the bad. I had plenty of good role models, but the problem was simply with the way my mind was wired. I’m not adept at forgetting what people have done to me, which makes it harder for me to get into a mindset of helping somebody when revenge is the only thing on my mind.
I know that a lot of people have this problem. It is sort of natural for us humans to keep to ourselves throughout the day, or completely dismiss another because of a grudge we won’t let go of. What I’m saying is that with autism, it’s a lot harder to let go of even after many years pass.
You may disagree with me, but I do not think that the role models pressed onto us in the media are helping us set a healthy standard for what makes a hero. Captain America does not act like a hero. Superman (the Henry Cavill one) does not act like a hero. Deadpool definitely does not act like a hero. Yet we imagine ourselves in their place anyway. Now don’t get me wrong, they’re really fun movies to watch and laugh with, but do these characters honestly define what we want to define as a “hero?”
Here is where Big Hero 6 has value: it is both a superhero movie as well as a revisionist superhero movie, teaching kids the proper standards the next generation needs to meet in what to fight for.
- Who are the heroes in your life? Who are the fictional characters you look up to? Now compare and contrast your answers to the two questions. Which one better defines what you think makes a hero? Start being that character.
- If you have autism or know somebody with autism, work together on methods to let go of grudges. One that has worked for me is to make a list of all the things I dislike about the person, then right next to it, make a list twice as long of all the things I like about that person.
- Take a look at this post of 20 people who made small acts of kindness. Notice how some of these are police officers and security guards, including others who are commonly disrespected in the news. Try to do something similar to what you see in these pictures.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Лобарёв, Лин. Супергерои-дети и их проблемы. Digital image. КОММЕРЧЕСКИЕ ССЫЛКИ, 6 Jan 2016. Web. <http://www.mirf.ru/worlds/supergeroi-deti>.
20+ Photos That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity. Bored Panda. Web. <http://www.boredpanda.com/faith-in-humanity-restored/>.
Big Hero 6. Disney. Web. <http://movies.disney.com/big-hero-6/>.