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BIG HERO 6
January 30, 2015
Many will be expecting great things from Disney’s newest animated feature after 2014’s monster smash-hit Frozen. Many will remain in their cold little bubble singing ‘Let it Go’, regardless of anything else in the entire world and many will simply not care. Big Hero 6 doesn’t deserve to be singled out, especially as a comparison to the company’s most successful film that’s already been deemed a classic. It should be viewed as a brand new and stunningly impressive adventure that poses some very important and relevant questions about our velocious and suggestively volatile relationship with technology.
Like so many children born in the twenty-first century, Hiro has a precocious affinity for technology and it’s probably no surprise, as the world he inhabits combines San Francisco and the most advanced city on the planet – Tokyo. In San Fransokyo, the teenager is at an academic and professional crossroads. He is encouraged by his older brother, Tadashi to enroll at a specialist university but when he successfully gets in, tragedy strikes. Baymax, a robot created to revolutionise health care (and looking rather like a polar bear/ Mr Blobby combo) seeks to help Hiro with his grief whilst becoming part of the Big Hero 6 of the title, alongside class-mates, Go Go, Fred, Wasabi and Honey Lemon. Together they join forces to defeat a mysterious villain hell bent on using one of Hiro’s inventions in a destructive way.
Big Hero 6 is, like Frozen, concerned with family. The main plot sees Hiro become close with the pragmatic and cuddly Baymax as well as the bond that forms between him and his new friends. It is perhaps not always evident in the literal sense of the word but constantly ensures it is never far from the audience’s mind. The core, however, centres on the very essence of humanity itself.
In the West particularly, we rely heavily on technology. We cannot wake up without it, get to a destination or find mental stimulation. Recent films such as Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, currently in cinemas and Spike Jonze’s Her (2013) have both portrayed worlds that could be deemed extreme but perhaps alarmingly, not at all unrealistic. We are undoubtedly heading towards an entirely different relationship with machines and technology than we have now. Is this a nightmarish vision of the future? Will it create a utopian society that serves to make humanity even more powerful?
In Big Hero 6, directors Don Hall and Chris Williams have made technology human. References to Hiro growing up and hitting puberty correlate with a scene which sees Baymax hilariously start to run out of battery but essentially appearing drunk like a kid trying alcohol for the first time. The interaction with his environment offers some of the funniest moments and plays with our own nostalgia for adolescence. Hall and Williams also play around with the idea of humans becoming machines and vice-versa as Hiro and his friends become ‘upgraded’ and Baymax acquires consciousness. Technology predictably falls into the wrong hands and becomes extremely dangerous but hey, Disney might triumph the good guys.
Big Hero 6 is a visual feast – closer to Wreck it Ralph (2012) than Frozen. Scenes that see Hiro and Baymax flying through the sky are gorgeous and the vast metropolis of San Fransokyo is most pleasing. The film delves into some thoughtful and relevant themes but keeps its younger audience happy with stunning animation and the knowledge that robots are our friends and hopefully will not spell out the end of humankind.
Big Hero 6 is released in UK cinemas on January 30th