I finally caught up with the animated film Big Hero 6 (2014), and what a fun ride it is! In the futuristic Pacific Rim megalopolis of San Fran Sokyo, Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) is an impulsive teen robotics wiz, living with his protective older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) and beleaguered aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph). Hiro’s a flip, confident troublemaker with an interest in illegal bot-fighting and no sense of direction or responsibility. At least, he is until Tadashi shows him another path, encouraging him to apply for a wicked cool tech university. Inspired by his brother’s caretaking robot experiment Baymax (Scott Adsit) and the enthusiasm of Tadashi’s friends, Hiro enters the institution’s science competition and earns a place. But when his invention inspires attention from the business world, and then sudden tragedy strikes, Hiro’s freewheeling personality takes a dark turn. With a mystery to solve and Baymax’s unexpected help, Hiro digs out of his depression and finds his purpose, and ultimately a superhero team is born.
Structurally, Big Hero 6 is formulaic Hollywood fare, hitting the expected emotional beats with clockwork precision. But that’s a predictable, minor blemish on an otherwise highly enjoyable film. This is a fun, splashy, gorgeously animated movie with eyeball kicks galore, a great sense of humor, a diverse cast of well delineated and likable characters, and a refreshingly pro-science attitude. It’s got laughs, heart, and excitement, and while its emotional shape is predictable, there are enough left-turns and plot twists to subvert the odd expectation. The voice acting is perfect; I was particularly fond of Rudolph’s quirky characterization, but the whole cast is solid, including Hiro’s teammates (T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Genesis Rodriguez, and Damon Wayans Jr.) and other major supporting roles (Alan Tudyk and James Cromwell). A terrific SF superhero adventure.