Since I was able to see an early screening of "Dumb and Dumber To" and have already written a review of its pleasingly dumb proceedings (5 of 6 -- stupid humor that pays homage to and is appropriately derivative of the original), I thought I would double back and review "Big Hero 6" from two weeks ago.
"Big Hero 6" is a Disney film based upon Marvel characters produced by Disney Animation Studios. While Marvel movies are now listed in the same breath as the "Harry Potters," "James Bonds" and "Star Wars" of the cinematic world, Disney animation has been hit or miss for the past couple of years. "Big Hero 6" attempts, and is moderately successful, at taking the best of Disney storytelling and the best of Marvel storytelling and combining it into a compelling animated feature.
On the Disney front, "Big Hero 6" needed to sell the tender "boy and his dog" story we all melt so easily at. For a story set in an odd, technologically advanced, Asian-inspired version of San Francisco (San Fransokyo), the dog in question is an inflatable, lovable robot named Baymax. Paring the protagonist with a partner that isn't an animal is not unprecedented, but it does raise the difficulty factor for the bond that needs to be created between boy and dog and the pair and the audience. While occasionally moving, the bond between Hiro (the hero and main protagonist of the story, get it?) and Baymax never truly takes on a life of its own and can't hold a candle to the relationship between Hiccup and Toothless from "How to Train Your Dragon."
On the Marvel front, the action is witty, fast-paced and entertaining. Unfortunately, however good the animation is, it misses the mark for true greatness by lacking the X-factor that occasionally brings a tear to the eye -- the incredibly subtle, almost throwaway moments that define each character and raise the emotional stakes in the midst of the excitement.
For an example of what I mean by "X-factor" in this instance, see the debut trailer for "Overwatch," a new first-person shooter that was debuted at BlizzCon when I was in California. One of the many reasons I love Blizzard Entertainment is because they essentially made a six-minute Pixar movie that some, myself included, might argue is better than "Big Hero 6" to announce a video game (youtube/FqnKB22pOC0). The moment when Tracer yells, "Winston!," that's X-factor. It's exciting, but it's emotionally compelling. She needs him; she wants to help save her friend.
"Big Hero 6" is a perfectly fine Disney film that is certainly well-marbled with Marvel. I enjoyed it, but it can't live up to its first trailer, and this isn't the successor to "Frozen" that Disney Animation needed or wanted.
4 of 6