A young man goes on an amazing adventure with his healthcare robot in tow.
Big Hero 6 is many things – the first Disney animation based on a Marvel property, an origin story, a comedy, an action flick and a superbly designed world. But really, it’s all about a boy called Hiro and a robot called Baymax.
Hiro is a teenage kid living in the city of San Fransokyo who has recently suffered a terrible personal loss with the death of his older brother. Into that void comes the character of Baymax, a vinyl-clad healthcare robot who has one task – to make his patients feel better.
It sounds like a strange aside in what is otherwise a fun action-adventure but it’s this idea which really gives Big Hero 6 its heart. When Baymax realises that a salve isn’t going to solve Hiro’s problem, he risks life and limb and battery power to do every last thing he can in order to help him.
This leads to the films best moments, to thoughtless sacrifice, fantastical flights and the slow construction of one of the most captivating onscreen relationships I’ve ever seen in an animation. Baymax’s motivations are forthright and simple, but they burrow down into the very DNA of the movie, selling the emotional notes perfectly.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that Baymax is an absolutely adorable creation, the rare combination of design, writing and performance (from Scott Adsit) that’s just about perfect. There’s no doubt that he will go down in the pantheon of timeless Disney characters but there’s more to him than the charm of an anthropomorphic snowman. He also has a real (cybernetic) heart and a mature relationship with the protagonist which we haven’t necessarily seen before.
Baymax also earns practically every hearty laugh in this brisk 92 minute feature, whether from his awkward movements (which are all necessary to avoid injuring anyone) to his attempt at a fist bump. It’s simply lovely stuff, and kids and grown-ups will be attached to his catchphrases for months to come.
Baymax is so good that the rest of the film can’t quite keep up. The characters are a bit limp, the story never really gets going and the villain fails to make much of an impression. Even the action scenes feel a little tepid – never quite capturing the energy needed to make them stand out.
These elements mean that Big Hero 6 can’t quite stand with the best of Disney but it’s another fine effort from the house of mouse, with Baymax elevating it to must-see status for fans of cute characters.