Disney Animation Creates Another Winner With “Big Hero 6”
Walt Disney Animation Studios does it again. Continuing their energized creative streak after their smash hits Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph, the studio just released Big Hero 6 — and it doesn’t disappoint.
The film, based on a heretofore little-known Marvel comic, centers around 14-year old robotics prodigy Hiro, who enjoys hustling others for cash at underground robot fights in the mythical city of San Fransokyo with one of his quirky inventions. He is encouraged by his older brother Tadashi, himself a talented inventor, to parlay his skills into a more serious career. Tadashi is the creator of Baymax, the large, Pillsbury Dough Boy-looking inflatable robot seen in all the promo for the film.
While Hiro accepts his brother’s advice, disaster strikes the city early on, and Hiro is tasked with solving a deepening mystery surrounding a masked villain, while armed only with Baymax — who, comprised mostly of air, isn’t exactly designed for taking down evil overlords. In fact, Baymax’s main function is to help others as sort of an ambulatory health clinic. He takes care of boo-boos rather than cause them.
Helping Hiro out in his quest is a motley crew of super nerds, “adrenaline junkie” GoGo Tomago, “neatnik” Wasabi, “chemistry whiz” Honey Lemon and “fanboy” Fred. They gear themselves up with snazzy suits to turn into a band of super-heroes called “Big Hero 6” — and from then on its all action.
What makes this film awesome:
- It shows that being smart and scientific is cool.
- Problem solving and thinking out of the box, as opposed to pure brute force or charm, are shown as necessary to win.
- The main hero is Asian-American.
- The African-American Wasabi character is not just a wisecracking, buffoon sidekick as portrayed in so many Hollywood movies, he is intelligent while also cautious and vulnerable–someone real to relate to.
- The “slacker” character has an atypical background (and a really ingenious Easter egg reveals his parentage to the delight of Marvel fanboys).
- The girls kick butt.
- The graphics and animation are tight. Real nice to look at.
- Emphasis on family, themes of redemption and friendship.
- Its hilarious. Baymax is just amazing.
“Big Hero 6” features the voices of an extraordinary ensemble cast, including Scott Adsit (“30 Rock,” “St. Vincent”) as Baymax, Ryan Potter (“Supah Ninjas,” “Senior Project”) as Hiro Hamada; Daniel Henney (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) as Tadashi; T.J. Miller (HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2”) as Fred; Jamie Chung (“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” “Once Upon A Time,” “The Hangover Part II & Part III”) as GoGo Tomago; Damon Wayans Jr. (“Let’s Be Cops,” “Happy Endings”) as Wasabi; and Genesis Rodriguez (“Tusk,” “Identity Thief”) as Honey Lemon. The film also features the voices of veteran actors James Cromwell (“Murder in the First,” “L.A. Confidential”) as Professor Robert Callaghan, Alan Tudyk (“Tell,” “Welcome to Me,” “42”) as Alistair Krei and Maya Rudolph (TV’s “Saturday Night Live,” “The Maya Rudolph Show,” Bridesmaids”) as Aunt Cass.
The film is executive produced by John Lasseter. Screenwriters are Robert L. Baird & Daniel Gerson (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Monsters University”) and Jordan Roberts (“March of the Penguins,” “Around the Bend”). Composer Henry Jackman (“Captain America: The Winter Solder,” “Wreck-It Ralph”) provides the film’s score, and Fall Out Boy wrote and performed an original song called “Immortals.”
“Big Hero 6” opened in 3D on Nov. 7, 2014. It is rated PG.
Teens Wanna Know Rating: 8 out of 10. Highly recommended for all ages…and yes, teens will like it!
SLAM DUNK – Baymax is 6 feet tall and 75 pounds—until Hiro mechs him out. Baymax, in his super suit, is more than 7 feet tall and can lift 1000 pounds. “He’s all air,” says head of animation Zach Parrish.
GO AHEAD – Artists looked at actors like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Gary Cooper and other cowboys to study cool, emotionally reserved traits while developing GoGo Tomago’s look and personality.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BLINK – Baymax sports a standard nine-frame-blink, says head of animation Zach Parrish. “We play with the speed of his blink throughout the film, but for the most part, it’s a standard blink. It’s the amount of time we give the audience to think before he blinks that says a lot—the longer it is, the more time he’s processing. A double blink shows confusion. We used that a few times in the film. That could be an acting choice for a human character, too.”
NEED FOR SPEED – Artists looked at speed skaters to inform the body type and movement for GoGo Tomago, a passionate student of speed.
DUUUUUUDE – Artists studied snowboarders, skateboarders and surfers to develop movement and posture for Fred.
CHILL OUT – Wasabi, at one time, was a very Zen character with very Zen dreadlocks. When filmmakers tweaked his personality, they initially decided the neatnik wouldn’t be a fan of the not-oft-shampooed-do and gave him a haircut. The look didn’t last. It turns out, everyone was just too attached to his cool locks.
LOOSE TOOTH – To ensure Hiro’s charming gap-toothed grin stayed intact from any angle, controls were added to his teeth so animators could make adjustments as needed.
ROBOT LOVE – Ryan Potter, who voices Hiro in “Big Hero 6,” was obsessed with building robots as a kid. “I was 9 or 10 when I got a robotics kit,” he says. “I absolutely love science.”
MORE ROBOT LOVE – Genesis Rodriguez, who lends her voice to Honey Lemon in “Big Hero 6,” was on her school’s robotics team. “I was a welder,” she says. “So I made sure my weldings were just perfect and very aesthetically pleasing as well. People didn’t expect us to be so good. That was the beauty of it. We were just this bright group of girls who had an idea, executed it and beat the guys.”
SMART GUY — James Cromwell, who lends his voice to Professor Robert Callaghan, studied at Carnegie Mellon University (then called Carnegie Tech). “Big Hero 6” filmmakers spent time at the school, learning all about the innovative field of soft robotics, which ultimately inspired Baymax, a huggable vinyl robot that takes care of people.
FULL CIRCLE – As a child, Damon Wayans Jr., who provides the voice of Wasabi, wanted to be an animator when he grew up. He even studied animation after graduating high school before he decided to pursue acting.
LET IT GROW – The “Big Hero 6” animation team topped 100 members (103, to be exact). That’s about 15 more animators than 2013’s feature film “Frozen.”
MARTIAL ARTISTS – Filmmakers selected karate to broaden Baymax’s skillset—but animators had to adjust some of the movements to work for the voluminous character’s build. A few members of the team visited a nearby martial arts studio to get a feel for the practice. Pros were asked to attempt some of the moves while on their knees to simulate Baymax’s signature proportions.
I CAN FLY – Filmmakers consulted with flight specialist Jason McKinley, who worked on both “Disney’s Planes” and “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” to choreograph and execute the flight sequences with Baymax and Hiro.
670’S A CROWD – Walt Disney Animation Studios’ proprietary system Denizen allowed filmmakers to create bigger, more believable crowds for “Big Hero 6.” created around 670 unique characters, compared to 270 in “Frozen,” 185 in “Wreck-It Ralph” and 80 in “Tangled.” Each of the 670 characters has up to 32 different clothing look combinations, plus 32 different hair and skin tones. That means, filmmakers could invite 686,080 unique characters to the San Fransokyo party before there were any exact repeats. Denizen was made available to everyone at Walt Disney Animation Studios and employees were encouraged to model themselves in the system to join the crowd. More than 200 characters were created, and employees will see themselves up on the big screen—walking among the “Big Hero 6.”
COUNT ON IT — The “Port of San Fransokyo” scene has over 6000 people in it. 23 districts were built in 3D. 83,149 lots of the 150,000 in all of San Francisco were built.18.8 million building parts. 215,000 streetlights. 260,000 trees.