Review – Who Ya Gonna Call? Baymax! (“Big Hero 6”)

Inspired by the limited Marvel comic book series from 1998, this Walt Disney animated CGI feature film won’t win any awards for originality, but it sure makes up for it with oodles of fun, adventure, and pure popcorn enjoyment. And, of course, being a Disney film, the parents of the kids have been conveniently killed off.
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We start in the sprawling metropolis of
San Fransokyo (a fusion of San Francisco and Tokyo) and super-genius 15-year-old Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) who gets into trouble playing illegal robot-fighting for big bucks. His equally smart big brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney) turns Hiro’s life around when he introduces him to his college, the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. Robotics and uber-science are all the rage here and Hiro is mesmerized. He wants in…  badly! But first he must prove himself worthy to Professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell), the head of the robotics program, at a special science exhibition.

Hiro wins his scholarship with his super-cool invention: micro-bots. They’re 1″ long bots that, when thousands are brought together
telepathically through a neural-cranial transmitter, they will form anything! Wow! However Hiro’s enjoyment is short lived when a mysterious fire and explosion destroys his bots and kills his brother.

At home with his loving Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph), a grieving Hiro gets a visit from
Baymax (Scott Adsit), a personal healthcare robot that Tadashi invented. He’s a big marshmallow-like sweetheart of a bot that just wants to take of you. But there’s no time for healthcare; a leftover micro-bot leads them to a dangerous Kabuki-wearing masked man who stole Hiro’s micro-bots and neural-cranial transmitter.

What’s this guy up to, anyway? Before he can find out, Hiro meets up with other college science nerds who want to help.
They all go by their lab nicknames: Go-Go (Jamie Chung) who’s tough, athletic, and created a super-fast electromagnetic wheel, Wasabi (Damon Wayans, jr) a laser expert and neat-freak, Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), a mad scientist chemistry whiz, and Fred (T.J. Miller), who is just the school mascot, but loves comic books. (inside joke. . . check out who his father is).

After they discover that the villain could be
Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk), a cost-cutting tech guru that caused a horrible scientific accident, Hiro figures it was him that killed his brother, and that they should go after this guy. He even outfits the gang as superheros with their own costumes and weapons, even upgrading the lovable Baymax with a flashy red armored super-hero outfit. Hiro gets into the chase, but a little too much, as his hatred for the masked man grows, especially when he discovers who he really is.

The ending fight is a whirlwind of techo-science and friendship coming together vs the bad guy as the city of
San Fransokyo is almost torn apart. The finale has a happy ending, naturally, but this is what happens when you have a wonderful fusion of Marvel and Disney combined.

Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams (who gave us Winnie the Pooh and Bolt), we finally have a ‘dude film’ with no princesses or singing anywhere, thanks to screenwriters
Robert L. Baird, Dan Gerson, and Jordan Roberts, who just kept it clever, simple, and sweet. Nothing complicated or over-the-top here in the story, just an A to B to C plot that works due to the rich characters, the crisp dialogue, the touching  moments, and tried ‘n’ true Pixar formula of “make ’em laugh, then make ’em cry”. Which, truth be told, I did choke up a few times during this movie. Yes, it’s aimed at the kiddies in the audience, but the adults will have just as much fun.

P.S. Before the movie, enjoy the delightful Disney animated short feature, Feast. A funny and poignant story of a guy from his teens through marriage, and all from the perspective of his lovable dog, Winston, and what he (they) love to eat. Just perfect.

The Iron Giant (1999)


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Brad Bird. He gave us Pixar’s The Incredible’s, Ratatouille, and Mission Impossible 3, and will be giving us Tomorrowland in 2015. Nothing this man does is anything less than great. And so it was in 1999, he gave us the plucky animated story of a young boy and his giant iron robot.
 
It’s 1957 and 9-year-old Hogarth Hughes (voiced by Eli Marienthal) is a kid living with his single mom, Annie (Jennifer Aniston) in Rockwell, Maine. Unbeknownst to them, a giant robot from outer space crashed near their home. One day Hogarth sees this creature get electrocuted by power lines that it began to eat and shuts down the power. After hours of waiting, the robot surprises Hogarth, who soon befriends him. The Iron Giant (voiced by Vin Diesel), suffering amnesia, accompanies Hogarth wherever he goes, learning and adapting.
 
Hogarth takes The Iron Giant (TIG) to see Dean McCoppin (Harry Connick,jr) a junkyard dealer (who’s also sweet for his mom) to help in getting his new friend repaired. Looks like TIG eats metal for nourishment and Dean is none too keen on him eating his iron sculptures.
 
Meanwhile, Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald), an arrogant, ambitious, and paranoid government agent is on the lookout for the huge metal monster as well and questions Hogarth on his whereabouts. But the cat’s outta the bag after TIG saves some kids in town and thereby reveals himself. The Army then sees TIG and attacks. This triggers a mechanism within TIG, switching him to combat mode.
 
TIG returns fire, but Hogarth calms TIG down enough to tell him to fly away . . . which he does, but TIG is downed by a missile! After crashing, TIG thinks an unconscious Hogarth is dead, so he activates his energy weapons and attacks the outmatched Army. Mansley goes crazy and points a nuclear bomb at TIG! Hogarth wakes, runs into town, and reassures TIG who deactivates his weapons and, in an act of pure unselfishness, flies off into the sky and is blown to smithereens by the bomb. . . thus saving everyone else.
 
The moving epilogue has a shrine built to honor TIG, and a single iron bolt (the only piece found) suddenly moving and beeping on it’s own.Yes, bits of TIG are alive somewhere in Iceland and are slowly assembling themselves again.
 
Based on his story and directed by Brad Bird, it has a different look to it than your normal animated feature films. Looking hand-drawn CGI and using a 2:35 wide-screen format, it doesn’t look the same as other Warner Bros animated films. Even the storyline is unique, with it’s cold war and anti-guns themes; you don’t see that very often in a kids cartoon. Plus, it’s funny and moving and has the Brad Bird axiom (which is also Pixar’s mantra), “make ’em laugh, make ’em cry”.
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