Big Hero 6 fails to save itself from mediocrity, racism

By Preman Koshar, Layout Assistant

Big Hero 6 is an important film — it’s one of the first culturally diverse mainstream action flicks to hit America. But it’s also one of the most disappointing. Set in the fictional city of Sanfransokyo (which is as corny as it sounds, and comes complete with a Japanese-styled Golden Gate Bridge), it tells the story of boy-genius Hiro (Ryan Potter), pun intended, who, after the unfortunate death of his brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), must save the city from a mysterious masked man who is using one of Hiro’s inventions for nefarious purposes. Aiding Hiro is a medical robot, named Baymax (Scott Adsit), who Hiro reprograms to help him stop the masked man. Hiro is soon joined by some of his genius “nerd” friends, who have ridiculous, brightly colored costumes to compliment their even more ridiculous names. We quickly become acquainted with Fred (T.J. Miller), Go Go (Jamie Chung), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), and, regrettably, Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.).

Since the film is animated, it is very hard to judge the quality of the acting, but there was nothing to suggest that it was subpar or above average in any way. The visuals are the high point of this film. It is very clearly made for 3D viewing, and should only be seen in that format. The colors are bright and vibrant, and the motion is fluid and entertaining. The 3D, while often overdone in other films, is nicely interspersed throughout the movie. The score is nothing special, but it doesn’t interfere with the viewing experience in any significant way — at least it remains unobtrusive. The dialogue is uninspired, and is chock-full of the stereotypical action lines everyone knows and hates: “Let’s do this!”; “Find another angle!”; and “We have to work together!” The exclamation points at the end of every sentence are tiresome. It’s almost as if the characters from the technologically advanced Sanfransokyo have never seen a bad action flick — an unlikely premise, to say the least. The plot is extremely predictable. I felt like the producers at Disney were just taking a generic action script and filling in the blanks, like a humorless version of Mad Libs. I guessed the villain’s identity far before the big reveal, as well as the very simplistic plot twist near the end. “Big Hero 6” was far from being intellectually stimulating.

The film also seemed borderline racist to me, which is odd, as Disney is known for being a very liberal company. While the characters are supposed to be Japanese-Americans, I suppose, since they live in the blended world of Sanfransokyo, they seem to be mostly American. There are only three Asian actors in the whole cast, and they all have very strong American accents. In their animated form, they are all rather white as well — no significant character looked strongly Asian at all. The resemblance was there in several of them, but it was definitely underplayed. The only strongly Asian thing in this whole film was the architecture, and that was emphasized whenever it appeared. It felt almost apologetic for not including more Asian culture in the film. While I know that a lot of these decisions were based off of the original comic book lore for “Big Hero 6,” it is still a disappointing thing to see in the twenty-first century.

All in all, “Big Hero 6” is visually strong, but is lacking in almost every other department. As a film aimed at children, some of that is understandable, but recent films such as “The Lego Movie” have shown that adults can still be entertained by kids’ movies. While “Big Hero 6’s” attempt at cultural diversity is appreciated, it fell short in a number of ways. “Big Hero 6” is mildly entertaining at best, and severely disappointing at worst.

First-year Preman Koshar is a layout assistant. His email is pkoshar@fandm.edu.

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