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A Nod to the Nerds: ‘Big Hero 6’

| Tuesday, November 11, 2014

big-hero-WEBKERI O'MARA | The Observer
Here is the stereotypical superhero we all know: a tall, buff and handsome man, with a flamboyant name referring to his tragic past, inspiring young children across the world to “help save the world” and reap the rewards. In light of recent movies about superheroes, however, this stereotype of a macho savior is shattered by Disney’s newest collaboration with Marvel, “Big Hero 6.” With lovable characters brought to life with stunning animation, this film inspired those who have always dreamed of being a hero to pursue their wildest dreams.

“Big Hero 6” tells the story of the young prodigy Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter), a 14-year-old robot fighter living in the heart of futuristic San Fransokyo. Frustrated with his younger brother’s lack of maturity, Hiro’s older brother Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney) brings Hiro to “nerd school,” or the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, where Hiro explores the robotics lab and is inspired by the life-changing creations invented by Tadashi’s classmates. After viewing others’ works, Tadashi introduces Hiro to Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit), Tadashi’s creation who is a peaceful robot that operates as a health care provider. Hiro and Baymax quickly form an uncanny relationship as Hiro attempts to save the world with the help of his high-tech pals, and Baymax attempts to please the young genius.

As the film begins, the first notable aspect of “Big Hero 6” is its remarkable animation style. Characters’ facial expressions are extremely dynamic and realistic, and the attention to minuscule details is astounding as each knick-knack on Hiro’s desk is beautifully rendered. The crowd and background shots were equally impressive due to the shear amount of detail packed into each frame, and the overall animation quality brought the interwoven town to life, giving the characters an appropriate setting in which to grow and mature.

“Big Hero 6’s” ingenuity glows through its portrayal of the characters involved with Hiro’s desires. The protagonist’s fellow “science nerds” are all infused with natural quirks, such as perfectionism, OCD, over-enthusiasm and others, which allow static characters to transform into believable college students. Such character depth causes the relationship between Hiro and Baymax to flourish and allows for the exploration of human and kindly robot interactions. Emotional hardships also displayed the personalities imbued within each character; the movie points out the different methods that characters use to deal with emotional strain. All seriousness aside, the intricacies of the characters allowed for hints of humor throughout the movie, and at the height of this humor, as in all Marvel movies, is Stan Lee’s cameo which tied directly to a character’s backstory.

The film, however, is an age-old tale of a superhero. “Big Hero 6” fell into all of the pitfalls of a stereotypical plot: an orphaned, teenage boy who, with the help of his not-so generic friends, battles against a seemingly-mysterious superhero. While the movie attempted to spin this storyline on several occasions, the twists were easily predictable and were nothing worth noting in the terms of a plot. The movie, while intended more for a younger audience than college students, lost a portion of power because of the unoriginal storyline. The musical score also did not work to strengthen the plot; the soundtrack is rather forgettable, unlike the movie’s underlying message.

Even with its flaws, “Big Hero 6’s” nod to the nerds was, in my opinion, the aspect of the show which truly set the film apart from other recent animated works. “Big Hero 6” teaches the audience that it is acceptable to be passionate about math, science and engineering and that even “nerds” or “geeks” can become superheroes in their own right. Those who study and research upcoming technology are saviors as they work to improve lives, and the students of the “nerd school” in the movie, while quirky, are toiling toward the title of hero though all of their studies. With motivation and dedication, any aspiring youth can invent, build and create original products to mold the future. These inventors, like Hiro and his sidekicks, come from all walks of life, but it is their passion in their chosen fields that ushers in a new wave of world-shapers that can become heroes in a world that needs saving. As Hiro works to save his world, these themes are brought subtly to the forefront, hoping to implant the idea that heroism is possible for all who decide to watch the film.

“Big Hero 6” was not a blockbuster, show-stopping hit worthy of dozens of sequels and prequels for its contributions to the greater cinematic world. Instead, it is a simple tale of a young boy and his robot, who, despite their issues, will rise above hardship and inspire similarly-minded children to work and invent until mankind is “satisfied with their care.”

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