A heartwarming, heartbreaking, easily loveable film.
The short and spoiler-free version:
Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Overall: A film that will make you want a Baymax toy, make you laugh and cry, and end perfectly.
Summary: Hiro Hamada, a young tech genius, forms a bond with his brother’s inflatable robot Baymax. Together with his friends they become heroes to unravel a mystery.
Perhaps, on reflection, I will remember flaws that will lower the rating I have given this film – but in the warm bubble I feel encased in after seeing it I don’t feel inclined to find anything wrong with it.
Disclaimer before I start: I haven’t read the comics, so will have nothing to say about it in an adaptation sense.
I love how the film praises the use of science, technology, and individual talent. Obviously suspending disbelief, the film produced a childlike love for science and technology in me again for a brief moment before I remembered my entire education. Hiro, friendly kid genius, turns his attention to getting into his brother’s college after his brother shows him that he doesn’t already know all the best stuff about tech and easy bot-fighting would not satisfy his passion. I can definitely get behind encouraging more wonder in science and going for a challenge and all that, so I like it. I also like how the individual talents of all Hiro’s ‘nerd’ friends are used and treated equally in the film, despite their differences. The characters all have great, fun personalities easily distinguishable even without their scientific specialisms.
Baymax, the film’s inflatable poster
boy robot, is the end result of the tech project of Tadashi, Hiro’s older brother. He identifies himself as a ‘personal healthcare companion’ and proceeds to take care of Hiro on their adventures. There’s a very sweet physical humour to his movements – from the way he squeezes through tight spaces to the way he waddle-runs to the way he waves and to the way he fist-bumps Hiro – it brings a very warm feel to the character despite being clearly robotic movements. Even later, when he is armoured up for attack, his big eyes and round curves cannot be anything but loveable.
Well hey-ho deep breath and let’s begin with the spoilers. Tadashi’s death and Hiro’s grieving really broke my heart. There was a delicate touch to the filmmaking that showed Hiro’s pain without getting lost in it, and illustrated the love of his aunt. I really like how he has a loving, supportive relationship with his aunt – I have had enough of the ‘adult’s don’t understand’ trope that seems to plague a lot of things, and for his aunt at least I really liked it. He respected her, and she him. Baymax’s recommendation of support from family and friends is a really beautiful touch. Baymax himself is a great carer – he does everything he can to help Hiro (even if he doesn’t seem to understand traffic laws – Hiro should consider that upgrade). The bit that really got me was when Baymax showed Hiro the test recordings made by his brother when creating him – because damn, it is always the little things that bring it all home. I teared up right alongside Hiro.
The enemy, who starts off as a mystery man in black with a kabuki mask, turns out to be not the guy who wanted Hiro microbots at the start and acted decidedly slimy. But – somewhat predictably – it was not that particular guy (though that guy wasn’t a ‘good’ guy) and, marginally more surprisingly, was the friendly Callaghan who headed the robotics programme at the beginning. My favourite twist was however that this villan had a rather human motive; having lost his daughter to a badly managed portal experiment by the aforementioned slimeball, he wants vengeance. Rather poetically, he cannot let go of his anger the way Hiro has even after a touching speech from the latter, and insists on wanting slimeball’s head on a microbot platter.
This all comes to a rather lovely climax for the ending. I want to take a brief moment here to give kudos to the microbot effects and the post-portal dust cloud world, for want of a better description. The colours in that place and the perfect cloudlike swirls were really something fantastic for me.
Gotta say, for those that have seen it, I was mentally screaming ‘take the chip!’ at the screen for the scene in which Hiro is obliged to conclude his relationship with Baymax, heartbreakingly, in order to go back through the portal with Callaghan’s daughter Abigail. (Yay, she survived!) Saying goodbye to Baymax involved the previously introduced deactivation words – that he is satisfied with his care, and I think my heart broke for at least the second time. Anyway, my mental scream ‘take the chip!’ of course referred to Tadashi’s special chip in Baymax’s chest that makes him everything he is. The fact that it was exactly that which resolved the ending, when Baymax’s remaining limb is found to have escaped holding the chip, I find wonderfully satisfying.
I would have loved a Baymax hug myself.