Friday, December 5, 2014

Big Hero 6 and HTTYD

First off, please note that the artwork is not mine! I just came across it on the Grapevine. However, the artist noticed something that I am sure a lot of the rest of us probably picked up. Big Hero 6 and HTTYD have quite a lot in common. Maybe too much? Well, I guess you'll have to read on as to whether I think this should be considered two beautiful films... or whether I think it should be seen as a versus throw down!

I've only seen BH6 once, and that probably should be kept in mind when reading this review. My first statement is definitely this: Big Hero 6 was a GOOD movie. I'd highly recommend it. Now, I would not agree that it is the best animated film of this year... because of HTTYD2. Some critics have said it is better, and they are welcome to their opinion, but I personally enjoy HTTYD2 a lot more... but of course I am very, VERY biased when it comes to the How To Train Your Dragon movies. So, with that said, I just want to make a few comparisons to show similarities and strong points between the two films. This post will include spoilers, so don't read on if you haven't seen BH6.

Alright, I think the similarities are pretty obvious. Both stories revolve around a lonely, little boy who befriends or is befriended by a remarkable, utterly unique friend. That really was a huge appeal in HTTYD, and I think BH6 pulled it off as well. It felt a little bit like BH6 was copying HTTYD, but I can't say that for sure. If it is, I would not call it copying... I suppose I'd call it taking hints. But, again, the directors of BH6 may not have considered HTTYD at all while constructing their film. After all, lonely/geeky guys make great underdog protagonists, and lots of people out there love friendship oriented movies (HTTYD, LotR, and Sherlock to name a few). I do like this kind of plot, so it appealed to me in BH6. Big Hero 6 also had some serious peril and some good action scenes, much like both HTTYD movies. And, to take the cake, BH6 had a flight scene that felt very much like Test Drive from HTTYD. The movies have a lot in common (even Tuffnut's voice actor), but they also have difference.

I do want to stress again that I loved BH6. I don't want these differences to look like I am downing the movie. HTTYD and BH6 are perfectly good films in their own way, in fact a couple of people in my family said they liked BH6 more than HTTYD. 

BH6 lacks the father/son relationship that was so phenomenal in both HTTYD movies. Also, though Hiro and Hiccup are both lonely, they are lonely for different reasons. Hiccup is lonely because he is a misfit, and he further makes himself isolated by his use of sarcasm and wit to defend himself from the constant feeling of disappointment. Some people have said he is whiny. I don't really find that to be a fair judgement, and I'm still a bit miffed at the person who said it, but Hiccup does vent frustration in HTTYD, and some people might call that whining. Hiro is lonely and without friends because he is arrogant. He is a child genius who smokes the competition, and because of that he is willing to play illegal games and mock individuals who go to the college he refers to as "geek school". When he loses his one friend, his older brother, he is forced to realize just how isolated he has become. In the end, this made Hiccup easier to empathize with for me. I actually found Hiro to be a bit off-putting. He rubbed me wrong. I sympathized with Hiccup a lot more, and I felt that Hiccup's needs were more human and complex. In then end, I can safely say that I preferred Hiccup to Hiro, but I don't expect everyone to. Some people may like Hiro's spunk and superiority, as well as his infinitely creative mind, but I did like Hiccup better (and still do). So, in the end, it sort of depends on which protagonist you like more! If you liked Hiro, then BH6 was probably a fantastic film for you!

One thing that I also felt was lacking in BH6 was any kind of shock. I was not really surprised when his brother died (because the trailers had given it away). And when the villain revealed himself, I was not surprised. Even when Baymax comes back from the dead, I really did expect it. Now, it might just be that I had some good guesses, but I really just never found BH6 to be shocking. HTTYD2 on the other hand rattled me to the core! Even the first one had some twist and turns I did not expect.

Also, a huge factor that'll probably determine whether you like BH6 or HTTYD more is which companion you find cuter. Personally, I though Toothless was cuter and funnier than Baymax. Toothless's face allowed for a lot more expression, and unlike BH6 there was actually peril in the friendship. Toothless had a feeling of mystery which really helped make his charm shine out even brighter. Baymax, however, really is there for Hiro with both charming dialogue, a lot of laughs, as well as some truly tender moments.

The thematics of BH6 are a bit simpler. One of the central messages I got from it (upon seeing it once) is that we should live as the one who we have lost would want us to live... especially for the good of others. It is s simple theme, and HTTYD2 has that in Hiccup's reaction to Stoick's death, but Big Hero 6 really focuses on it, and in the end it is handled well. You don't really have the complexity of clashing worldviews that is intrinsic to HTTYD (over dragons and pacifism). BH6 did have a great dark scene in it, with spectacular sound design and a real feeling of intensity. Then directly after that dark moment of the hero, we get to see a really sweet moment of love and memory, so I felt that those two scenes might have been my favorite in the film. HTTYD has more complicated themes, but thankfully BH6 and HTTYD have different enough focuses to make them both stand alone films. And a simple theme is not a bad one! Hero's decisions by the end are really very good. And there is a sacrifice moment between him and Baymax, and that is truly sweet.

So, I did really like BH6. I don't think it is better than HTTYD1 or HTTYD2, but it really was one of the better animated films that has come out in the last few years.

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