I just saw the new film Big Hero Six, co-directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams. It is a fairly satisfying animated family film the likes of which you would expect from Disney studios.
There were a lot of young kids in attendance. If you have young children that you want to see the film with you needn’t worry about any objectionable material. In fact, one of the best aspects of the film is it’s promotion of science and technology as something fun and adventurous. There will be a few kids who will see the film and become inspired to study the sciences.
The film is imaginative and humorous. To me, it seemed like a mash-up of Japanese anime and an episode of Scooby Doo. Even the fictional locale is a mash-up.
The animation is bright, cheerful, busy, and evocative of anime. The film jumps right off the screen with heavily saturated colors and a 3D feel, though it is not actually 3D.
A boy named Hero is entering puberty as he’s thrown into a conflict involving robots, a science professor, and a tech sector industrialist. The plot definitely reminded me of a Scooby Doo episode, with a group of friends working together to battle a villain. The best part of the film is the main robot character, who is given all the good lines and creates the most humorous elements.
Humor is definitely the biggest emotional component, though the directors try mightily to tug the heart strings as well. I would say that if there’s one place where the film falls flat is in that department. It never achieves the emotional heft of a film like Pixar’s Up, or Toy Story 3.
That said, it’s an enjoyable family film that will please adults as well as it’s target audience.
You may have heard that the European Space Agency landed a spacecraft on a comet today. Enough has been written (already!) about the historic event, so I’m going meta and talking about what it means to me.
I was very young when NASA put humans on the moon for the first time, but I still remember it. That event did three things to me. First, it expanded my understanding of the world. I understood that we live on an isolated, but interconnected world. Second, it made me wonder if there are other worlds out there that might support life. Most importantly, even at an early age, I was able to realize that the people who live on Earth are in the same lifeboat and that we share common interests; and in that moment I realized that human interactions across governmental and cultural divides are less important than our common human experience. The event was also the genesis of my interest in science fiction novels, and afterwards I spent my childhood reading the science fiction canon.
Now, let’s connect my memories to contemporary reality. There are people who are trudging through the deserts of Syria and Iraq engaged in behavior reminiscent of the 15th century. It’s horrible, and I can’t understand how we, as humans, have been unable to move forward together as humanity to realize a more hopeful future.
Perhaps this achievement will inspire young people to have the same epiphanies I had when I was their age.
By the way, the photo in this post is not intended to denigrate or be dismissive of the magnitude of this incredible, historic achievement. I just think that humor is a great way to engage people on the front end into what is a profound and important discussion.