Light and Color Symbolism in “Big Hero 6”

Disney is well known for its use of color symbolism in their animated movies. In Aladdin, the color blue represents good, red represents evil, and yellow represents neutrality. In Beauty and the Beast, Belle wears blue to show that she stands out from her village and that she is good and pure, whereas Gaston wears bright red to show he is evil; the Beast at first wears red but eventually switches to blue costumes to show him getting closer to his humanity.

I think a recent Disney film that stands out in its color symbolism (as well as light symbolism) is their 2014 hit Big Hero 6.

Let’s take a look at the main characters in their costumed form:

Everyone is bright and colorful; their colors really pop. And they all have some meaning behind them.

Baymax is white, a color associated with purity, simplicity, cleanliness, peace, innocence, and humility. In other words, extremely appropriate for Baymax’s character. In his superhero form, he wears bright red, which is associated with power and strength and is sometimes used as a heroic color. However, red can also be associated with rage and evil, which is illustrated clearly when Baymax loses his healthcare chip and attacks the villain. His suit also has a little purple, which corresponds to Hiro’s suit (which also has a little bit of red).

Hiro’s predominant colors are purple and red. Purple has traditionally been used to denote royalty and high status, which shows his position as the team leader. Purple is also associated with mourning (his grief over Tadashi), transformation (his character development), and arrogance (his more cocky and impulsive side as seen at the beginning of the movie). Red can show both his status as a hero as well as his anger towards those who wronged him.

Gogo also wears a little bit of purple (both in her hair and in her civilian form). In her case, the purple can mean temperance and wisdom. Her yellow costume was chosen because it is associated with eggs (in the comics, her last name was tomago, a corruption of tamago, the Japanese word for egg) but can also represent energy and friendship.

Honey Lemon’s color coding is more blatant. In her civilian form she wears bright yellow, representing friendship, happiness, optimism, and other positive emotions. Her hero costume is pink, a very feminine color.

Wasabi wears green mostly because of his name, but green can also be associated with youth and growth, health, service, and generosity.

Fred wears blue and orange. Blue is a more masculine color (and a color common in a lot of amphibians and reptiles), and orange represents energy and enthusiasm.

All their colors allow them to stand out and denote that they are heroic, positive characters, in contrast to the villain, Yokai:

File:Yokai Full Body.png

He wears all black, a color traditionally associated with death, darkness, despair, evil, detachment, anger, mourning, and other negative emotions. His mask has the colors white (coldness, and can also represent death in Eastern cultures), red (anger), and yellow (dishonesty, betrayal).

All the super characters wear bright, bold colors while the civilian characters (including Aunt Cass and Tadashi) wear more muted colors. Tadashi is usually seen wearing more down to earth neutral colors of brown, white, and black (notice how he wears a black shirt on the night he dies), but when he successfully builds Baymax, he is seen wearing a bright red shirt, similar to the reds Hiro and Baymax wear.

There are also some instances of light symbolism. A great example would be whenever Hiro is mourning over Tadashi. When we first see him after Tadashi’s death, his room is darkened:

Aunt Cass comes in to try to shine a little light, but Hiro immediately pulls the blinds. But then, as soon as Baymax wakes up, the room instantly brightens up:

Later, when Hiro and Baymax are alone after the confrontation with Yokai, the scene is very dark:

But gets brighter when Baymax comforts Hiro with how Tadashi is always with them.

In the more intense moments (Hiro and Baymax escaping the warehouse, the car chase scene, and the villain’s reveal), the scenes are all low lit to show the gravity of the situation. For the final fight, once the heroes have a better grip on their powers and teamwork and are able to successfully defeat Yokai, the scene is brighter lit.

And of course, when Hiro and Baymax are reunited and share a loving hug, the scene is very bright, light, and warm:

There’s probably more, so if you know any other examples, let me know. But all this symbolism shows some of the amazing detail that went into this movie to make a stunningly beautiful and meaningful film.

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The Worst Movie Ever?

TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDE

Hey, remember The Room? Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 magnum opus that went down in history as one of the most legendarily bad films ever made? Of course you do. The bigger question is, do you remember it fondly, or does it just inspire tedium?

Chances are, if you watch it by yourself, you’re probably just going to be constantly screaming at the TV over how idiotic the movie is. But if you watch it with others, it will likely become measurably more enjoyable because you can all laugh over the film’s sheer ineptitude.

Personally, I had a different reaction: I thought it was rather boring.

Granted, I probably would’ve had more fun if I had watched it with others, but personally, I found the film too stilted and murky for me to find any enjoyment in, even in a ‘so bad it’s good’ way.  It felt more like a really bad soap opera. Though I will admit the “YOU’RE TEARING ME APART, LISA!” and “I did naaawt” lines are gold.

But there was one moment that really did stick out to me. That scene in question is at the very ending, when Johnny, the main character, kills himself.

I’m not going to detail how he kills himself if you haven’t seen it, but the reason WHY he kills himself is beyond ridiculous and upsetting: he kills himself because his ‘future wife’ is cheating on him with his best friend, along with some minor inconveniences and jerks in his life.

Like…I know that it’s cheap melodrama in a bad movie. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel really irked, especially as someone who HAS been suicidal in the past.

Like, dude, your future wife cheated on you. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s not worth killing yourself over it. Lots of people get cheated on! It hurts at first, but you’ll move on! But no, you get upset for one night and you decide to end it all right there, without thinking things through.

Like…that’s unbelievably inappropriate.

Here’s the thing: suicide is a HUGE problem, and for some people, the slightest depiction of suicide (especially an onscreen one) can have a serious impact. They could be triggered into another attempt, or go into serious panic attacks and fall back into depression.

I’m not joking, this does happen. The show 13 Reasons Why got more people to look up ways to kill themselves. So, you can see why I’m more critical of how film and TV depict suicide, even in films as bad and inept as The Room.

The reason why it really bothers ME so much is because there have been many times when I wanted to kill myself over the smallest thing. I thought the world was going to end at any given misfortune. But you know what? I always pulled through, even if I needed help to do so. And now, along with medications and support, I’m doing so well. So naturally, when I see a bad film use an impulsive suicide as a cheap tragic ending, I get offended and annoyed.

So I guess I can say this is the Worst Movie Ever, but in the sense that it takes a very important subject matter so flippantly and trivially to elicit sympathy on top of being very shoddily made. I think that more than makes it qualified for its title.

Now that you’re here, if you’re suicidal or struggle with suicidal thoughts, here’s a website that lists hotlines available all over the world that you can access:

http://www.yourlifecounts.org/need-help/crisis-lines

Big Hero 6: The Secret Pixar Film?

Sometimes when I’m watching or reading something Big Hero 6 related, the movie will be erroneously called a Pixar film. Even diehard Disney fans and people who extensively research and review animated films make this mistake from time to time. I know back in 2012 people made comments on how Wreck-It Ralph felt more like a Pixar film than Brave did, but this is the first time I’ve seen a Disney film actually mistaken for one.

Does this mean Big Hero 6 is good enough to BE Pixar?

Pixar’s early movies (up to Toy Story 3) are best known for the following: beautiful animation, creativity, heart and humour, intelligence and originality. Big Hero 6 has amazing and detailed animation that is able to create a whole new world, it looks at hypothetical uses of technology and takes them to incredible heights, and it has amazing heart and humour (when I went to see it in theatres there were lots of parts where the audience laughed out loud). It’s not QUITE as smart as some of Pixar’s offerings (some people noted it is a bit predictable), and it isn’t wholly original (it is based on an obscure comic and does fall into some superhero conventions) but it certainly not safe and boring and dumbed down.

So, yeah, it definitely could be seen as Pixar quality (I know my Mom thinks so, and she’s pretty picky about what movies she likes)!

But I think the major reason why Big Hero 6 is sometimes seen as Pixar film is that it’s rather unique from Disney’s fare. Disney is best known for making Princess films (like Frozen) and talking animal films (like Zootopia). The movies that are different (like Wreck-It Ralph) tend to fall under the radar after awhile. To put it into perspective, both Zootopia and Frozen raked in over a billion dollars and have huge fanbases; Wreck-It Ralph made only about $470 million and does not have a big following anymore (we’ll see if a sequel revives it).

Big Hero 6 is different. It’s a superhero film (a new genre for Disney) that was able to be both a critical and commercial success (not as successful as Zootopia but much more so than Wreck-It Ralph) and is still quite popular. People know it’s connected to Disney, but since it’s a huge hit that’s not a Princess film, a lot of people assume it must be Pixar (which dipped their toes into the superhero genre with The Incredibles).

I also think a major reason for people making this assumption is because a lot of ACTUAL Pixar films coming out right now haven’t really been as well received. The sequel/prequel films have gotten a mixed reception and within this decade, there have been only three (yes, three) original Pixar films: Brave (dismissed as a generic Princess film), Inside Out (that actually was successful) and The Good Dinosaur (the less said about that film the better). You can tell that people might look at an original animated film that’s so well made and think “that HAS to be Pixar. They HAVE to be making movies like the ones of my childhood. They HAVE to still be good”.

I just find this very interesting. A little frustrating (I don’t like it when people get animation companies mixed up, it can be seen as a lack of respect for the genre), but still, interesting. And ultimately, as someone who loves this movie with all my heart, I’m glad it’s considered by some to be on the same quality as movies like Up and the Toy Story films. 🙂

To end this off, let’s look at some important and excellent lessons Big Hero 6 teaches us:

The Worst DC Animated Sex Scene Ever

TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE.

If you look at my Compare and Contrast tag, you’ll see that I have…issues with the way recent DC animated films have handled sex and sexuality. For the longest time, I thought the sex scene between Batman and Batgirl in The Killing Joke was the worst sex scene in movie history because it came right the fuck out of nowhere, does nothing for Barbara’s character (it actually adds more problems to the overall story) and is the least sexy scene imaginable.

But I was wrong. Oh, I was very wrong. Because I was not prepared for Batman and Harley Quinn.

Just so you know what we’re in for.

Full disclosure: this is a godawful movie. It is sexist, the plot makes no sense, there’s a prolonged farting sequence that adds nothing to the story, the animation is cheap and stiff, the ending is bullshittingly anticlimactic, and there’s a pointless and distasteful post credits scene. But that’s not even the worst part. Oh, no.

At the start of the movie, Nightwing has to find Harley Quinn to get some information on Poison Ivy, who is planning to save the Earth in the worst way possible. In the scene pictured above, Harley has captured Nightwing and tied him to her bed. After ranting to Nightwing about how she can’t get a good job due to her past, she undresses in front of him and looks for something else to wear. The sight of Harley’s half naked body gives Nightwing an implied boner, and when she sees it, she gives him a mischievous grin.

This is how the scene plays out:

N: “Okay now. Don’t be getting any funny ideas” (I don’t want to have sex with you).

HQ: “Too late” *turns off the lights, crawls into bed with him*

N: *visibly uncomfortable in the situation* “Look, Harley, I, uh…”

HQ: *ignores him, makes it clear she wants to have sex with him*

N: *I’m not saying I don’t want to, cuz, that could be nice, all sorts of wrong, but nice…right now, I just really need to find Poison Ivy…” (I do not want to have sex with you right now)

HQ: *makes it clear that she will only give him information about Poison Ivy if he agrees to have sex with her*

N: “The things I do for Gotham”.

HQ: “I’m taking that as a yes”.

Like…this is basically a rape scene. Nighwting is tied up, unable to fight back, and is in a situation where he is forced to consent to sex with someone in the hope she’ll help him. Harley Quinn, a VICTIM OF ABUSE, is manipulating someone to get what she wants.

And what’s worse? The movie completely brushes it aside. The scene is portrayed as sexy and comedic!

This is a very disturbing trend in media. There are tons of movies and shows (mostly comedies) where a man gets raped or forced or tricked into sex by a woman, and it is seen as funny or even sexy. Any implications of trauma or assault get shrugged off like it’s no big deal.

Well, guess what. MALE RAPE IS NOT FUNNY. I can’t believe I have to say it, but it’s not. There’s a serious problem in real life of male rape victims not being believed in or getting the help they need because they were “lucky” for getting laid. And for a Harley Quinn and Nightwing relationship (that absolutely no one wanted) to happen under these circumstances is disgusting.

Like…it would have been very easy to make this a scene of enthusiastic consent. It wouldn’t have been GOOD necessarily, but there was absolutely no way Nightwing couldn’t have said “let’s do it, Harley!” even while tied up. But for some ungodly reason, the writers thought it was okay to write the scene as creepily as possible. That is HORRIBLE.

This is the only DC animated movie so far that I’ve seriously hated. I feel like I’ve wasted an hour and a half of my life that I’ll never get back.

Please do not watch this movie. There are better DC offerings that deserve your support. Male rape and sexual assault victims deserve your support instead of this piece of shit movie.

Maui Should’ve Been the Hero

Oh, Maui, you deserved so much better.

Image result for maui disney

Before the movie came out and I had to hype myself up with promotional material, Maui was my fave character. He had an awesome design, he was full of personality, and he had the voice of Dwayne the Rock Johnson. I thought he would be the next Wreck-It Ralph; an older male main character who is a little rough around the edges but ultimately becomes a hero in his own right.

Too bad that didn’t happen.

Instead, Maui is pretty much an asshole. For the majority of the movie he is consistently seen as rude and condescending to Moana with a massive ego. His sympathetic backstory (where he really only is like this because he has abandonment issues and just wants to be loved by humans) is quickly glossed over and he has very little character development. He acts like a complete ass, then his issues are revealed, he snaps at Moana when his hook is cracked…but by the end of the movie he says he doesn’t need his hook to feel whole anymore?

What really offends me about me this (besides the fact that this is ANOTHER character with mental health concerns that is written terribly) is that he’s not an original character from Disney, he’s an actual GOD that people STILL WORSHIP and has a rich mythology…and is reduced to a hollow jerk with a heart of gold to make the Disney Princess look like the better character and person. Ugh.

The fact that he doesn’t even get to correct his own mistake or get a proper resolution to his abandonment issues (a simple scene of Moana’s village accepting him as one of their own would’ve sufficed) makes it even worse. Like you cannot set up this character’s role in the plot and not resolve it or expand on it. It would’ve made more sense to just have Maui in the prologue and have Moana do it alone (have you noticed that in the last few princess movies there ALWAYS has to be a man going on the journey with the main heroine?).

The reason I’m bitter about this is that there’s a very poignant scene at the climax (before Moana gives the heart back to Te Ka) where Maui does the haka in front of the lava goddess, fully ready and prepared to die if it means protecting Moana and saving the world. That is SUCH a good scene, but that’s all we get for Maui’s character from that point on.

Apparently Maui WAS going to be the main character at some point, but they switched it to Moana, and it kind of shows. Maui is a MUCH more interesting character and has a bigger role in the story. They should not have changed it. This should’ve been HIS story of how his trickster habits has consequences and he needs to make up for it.

That’s not to say you don’t have to include Moana at all (or that they couldn’t have included Maui’s wife from the original lore). She could’ve still played an important part. In Wreck-It Ralph, both Ralph and Vanellope are fully developed characters that have an equal part in the story. I don’t understand why they couldn’t have done something like that here.

This is what I was expecting from Moana. Not a generic Disney Princess film. A Disney film that actually honours Polynesian stories and their gods first, THEN markets their characters. But I guess I just hyped this movie too much.

And with that, I think I’m done talking about this movie. I let out every problem I have and now I’m finished. I think next time I hear about a movie I’m excited for, I’m not going to hype myself up for it too much or assume it’s going to be a masterpiece. Because I’m just going to set myself up for disappointment.

My Love/Hate Relationship With the Disney Revival Films

Image result for disney revival

When John Lasseter and Ed Catmull took the reigns of Walt Disney Animation Studios in the late 2000’s after almost a decade of bombs, they ushered in a new age, known as the Disney Revival. Not only are these films huge critical and commercial hits, they are also beloved by many. The films that are officially considered part of the Disney Revival are The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and Moana, with sequels to Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph on the way. (There’s another film called Gigantic which is constantly being pushed back, so who knows if it will actually see the light of day.) I have seen all these films in theatres and am probably not going to break the habit for the foreseeable future.

I have a weird relationship with this new era. Whereas I love pretty much every film from the Disney Renaissance era, I have mixed feelings for the Revival. If I could put them into tiers of fave, I’d make high tier (Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph, my faves), mid tier (Zootopia and Winnie the Pooh, the films I’m mostly neutral towards) and low tier (Frozen, The Princess and the Frog, and Moana, the films that I seriously dislike). (Tangled would fit somewhere between high and mid tier.) I think it’s because they are all extremely relevant to my life right now in terms of character and theme, and how they are handled can either make or break the movie for me.

Big Hero 6, Frozen, and Wreck-It Ralph all came out at very crucial points in my life, when I was deeply depressed. (I’m going to skip over The Princess and the Frog because I think I’ve already said everything I wanted to about it before, and I don’t have much to say for Tangled or Winnie the Pooh at the moment.) Wreck-It Ralph helped me a lot because, in addition to being a damn good movie, the characters of Ralph and Vanellope resonated with me very strongly. They were both shunned by the people around them, and I could definitely see it as because they were coded to have a disability or disorder (in my view, autism). I cheered for Vanellope when she became a champion racer, and I cried for Ralph when he became accepted for who he was.

A similar situation happened with Big Hero 6. At that point I was neck deep in my depression and the movie’s message that people will love you and you can get better when you are in a bad mental state meant a lot. The film never fails to make me happy due to the frenetic action, amazing directing, beautiful animation, and lovable characters.

By contrast, when Frozen came out (I was in the midst of my depression) I was…really offended by it to be honest. Okay, you have Elsa, a character who is severely mentally ill and clearly the much more interesting character than Anna, and you don’t even focus on her? You don’t let her be the hero? You constantly show her fucking up and sinking deeper into her misery? And then suddenly she’s better with one act of love (but not really, as the shorts reveal she’s constantly blaming herself and trying to make Anna happy)? And she only gets to use her powers for the most mundane things? Yeah, that wasn’t the kind of message I wanted at that point in my life. That, and the film was the definition of overhyped.

When Zootopia came out, I had mixed feelings for it. I thought it told a fun mystery story with great chemistry between the two leads, but it wasn’t really that great at portraying the message of prejudice and tolerance. I think for me it was because predators and prey are too broad to neatly symbolize as white people and people of colour; there are legit reasons for prey to not want to always trust predators, and you can be both a predator AND a prey in nature. When it first came out I was still a bit of a social justice warrior, so I was hypercritical of it at first, but now that I’ve moved on from that movement my feelings towards the film have calmed down a lot. I think the film got a little overrated, but it’s still enjoyable enough, even if I don’t go out of my way to see it.

Moana on the other hand, is not enjoyable for me. Full disclosure: I was SO hyped for this film, I thought it was going to be a masterpiece and an ultimate fave, that it would be the greatest Disney movie ever, and when I finally got to see it, I was left with a feeling of great disappointment. And I think I finally know why: it’s the only Disney Revival movie to come out (aside from Frozen) that feels like it was aimed SQUARELY at little girls. Everything just feels really dumbed down. There’s a lot of TELLING rather than showing, the story and conflict is really simplistic and stupid (Moana thinks something’s wrong with her because she wants to go sailing?), there’s a lot of comic relief and some cliches (of COURSE Moana and Maui are going to fight at a crucial point in the movie but he’ll come back at the climax), and Moana is so devoid of flaws or interesting development that she’s clearly meant to be a shallow Girl Power TM mascot than an actual character. The whole film just feels more juvenile than the others. I guess most of this praise the movie gets is from nostalgia value, which I can definitely appreciate, plus it’s a movie that takes a look at non-white/non Western culture with some truly gorgeous visuals (although, I think some people ONLY like this film and Princess and the Frog because the main characters aren’t white). But for me, that is not enough.

I guess overall I can say that whereas the non-Princess films are trying to take risks and be more interesting, the Princess films are just there to make a lot of money from little girls and nostalgic millennials. This bothers me because previous Disney films were meant to enjoyed by the WHOLE family. Beauty and the Beast isn’t just a film for little girls, it’s a work of art that people of all ages and genders can enjoy. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a movie that got EVERYONE into animation. But now it seems that Disney feels that the princesses are just meant to be safe, marketable, and deliver shallow girl power messages. As an adult Disney fan who wants to see these films as actual films and not just cartoons for kids, that’s disappointing–but also why I latch onto Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph so easily.

So you’ll understand why I’m so excited for Wreck-It Ralph 2 and not excited for Frozen 2, and won’t be excited for any more princess films either. I don’t know what kind of film Gigantic will be like so we’ll see.

And with that, these are my final thoughts/explanations on why I like some of the new Disney films better than others. You don’t have to agree, but I’m not going to change my mind. This is my current stance on the matter.

Beyond that, I am definitely going to be excited and curious for other movies in store for us in this era and how they’ll have an impact on my life.

Voltron Is Back With A Vengeance

Spoiler warning!

When I last talked about Voltron (here) I pointed out how a lot of fans were starting to lose their patience with the show. Mainly, people were suspicious on how Allura, who’s supposed to represent a black teenage girl, looks and barely acts anything like a black person or a teenager. There’s also some frustration on how a Keith/Allura romance might end up being shoehorned in.

And, to be fair, I don’t think the second season was really that good. The first season was enjoyable, but the second season was kind of boring at parts because there was a lot of filler, and the plot could be a little hard to follow. I ended up skipping or skimming through most of the episodes. I know a lot of people complained about the lack of character development for Lance and Hunk, so there’s that.

But now that the third season has arrived, the fandom’s faith in the show seems to be fully restored. And I can definitely say I liked this season the best.

It’s only seven episodes long, which means that there’s less filler and better plot development and world building. The characters of Lance, Keith, and Allura all got more character development (from what I’ve seen online Pidge will be getting an arc next season) and we got some cool new characters as well.

Lotor is a great addition to the show. Suave, intelligent, and devious, he makes a competent and engaging new villain. I especially love his four female lieutenants. It definitely helps ease the show’s problems with a lack of female characters because now we have four new interesting ones who aren’t just stereotypes. My fave is definitely Narti, a blind (and possibly mute) female warrior that is allowed to actually look monstrous and uses a cat as a telepathic tool. I’m definitely looking forward to the new villains.

The Keith/Lance relationship has blossomed from constantly arguing and petty rivalry to true friendship. You can tell how much these two really care for another now; I especially love how Lance has become Keith’s right hand man. I don’t know if the Klance ship is going to become canon, but it’s nice to know that they genuinely respect each other now.

I got to say, though, the best episode is definitely the season finale. In it we go into Zarkon’s backstory and find out he was never truly pure evil so much as corrupted. When he was a young king, you could tell that he was a happy, friendly person who wanted what was best for his people and his wife, who happened to be Altean. But after prolonged exposure to Quintessence, their bodies and minds became twisted, leading to their downfall. It was ultimately love that spelled Zarkon’s doom, as the effort to save his wife led to him dying and coming back as a hollow shell of his former self that has lost all his virtues.

Unlike a certain other show, which has tyrannical, genocidal dictators but tries to make us like them because they happen to cry, this show actually succeeds in having us sympathize with the villain but still understand what he did was wrong and needs to be stopped. It’s hard to know what will ultimately happen, but I can definitely see and actually WANT to find a way for him to be redeemed in some way (either he dies doing the right thing or he atones for his crimes; at any rate, you want to see him restored to his old self).

I still have some problems with this show (Hunk is still mostly used as a comic relief character and something about how Allura is written rubs me the wrong way, it’s hard to explain it), but I can definitely say I’m gravitating towards it better now than I did before. I’m looking forward to what’s going to happen next.