Big Hero 6 is an obscure member of Marvel’s classic archives, and one that makes Guardians of the Galaxy look as popular as Spider-Man by comparison. This would actually give Disney some much needed freedom to do what they wished with the material, and expand on the source material’s potential.
Disney, in a much needed rebirth, has been on a recent hot streak with their latest animated offerings, including Wreck it Ralph and Frozen, and Big Hero 6 is a fantastic continuation of their strong output. What Big Hero 6 may lack in 100% originality, it more than makes up for with brilliant execution, heart, and fun.
Set in the California/Japan hybrid city of San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 sees ambitious young inventor Hiro Hamada, with aid from his older brother Tadashi, creating micro-bot technology to apply for a prestigious science college. However, when a fire destroys the school, and kills Tadashi, Hiro is left devastated. Hiro now looks over a creation of Tadashi’s, an inflatable nursing robot named Baymax, and soon finds out that his micro-bot technology is being used and manipulated by a mysterious masked figure that Hiro believes destroyed the college. With help from some friends of his and some technological upgrades, Hiro sets off to catch the mysterious figure, and stop his diabolical plans.
And that is really all I can say without getting into spoiler territory, otherwise I’d be ruining the best moments of some truly great writing. On top of having stellar characters and powerful emotional punches, much of the writing is truly inventive in pulling the rug out from underneath the viewer, and also cleverly sneaks in great commentary on the dangers of misusing technology advancements, and when they cross the line into means of tyranny. It also features some poignant insight in dealing with grief (including one disturbingly accurate and intense scene after a big twist 2/3 through the film), and tackles it all in a way that takes its child audiences seriously.
Give huge credit to directors Don Hall and Chris Williams for holding it all together so well, from tone and pacing, right down to voice talent, the most impressive of which belonging to Scott Adsit as Baymax. Baymax is hands down the most lovable thing in this movie, an at once oblivious, endearing, curious, and gentle character responsible for some of the biggest laughs, and most charming moments in the entire film (Give Adsit an Annie award, PLEASE!). Even beyond that, the movie is so genuinely fun and funny, taking cues from Disney’s counterpart Marvel, but still putting their own signature spin on the material. It was enough to leave my inner ten year old screaming with unbridled joy. As a technical exercise, it’s no less gorgeous, boasting fantastic production and character design, impressive sound work, and superb action sequences such as a captivating flight sequence that makes fantastic use of the film’s 3D.
Big Hero 6 is a movie that simply has something for everyone, children and adults alike. In what’s already been a very strong year in animated features, Big Hero 6 has surely been one of the highlights. Whether you’re a Marvel fan or not, you’ll undoubtedly have a good time with this one.
The film also features a lovely short film beforehand, and be sure to stick around for a hilarious post-credits cameo.
****1/2 / *****