BIG HERO 6

PrintE-mail Written by Iain McNally

MOVIE REVIEW: BIG HERO 6 / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: DON HALL, CHRIS WILLIAMS / SCREENPLAY: JORDAN ROBERTS, DANIEL GERSON, ROBERT L. BAIRD / STARRING: RYAN POTTER, SCOTT ADSIT, DANIEL HENNEY, JAMIE CHUNG, T.J. MILLER, DAMON WAYANS JR. GENESIS RODRIGUEZ / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 30TH, 2015

After conquering Chris Nolan's Interstellar at the US box office on it's opening weekend, comparisons are sure to be made between Disney Animation's latest feature (and first proper collaboration with Marvel Studios), Big Hero 6, and Disney's previous smash, Frozen. And to be fair, the comparisons aren't completely unwarranted.

Both feature siblings as the emotional core of the film with their parents tragically absent; Elsa and Anna in this case are replaced with brothers Hiro & Tadashi; both feature the same "Frozen-face" house art style for its characters (or more accurately "Tangled-face"); and both concern certain "wasted" gifts: Anna's powers over the cold and Hiro's intellect, having graduated high school at 13 years of age but wasting his time on back street Robot Wars-style fighting competitions with little plans for his future, and both films manage to pack a pretty strong emotional wallop.

After being entrusted with Tadashi's medical robot prototype Baymax, a soft, inflatable, huggable emergency medical technician, Hiro discovers that one of his own inventions, inch high microbots that can be commanded to work together to form bigger, more complex structures, have been stolen and are being put to nefarious ends. With no help from the authorities, Hiro must rely on his own intelligence and reluctant superhero Baymax to discover who is using his microbots and why, and maybe make a few new friends along the way.

Unlike Frozen, Big Hero 6 avoids the musical route, using only a few songs from Fallout Boy and 30 Seconds to Mars during montages, during which none of the main cast sing along. Instead, Big Hero 6 focuses on action, invention and adventure as Hiro and friends race through San Fransokyo, a striking visual mash-up of Tokyo and San Francisco. While the film shares a title and character names with a Marvel comic from the late 2000s, almost everything else has been changed. Disney only used the comic as a jumping off point for their inspiration, although the film does feature a very loving and very funny homage to Marvel that, of course, continues after the credits have rolled. The hand of executive producer John Lasseter is much more apparent in the patented “Pixar twist” in the third act, where all does not go exactly as expected for the characters or the audience. It may becoming somewhat of a trope for Disney/Pixar, but as an audience it's still preferable to be kept on one's toes and pleasantly surprised rather than trudge a well worn, obvious path.

Hiro's journey is just as emotionally-affecting as Anna and Elsa's as he deals with loss, puberty, the allure of vengeance, and the acceptance of his place in the world and the friends he has in it. For a kids’ film, it does deal with some relatively weighty issues, mostly the grieving process over the loss of a loved one, but is balanced by the infectious joy from Baymax's interactions with everything, which could have easily become annoying, overly sentimental or cloying but never do.

It might be too much to expect Big Hero 6 to have the staying power of Frozen without the support of that film's powerful soundtrack, but it's still a highly enjoyable adventure in its own right.

Expected Rating: 7 out of 10

Actual Rating:
 

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