Big Hero 6 Review
Although it plays out in very familiar surroundings it contains enough elements to make it fresh
What do you get when you cross Disney inventiveness with a Marvel comic? Big Hero 6This weekend we were invited to the UK gala performance of Disney’s latest CG animated feature at the Odeon Leicester Square. Before the feature started director Chris Williams and producer Roy Conli took to the stage to say a few words about their creation. This had the potential to be an extremely entertaining few minutes with the creators of what has now become an extremely successful and Academy Award nominated film. However, when the audience is mainly made up of five years olds and their parents, the pair had to beat a hasty retreat lest the noise of popcorn and nappy wetting become over-powering. How we suffer for our art. Big Hero 6 was a Marvel comic book creation in the late nineties, but those characters as well their origin and first adventure bear little to no resemblance to this Disney film.
For in true Disney fashion that have taken the idea and a few names and a made a completely different story. In much the same way as they have with every film they have made that was based on a novel at their disposal. However, that is no bad thing for when they get it right, they get it very right. In fact, with the studio still riding high on last year’s huge hit Frozen, Big Hero 6 has fast become their next big release. By doing what Disney do well (creating loveable, but well-constructed characters and placing them in real, believable and identifiable situations, while telling an adventurous and humorous story extremely well) they have crafted a film that appeals not only to children but, as with all the best features, adults as well.
The film takes place in the fictional city of San Fransokyo in the near future where technologies have advanced and where robotics have evolved into street fights. It is here were we meet our main protagonist, Hero (a prophetic name if ever there was!) a pre-pubescent teen with an exceptional mind for all things technological. His brother, Todashi, cannot believe he is squandering his talents on street fighting robots, even if it is financially lucrative – and illegal!
After being caught, Todashi tries to inspire Hero by bringing him to his University, where he meets a group of extremely talented individuals (GoGo, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred) all working on technologies (not Fred!) to improve society or help people in some way, but it is Todashi’s own invention the robot Baymax that tips the balance. Baymax is a kind-hearted personal healthcare robot that is imbued with a likeable hug inducing personality and who will become a driving force for what is to come. Suitably inspired and ‘looking at the problem in a different way’ Hero invents micro-robots (mini-robots telepathically controlled that link together in any arrangement imaginable) that win him a scholarship to the university.
Just when things are looking up for the brothers tragedy strikes which changes their fate and the whole direction of the film. Co-Director Chris Williams, producer Rot Conli and executive producer John Lasseter know a thing or two about putting together a heartstring tugging montage and the one here is one of the very best. It creates a very sombre mood and puts the audience in the mind set of Hero, giving him suitable provocation and empathy for his next decisions in life. With Baymax, Hero sets about trying to discover the truth about what happened at the university, on the way enlisting the help of his (and his brother’s) friends and together they form the Big Hero 6 titular characters when a masked supervillain threatens the city.
Disney and Marvel, taking over the world one film at a time.
So, as we can see, this is another superhero origin story. But one set within the ‘Disney/Marvel/Disney-verse’ (I mention Disney twice as they have by far and away more input than Marvel) and as such it is filled with action, adventure, likeable characters and toy merchandise, that gel extremely well together. Snappy dialogue, an easy on the brain story that is managed so although it plays out in very familiar surroundings, it contains enough elements to make it fresh as well as throwing emotion (both good and bad), emotional investment and above all character motivation, that brings together a film that works on a variety of levels.
The children will get on with Baymx, in both his likeable soft and hardened fighting sides, as well as all the other characters: GoGo, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred in their ‘nerd’ status as well as their superhero dressup. While the adults will be fuelled by the emotional drive behind the story; love, loss, revenge, redemption and realisation are just some of the aspects the film discusses and, whilst there is a little Disney syrup, its plays just on this side of schmaltz making it extremely watchable indeed. Think Wall-E mixed with Toy Story 3 and Gardians of the Galaxy.
The film has become extremely successful both commercially and now critically with numerous award nominations, and rightly so. It is more than an ‘origin story’ full of self-reference, it's also an enjoyable, entertaining and exciting picture that holds the best values of Disney but uses the driving force of a Marvel film to propel the story.
The film is available to see in 3D, and indeed that is how we saw it – with the 3D was very realistically used – and Dolby Atmos in suitably equipped cinemas. Oh, and this being Mavel look out for Stan Lee’s customary appearance, and don’t forget the post-credit sequence!
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