Big Hero 6 Blu-ray Review
I am satisfied.
Big Hero 6 Film Review
Fusing comic superhero antics with child-friendly spectacle, thoughtful morality with colourful characters and even San Francisco with Tokyo, this first Marvel/Disney animated collaboration hits it out of the park.Big Hero 6 is based on an obscure Marvel comic series and Disney were basically given carte blanche to work with these Stan Lee creations, remarkably fashioning them into wonderful characters which now feel prepped for their very own franchise. Although not quite achieving the same giddy heights, this is a comparable concept to the work done for the live action cousin, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the results are similarly likely to appeal to a broad spectrum viewing audience. The story is similarly fashioned around the lead character’s loss of a family member – an orphan whose genius with robotics appears to have only found focus through bets on illegal bot-fighting – who must forge together with a disparate group of similarly-minded individuals to take on an emerging threat.It’s classically clichéd, but so original in setting (the suitably titled San Fran-Tokyo) and in characterisation that (much like Guardians) you can’t find fault with the sheer enjoyment factor of this piece. With a couple of distinctly memorable characters – not least the superb Baymax, who is a balloon-like health robot turned Iron-Man-lite – and some truly inspired scenes, both in terms of grand spectacle (c.f. Interstellar), action design (the Fast & Furious – like street chase is superb) and hilarious double-layered comedy (the battery low scene with Baymax offers fully independent child/adult laughs of the highest order), Big Hero 6 effortlessly graduates from "who-the-hell-are-they" comic book entities to fully-fledged Big Screen franchise-prepped superiority in a heartbeat.
Blu-ray Picture QualityRather surprisingly, despite the fact that Disney/Marvel clearly intended Big Hero 6 to be 3D demo material, it hasn’t made it to all territories with its 3D guise intact, which is a shame because the extra dimension is used particularly impressively on this colourful title. The Region Free UK 2D/3D release offers up both 1080p/MVC-encoded 3D and 1080p/AVC-encoded 2D on separate discs, and both make for stunning reference material in their respective arenas.
The 2D presentation boasts striking clarity in every single shot, from the close-up precision of the neuro-controlled bots to the sweeping, cinematic panoramic shots which show crowds of people gathered outside magnificent architectural structures barely discernible from what would (or, indeed, would not) be possible in a live action shoot. It’s largely flawless – the banding bandwagon will probably have their monocles on to try and spot some flaws – but this is a rich and beautiful presentation which only appears to get better in its 3D guise.
Big Hero 6 is a colour-popping wonder in both 2D and 3D.
The 3D side of things offers up a gamut of different tricks to impress with its extra dimensionality, and succeeds at every stage, with POV shots, HUD displays, and wondrous fantastical imagery (the film’s Interstellar-like angle allows for some truly inspirational backdrops; think Wrath of Khan’s nebula seen through the colour spectrum of The Yellow Submarine) which draw you into the deep and rich environment. Characters have a warm rounded feel to them at all stages, which the backgrounds offer almost endless levels of depth. Even minor shots – walking out of a busy cafe – allow for umpteen layers to be developed: the main focal characters; the other customers immediately behind and around them; the shop window; the pavement outside; the cars parked; the cars passing; and the background beyond.
It’s limitless, and the 3D design-work in Big Hero 6 impresses on this level as much as it does when it’s whipping you at speed through the busy future-fusion streets and skies. There’s some in-your-face mayhem, particularly as the story thunders towards a world-bending finale that would be worthy of an upgrade into the Marvel Cinematic Universe proper, and even the inherent added darker look from the 3D glasses is amply counteracted by the eye-popping colours on offer, which bring this San Francisco-Tokyo fusion to life in all its glory. Tremendous.
Blu-ray Sound QualityThe audio track is almost as impressive, boasting a tremendous DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which seemingly effortlessly brings the feature to life, keeping the environment rich with atmosphere and background nuances, drawing you into the feature with its vibrant life, and then sure as hell delivering the goods when the action kicks off.
The accompanying soundtrack delivers the goods on all levels.
Dialogue remains precise and accurate, firmly placed across the frontal array, whilst effects are sublimely interspersed across the surrounds, with background noises aplenty to bring the futuristic city to life. Precise and potent, yet unquestionably powerful, the track is hard to fault in any way, with excellent underpinning from the LFE channel, superior directionality, and a rousing score which only further immerses you in the piece. Reference through and through.
Blu-ray ExtrasThis Zavvi-exclusive Steelbook edition is something of beauty. With an embossed frame – to match up with the other Disney titles as this is technically the 31st entry in their steelbook catalogue – the detailed design doesn’t stop there, with the embossing carrying over into the image on the front. The image itself – a portrait variation of the picture shown below, has Beymax’s figure absorbed into the frame and popping out with the same level of embossing. The glossy paintwork offers striking colours – some of the best steels boast glorious reds and this is no exception. Fans of the film who got to pick up the steelbook variation should be thoroughly ecstatic about the in-hand end result.
Big Hero 6 also boasts a great selection of extras – not least the Oscar-winning animated short, Feast.
The 2D disc sports the majority of the extras, with the Animated Short, Feast, remaining the only extra which is also included on the 3D disc, in 3D obviously. The design of the Short utilises the extra dimension expertly, with plenty of clutter allowing for a flood of screen-popping objects, whilst depth and character-roundedness are also excellent. The short itself is touching and impressive in its minimalist ideals – basically a relationship study as seen through the eyes of a dog from puppy to adult. It’s excellent, following the dog’s obsession with food through the highs and lows of its owner’s life. Hints of the prologue in Up are prevalent here, and you can see why it won the Academy Award.
There are two main background Featurettes, which offer up some behind the scenes footnotes on the production, with the quarter-hour The Origin of Big Hero 6: Hiro’s Journey hosted by voice actress Jamie Chung (Go-Go) who looks at the plan to take an obscure Marvel comic title and turn it into its own franchise, and the input from Disney, as well as the character designs and the unique cross-country/culture fusion setting. Big Animator 6: The Characters Behind the Characters spends a further 7 minutes looking at the more technical aspect of the character design. We also get a small selection of Deleted Scenes with Commentary from the Directors, which is actually a little bit of a cheat as the most interesting elements – the Alternate Openings – are actually basically animated storyboards. Still, the content is worth checking out to offer an alternate backdrop to the events. The disc is rounded off by the Trailer and some Previews also available on startup.
Big Hero 6 Blu-ray VerdictAlthough a tangential Marvel entity, Disney’s Big Hero 6 does a similar job on the animated front to what Guardians of the Galaxy did on the live-action front: delivering a spectacular ensemble superhero flick – with humour and heart – centred on obscure comic book characters that few have ever heard of.
It does for Disney’s stable what Guardians of the Galaxy did for the MCU.
This stunning exclusive Steelbook rightfully earns pride of place amidst its Disney brethren, with impressive designwork boasting innovative embossing and eye-popping colours. The disc itself is reference at all levels – and even the slight lack of expansive extras is arguably more than made up for by the inclusion of an Oscar-winning Animated Short amidst them. The film is a relative rarity these days in terms of the demo-worthy 3D on offer but Big Hero 6 comes highly recommended in whatever guise you get it in.
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