"We're under attack from a supervillain people, how cool."
Disney animation making a film based on a Marvel comic book series, wow. This is a good time to be a fan of movies isn’t it. It seems as if Disney are now going for girl audiences one year and boys the next. Tangled, a princess story, Wreck-It Ralph, video games, Frozen, a princess story, now Big Hero 6, a superhero story, do you see my point? Not that either film is incapable of attracting different audiences, it’s just it seems to be going in that direction.
Robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada starts to develop his skills with the encouragement of his older brother Tadashi. But when tragedy strikes that reveals a dark conspiracy Hiro and his friends transform themselves into high tech heroes to solve the mystery.
Though it is based on a comic the ideas have been drastically altered but in many ways this is still a Marvel film, if you want proof, there are superheroes and Stan Lee has a cameo. It does effectively leave Disney with a blank slate to craft a take on the Iron Man era of superheroes, just as The Indredibles was a take on the classic, Superman era.
Big Hero 6 does a fantastic job of balancing its Marvel origins with that fundamental Disney originality. While this is named and sold as more of a team superhero film the supporting characters of the group aren’t fully developed beyond a few fun lines of dialogue. They do add to the humour greatly but they don’t seemed fleshed out enough to immediately inspire a sequel. But their contribution is still noticeable and it would be hard to imagine Big Hero 6 without its supporting members, one of which provides a wonderful little link with our favourite comic creator (wink, wink).
The supporting characters can be forgiven because at the end of the day this film tells the story about Hiro struggling with grief and ultimately finding solace in his brother’s remaining legacy, a personal healthcare robot named Baymax. Disney have created a brilliantly unique cinematic robot and inspired sidekick. Baymax is good at what he (it?) does but has a narrow vision of the world around him, he is programmed to understand human pain and how to fix it and nothing else. This creates a charming blend of naivety and protective caring that forms the basis of his character. Like other sidekicks such as Groot or Chewbacca, it’s impossible not to love him.
In one sense Big Hero 6 is quite a conventional film. If it was a standard live action superhero film instead of an animated Disney one you would be more critical of it. The plot is fairly straight forward and while he is aesthetically impressive the villain has little backstory or character development that creates a truly memorable persona. It is uplifting and full of heart, but only very occasionally does the plot surprise the viewer, especially the one that puts real thought into working out what will happen next.
But Disney more than make up for the standard plot with firstly a truly remarkable ability to make action scenes that might otherwise be overwhelming for younger viewers more enjoyable. A lot of the action excited me but it never felt as if it had to cross the Disney boundaries of family entertainment to do it. The thrills and laughs come often and frequent, more than once simultaneously. One scene that really stands out is a car chase through the streets of the city in which the OCD, law abiding team member driving the car is unable to force himself to drive erratically, jump red lights or turn without indicating despite the fact that they are being pursued by a horde of robots controlled by a manic.
The visual elements of Big Hero 6 all please the eye as well as the imagination. In an inspired vision of the future Disney blends wonderfully creative gadgets and applies them to every scene beautifully. Without a doubt Big Hero 6 is the most visually ambitious Disney film of recent memory.
Though it may be quite conventional in terms of writing, the visuals, humour, heart and Baymax more than make up for it. Big Hero 6 is another impressive addition to Disney Animation’s resume, possibly good enough to grab an Oscar? Just Maybe.