Dir: Don Hall and Chris Williams (2014)
Big Hero 6 is Disney Animation Studio‘s latest entry after the smash success of nostalgia juggernaut Wreck-It-Ralph and the blockbuster, yet completely over-rated, kiddy cat nip of Frozen; This time the animation doyens set their sights on a relatively obscure Marvel comic about a young 13-year-old robotic genius spurred on by his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) to enrol into the geekiest creators school of all time. Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) excels in the entry challenge, creating nano bots which can be controlled via a headband by your brainwaves; But a fire during the celebration (in typical, devastating, old school Disney style) kills Tadashi and the nurturing Professor Callagan (James Cromwell), leaving the already orphaned Hiro all alone.
It’s a hard-hitting intro (and what we’ve come to expect from Disney) which, paired with the slick Marvel influence, has injected just enough darkness in to Big Hero 6 to make it, at heart, a superhero film on par with some of the best live action efforts of recent years. The main reason for that is a brilliantly designed and animated laugh riot named Baymax; A blow up, white, waddling marshmallow whose arrival will have you grinning from ear to ear. Built by Tadashi as a medical service droid, his soft skin and calm under pressure analysis of the chaotic world around is the beautiful, poignant, centre point of this incredibly funny and exciting film. Even when Hiro recruits and “upgrades” his brother’s colleagues into armour clad fighters to help find the villain behind the fire, good old Baymax is never really surpassed.
Fred (TJ Miller), Wasabi (Daymon Wayans Jr.), GoGo (Jamie Chung) and Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) are all pretty much cookie cut geeks whose superhero transformations are as alarming to them as they are to us; Except for Fred who is adamant on being in a fire-breathing lizard suit, calling every move out loud before he puts it in to action; “Super Jump!”. The majority of the film is, in fact, a pretty basic point to point origin story; Each character is on a revenge mission, it has a big showdown under a swirling dimensional portal which owes much to The Avengers, it really hits every tried and tested plot point. But there’s a sweetness and a joy in watching Hiro and the wondrous Baymax interact with each other; One needing serious care and the other who will stop at nothing to give it. Basing Baymax’s movements on emperor penguins was a devilishly good move by Disney; He’s their best creation in a long time.