May 302015
 
‘I am just about satisfied with your care’
Big Hero 6 Packshot
Title: Big Hero 6
Genre: Superhero/Family
Starring: Ryan Potter,
Scott Adsit,
Daniel Henney,
T.J. Miller,
Jamie Chung,
Certificate: US: PG
UK: PG
Picture: 1080p HD,
2.39:1
Audio Format: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English Descriptive 2.0, Spanish & Portuguese DTS Digital Surround 5.1,
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese,
Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Mins
Extras: Featurettes,
Deleted Scenes,
Interviews,
Making Of,
Original Cartoons,
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Release Date: USA: 24 Feb 2015
UK: 25 May 2015
See If You Like: Wreck It Ralph,
The Iron Giant,
Avengers,

With the mega behemoth corporation that is The House Of Mouse, Walt Disney, buying up the original House Of Ideas in Marvel Comics, it opened up new ventures for them. Not only were they tapping into that delicious Marvel Studios cash with their Cinematic Universe, but they had the option to look deeper into the catalogue and putting their own spin on some forgotten or lesser ideas. Combining their might of Walt Disney’s own Animation Studios with a long out of favour Japanese superhero team and a ridiculously cute mascot, Disney deliver with another family friendly CGI animated movie in Big Hero 6.

Technically gifted Hiro Hamada (the voice of Ryan Potter, Supah Ninjas) has his mind set on back alley robot fighting as a career, until his head is turned by his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney, Revolution) as he shows off his life at robotics college and his medical robot Baymax (Scott Adsit, 30 Rock). Putting his effort into getting into this leading school, Hiro creates the microbots – a small in size but big in number force able to be controlled by thought alone. However, a fire at the college expo claims Tadashi & the microbots and Hiro sinks into depression. Accidentally activating Baymax, the robot helps to heal Hiro’s psyche as the two discover that someone has found the microbots and is using them for evil. The pair, together with Tadashi’s classmates, combine their resources and set out to stop the guy in the kabuki mask.

Since Disney now own all the character rights from Marvel, I wasn’t too surprised that there is absolutely no mention of the company who came up with the names and concept used with our heroes here (or indeed the comic book creators, much to their internet chagrin, but that’s what you get for working ‘work for hire’ and being forced to sign rights over). But you know what, that’s fine. I doubt to a point that since they’ve got the ownership Disney would feel particularly begrudged to throw in any love from the concept’s origin, especially with something so J-list as this group. Also, a Japanese influenced – or any country for that matter – superhero team is hardly an original idea. A common thread throughout, what Big Hero 6 offers as a heart-warming and reaching hug in a mug distracts from the numerous pitfalls of seen before tropes, children’s film clichés such as how everyone MUST be saved by the end of the film and villain red herrings.

What makes Big Hero 6 succeed is that with the technological might of the House Of Mouse, it’s a spectacular visual treat. Walt Disney Animation Studios seem to keep upping their game constantly in terms of the quality of their CG animation. In a portmanteau of San Francisco and Tokyo, cunningly titled San Fransokyo, the culture mix of both western California and eastern Japanese offers a simply stunning optical force with bright vivid colours and the little touches making a big difference. Whoever though about changing the top of the Golden Gate Bridge to resemble old Japanese temple wooden marks qualifies as a genius. It’s a lived in world that’s detailed down to every last bit of cement. The numerous fight and flight scenes as our heroes journey, scrape or jet about the city are awe inspiring and deliver a sense of wonder. There’s alot to fit in the plot but the brisk pace is capable of making sure this film doesn’t run low on power.

"BIG HERO 6" Pictured (L-R): Hiro & Baymax. ©2014 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

“BIG HERO 6” Pictured (L-R): Hiro & Baymax. ©2014 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

You may presume from the plot summary above that the film is essentially about the bonding between our boy protagonist Hiro and his inherited big brother’s cuddly robot… and you’re exactly right. It’s great don’t get me wrong. Baymax is a very cute character to have even by Disney standards. With his inflatable frame and one track mind about helping people as a medical unit, he steals this film easily with some lovely moments like when he’s cuddling up to a cat & calling it a hairy baby and acting like he’s drunk when low on power. The visual gags around him are ace as well, like when he uses sticky tape when he blows a puncture in his rubbery suit and he starts to copy Hiro’s legs wobbing when they’re sat on top of a futuristic weather balloon. Hiro’s storyarc about trying to hunt down the guy in the kabuki mask and how far he’s willing to go in his depression and rage, before relying on his friends to do the right thing is darker than expected and blows away any doubts towards the done-to-death origin elements of the plot. The big bulging heartfelt touches between these two propel Big Hero 6 comfortably into better than average territory. In fact, given their recent track record, you would have to say Disney’s own Animation Studio is on par with Pixar in terms of high quality output.

What suffers though is the rest of the Big Hero 6 team members. They’re dumped on us at the start of the movie as classmates of Tadashi with clues to what their powers or abilities will be later. Their appearances throughout as a unit with next to no real individual character traits that stick in the mind. Okay so there’s the hippy one and the gothy sarcastic one but it’s stock, seen it before stuff. Despite their absurd nicknames – all Japanese influenced (except  for Fred) like Wasabi, because of course – I can’t really recall names to faces for the most part after watching the movie. There’s no unique individuality to them that’s what I am saying. I know it’s an origin movie but these lot don’t really feel like a team either. There’s no team up with one another’s powers or exchanges that sells you on this lot as a unit. Their powers are certainly unique though with a cycling/discus enthused girl, a fire breathing monster suit and – my favourite – an infinite bag filled with gel balls. I do feel like I’m nitpicking but, thinking about it, there’s probably more than enough here for that boy and his robot film they’re really trying to tell the story of.  Just focus on that.

Maybe I am being over harsh because at the end of the day Big Hero 6 is not aimed at me. It’s a kids movie plopped out by the Disney machine to make money and entertain, which it undeniably does. It definitely tries doing too much for the sake of it rather than realising what level of greatness it already has in front of them. The charm of Hiro and Baymax coupled with some unexpectedly moresome character development is the winning aspect here. Just don’t expect a great deal outside of that & the ridiculously good CG animation and it’s a solid winner.

"BIG HERO 6" — Pictured (L-R): Baymax & Hiro. ©2014 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

“BIG HERO 6” — Pictured (L-R): Baymax & Hiro. ©2014 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Picture: 

Whilst the cinematic release of Big Hero 6 was meant to be in 3D, there’s no let down in the high production values in this 2D Blu-ray transfer. It’s full glorious 1080p High Definition and it is rather lovely just to soak up all the quality on offer. The numerous bright neon lights of San Fransokyo along with the numerous states of Baymax shine a resonating warmth that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Everything is sharp and clear which is all you need a family animation such as this to succeed as a home media release.

Audio:

I’m all for diversity and you’re definitely getting it with this Blu-ray. Of course it’s probably just to make localisation for various European languages cheaper (i.e. in less releases) but we get not only English & English descriptive but also Portuguese and two different dialects of Spanish. They’re also 5.1 DTS Digital Surround sound which is impressive as let’s not jarring difference made with so much audio content on disc. The addition of English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio as standard makes for a superb audio package as the suitably futuristic soundtrack and sound effects really hit the ball out of the park.

"BIG HERO 6" Pictured (L-R): GoGo Tomago, Wasabi, Hiro, Tadashi, Honey Lemon, Fred. ©2014 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

“BIG HERO 6” Pictured (L-R): GoGo Tomago, Wasabi, Hiro, Tadashi, Honey Lemon, Fred. ©2014 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Extras: 

Typical awesomeness as you expect from a Disney animation home media release. The highlight is a 15 minute documentary presented by cast member Jamie Chung that goes in depth into the origins of the movie with tonnes of name crew talking heads from both Disney & Marvel and genuinely intriguing aspects into the filmmaking side. A short doc on the animators’ input into the movie as characters is pretty fun, alongside the usual deleted scenes, Disney sneak peaks and trailers. Oddly missing is crew commentaries and given the excellence in the talking heads’ view in the aforementioned featurette is a glaring omission. Additional cartoons such as Mickey Mouse going to Tokyo are trumped by the usual ridiculous genius original short called ‘Feast‘ which about a dog’s changing eating habits as his owner’s relationship with his girlfriend develops. There’s the impression that something is missing from here but what is is definitely better than average, albeit a bit short.

The Bottom Line:

Despite some big nitpicks, it would be very hard to say no to another viewing of this stellar superhero entry to Disney Animation Studios’ catalogue down the road. Whilst being done before, Big  Hero 6 pulls off that boy and his robot charm with much energetic abound and is pure unadulterated family fun. The sweetness of the picture and audio does the high animation production justice and the quality shines through, even if you have some doubts about the validity of the rest of the characters being there. Maybe I’m just bitter and annoyed that Baymaxs don’t exist fully yet… Otherwise, I am satisfied with his care.

Terry Lewis@lewisonlife.

 
Big Hero 6 Blu-ray ratings