When Marvel made their deal with Disney, nobody thought that this franchise would be getting the movie treatment. Mostly because nobody had heard of it before the trailer came out. Big Hero 6 was an obscure Marvel creation, unable to achieve the widespread popularity of their brightest stars. This is probably why they opted for the Sandman style reboot.
The Sandman style reboot, for anyone wondering, is the kind of reboot where you keep nothing but the original, trademarked names, just like the kind Neil Gaiman did for the character the trope is named for. Big Hero 6 keeps slightly more than the names however; it also adapts the comic’s trademark style – halfway between Japanese Manga and American style graphic novel. Only in the movie, it is halfway between an anime and a Pixar film.
It also keeps the comic books themes of loss, with the creation of Baymax being inspired by the death of a family member. These themes are at the heart of the film as they motivate main character Hiro Hamada throughout the story. It never feels like a mere plot device to propel the action. These feelings are never forgotten and permeate every scene. It’s a sign of caring that explains why the film is so thrillingly good.
When a terrorist hatches a plot to wreak havoc on his home town of San Fransokyo using the technology Hiro created, no one believes him, so he has to investigate on his own. Devising a set of exoskeletons to give him and his friends super powers, he sets off to take down the mysterious man in the kabuki mask. And getting to him is a hell of a ride.
The city of San Fransokyo is one of the most alive and vibrant animated locations ever. There were several times I wanted to get off the tracks the camera was on to go off and explore on my own. It’s wonderfully lit and exquisitely colourful. The city is a character on its own, and in a lesser film it would have been the best character. But the deliberately diverse ensemble cast of Big Hero 6 is one of the greatest ever assembled in a kids film.
Unlike other films such as How To Train Your Dragon, they aren’t two dimensional cardboard cut outs with overly stereotypical teen traits. They are real human beings with several sides. Yes, they follow some very clichéd tropes, but they offer a lot more than that. Also, Go Go and Honey Lemon continue the new trend of animation leading the way in awesome female characters for kids to aspire to. Go Go has that tomboyish charm, but Honey Lemon proves that you don’t have to act masculine to be both a woman and a hero.
And, despite it being an animated movie, it is still made with all the deictic references that we have come to expect from any Marvel blockbuster, including a shot of the original characters that only 0.1% of the audience will recognise. Oh, and if you’re thinking that because it is a Marvel film you should stick around after the credits; you should totally stick around after the credits.
Big Hero 6 is everything a family film should be. Fun, engaging, heart-warming, and heart-breaking. Smart enough to keep adults entertained and silly enough to stop the kiddies from wandering off, Disney’s first foray into animated Marvel movies might just be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Dir: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Scr: Jordan Roberts, Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird
Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung
Prd: Roy Conli, John Lasseter, Kristina Reed, Brad Simonsen
DOP: Scott Watanabe
Music: Henry Jackman
Run time: 102 min
Big Hero 6 is released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 25th via Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment