BIG HERO 6
Starring Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, TJ Miller, Damon Wayans, Jr., Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell, Maya Rudolph, Daniel Henney, Genesis Rodriguez, and Jamie Chung
Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams
Written by Don Hall, Jordan Roberts, and Paul Briggs
Released by Walt Disney Pictures
Review by George Marston
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
If there's one word that can describe Disney's Big Hero 6, it's "smart." Big Hero 6 is a movie that knows its audience, knows the zeitgeist of the modern sci-fi/comics scene, and brings this wisdom to bear in the form of an airtight script, breathtaking animation, and impossible charm. If Big Hero 6 does half as well as it deserves, it will be a strong proof of concept for Disney's Marvel animation model.
Big Hero 6 follows young robotics prodigy Hiro Hamata on a journey from apathy to heroism, as he pulls a group of his peers into a crusade for justice and a search for his own identity. Big Hero 6's core strength is its characters. Hiro Hamata and Baymax are the obvious stars - bolstered by fantastic performances from Ryan Potter and Scott Adsit, respectively - but everyone on screen is given an uncanny level of personality. From Honey Lemon's manic enthusiasm, to Wasabi's, stalwart caution, and Go Go's raw, "Woman up!" attitude, even the characters that aren't given full arcs feel fully realized. And that's saying nothing of Fred (voiced by TJ Miller), the team's mascot and Kaiju enthusiast who, along with Baymax, may supplant Rocket and Groot as this season's most unlikely, lovable duo.
Even the city of San Fransokyo comes across as a full-fledged environment, with its own architectural personality - a perfect combination of iconic San Francisco landmarks and classic Japanese style - and a cast of inhabitants and locations that fully sell the world of Big Hero 6. It's this environment that becomes the stage for some of the most well-crafted, visually stunning superhero action in a film this year. Certainly Big Hero 6 will set a high bar for animated action films, with sequences that are breathtaking and energetic, gripping and thrilling. The film's villain, Yokai, makes particularly fantastic use of the environment of San Fransokyo, and is more menacing and engaging than most of the villains in the last few live action Marvel films.
And despite an uneven amount of call-outs to Marvel in the advanced markering, there is no mistaking Big Hero 6 as anything but a Marvel movie. Fans will want to keep their eyes peeled for some surprising and exciting Marvel Easter eggs throughout the film. But more than just bits of eye candy, Big Hero 6 follows the Marvel film formula to a T, putting all the right moves in all the right places at exactly the right time. While that tried-and-true formula doesn't reinvent any wheels, it certainly provides the exact level of cheers, jeers, thrills, and chills that viewers of any age will want from a high-energy superhero romp.
It's hard to find many films to compare Big Hero 6 to; indeed, the film is something of an experiment for Disney and Marvel. But it's not a stretch to say that Big Hero 6 feels like the heir to both The Incredibles and The Avengers, combining a perfectly wielded sense of humor with gorgeous, memorable visuals, and perfectly paced action. It's impossible not to imagine that Big Hero 6 will lead to a sequel, and, if we're lucky, more Disney/Marvel collaboration in this model.