Superhero tales, aren’t we over ’em yet? No, not yet. As the Marvel cinematic universe dealt out the same origin movie again and again just with different characters (Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man) you might wander into Big Hero Six thinking you’re about to be dealt the same main course. In a few aspects, yeah you do, but luckily the source material has a much more young teen edge to it. Set in a future where Japanese and North American cultures have fused to deliver San Fransokyo, a techno utopia, young Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a boy genius who tinkers around with his li’l robot invention that he enters into underground robot fighting for cash. Despondent that his younger brother doesn’t put his formidable intelligence to good use, Tadashi (Daniel Henney) takes Hiro to his university lab where the greatest scientific minds generate the next wave in invention and wonder. Shortly thereafter tragedy strikes which places Hiro front and centre in the path of a new evil set to destroy the city. Enlisting the help of some friends and a giant, blow up robot we are introduced to the Big Hero 6.
There’s lots to admire about Don Hall and Chris Williams’ directorial effort in Big Hero 6, it’s the first major Disney cartoon since Wreck-It Ralph that doesn’t have singing in it and the narrative is quite serious. There is humour peppered throughout, but from the moment the film opens Big Hero 6 is definitely anchored in a more visceral and older world than we’re used to seeing. It tackles the heavy stuff head on: death, responsibility, duplicity, grief, revenge, family and honour with a maturity last seen in Pixar’s finest outing Up!. This is an origin story, so the journey that Hiro goes on is beautifully mirrored in his relationship with Baymax (Scott Adsit), the giant white robot that he needs to program, as he is continually asked ‘why?’ to the actions he takes. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartfelt and always charming, Baymax provides the films heart and soul.
Visually Big Hero 6 is a sumptuous feat and the most stunning animation to come out of Disney (not Pixar) since their rejuvenation. The set pieces are astounding, the digital animation top notch and (for once) the big bad is a formidable and imposing presence. San Farnsokyo looks amazing and you get to see it from street level right up. The 3D elements gets it right in providing a huge level of depth perception rather than poking things out at you and this goes doubly for the character animation as well. The attention to detail just gets better and better. The inventive gadgetry is as silly as it is adventurous and even in its most intense moments, Big Hero 6 never loses its sense of wonder.
As a first outing of what no doubt will be several, Big Hero 6 serves up a big adventure full of humour, heart and spectacle whilst showing the bravery of tackling some pretty grown up stuff. A winner!
BIG HERO SIX releases on DECEMBER 26, 2014 in AUSTRALIA through DISNEY