In a world full to the brim with superhero origin films and cute animated romps, Disney’s new offering Big Hero 6 manages to expertly mash them both together into something fresh and wonderful. Combining the sweetness and comedy that Disney’s animated features are known for with the visual scale that comes with superhero films results in something supremely entertaining which breaks conventions from both genres.
Unfortunately, something it picked up from the superhero side of the family was a very simplistic and predictable plot. The story follows 14 year old tech prodigy Hiro Hamada as he tries to unravel the mystery surrounding his brother’s death, aided by an adorable nursing robot named Baymax. Baymax is a little like C-3PO, only fatter and with less sass, and he undoubtedly steals the show. He provides the emotional heart of the film as well as most of the comedy, both through his physicality and through classic robot misunderstandings. Hiro upgrades Baymax with an Iron Man-esque suit of armour, however Baymax never loses his innocent, childlike demeanour. Eventually, as the name suggests, Hiro and Baymax are joined by four friends who use their specific areas of scientific expertise (or in one case, love of comic books) to become superheroes themselves. It’s a fairly old and simple message: be true to yourself and embrace what’s unique about you. But then this is a children’s film, and the message isn’t nearly as forced as it might have been.
The animation in Big Hero 6 deserves special mention, as it is quite possibly Disney’s most visually and technologically impressive job to date. Everything in this film looks gorgeous, from Baymax’s hilarious, deliberate movements to the stunning intricacy of the background city, a fake futuristic place called San Fransokyo where eastern and western cultures meld beautifully. 3D works well with the film, never too overstated, just adding to the texture. It is especially cool with the villain’s weapon of choice: a telepathically controlled swarm of nanobots that instantly build any structure he can think of. It’s a concept that requires real imagination to work with, but of course imagination is just what Disney does.