Coming to UK screens on January 30th is Disney’s newest offering, Big Hero 6, loosely based on the Marvel Comics’ team of the same name. We follow the story of young computer genius Hiro Hamada and his recently deceased brother’s robot Baymax as they look for a menace that might have been responsible for his brother’s death.
This film is a delight for all, raising standards for innovation and character realism as most recently seen in Wreck-It-Ralph (ever still a delight). From the get go we are made very very aware of Hiro’s young genius, winning competitions and wowing big names with tiny robots, the most recent creation known as microbots. This potentially revolutionary creation attracts attention from his brother Tadashi’s professor and a great tech mogul Mr Krei. The film itself is set in the town of San Fransokyo, a combination of San Francisco and Tokyo. The animators are in their forte during any of the city sequences – the city is not a caricature of either of its parent cities. From the trams, sky balloons and Nippon-inspired version of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Fransokyo is somewhere that you believe you could hop on a plane to visit, a city that may well exist in the next century as cultures from all over the world come ever closer.
The physical heart of this in the film lies in the University of San Fransokyo and for a brief moment the house of one of Hiro’s friends, Fred. In these places we get to know more about Hiro and Tadashi’s friends: Go-Go Tamago, Honey Lemon, Wasabi and Fred. From the get go you know that they’re all incredibly smart – Hiro might be a touch smarter, but intellectually thay can all hold their own. In fact, a big theme in the film revolves around what clever people can do with technology, wether for good or for evil. This makes our heroes become so with just a little more realism. Whilst there is no time for us to delve into the pasts of all these characters we become endeared to all of them since no time with them is wasted. From language to physical mannerisms, the animators give us small isights which mean that we can learn more about them without the need for too much exposition.
Most of the time is devoted to Hiro and the star of the party: the robot Baymax. A big, cuddly healthcare companion, he is the legacy of Tadashi. The relationship between Hiro and Baymax grounds the film completely. We learn more about Baymax as Hiro does and the writers use this to create hilarious situations. Much like Groot in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, he is a innocent, in the this case programmed to care. It is not in his nature to kill or destroy, but to do any scenario which will help people. He might be medically or scientifically complex, but his childlike growth makes him akin to the greatest childhood companions in animation history. Like Winnie the Pooh, Totoro, even Olaf or Wall-E, he is adorable, unintentionally funny and the kind of character you’d want as your best friend.
If the film has any drawbacks, it’s that it its music is not up to par with the rest of the film. Henry Jackman’s work is barely heard during the film and there are no great themes which sonically reel us in. For a Disney Film this is unfortunate, but Big Hero 6 excels enough in other categories for one to easily forget this.
All in all, Big Hero 6 is a wonderful film that provides not just interesting characters but tugs at the heartstrings in a way which can appeal to all demographics. Disney has so far managed to free the film’s marketing campaign from gender specificities (as they have been doing for the past few years), and I hope this remains so as the film’s promotion becomes hyped in this country. It is one of the best animated films of the year, rounding out a great year for Western speaking animation in general. When it comes out on this side of the pond, go see it – it will brighten the start to your 2015 for sure.