From Walt Disney Animation Studios, the team behind Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph comes Big Hero 6, an action-packed comedy-adventure about the special bond that develops between Baymax, a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada. When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he turns to Baymax and his close friends adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred. Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called Big Hero 6.
Milking the Marvel catalogue for all its worth, Disney Animation takes on the lesser-known franchise 'Big Hero 6.' As with past animated movies from Disney, 'Big Hero 6' is bright, bold, and a lot of fun for parents and kids. No princesses this time around, however. 'Big Hero 6' throws Disney Animation smack-dab into the superhero spectrum. While Disney and Marvel keep the live-action comic book juggernaut chugging along with sequels planned past 2020, it's nice to know that we have a standalone title like 'Big Hero 6' to provide something fresh (although, one wouldn't be surprised if it's followed by numerous sequels).
Hiro (Ryan Potter) is an engineering wiz. A robotics savant really. While he could be changing the world with his inventions, even though he's only a teenager, Hiro spends his time hustling competitors at robot fights. Tadashi (Daniel Henney), Hiro's older brother, also happens to be a genius. Tadashi goes to a leading school for robotics overseen by robotics legend Robert Callahan (James Cromwell). Tadashi is keen to have his brother put his unrivaled intellect to good use and invites him to try out for the school.
Inventing and creativity form the foundation of 'Big Hero 6.' Hiro is bright and book smart. An emulation-worthy hero of any young inventor. Like Flint Lockwood, but less error-prone. While trying out for Callahan's school, Hiro invents a type of nanotechnology that would literally change the way the world works today. If this technology existed in our world it would be the single greatest invention in the last century. Hiro invents it for a glorified science fair. Yeah, he's that good.
After losing his brother and his invention in a tragic accident at the fair, Hiro falls into a deep depression. 'Big Hero 6,' deals with loss head on. It isn't sugar-coated or brushed aside here. Kids in the audience know that Hiro's brother has passed away. There's no way around that fact. Not too many animated movies geared towards kids will have the main character talk about death in such unequivocal terms. The way the movie deals with Hiro's sorrow is admirable. He progresses through the stages of grief, providing a worthwhile example of how a young person can cope with the loss of a loved one.
Before Tadashi passed he invented an endearing healthcare robot named Baymax (Scott Adsit). Standing right next to Wall-e in the "I want to take this robot home and love it like I love my own children" category, Baymax quickly becomes the most loveable thing on screen. Baymax's marshmallow-like exterior was carefully constructed to be representative of something you might want to hug all the time. It's offering medical assistance after all, and Baymax's bedside manner is programmed to please. Baymax is Hiro's only reminder of his lost brother. Hiro clings to Baymax trying desperately to fill the Tadashi-sized void in his life.
The rest of the story involves a masked villain, a group of friends Hiro turns into superheroes through an inventive montage or two, and a somewhat predictable outcome. The story, really isn't important though. It's simply a means to an end. The real reason to see this movie is the honesty it uses to deal with significant loss, and how the relationship between Hiro and Baymax is presented.
There's plenty of action as Hiro and his group of techno-clad buddies fight the masked villain. That's all just fine. The animation is flawless. It's exciting, frantic, and will keep the attention of any kid watching it. Yet, there's something deeper to this movie. Something that resembles the feelings we all feel when grown up Andy finally leaves his toys behind in 'Toy Story 3.' There's some authentic emotion at the end of 'Big Hero 6.' Unexpected as that emotion was, it was a welcome addition to a solid animated flick.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This two-disc set, which is labeled as a "Collector's Edition," comes from Disney with a DVD and a 50GB Blu-ray. A Digital Copy code is also included. A nice, embossed Disney slipcover is provided.
As you'd expect, Disney's 1080p presentation of 'Big Hero 6' is absolutely flawless. After seeing it in the theater I was stuck watching it on a DVD awards screener. My son, a huge fan, just about wore out that disc. I'd forgotten how beautiful and detailed the movie had first looked on the big screen. As soon as I received the Blu-ray and put it in I instantly remembered what I'd been missing. If there was an animated movie meant for big-screen projector viewing, this is it.
The detail is astounding here. Something you may have missed, even in the theater, is the amount of textural detail that is so lifelike you might not even notice it. The creases on Baymax's gloved palm, which look utterly natural. The smooth unique texture of Baymax's white balloon like exterior. Or even the individual Micro Bots as they continuously move and undulate creating new shapes.
Colors are amazingly vibrant, and accompanied by strong contrast. Once the team of would-be superheroes is clad in their colorful crime-fighting exteriors, the dazzling displays of color never cease. From Honey Lemon's Technicolor chemicals, to Fred's red-orange fire breath, the movie's color palette is stunning. Standing out most of all is Baymax's bright red armor which practically jumps off the screen.
There are no anomalies to speak of. This is a crisp, clean, and precise viewing experience. No aliasing. No banding. Just computer-animated perfection in high definition.
Mirroring the perfection of 'Big Hero 6's picture, is the audio presentation. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is revelatory. The big-time sound design is a non-stop celebration of sound. The action scenes are stupendous, covering every inch of the soundfield, while the more nuanced scenes are given their own ways to shine.
Dialogue is always clear, even in the quiet times. Ambient sound, from busy city streets, to the quiet beeps of Tadashi's "nerd school" are all captured perfectly. The rear channels are always working to provide a sufficiently rewarding surround sound experience.
Once the action starts, and Henry Jackman's unique sounding score ramps up, the bass never lets up. Explosions thunder. The heavily synthesized soundrack hammers away. The entire soundscape is taken up by low-end sonics that provide genuine rumbling effects in your theater room. The action is piped all around. As Baymax wooshes in and out of frame the sound is perfectly directed to specific spots giving a like-you're-there feeling. The heavy, and steady, sucking noise of the one-way portal engulfs you. It's quite an experience. Fans will love this audio mix. Audiophiles will go gaga over it.
There were a lot of great animated features last year, and 'Big Hero 6' is right up with the best of them. It's lovable, action-packed, and allows kids and parents to talk candidly about what it means when someone you love passes away. Not too many kid's movies deal with death as frankly and honestly as 'Big Hero 6'. With demo-worthy audio and video, this Disney release comes very highly recommended.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.