Big Hero Six is genius in so many ways that is almost defies belief. As a marketing beast, it is a monumental, well-oiled machine, with all parts moving perfectly in unison. Not only that, but it manages to be a fantastically enjoyable film in its own right, ticking all of the classic Disney boxes. Big laughs check. Cute sidekick, check. A tear jerker of a back story? You bet.
It might come as a surprise that Big Hero Six is also based off a Marvel comic, and is Disney’s first attempt at bringing out their own CGI spin on a little known title from that monumental back catalogue. It was clever of them to pick a little known franchise to bring to the screen, and completely overhaul it. Seriously, check out the comic book version of Baymax, not half as cuddly. Coming away from Big Hero Six you know that the pairing of Disney and Marvel was a match made in heaven. They have the combined money to take risks, and Disney know when to file the edges off and add a few chubby cheeks to make things really standout. It’s been in the US for a while, but the UK have only just got their grubby limey paws on it quite recently.
Big Hero Six takes place in San Fransokyo, a futuristic, beautiful blend of Tokyo and San Francisco that kind of looks like the most magical place in the world. Hiro Hamada is our 14 year old robotics prodigy, who spends his time in back alley ‘bot brawls instead of putting his brains to good use. His philanthropic older brother (Tadashi) takes him to see his lab at the university, where Hiro discovers that rather than doing boring stuff, his brother and his classmates are working on some truly incredible projects. The primary one being his brother’s care robot, Baymax. A cuddly, oversized oaf designed especially to care for people, catering to both their physical and mental needs. He wants to mass produce the cuddly blighter and serve the world’s healthcare needs.
Hiro is offered a place at the university if he can come up with an idea that will stun the judges at the science fair and really show off his brains. He gets it, in the form of his microbots. Essentially a swarm of Nano machines that you control with your mind, he assembles them into incredible shapes and sizes and stuns the judges. From there, things get tragic pretty quickly, and while the film is packed with belly laughs, mostly from the delightful Baymax, plenty of tears will be shed, amongst kids and adults alike.
I don’t want to go into much more detail on how things play out, because happily, the plot actually matters. The world of San Fransokyo is wonderfully realised and brimming with detail and colour. The Asian and American mixing of cultures is fantastic, and Baymax steals the show, doling out incredible amounts of character and expression for someone with essentially no face. Towards the end, the film almost descends into a mishmash of Marvel film stereotypes and it all eventually devolves into a superhero origin story rather than a tale in its own right, but it’s a minor niggle when the rest is done so excellently.
Everything is left open for a sequel that carries the Big Hero Six team forward with new challenges and new foes stripped straight from the pages of other Marvel classics. It’s just a shame that with the film so wonderfully subverting those origin story stereotypes (it doesn’t even feel like one for most of the running time) it’s a sequel that I’m not looking forward too. I don’t want another superhero film; I want another Big Hero Six. I can’t offer a higher recommendation, but I hope against hope that they don’t drop the ball when it comes to the inevitable sequel. Go see it.