IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 102 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Hiro Hamada is a 14-year-old robotics genius who lives in the futuristic city of San Fransokyo and spends his time participating in back-alley robot fights. Encouraged by his older brother Tadashi, who thinks Hiro is wasting his potential, Hiro successfully applies for college, presenting his project – microbots, swarms of tiny robots that can link together in any arrangement imaginable. Then a fire breaks out at the university and the resulting explosion kills Tadashi. Hiro unsurprisingly secludes himself from others, but one day, he accidentally activates an inflatable robot….
Disney’s latest animated motion picture, while it’s obviously not going to become a sensation like Frozen, is actually just as good as that film and shows that every now and again Disney can still show they are kings of the animated movie even when competitors, and good ones at that, seem to be increasing. Based on a lesser-known Marvel comic series [which reminded me that the absurdly greedy Disney now actually own Marvel], it’s very much a young boys adventure as Frozen was one for young girls, though of course one can enjoy both. The fast-paced storyline resolves itself around half way through into being primarily about a gang of super heroes, and truth be told the second half isn’t quite so strong as the first, being far more conventional, but the heart of the story – a boy who has lost his older brother and forms a friendship with an older brother substitute – is never lost. Baymax the inflatable robot, who is the cause of much of the film’s humour, is a terrific character and I could almost sense young kids falling in love with him at the showing I was at. His minimalist design works wonderfully and the relationship between him and Hiro, while it follows a predictable pattern, becomes very touching. Meanwhile the villain is appropriately scary with his kabuki mask while eventually attaining some sympathy with some good turns in the story, though his swarms of tiny robots that can link together in any arrangement imaginable look very familiar.
Much of this not only seems very inspired by Japanese pop culture [just check out the designs of the group for a start], but takes place in a kind of alternate future San Francisco which mixes Japanese details with the familiar American ones we know. It’s one of the most meticulously thought through future worlds in quite a while – in fact, I want to go and see the film again just to pick up on all the things I probably missed. Of course you still get a chase over those famous hills, and one thing that is great about this film is that the action is not overly frenetic and blurry, something which seems to be the case with cartoon features shot in 3D. Of course I was content with seeing the 2D version which looks impressive enough. Replete with the usual somewhat updated Disney positive messages, such as the value of friendship and how family needn’t always be blood related, Big Hero 6 feels very of the ‘now’ and even suggests new pathways for Disney while still being a thoroughly entertaining ride for kids and adults alike.