Monday, 22 December 2014

Big Hero 6: Film Review

Big Hero 6: Film Review


Voice cast: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, TJ Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr, Genesis Rodriguez, James Cromwell
Director: Don Hall, Chris Williams

Stand by for a new animated character to find its way into your hearts.

Following the success of Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph, Disney ventures into the animated world of Marvel with Big Hero 6, a story about a boy and his robot.

Prodigy and robot wizz Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) is spending his young life in a Robot Wars style arena, clearly talented but wasted. His older brother Tadashi, though, pushes him into using those talents to work in the robotics world like he does.

But one small tragedy later and Hiro has lost all interest.

Until he discovers the robot that his brother built, Baymax - a big hulking white stay puft of a creature that's sole purpose is to cure Hiro. However, Hiro, along with Tadashi's co-workers, adapt Baymax to help track down the evil that's haunting San Fransokyo.

Big Hero 6 is perfect family animated fare for the Christmas holidays.

With gorgeous backgrounds (San Fransokyo mixes San Fran and Tokyo as you'd expect from the name to breathtakingly beautiful effect) and some truly joyous animation, the film is nothing short of fun, hilarity and heart.

For at least the first hour anyway.

Those initial 60 minutes or so concentrate of the mechanics of the burgeoning relationship between Hiro and Baymax and imbue the screen with a gooey warmth and humour that's infectious and reminds you why animation and visual gags can work best when stripped back to their basics. Their bond is beautiful and will touch your heart thanks to a simplicity of emotive moments and strong writing; Hiro with his big Japanese anime style eyes and Baymax with his simple two eyes joined by a line give everything you need to know with a minimum of exposition and with humour that's spot on.

So, it's a shame that the movie becomes a bland middle of the road superhero origin piece as Hiro puts together a team to track down the bad guy who's running amok in San Fransokyo wearing a Japanese kabuki mask with one of Hiro's inventions.

While this section of the movie is perfectly fine and is gorgeously animated, it lacks the emotional feast that's been served up prior to the standard visuals and plot machinations. As it veers away from the fun and unique, Big Hero 6 becomes formulaic (even derivative of the Avengers and its conclusion) and forgettable.  Further examination provides discrepancies in the plot and the villain's raison d'etre and reveal is muddily handled, with a final showdown feeling like something we've seen a million times before in the genre.

At its heart, Big Hero 6 is a movie about loss, dealing with it and moving on - and it's here that it truly triumphs (even with some Stan Lee visual gags). While the formulaic nature of its denouement and origins story may rankle, the first adaptation of this Marvel comic still impresses even if it doesn't feel as fresh as it should.

(Make sure you get there early too to catch the beautiful short Feast, about a dog whose relationship with food is charted through the relationship of his owner and his love life. Inventive and adorable, it's the perfect computer generated fare).

Rating:


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