When the Walt Disney Company bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009, there was much speculation about what would be the first Disney animated film to spring forth from the pages of Marvel Comics. The annoucement that it would be Big Hero 6, a Japanese superhero team from the late ’90s that appeared in only a few books and is so obsure that not even Marvel.com has an entry for them, many questioned the choice. But after earning over half a billion at the box office worldwide and the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, it looks like the the folks at Disney (again) knew what they were doing.
Using the comics as inspiration, Big Hero 6 takes place in the city San Fransokyo where a teenage boy named Hiro proves to be a whiz with robots. After he is shown around the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology robotics lab by his older brother Tadashi, who studies there. After seeing projects students are working on, including Tadashi’s first-aid robot Baymax, Hiro wants to enroll but must showcase his skills along with other prospective students.
Hiro creates a tiny device called a microbot. Many of them can work in unison to create just about anything under the control of a neural transmitter. Alistair Krei, a tech-business giant, attends the showcase and wants to buy the microbot, but Hiro refuses, which pleases Professor Robert Callaghan, the head of the Institute’s robotics school. That night, a fire breaks out at the school. Tadashi rushes in to help the professor but a major explosion kills them both.
After a few weeks have passed, Hiro is still very depressed. Baymax tries to help him, but Hiro sends the robot on what he thinks is a wild goose chase across the city. It turns out they discover microbots are being mass produced by a Kabuki-masked man. When the police can’t help, Hiro teams up with Tadashi’s classmates to learn the truth.
Screenwriters Jordan Roberts, Dan Gerson, and Robert L. Baird have created a wonderful story. The plot is filled with good twists and plenty of humor. The script also deals with themes of family, friendship, loss, and sacrifice in a thoughtful way not frequently in family films. However, the emotion of the climax is undercut by a final surprise, even though executed in a manner that is believable and expected for modern movies that hope to generate sequels.
Big Hero 6 is available in a Collector’s Edition that comes with a Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy. The Blu-ray video has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The video is impressive with rich colors, inky blacks, and bright whites throughout. The image delivers very sharp clarity and is as richly detailed as the artists created. My disc has an issue with the beginning of Chapter 4 where the image freezes but the counter keeps running, . It occurs at a very critical moment as Tadashi runs into the burning building so we lose the drama and explosion.
The audio comes as an impressive DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack. Dialogue is always clear and characters can be heard positioned around and moving throughout the channels. The music and effects use the surround system to full effect to immerse the viewer. The bass is consistently strong as it supports the music and effects.
A few extras are included. Also an Oscar winner, “Feast” (HD, 6 min) tells the story of an adorable young dog named Winston, whose great moments in life revolve around sharing food with his human. However, trouble looms when a young woman, who eats healthy comes into the picture. Two short featurettes look at the making of the film: “The Origin Story of Big Hero 6: Hiro’s Journey” (HD, 15 min) looks at different aspects of the adaptation and “Big Animator 6: The Characters Behind The Characters” (HD, 7 min) allows the animators to discuss their work. There are four “Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Directors Don Hall & Chris Williams” (HD, 13 min), which were understandably cut, and the Big Hero 6 Theatrical Teaser (HD, 2 min).
While superheros are currently dominating the media landscape, to the understandable chagrin of many, Big Hero 6 offers an entertaining story about than good guys versus bad guys that make it worth watching.