Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Big Hero 6 (Movie Review)

By Freda Cooper 28.01.2015 1

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Big Hero 6 (Movie Review)

Big Hero 6 (UK Rating: PG)

With the Oscars announced next month, one of the contenders for the Best Animated Feature award arrives in the UK, and it comes hand-in-hand with one of the nominees in the Best Animated Short category. Big Hero 6 was a big hit at the American Box Office, and its partner, Feast, has received just as many plaudits, plus that all-important Academy Award nomination. Together, they make quite a double act. With Big Hero 6 and Feast released together around the UK on Friday, 30th January, Lights, Camera, Action! gets super animated as it settles in to serve up the only verdict that matters.
Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Big Hero 6 (Movie Review)

Set in the fictional mash-up city of Sanfransokyo (San Francisco and Tokyo…), where tech-savvy teenager Hiro (Ryan Potter on voice duties) becomes a student at the Institute of Technology after some persuasion from elder brother, Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney). However, a personal tragedy leaves Hiro devastated and uninterested in science, until he rediscovers one of his brother's experiments - a healthcare robot called Baymax. The discovery that one of his own inventions has been stolen and is being used to take over the city encourages Hiro to band together with his brother's friends to protect their homes and way of life.

Disney is venturing into comparatively new territory with Big Hero 6, a Far East-style setting that allows it to echo the Japanese traditions of anime and manga. It's a move that should broaden its appeal in that part of the country, without losing its core audience, yet it's also on familiar territory at the same time since Big Hero 6 is actually a Marvel property - admittedly, a little known one, but Marvel nonetheless. Another of their lesser known series was the surprise hit of last summer - Guardians of the Galaxy - and the similarity doesn't end there.  More of that in a moment, though…

While the teenage science nerd, Hiro, is the central character of the film, he's not the star. That accolade goes to Baymax, the scene-stealing XXL healthcare robot, who looks nothing like any other android. His rotund, squidgy shape was the result of a fact-finding mission by director Ron Hall to the robotics team at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, where they are developing "soft robotics" for use in care homes and hospitals. After all, a healthcare robot mustn't hurt anybody, which means it can't be made of metal or have any hard or sharp edges.


 
He's a great creation, one with an immobile face - apart from the occasional blink - yet it's surprisingly expressive. For an inanimate object, he has a remarkable capacity for caring and is quickly on the receiving end of waves of affection from the audience. Perhaps his incongruous "baby steps" walk - based, according to producer Roy Conli, on the walk of a baby penguin - has something to do with it. Or perhaps it's the way his voice, provided by 30 Rock's Scott Adsit, manages to bring nuances to a tightly scripted character. Maybe it's because he's simply very funny, especially when his battery needs re-charging, making him floppy and, to human eyes, acting as if he's drunk. Whatever the reason, he's a huge hit with adults and children alike - and most definitely huggable.

Back to that other similarity to Guardians of the Galaxy then. He may have a more extensive vocabulary, but Baymax has plenty in common with tree monster Groot. They could be first cousins, in fact. Both embody goodness in its most simple form, protecting the people closest to them, and they also find themselves in similar situations towards the end of their respective movies.

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Big Hero 6 (Movie Review)

For all its glamour science and intricately detailed setting, Big Hero 6 is still a traditional Disney movie at heart, though, full of the traditional values the studio has always held dear. Its partner movie, Feast, is just six minutes of pure Disney - and Disney at its best. Boston terrier, Winston, is rescued from the streets and the film follows the life of the dog's new owner, but it's seen through the dog's eyes and the many meals they share together… and Winston is one hungry dog!

With its uncluttered story and almost complete lack of dialogue - Winston barks more than the people speak - it's irresistible, with a four legged hero that's just as huggable as Baymax but for totally different reasons.

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
Actually, the score is really 8 for Big Hero 6 and an extra one for Feast. Baymax, Hiro and company provide a high action, engaging piece of family entertainment, complete with slick animation that's genuinely enhanced by 3D. Feast is the tastiest of hors d'oeuvres and both have to be regarded as serious contenders for Academy Awards next month. In the meantime, arriving at the cinema on time to see this double bill is compulsory. Missing Feast would be criminal.

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So glad this is finally coming out here. It's taken forever (it was the same with Wreck-It Ralph).

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