‘Big Hero 6’ – Disney tackles Marvel with mixed results

January 27, 2015

Dir: Don Hall, Chris Williams

Duration: 102 min (US)


Is it time to realise that animation stopped its furious, breakneck, post-Pixar evolution at the point the Incredibles struck in 2004? Maybe. Perhaps the west’s broader embrace of Studio Ghibli’s output in the opening decade of the new millennium – with its quaint and belligerent insistence on the arcane methods of an illustrator’s daub – took the sting out of the march towards progressive rendering.

Or it might simply be that the retro-tastic efforts by Disney with the hand drawn The Princess and the Frog (2009) and further emboldened by the mega-smash Frozen (2012) made a flagging, once-great studio regain its confidence and its mojo.

Well, to mull over these points are merely moot when greeted with Disney’s latest offering Big Hero 6. In keeping with the age in which we live, the ingredients for sure-fire commercial (if not critical) success are placed in the hands of an adaptation of a Marvel Comics creation. This is the first time that Disney have ventured into such fare since the acquisition by MC parent company Marvel Entertainment of The Walt Disney Company in 2009. It is no doubt hoped that this outing will resonate with the boys as much as Frozen has with the girls.

The story itself can be traced to the 1998 comic of the same name and follows child prodigy Hiro Hamada; a boy who develops an affectionate bond with a robot devised by his elder brother. Although the robot is designed primarily with the purpose of being a medical officer, he is soon re-appropriated for combat against evil.

Helmed by Bolt (2008) director Chris Williams and Don Hall, there is a cross-continent, cross-territory setting, placing us in the sprawling fictional city of San Fansokyo. In terms of the story, if you imagine Robot & Frank (2012), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and the Incredibles thrown into a blender, sprinkled with a dash of Eve in Wall-E (2008), and turfed out in the name of family entertainment, it should give a pretty good picture of what to expect. While there may be ingenuity lacking to the material, there is a pervasive sense of a well-engineered feature brought to fruition.

This is not a film that feels loose to the tracks. It is steered with a measured, deliberate focus and control. It plays safe, but it also plays competently. A few laughs are scattered in the hubbub of the frenetic action. It might not rank amongst the finest of the studios triumphs – it’s too derivative for that – but it is an enjoyable romp all the same. And it may well be the first instalment of a new Disney franchise.  

Big Hero 6 is released into cinemas on 30th January 2015.

Here is the trailer: 

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