Directors: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Cast: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, T.J. Miller, Damon Wayans Jr.
Running time: 102 mins
Release date: January 30th
When Disney concluded their recent insane mega-dealings and took Marvel under their roof, there was serious excitement at the prospect of new, Disney-animated Marvel cartoons. Who would it be? Iron Man? Captain America? Squirrel Girl? Unbelievably, the answer was even weirder. Big Hero 6 was an obscure and short-lived comic team a few years back, and although this new animation is based loosely on it, it bears such little resemblance that you have to look really hard in the credits to see that it’s a Marvel film at all. We join Hiro (subtle), a brilliant but troubled teen (no!), as he refuses to use his genius for anything other than underground robot fights. After his big brother gives him a shot of inspiration however, he decides it’s time to put his abilities to good use and save the city of San Fransokyo (a pretty cool stylistic hybrid of the two cities) from evil kabuki-masked bad guy Yōkai, who looks suspiciously like kabuki-masked bad guy Amon from Nick cartoon The Legend of Korra.
One thing that does remind you that you’re watching a Marvel film is the story structure. Yep, it’s another origin story. All the ingredients are here, all the predictable suffering and redemption you’ve come to expect from the hero’s (or in this case, Hiro’s) journey. The fact that it’s a team movie could have set it apart from the countless other superhero story origins, but the other team members are never really given a chance to be developed beyond their goofy gadgets. These include a set of magnetic rollerblades, bizarre exploding chemical balls and a giant fire-breathing lizard costume. Look, it’s weird. Just go with it.
In spite of all the rocket fists and nanobot armies, the film’s true key weapon is Baymax, Hiro’s robot buddy voiced with disarming adorability by 30 Rock‘s unsung hero Scott Adsit. Of all the characters the film offers, Baymax is the one you’ll remember because the film is exponentially better when he’s around. Other characters try to be in-your-face funny and fail, but it is Baymax’s innocence and subtlety that give him such winning humour. His ‘low battery’ drunk routine is hilarious and when he kicks ass he still keeps it light and fun. Well, until the film almost ruins things by taking it a bit darker than necessary. For the most part though, he is the heart and soul of a movie that would be merely a fun but passable confection without it. Oh, and don’t forget to wait until the end of the credits for your traditional Marvel treat.