When it comes to their superhero movies, Marvel Comics have always done much better with live action than animation; the three Iron Man films, for instance, are vastly superior to the animated Iron Man: Rise Of Technovore. But it seems they’ve broken with tradition with Big Hero 6, an entertaining CGI animated movie that Disney Home Video are releasing on Blu-ray and DVD.
Loosely based on a 2008 comic even less known that Guardians Of The Galaxy, Big Hero 6 follows a fourteen-year-old robotics prodigy named Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) who develops some advanced microbots, only to have them destroyed in a fire that also kills his brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney from X-Men Origins: Wolverine). But when Hiro learns that someone is mass producing his microbots, Hiro converts his older brother’s Michelin Man-looking medical robot, Baymax (30 Rock’s Scott Adsit), and Tadashi’s friends into superheroes with Iron Man-ish suits of armor, to stop a mysterious kabuki man.
As you’d expect, Big Hero 6 is an action-packed thrill ride, with some cool sci-fi tech thrown in for good measure. But it’s also noticeably more comedic than other Marvel movies. Its whole vibe is decidedly lighthearted, and it has moments that are clearly played for laughs, such as when Baymax runs out if juice and it makes him act like your jovial drunk Uncle on Thanksgiving.
Big Hero 6 also has some interesting and inventive moments. Tadashi’s friend’s suits are far from rote or obvious, while the setting of San Fransokyo mixes Tokyo and San Francisco in a way that don’t just make it look like the latter’s Japantown neighborhood. It’s also interesting that the main character isn’t yet another white kid with a white kid name like you’d typically get in a movie like this. Y’know, something stupid like Paul.
As much fun as Big Hero 6 may be, it’s not without its problems. The biggest of which is that it’s rather predictable, especially if you’ve ever read a comic book or seen a movie inspired by one. Or just any movie where they pull the old switcharoo. It also relies too heavily on montages and other action movie clichés, and has some truly (and distracting-ly) terrible music, such as one bit that sounds like the cheesy theme song from a bad ’80s sitcom.
Big Hero 6 is also a bit childish at times…though, admittedly, this criticism only applies if you’re not a child.
Which is why, as entertaining as it may be, Big Hero 6 is no Iron Man. And no Incredibles, for that matter. But it is decidedly better than every other Marvel Comics animated movie made so far.
Whether you love Big Hero 6 or just like it, though, the Blu-ray and DVD versions both have tons of cool extras you’ll enjoy just as much. Well, mostly.
Both versions come with “Big Animator 6: The Characters Behind The Characters,” a six-and-a-half minute long roundtable conversation between the members of the animation team. But while this could’ve been rote, it feel somewhat unscripted, which makes it as entertaining as it is informative.
Next, the Big Hero 6 Blu-ray and DVD also have the film’s original teaser trailer. Why not the regular trailer as well? Who knows. Though considering how so many movie Blu-rays and DVDs don’t include even one trailer, the presence of the teaser here is appreciated.
Then there’s “Feast,” the original short that ran just before Big Hero 6 in theaters. Adorable and beautifully animated, this six-minute film chronicles a man’s life through the stomach of his dog (trust me, that sentence will make sense when you see it). Frankly, I liked it better than Big Hero 6.
Unfortunately, not all of the extras on the Big Hero 6 Blu-ray are also on the DVD. For starters, there’s an alternate prologue opening, a second alternate opening, and two deleted scenes, all four of which come with explanatory intros by directors Don Hall and Chris Williams. And while none should’ve been in the movie, and they’re mostly just storyboards, they’re actually entertaining and not just little fragments that were clipped off because of time constraints.
Then there’s “Big Hero Secrets,” which spends nearly three minutes pointing out to references to other Disney animated movies. Even cooler, this extra is itself an Easter Egg on the disc (though it’s pretty easy to find).
But the most substantial extra that’s on the Blu-ray of Big Hero 6 and not the DVD is the pun-ly titled “The Origin Story Of Big Hero 6: Hiro’s Journey” a rather loose but informative making-of featurette. And while it’s not perfect — there’s nothing with the comic’s original creators — it is hardly as contrived as these things usually are.
What’s worse than giving the DVD the short shaft, though, is that there’s two cool extras that are only available as part of the digital edition. Well, at least they sound cool. “Beatmax” is described in the press release as being audio of Baymax’s “greatest lines auto-tuned,” which sound like it could be funny, while “Gag Animations” is described as, “…alternate versions of scenes they were working on and threw them into the mix at review sessions.” And while I could go off on a rant about how all versions should be the same and as complete as can be, if the people who put Blu-rays and DVD together aren’t getting this right at this point, they’re probably never going to.
While the Blu-ray and DVD versions are lacking in their own ways, and the movie is good but not great, Big Hero 6 is still worth checking out. It’s not as good as Marvel’s live action superhero movies, or the best Disney or Pixar animated movies, but it does have some fun moments, some funny moments, and is ultimately entertaining.