Action Adaptation

Blu-ray Review: Big Hero 6

February 25, 2015Ben MK

Big fun, bigger heart...

When you think of Marvel superheroes, you think of self-healing mutants with claws, patriotic super-soldiers or web-slinging do-gooders. What's less likely to come to mind is a soft, inflatable hero who seems to belong to the same family tree as Mr. Stay Puft and the Michelin Man. Yet, that's exactly what we get in Big Hero 6, the big screen adaptation of the Marvel Comics series that does more than just "Disney-fy" the property. It reimagines it as a superhero team-up much like Pixar's The Incredibles, and the results are heartwarming, action-packed and, oh yeah, Oscar-worthy.


The Film Meet Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), a 14-year-old robotics genius who lives with his older brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), and aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph) in the fictitious, neon-lit metropolis of San Fransokyo. Ever since his parents died, Hiro has been in search of somewhere where he fits in. And he may have just found it at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology robotics lab, where Tadashi and his friends — Go Go (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) and school mascot Fred (T.J. Miller) — hang out and develop their own unique inventions, all under the watchful eye of professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell).

It's there that Hiro is introduced to Tadashi's pride and joy, Baymax (Scott Adsit), a robotic personal healthcare companion whose gentle demeanor and soft vinyl exterior belies his inner technological wizardry. And soon, Hiro gets to work on his own creation, diminutive robots — microbots — that he's able to control using only his mind. But disaster strikes when a suspicious fire claims the lives of Tadashi and Callaghan, leading Hiro to call upon Baymax and the rest of Tadashi's friends to catch the culprit, a mystery man in a kabuki mask who has commandeered a swarm of Hiro's microbots and intends to use them for his own nefarious intent.

Big Hero 6 arrives courtesy of directors Don Hall (Winnie the Pooh) and Chris Williams (Bolt), as well as some of the producers and writers behind Monsters University, Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph. In short, it's got quite the pedigree of talent behind it. And while it may not be a Pixar production, it is bursting with many of the same sensibilities, from the thoroughly emotive character designs, to the engaging environments, to the storytelling, which doesn't shy away from dealing with deeper subject matter, such as coping with grief.

Extremely entertaining from start to finish, the movie has ample humor that will appeal to both the young and the young-at-heart, as well as its fair share of exhilarating action sequences. Most importantly, the core of Big Hero 6 — the relationship between Hiro and Baymax — is solid, and it tugs at viewers' heart strings just as much as other iconic big screen pairings, like Elliott and E.T. or Hogarth and the Iron Giant. This is, after all, a movie about the connection between a boy and his big, huggable robot. And in this regard — and in true Disney fashion — it doesn't disappoint.

Audio/Visual Fidelity Is it any surprise that Big Hero 6 looks and sounds like a million bucks on Blu-ray? This is a computer-animated Disney movie, after all; and as expected, this hi-def image is an absolute stunner. Razor-sharp, pixel-perfect and exceptionally colourful, it showcases the meticulous care and attention that the animators have poured into bringing the world of San Fransokyo to fruition, from the massive blimps that hover over the bay, right down to each and every tiny microbot. As for the disc's audio, you couldn't ask for a better accompaniment to the film's sumptuous visuals than this DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack, which expertly balances dialogue, action and music, immersing viewers fully in the cinematic experience, whether it's Go Go whizzing around us on her maglev discs or Baymax soaring past us with his rocket thrusters.

Special Features Disney's Blu-ray release comes packed with a DVD and an iTunes digital copy of the film, as well as over 40 minutes in HD bonus features. First up is the 6-minute Theatrical Short: Feast, presented here in all its cell-shaded glory, complete with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack. Next is The Origin Story of Big Hero 6: Hiro's Journey, a 15-minute featurette hosted by Jamie Chung that delves into the characters, the setting and the story's main themes. Then there's Big Animator 6: The Characters Behind the Characters, a 6-minute discussion between six key members of the animation team that touches on how they breathed life into the characters. There are also 13 minutes of Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Directors Don Hall & Chris Williams, which presents four scenes ("Alternate Opening - Prologue", "Alternate Opening - Silent Sparrow", "Yokai's Crew" and "Every Great Super Hero Origin Story Starts With A Grappling Hook") in storyboard format. And last but not least, the 2-minute Big Hero 6 Theatrical Teaser is also included.

The Bottom Line Big Hero 6 may not be an officially-sanctioned part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that doesn't make it any less of a joy to watch. Guaranteed to melt the hearts of comic book geeks everywhere, it's a fun and visually astounding film that strikes a rousing balance between action, humor and heartfelt emotion. And Disney's Blu-ray release doesn't disappoint either, delivering flawless audio and video, along with an assortment of lightweight extras the whole family can enjoy. If there's one disc deserving of a hero-sized fist bump, this is it.  Ben Mk

Disc Breakdown
The Film  —  
Audio/Visual Fidelity  —  
Special Features  —  

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on November 7th, 2014.

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