Big Hero 6: Disney’s latest film reminds us who the king of animation is

This has been lingering for some time, but it has to be said: Disney and Pixar have switched places in the animated film landscape. While Pixar has tarnished its reputation with sub-par (by their standards) films like “Cars 2,” Disney has righted the course it’s on. The remarkable string of films it has released this decade continues with “Big Hero 6,” proving that its acquisition of Marvel wasn’t the kiss of death.

Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) is a teenage whiz kid who’s exceptionally smart but preoccupied with illegal bot fighting. That changes when his brother, Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney), encourages him to participate in an exposition that gets him into the college of his dreams. Shortly after, a fire leads to disaster and he falls into a depression. With the help of Tadashi’s creation, Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit), and a group of his friends, Hiro tracks down and fights a villain who’s using Hiro’s inventions for an evil plan.

The movie plays out better than it sounds. It does fall into some of the clichés of both Disney (dead parents and a group of entertaining sidekicks) and Marvel (loss of a loved one and origin stories) movies of yore. But the film successfully accommodates both sides of the coin in an entertaining way.

There are several components that push the movie almost into the stratosphere. One is the animation. We’ve had a string of films with extraordinary animation, including “The Lego Movie” and “How To Train Your Dragon 2.” “Big Hero 6” contains bright and colorful design, remarkable attention to detail, and exceptionally fluid animation.

Another is how the movie meets the happy middle between Disney and Marvel. The two aren’t a match made in heaven, but given the track record that Marvel has had since the acquisition, it’s hard to complain about their output. For those too young for the superhero movie institutions like the Batman or Spider-Man movies, this will be a quality introduction. It’s not too scary or violent, and the writers do a good job of hitting the right tone. It’s wide appeal is something for the whole family to enjoy.

However, the true star of the show isn’t even human. Baymax, an inflatable healthcare robot, is so lovable that it’s almost too much. He’s not very bright and is sometimes painfully slow and socially awkward. Despite this, he’s big, fluffy, and just plain hug-able. If Disney decides to make shorts revolving around Baymax, don’t be surprised.

Big Hero 6 has competition at the Oscars this year. Will the brand recognition of Disney help it edge out “The Lego Movie” and “How to Train your Dragon 2?” It’s hard to tell, but this film is a worthy nominee. Keep your eyes peeled next year.

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