Over the past few years, Disney has been on fire with their animated films. The Princess and the Frog and Tangled showed that Disney could still do fairytales effectively; Winnie the Pooh was a nice little throwback; I'm a massive fan of Wreck It Ralph and Frankenweenie and, whilst my opinion of it has gone down since I first saw it, there hasn't been any film to become as much of a cultural phenomenon as Frozen has in years. Now, Disney are continuing that streak with Big Hero 6, which I think is the best film to come out of what will be known as the second Disney Renaissance.
The plot concerns Hiro Hamada, an incredibly intelligent boy living in San Fransokyo, who spends most of his time in underground robot fights. Worried that Hiro lacks direction, his brother Tadashi takes Hiro to the local university to see the research taking place, in particular a medical robot Tadashi built called Baymax. Inspired, Hiro plans to become a student at the university, using an upcoming robotics competition to do so, with his invention of microbots, tiny robots which can be used to form any object. During the competition, a fire starts which ends up killing Tadashi. Some time later, Hiro ends up activating Baymax and they find that someone has stolen the microbots for their own means. In order to combat him, Hiro recruits Tadashi's friends from the university, using their research to turn them into superheros. What really works about the film is how it explores grief, in particular through the relationship between Hiro and Baymax. Their relationship feels really natural and it's clear that Hiro is projecting elements of Tadashi onto Baymax and as the film goes on, you see how Hiro is willing to do anything to give him a sense of closure regarding Tadashi's death, even if it ends up hurting people. Another thing I love is how the film promotes higher education to the audience. I'm currently in my second year of university studying Geography and university is an excellent experience for me and it's great that a film aimed at children is showing just how important university is and I also thing it's great that there are just as many female scientists as there are male in the film (although the fact that this is one of the few films to show the role of female scientists makes me sad). If there is something wrong with the plot it's that the film gives more focus on the action scenes rather than the plot and characters later on. That's not to knock the action though, those scenes are brilliantly made and really fit the production and character design. If the film was about 10 minutes longer, this problem with the plot could have been solved.
The characters and the voice acting are some of the best Disney has shown recently. Hiro could have been really annoying but Ryan Potter gives the character a lot of heart. You can see Hiro's intelligence throughout the film and you know he can do great work if he applies his knowledge properly. The interactions between Hiro and Baymax are particular highlights for the character, mainly because of how well Potter and Scott Adsit, who plays Baymax, work off each other. Speaking of Baymax, he is the best character in the film. There is a genuine sense of affection between him and Hiro, the calm nature of Adsit's voice is perfect for the character and the overall design of Baymax provides a lot of great comedic moments. I also really like the brother dynamic between Hiro and Tadashi, again because of the cast with Potter working brilliantly with Daniel Henney, with Henney putting a lot of personality into Tadashi in his brief appearance. For the other team members, Damon Wayans Jr, Genesis Rodriguez and TJ Miller are all a lot of fun as Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred respectively, with them adding a whole lot of personality to the characters, special mention has to go to Jamie Chung as GoGo, whose quieter but more action oriented personality comes through excellently, with one of the best parts of the character being her use of the phrase 'woman up,' and I really like how you first hear her say it in casual conversation. There's also great work done by Alan Tudyk, who has become Disney's go-to voice actor; James Cromwell, who's great to see in anything and Maya Rudolph.
Overall, Big Hero 6 is one of the best animated films that Disney has made. The characters, design of the film and action scenes are all brilliant, working around a really emotional plot revolving around how people react to loss. If Disney keep making more films as brilliant as this then the second Renaissance will continue in full force.
My Rating: 5/5