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Big Hero 6 (Blu-ray Review)

20 Feb, 2015 By: John Latchem

Street 2/24/15
Box Office $219.48 million
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG’ for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements.
Voices of Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney, T. J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., Génesis Rodríguez, Maya Rudolph, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell.

The latest animated feature from the illustrious Disney Animation Studio (its 54th, by the official count) could be considered the first real offspring of Disney’s Marvel Comics buyout.

The script is based on an obscure superhero team that first appeared in comics in 1998 and earned a revamp 10 years later. But rather than brand it as a Marvel Studios film, and thus maintain the general brand distinction between the various subsidiaries acquired by Disney over the years, the concept was brought into Disney’s primary animation studio.

That’s not to say Marvel didn’t help the transition, as documented in a production featurette on the Blu-ray. But the basic elements have definitely been given a distinctly Disney makeover, so as to maintain the recognizable threads of the original while making it accessible to new audiences.

To wit, the central character of Baymax has been turned from a scary, dragon-looking android into a cuddly, kid-friendly medical robot in the best tradition of cute Disney sidekicks. Here, he’s paired with a teenage genius named Hiro, who wants to find the villain responsible for the death of his older brother (and Baymax’s creator). The mysterious bad guy also stole Hiro’s designs for miniature robots and is using them to pursue an evil scheme, so Hiro enlists the help of his brother’s college buddies, who receive superhero makeovers based on their individual areas of scientific expertise.

This introduces a central motif of revenge and coping with loss, which is rather heady for a Disney movie and truly elevates the material. However, these themes never overwhelm the story, drifting to the background amid some beautiful animation and thrilling action scenes.

In fact, there are some sequences that are so dazzling that it’s a shame Disney seems to have shied away from including 3D versions of its films on Blu-ray anymore.

Unsurprisingly, the end result is a film that feels much closer in tone to Pixar’s The Incredibles than most comic book movies; I would love to see a crossover with that Pixar family. Compared with other recent Disney releases, Big Hero 6 is much more Wreck-It Ralph than Frozen, which is another way of saying it’s not exactly aimed at the little princess crowd.

The Blu-ray also includes production featurettes about the character designs and voice acting, and there’s a hidden bonus about Easter Eggs in the animation. There are also storyboards of several deleted sequences that mostly deal with alternate ways to open the film (what they ended up with was the right way to go).

Lastly, the Blu-ray includes the award-winning short film Feast, a cute tale about a little dog who finds the steady supply of delicious junk food is cut off when his master’s girlfriend makes them eat healthier.

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