Big Hero 6

Directed By: Don Hall and Chris Williams

Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr., Génesis Rodríguez, T. J. Miller, Daniel Henney, James Cromwell, and Maya Rudolph

Disney has had one hell of a year, particularly when it comes to live action films.  Just look to the critical and commercial successes of films like Captain America: Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and to a lesser extent Maleficent.  The studio has found its groove and is on a roll.  With Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens on the horizon next year, things couldn't look brighter for the studio.  Still, Disney dabbles in what brought to greatness in the first place — animation.  The days of Mickey Mouse on the big screen may be long over, but there are plenty of characters the venerated studio can leverage to go back to its roots.  This weekend, they've successfully pulled Big Hero 6 from the Marvel Comics well.

Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) is a boy genius wasting away his potential in the metropolis San Fransokyo.  Spending his nights winning money at underground robot fights, he frequently earns the ire of law enforcement.  This ire is frequently accompanied by the disappointment of his Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph) and his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney).  After a particularly profitable night during which Hiro ends up at the police station, the boy is determined to get back out and get his robot in action.  Tadashi offers to take him.  Before doing so, however, Tadashi takes his little brother to the Nerd Lab at his college the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology to meet his friends Honey Lemon (Génesis Rodriguez), GoGo (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.), and Fred (T. J. Miller) and get familiar with all the cutting edge research they’re doing.  Along the way he introduces Hiro to legendary roboticist Professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell) as well as to his personal project Baymax (Scott Adsit), an inflatable robotic healthcare companion.  Instantly enamored, Hiro sets his sights on getting into Callaghan's program and joining the Nerd Lab.

In order to join the Nerd Lab, Hiro must put together something special to gain admission from Professor Callaghan.  However, the boy genius has no good ideas.  When Tadashi tells him to look at things from a different angle, Hiro finds his idea — microbots that can be controlled telepathically with a neural-cranial transmitter.  At his presentation, things go extremely well.  Many recognize that Hiro's invention could revolutionize technology as we know it, including Krei Tech executive Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk).  Hiro gets his admission and a lucrative offer from Krei.  While his new friends from the Nerd Lab and his Aunt Cass go out and celebrate, Hiro and Tadashi go to have a brotherly moment off on their own.  That moment is soon interrupted by a fire at the exhibition hall.  When he hears Callaghan is in the building, Tadashi goes in to save him only to die in a fiery explosion.  Sometime after the funeral, Hiro discovers Baymax in his brother's room.  This healthcare robot becomes the heroic companion Hiro needs at this time.

I rarely am one to give an animated film high praise.  After all, I grew up in the second golden age of Disney and believe that great animated flicks must have a lot of genuine heart.  I also believe that animated fare should be an enjoyable experience for parents and children alike given that the parents are paying.  In the case of Big Hero 6, however, I've got nothing but praise.  This superhero movie passes both tests with flying colors.  With this beautifully animated Marvel Comics adaptation, directors Don Hall and Chris Williams offer moviegoers an exciting adventure in a world full of colorful, heroic characters.

The ensemble cast voicing the characters are the heart and soul of Big Hero 6.  For his part as Hiro Hamada, Ryan Potter gives us a grieving kid trying to figure who he is and what he's meant to do in this world.  That's a tall task for a voice acting role, but Potter rises to the challenge.  Potter's co-star Scott Adsit does an equally impressive job as the lovable Baymax.  Incredibly entertaining as this rotund robot totally unfamiliar with the ways and customs of people, Adsit gives us a legitimate badass buried deep within a warm cuddly healthcare companion.  Adsit brings the comedy and the heart.  Supporting cast members such as Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr., Génesis Rodríguez, and T. J. Miller all bring their on-screen personas to their respective roles.  This adds plenty of other colorful characters to the film to play off Hiro and Baymax respectively.

With The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and now Big Hero 6, Disney has proven that they've mastered the art of superhero team-ups in a variety of genres.  Don Hall and Chris Williams have perhaps just delivered the best animated flick of the year.  Big Hero 6 gets a strong 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.

The animated short Feast that opens Big Hero 6 is a pleasantly amusing delight as well.  I'd highly recommend it.