Never has East met West in such a visually stunning way as in the new animated feature film “Big Hero 6.” From the blending of the architecture of Tokyo and San Francisco (to create San Fransokyo) to the collision of traditional animation with anime, the film is “manga-nificent.”
“Big Hero 6” — based on the Marvel Comics publication of the same name — follows the exploits of a handful of geniuses who find their inner superheroes after a personal disaster. At the heart of the group is Hiro (Ryan Potter), a young robotics expert who loses himself in his work because of a family tragedy.
Part of that work is converting a balloon-ish medical robot into a fighting machine. He becomes the protector for the group as each genius creates their own super power. These powers are tested when the team faces a super villain who is stronger and smarter than any one member of the team.
On the surface, “Big Hero 6” looks like a rather standard story of nerds living out their super dreams. But just as the visual elements of this movie are so deep and detailed, it’s important to go past the superficial and get to the heart of the movie.
Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams have managed to find a perfect balance of story and visuals. The characters — from the spunky Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) to the enthusiastic Fred (T.J. Miller) — mix well together and come across as separate parts of one persona.
It’s a bonus that these are not only interesting characters because of the physical aspects of their new found powers, but they are also smart. It’s not often when the central figures of this kind of action-heavy story are the smartest people in the room.
The film takes liberties with the comic, especially in the presentation of the soft and cuddly Baymax (Scott Adsit). The adaptations of the robot look more in line to be popular toys than maintain the spirit of the comic. But “Big Hero 6” is such an obscure title in the Marvel Comics universe that few will notice.
This all plays out against a backdrop that is so detailed and masterfully made that more than one viewing is needed to do it justice.
Hall and Williams know just when to crank up the action and when to pull it back to get the most out of the sweet and touching moments. It’s surprising how deeply emotional the movie gets, even though it is aimed at young boys. There are strong female characters, but this story plays closer to the video game-inspired genre that has always drawn more of a male audience.
The strength of “Big Hero 6” is the fusion of East and West that creates a world where tech and tradition work together in animated harmony. This movie definitely looks very smart.