Monday, February 23, 2015

Big Hero 6: Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
With all the heart and humor audiences expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Big Hero 6 is an action-packed comedy adventure that introduces Baymax, a lovable, personal companion robot, who forms a special bond with robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada. When a devastating turn of events catapults them into the midst of a dangerous plot unfolding in the streets of San Fransokyo, Hiro turns to Baymax and his diverse group of friends — adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred — who transform into a band of unlikely heroes. Bring home Disney's Big Hero 6, featuring comic-book-style action and hilarious, unforgettable characters — it's fun for the whole family!
Film (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
When Disney bought Marvel, many people expected to see the animation giant to start taking advantage of the many new comic properties now available to them. Instead of starting with a well known property, Disney chose to make an adaption of Big Hero 6 which gave them the flexibility to make it their own. That decision paid off much like it did when Marvel launched their new franchise with the relatively unknown Guardians of the Galaxy. Last night, Big Hero 6 just won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film which put the cherry on top of all of the previous critical and commercial success the film has already enjoyed.

When you think about it, Big Hero 6 perfectly follows the usual Disney formula as the story focuses on a child that suffers a great tragedy, but is forced to grow up and take responsibility. Their previous films like Bambi, Pinocchio, Dumbo, The Jungle Book, The Black Cauldron, and The Lion King all followed the same themes to great effect and Big Hero 6 is no different. In this movie, the child that makes the hero's journey is Hiro (Ryan Potter) who is a boy genius that spends his time participating in underground robot fights much to his brother Tadashi's (Daniel Henney) chagrin. 

Tadashi knows that Hiro could and should be doing much more with his life, so he takes Hiro to his "nerd lab" at his university to offer him a glimpse into a different kind of life that he could have. While there, Tadashi introduces Hiro to his friends there: Fred (voiced by T.J. Miller), Go Go (voiced by Jamie Chung), Wasabi (voiced by Damon Wayans Jr.), and Honey Lemon (voiced by Genesis Rodriguez). While there, Hiro also meets his hero Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell) who is the head of the robotics program. Callaghan challenges Hiro to come up with a great invention which if successful will serve as his ticket into the university program. 

Hiro does just that when he invents microbots, tiny robots that can link together to make any shape imaginable which is a huge hit at the university. Hiro's future seems bright but then tragedy strikes which changes everything. Hiro becomes sullen and reclusive and doesn't even bother to go to the university that previously excited him. It's not until he accidentally a billowy white robot named Baymax (Scott Adsit) that was created by his brother to help people, that Hiro finally starts to recover. 

When Hiro learns that someone has stolen his microbots idea and is producing them, Baymax and him follow one of the micrbots to a warehouse where they are attacked by a masked man. They barely escape, but Hiro is determined to learn who the masked man is and why he stole his robots. He's helped by his university friends who have adapted their own inventions to create superhero personas to fit them. Hiro also upgrades Baymax by teaching him how to fight and by giving him armor to wear. Together they will help Hiro challenge the mysterious masked man and get the closure that he needs.

Big Hero 6 is a fantastic movie that expertly blends action, laughs, and drama into one exciting adventure. Even though this movie follows a well trodden path, the movie makes us care about the characters. The relationship between Hiro and Baymax is touching and full of meaning that I can't go into because of spoilers, but suffice it to say that it reminded me a lot of the friendship between Elliott and E.T. in E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.  Hiro's new-found friends from the university also add a lot of heart to the movie as each of them is looking for a family of sorts and the six of them learn that not only do they form a great superhero team, but also the family that they've been searching for. The animation is first rate and dazzling in its laser sharp detail and design. As beautiful as the movie looks however, it's the story and the characters that will make you want to watch it again.
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
As expected, this 1080p transfer looks absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray. The colors are vibrant and beautiful and the level of detail is extremely impressive. You will notice things that you missed in the theater and it's those little details that make all of the difference. The black levels are dark and deep, and there's no digital defects to be found. This is an eye-popping transfer that really brings the movie to life.
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)
Big Hero 6's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is just as wonderful as the video quality. This is an exciting mix that perfectly balances the action, the music and the dialogue and serves them up in a reference quality lossless mix. The surround channels offer highly accurate directional effects that bring the action to your living room, while also providing some very nice atmosphere in the quieter moments in the film. The dialogue and music are also delivered well without being overwhelmed by the sound effects. This is an incredible mix and another example of Disney taking the time to do it right.
Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The biggest surprise for me on this set was the fact that Disney didn't provide more extras for this film. I expect their video and audio quality to be top notch, but Disney is never consistent on their special features. On some releases, they offer a wealth of goodies and on others like this one, it seems to be more of a token effort of a first release with the promise of a Collector's Set down the road. For a movie that was this successful, I really thought that they'd pull out all of the stops but I guess we can expect a double dip down the road. All of these extras are in high definition.

  • Theatrical Short: Feast - The same cute animated film that played before Big Hero 6 in the theaters now does it again on this Blu-ray. This is also the short film that just won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short last night at the Oscars.  This is a very adorable cartoon about a little dog and his adventures with food and romance. 
  • The Origin of Big Hero 6: Hiro's Journey - This is a fifteen minute look at the film and represents the most extensive extra on the set. Actress Jamie Chung hosts this look into how the film was adapted from the comic series from Marvel, and how the blending between Marvel and Disney came to be. We also learn more about some real life things that influenced the film and how the characters and technology were developed to make the film as good as it could be. 
  • Big Animator 6: The Characters Behind the Characters - At almost seven minutes long, this short featurette is a roundtable discussion that includes some of the brain trust that was behind this film. They talk about their roles, the film's influences, and more.  
  • Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Directors Don Hall & Chris Williams - We are given four deleted scenes from the movie including: "Alternate Opening -- Prologue," "Alternate Opening -- Silent Sparrow," "Yokai's Crew," and "Every Great Super Hero Origin Story Starts with a Grappling Hook."
  • DVD Copy of the Film
  • Digital Copy of the Film
  • Theatrical Trailer
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Big Hero 6 is a fun movie that my whole family enjoyed. It's funny, there's a lot of action, and there's also a lot of emotional depth to it as well. The characters are well written and acted and there's a reason that it just won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film. The Blu-ray is also for the most part excellent, but it's shame that the extras aren't as good as the incredible video and audio quality as it brought the final score down. That's still not enough of a reason to not recommend this though as Big Hero 6 is a fun ride!

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