Disney’s delightful computer-generated film “Big Hero 6” is set in San Fransokyo, and as that hybrid name suggests, the movie exists in an anime- and manga-influenced world, merging the U.S. and Japan. The film’s hero is Hiro Hamada (voice of Ryan Potter), and the story, attributed to six writers and based on a 1998 Marvel comic book, begins with little brother Hiro being persuaded by big brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney), whose parents are dead and who live with their sweetly ditsy Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph), to enroll in “nerd school” university to use his genius for building robots.
Essentially, the story teams brilliant misfit Hiro and Baymax (Scott Adsit), a comically benevolent health-care ’bot invented by Tadashi. Hiro dismissively describes the oversized and inflatable Baymax as “a walking marshmallow.” After a disastrous fire at the university, Hiro, Baymax and four young robot experts Hiro has “upgraded” with superpowers team up to fight a supervillain in a kabuki mask, who is using mini-bots invented by Hiro to destroy San Fransokyo and rule the world.
Baymax’s upgrades are carbon fiber armor to contain his marshmallow-y body, wings and a jet-powered thunder fist. The “upgraded” teen superheroes are cycling buff Go Go Tomago (Jamie Chung), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), laser-handed Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) and fire-breathing weirdo Fred (T.J. Miller), and while their dork-squad superpowers aren’t very impressive, their chemistry and comic timing are. Hiro’s reproduced-in-bulk mini-bots behave like tiny building blocks that can assume any shape or form. The masked supervillain bestrides them, using his mind to guide their cascading, wavelike movements and shapes.
I know it doesn’t sound like much, granted, especially in this age of superhero-movie glut. But the tentaclelike visuals are apt and the fun is in the details. Directors Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”) do a fine job of making “Big Hero 6” seem more like a smart and even hip Pixar film than a by-the-numbers Disney release. The secret is to glue everything together with tremendous wit and heart a la Pixar’s “The Incredibles.”
Although I was not quite sure what Honey Lemon’s superpower was (liquid styrofoam?), in one funny scene, Baymax scans an excitable Hiro and comes to the unavoidable diagnosis: “puberty.” I find 3-D glasses absurdly redundant and cumbersome when I am looking at 3-D CG images (wise up, Disney), but “Big Hero 6” is a lot of fun.
Until now, I had picked "The Lego Movie" is take next year's Oscar for Best Animated film but "big Hero 6" does things that eclipse the film. And by all means, stay for the credits for a nice surprise at the end.
On a scale of 1 - 10, "Big Hero 6" is a 9.8.