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Big Hero 6 (2014)
Re-imagined for the big screen from Marvel Comics' robust roster of apparently obscure characters, the original Big Hero 6 team of Japanese heroes debuted in 1998, in both the short-run Sunfire & Big Hero 6 comics title as well as in Marvel's Canada-based Alpha Flight comic book series. The early incarnations of this manga-inspired force created by writers Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau included boy genius Hiro Takachiho, his big robot dragon Baymax, and super-powered agents Aiko Miyazaki and Leiko Tanaka (aka Honey Lemon and GoGo Tomago). Fun fact: Silver Samurai, former foe of Daredevil, Spider-Man and Wolverine, originally led Big Hero 6. Chef-turned-swordsman Wasabi No-Ginger and mutating man-zilla Fred joined later, in this group's self-titled 2008 comic book by acclaimed veteran comics writer Chris Claremont.
In the film, Hiro's school entry demonstration of multiple inter-linking micro-bots controlled by brain waves easily locks in his admittance by the institute's head of robotics Professor Callaghan (voiced by James Cromwell), as well as impresses conniving technology mogul Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk). However, after a deadly and mysterious fire destroys the campus, Hiro and Baymax follow a surviving micro-bot to an abandoned warehouse that hides an overwhelming surprise commanded by a powerful masked fiend they narrowly escape. A second sighting also threatens them and Tadashi's lab mates Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.), GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), Honey Lemon (Génesis Rodriguez) and Fred (T. J. Miller), uniting all six on a city-wide manhunt as a formidable force suited up against super-human evil.
Big Hero 6 is an absolute joy for movie goers of pretty well all ages. The animation throughout is incredibly stunning, featuring believably personable characters that effortlessly pull a paying audience into this alternate world's compelling, action-packed adventure. Going in to this screening, I half-expected it to resemble little more than an anime-infused Scooby-Doo sleuth-along with meddling kids, a comedic robo-pet and a fist-shaking stock villain. It's not. Virtually all of the characters are cliché-free science and technology geniuses who bring a refreshing dimension of contemporary individuality to the mix. Baymax supplies much of the comedy relief, complete with a somewhat implied fart joke, but a lot of that humour is well-grounded in his marshmallow-like girth and his often sweet and vulnerable interpretation of compassion, thankfully bereft of in-your-face mecha wise-cracks.
At the same time, this comic book movie doesn't forget comic book fans. It does stray considerably from its own original source material, but that's hardly a rare Marvel page-to-screen experience these days. This time, it works. Writers Robert L. Baird, Dan Gerson and Jordan Roberts' fun, fresh and sharp screenplay compensates for that re-imagining stuff by heavily channeling the contagious passion of comic book-lovers through Fred, San Fransokyo Institute of Technology's resident mascot-wearing slacker and avid appreciator of science. At one point, sheer giddiness hilariously pours over Fred when he realizes their superhero origin story is about to take shape. The film is full of uniquely funny human foibles like that example, continually piquing you with small enjoyable details while the larger entertaining story builds and unfolds.
I had a blast at this screening. Fresh characters and smart storytelling definitely strengthen the wonderfully crafted animation, making Big Hero 6 a five out of five must-see family flick at the big screen. Plus, be sure to stick around for Stan Lee's fun end-credits scene. Reviewed 11/14, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.
Big Hero 6 is rated PG by the
Ontario Film Review Board, citing scenes that may cause a child
brief anxiety, or fear, limited embracing and kissing, and restrained
portrayals of non-graphic violence, and is rated G by la Régie
du Cinéma in Québec.
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