We get a sneak peek at Disney’s animated adventure Big Hero 6!

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Maybe it’s because we’re mid-way between the two cities – Tokyo and San Francisco – that inspire its near-future fusion city setting of San Fransokyo, that Disney chose London, England to showcase new scenes from its upcoming animated feature, BIG HERO 6.

Based on a little-known Marvel comic series – six books in the ‘80s, six more in the 1990s – it’s the story of a 14-year-old robotics genius, Hiro Hamada, the inflatable robot Baymax, and a group of young science nerds who become hi-tech superheroes.

Producer Roy Conli (TANGLED) talked through the storyline, the production process and, most importantly, screened around 30 minutes of highly impressive footage. Before the main course, we were also shown a “little appetizer”, the short Feast, about a hungry terrier pup whose appetite impacts on his owner’s love life. It’s a sweet, charming near-wordless treat that’s bound to make a star of its cute canine hero, Winston.

big hero 6 baymax hiro hamada disney

But back to the superheroes – here’s what we saw of Big Hero 6:


Early on, Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) tries to join his older brother and fellow science prodigy Tadashi at the prestigious San Fransokyo Tech university. At the SFT Showcase, Hiro demonstrates his invention – Microbots: tiny, mind-controlled chips that, in swarming combination, can create anything its user can imagine. It’s a dazzling sequence, with Hiro and the Disney animators strutting their stuff as the Microbots shapeshift from a giant waving hand to surfing waves to intricate structures. 

‘Enter Baymax’

Unfortunately a fire breaks out after the Showcase, and both Tadashi and Hiro’s Microbots are thought lost in the blaze. Sunk into a deep funk, Hiro inadvertently awakens his brother’s “personal healthcare companion” robot, Baymax. Looking like a combination of Ghostbusters Mr. Stay-Puft and Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas, with his waddling penguin gait, cheerful innocence (“Diagnosis: puberty” is his assessment of Hiro’s jumpy emotional state) and a great vocal performance from 30 Rock’s Scott Adsit, Baymax’s comic relationship with Hiro is lovingly detailed. A later scene when a low-battery, deflating Baymax flails around like a good-natured drunk is also very, very funny.

big hero 6 baymax hiro hamada disney


The main section shown was a 16-minute episode that basically jump-starts the plot. Hiro and Baymax discover that the Microbots didn’t perish in the fire; and that, Yohai, a sinister man in a kabuki mask is mass-producing them for his own nefarious ends. There’s an elaborate chase sequence through Yohai’s abandoned warehouse lair, from which Hiro and Baymax barely escape. But Hiro now has a mission: find out what really happened that night. And since he convinces Baymax that this will heal his inner pain, the inflatable companion is obliged to help out.

‘Suiting Up’ & ‘First Flight’

So who exactly, other than Hiro and Baymax, are the Big Hero 6? Well, the remaining four are Tadoshi’s SFT lab friends, all of whom join Hiro’s quest. There’s Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.), a precision physicist into laser technology; lovable chemistry genius Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez); mechanical engineer and adrenalin junkie Go Go (Jamie Chung); and Fred (T.J. Miller), a comic book fanboy, who’s more mascot than student.

big hero 6 baymax sanfransokyo disney

Hiro designs each of them super-suits that reflect their speciality: so Wasabi fights with plasma energy blades; Honey Lemon’s purse is an instant chem lab; Go Go zooms around on maglev wheels; and Fred, well, obviously, he gets the fire-breathing kaiju suit. Sweet-tempered Baymax, meanwhile, gets upgraded into a Battle Robot with flight, super-strength and rocket fists, looking like a cross between Iron Man, a Transformer – and a Lego figure.

‘Suiting Up’ is a montage of watching each team member training and get to grips with their new powers; while ‘First Flight’ is an exhilarating aerial sequence reminiscent of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON’s vertiginous swoops and dives. Both are classic staples of the superhero story, done with style, humour and great imagination.

Conli’s enthusiasm (“right now is the best time I’ve ever had at Disney animation”) seemed justified. Not only are Disney hitching onto the Marvel steamroller, but they’re doing it with a property that they can then shape to make a genuine hybrid with their own stylings. “Their super-powers are their intellect and their hi-tech,” said Conli, rather than Marvel’s often-mutated heroes like Spider-man, X-Men and co. So we’re talking more Tony Stark’s smarts crossed with Peter Parker’s underdog angst.

The imported Pixar alumni (John Lasseter and Ed Catmull) and their Story Trust, in which the team of directors work on each new project, has clearly aided the recent upsurge in Disney animation, from TANGLED to WRECK-IT RALPH and of course the juggernaut that is FROZEN. On this evidence, that’s definitely in place on BIG HERO 6.

The production team’s detailed research led them to the cutting-edge “soft robotics” – basically inflatable tech over carbon-fibre structures – which is the basis for Baymax and also gives us a robot unlike any seen before onscreen, itself quite a feat nowadays. And San Fransokyo is a clever amalgam of San Francisco’s trams, bridges and hills, mixed with Tokyo’s neon shimmer. The animation looks stunning too, thanks to advanced lighting technology and a new state-of-the-art rendering system.

Overall, then, Disney’s first foray into animated comic-book superhero territory seems like a smart addition/offshoot to the Marvel universe. And if it comes even close to matching THE INCREDIBLES – still, by the way, the gold standard for superhero movies, animated or live-action – they’ll be looking at something very BIG indeed.

BIG HERO 6 hits theaters on November 7, 2014

Source: JoBlo.com

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