I’ve had a tough time getting out to the theater this year, but I knew I had to see this one. Disney’s latest animated feature film is based on a Marvel comic book series and shows that their animated department can keep us just as involved as their live action entries into the Marvel Universe.
While at it’s most basic, this is an origin story for a great superhero team, there are some wonderful themes at play; dealing with loss, the drive for revenge, family, and becoming a better person. The downside is that the supporting characters, while fun, aren’t quite as three-dimensional as the leading ones, including a sympathetic villain. It does however, build a lot of wonder around the ideas and applications of science and technology.
The story, set in San Fransokyo, follows 14 year-old Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter), who seems quite content to be wasting his genius in underground robot wars. When his brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney) introduces him around at his robotics lab, Hiro suddenly finds his focus in life, he has to study at this university!
Getting in is his only goal, and just as he earns it, tragedy strikes, plunging Hiro, and his guardian Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph) into despair. Shutting out the world, Hiro doesn’t know how to go on, but his brother’s over-sized, robotic nurse Baymax (Scott Adsit) draws him into a world of adventure and recovery as Hiro learns that one of his creations is now being used by a Kabuki masked supervillain.
Forming a team with the rest of the lab, Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), Go Go (Jamie Chung), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) and Fred (T.J. Miller) – who came up with all the nicknames, they go after the villain, but when Hiro tries to go too far, everything gets reconsidered.
The film is filled with fun moments, heroic moments, and even heart-breaking ones. It’s smart, and can entertain on the primary level as a superhero tale, but also as a story of dealing with loss.
It looks great, wonderfully realized and designed, with a fantastic supporting cast that includes James Cromwell and Alan Tudyk, and the best part of the film was that I went in knowing very little about the characters and the story, and walked out loving it.
Everything, from the character design to the landscapes are stunning, the voice acting is top-notch, and by the film’s climax when sacrifices are not only required but demanded, it actually affected me more than I thought. And while yes, the film does have a happy ending, it isn’t schmaltzy, and is in fact well-earned by the story.
I do hope when this one gets its blu-ray release that they pack it to the hilt with all manner of extras, covering the making of the film, the comic’s history, as well as the attention to design and detail that went into the film.
I’m sure the extras will also include the fantastic new short that was paired with it, Feast. I won’t give any spoilers of that one away. but to say that the little dog was adorable.
Have you seen this one yet? What did you think of it?