Disney’s “Big Hero 6” opened the Tokyo Film Festival last night, and that means the release of the first reviews, which range from positive to outright glowing. The movie, adapted from a forgotten Marvel Comics series, takes its cues from both superhero and anime genres, appropriately set in a hybrid city called San Fransokyo. (I’ve never been, but I hear real estate is expensive.) The movie’s breakout character, by all accounts, is a cuddly robot called Baymax, who looks a little like a cross between a “Star Wars” stormtrooper and the Stay-Puft marshmallow man and is voiced by “30 Rock’s” Scott Adsit. Although the movies would seem to have little in common, the long shadow of Disney’s “Frozen” leads to a comparison in almost every review, generally suggesting it falls short of the mark — but then, one might remember the initial, pre-phenom reviews for “Frozen” weren’t uniformly ecstatic, either.
“Big Hero 6” opens in the U.S. on November 7.
Reviews of “Big Hero 6”
Peter Debruge, Variety
With “Big Hero 6,” an obscure Marvel Comics title gives the Mouse House’s toon division just enough raw material to assemble its own superhero franchise, starring millions of robots — including one, a balloon-bellied virtual nurse named Baymax, that you’ll never forget. Co-directors Don Hall and Chris Williams borrow the character names and a few key details from their pulp source, but otherwise succeed in putting a thoroughly Disney spin on things, delivering appealing personalities, bright peppy animation, positive life lessons and what looks like a world record for the sheer amount of hugging featured in a superhero movie. More male-skewing than “Frozen,” the relatively hip result should still do big business for Disney.
John Hazelton, Screen Daily
Corporate relatives Disney and Marvel try for some creative synergy in “Big Hero 6,” an animated comedy-adventure that cannily combines the emotion, humour and – courtesy of a cuddly inflatable robot — cuteness expected from Disney with a heavy dose of Marvel-style superhero action. The result is a solidly entertaining sci-fi-infused, anime-influenced tale that should win over a sizeable boy-skewing family audience even if it doesn’t captivate to the same extent as last year’s girl-skewing Disney Animation Studios smash “Frozen.”
Robbie Collin, Telegraph
Jessica Kiang, the Playlist
There are also corporate cultures meeting here for the first time: this is a Disney film based on a Marvel comic book property, and while it’s definitely a Hollywood film, it wears its manga influences on its sleeve with foregrounded pride. And for the most part, the admixture is intoxicating, skillfully grafting the clean, familiar but still effective emotional throughlines of classic Disney storytelling onto the interesting topography of this more recent, Japanese-inflected terrain. In fact, inasmuch as “Frozen” amounted to Disney reinventing their traditional gender politics, “Big Hero 6” can be seen as the studio addressing its historical reputation for ethnic homogeneity and cultural appropriation. Specifically, the film tackles its legacy with a big, lovably goofy, marshmallow-shaped robot nurse called Baymax.
Christopher O’Keefe, Twitch
Wearing its technological and Japanese-influenced heart on its sleeve, what’s surprising is the homage to comics and comic book culture found throughout the film. The team suits up under the guidance of comic book super fan and hero-wannabe Fred whose father, glimpsed early in a family photograph will be instantly recognizable to fans of the medium. Mr. Kabuki is an impressive villain that will surely appeal to kids weaned on the Spider-man franchise, there’s more than a hint of Norman Osborn about him in character and origin, and visually his flowing black robo-tentacles make him an amped up Doc Ock. There’s more to the character than meets the eye, however, as the film builds to an emotional finale set amidst a visually spectacular setting where more than one life is put on the line.
Michael Rechtshaffen, Hollywood Reporter
Like “Frozen,” “Big Hero 6,” co-directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, handily defies convention in regard to presumably skewing more to one gender demo over the other. Sure, it’s got robotics and superheroes, but it also has plenty of emotional resonance and, of course, merchandising gold in the form of an oversized, huggable vinyl balloon of a Personal Healthcare Companion that bears more than a passing physical resemblance to the star of Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro.”
Alonso Duralde, the Wrap
“Big Hero 6” offers spectacular visions, mixing a realistic sense of place and people with delirious flights of inter-dimensional heroic fancy, remaining true to its comic-book source (Pixar vets Robert L. Baird and Daniel Gerson loosely adapt the Marvel miniseries) without ever losing the human element among the larger-than-life finale. It’s in that third act that you can feel the film getting tethered to the tracks of kid-movie narrative, but “Big Hero 6” has built up so much creative goodwill by then that it’s easy to forgive. The lush and vibrant visuals help in that department; this is one of the few 2-D films I’ve ever seen that I want to go back and see again in 3-D.