Big Hero 6 – Blu-ray review

Big Hero 6 is about a young boy named Hiro Hamada, a robots whiz-kid who has to deal with a tragic loss fairly early on in the film, and Baymax, the adorable, oh-so-huggable ballon-like medical robot created by his genius brother.

This round, inflatable robot that only wants to help is a far cry from the hard-edged, metallic forces of destruction that robots have become in recent cinema. The biggest laughs are courtesy of Baymax, as he flops and rolls around the place: "I am not fast" he placidly remarks as they flee from evil-minded microbots.

Like Frozen before it, the film's emotional core lies with two siblings, in this case the two Hamada brothers. Their relationship is qucikly but effectively fleshed out using only a handful of scenes and resonates throughout. Elsewhere, a labful of eccentric genius students at the local tech university are colourful but broad brushstrokes, and the Kabuki-masked villain is appropriately menacing.

Technology is a huge part of the film, too. It's a vision of an idealist future where advanced technology isn't just a reality: they're part of the fabric of life. The narrative eventually deals with good and bad robots, but for the most part, it's a gleeful celebration of technology and its possibilities.

It's in the last hour that the narrative changes gear. The film resorts to a superheroes vs villains showdown that feels lifted out of the final act of Avengers Assemble.

The warm humour and subtle charm of the first hour are set aside in favour of spectacular fight scenes (and to the animators' credit, they really are spectacular), explosions and sacrifices worthy of summer blockbuster. You find out the film has really been the origin story of a superhero group and, while it's a novel way to go about it, it seems to have sprung out of nowhere.

The true start of the film is the stunning animation. More specifically, the futuristic city of San Fransokyo - mixture of Western and Eastern architecture, cultures and aesthetics that is breathtakingly realised. We're not exaggerating when we say this is the best animation we've ever seen.

It's no surprise then that this Blu-ray makes an excellent test disc. The bright, bold colours pop, the picture is crisp and clean, and you'll need a system that can handle motion really well what with all the flying going around.

The glint of hard metal and shiny glass mesh well with the natural textures and colours of the cityscape, while the buildings, trees and people are naturally lit. The pink and purple-hued sunset in particular is warm and beautiful.

The soundtrack isn't as impressive as the visuals, but you'll want a system that can handle powerful explosions and thrusters blasts with aplomb. Voice actors shoulder the responsibility of giving life to the characters, and their nuanced performance is subtle and memorable. The rustling sound as the microbots slither around the room and assemble into various structures is creepily effective in surround sound, too.

This Disney/Marvel collaboration is a feast for the eyes. If it weren't for the inconsistent tone, Big Hero 6 could easily have gone down as one of the greatest animated films ever made.

Buy Big Hero 6 on Blu-ray at Amazon

Bonus content:

  • Feast Theatrical Short
  • The Origin Story of Big Hero 6: A Hiro's Journey
  • Big Hero Secrets (Easter Eggs)
  • Big Animator 6: The Characters Behind The Characters
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Opening - Prologue
  • Alternate Opening - Silent Sparrow
  • Yokai's Crew
  • "Every Great Super Hero Origin Story Starts With A Grappling Hook"
  • Big Hero 6 Theatrical Teaser
  • Mickey Short "Tokyo Go"

Kashfia Kabir
Hi-Fi and Audio Editor

Kashfia is the Hi-Fi and Audio Editor of What Hi-Fi? and first joined the brand over 10 years ago. During her time in the consumer tech industry, she has reviewed hundreds of products (including speakers, amplifiers and headphones), been to countless trade shows across the world and fallen in love with hi-fi kit much bigger than her. In her spare time, Kash can be found tending to an ever-growing houseplant collection and shooing her cat Jolene away from spinning records.