The superhero frenzy has fully infiltrated Disney animation, and “Big Hero 6” is the proof. Since most superhero movies are primarily animation anyway, it really wasn’t so far a leap.
You might recall that Disney purchased comic-book behemoth Marvel a few years back. The idea of “Big Hero 6” comes from an obscure corner of the Marvel catalog, and takes up the subject of kid geniuses transforming themselves into action heroes.
It begins with fun ideas and some surprisingly somber events. Fourteen-year-old brainiac Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) loses both his idolized big brother and a brilliant invention in the same tragic evening.
He inherits his brother’s robot, a peaceful, inflatable “health care consultant” called Baymax (Scott Adsit). This puffy creature is by far the movie’s most delightful creation, and co-directors Don Hall and Chris Williams take the time to establish Baymax’s careful, clumsy movements.
Everything looks set for a boy-and-his-robot tale. And I’d like to see that movie, but “Big Hero 6” actually has a different agenda, one that becomes clear when Hiro’s buddies from San Fransokyo Tech, a “nerd school,” band together to fight evil.
They’ll devise gizmos and outfits that will turn them into … well, maybe not superheroes, but energetic kids who have borderline-super powers. The characters are cutely conceived, and each one has a distinguishing trait and a good vocal performance. But they don’t quite fill up the screen.
Baymax is still around for all this, and he even gets his own armor, but he’s so much more fun than these other folks you might start to resent the movie for shifting our attention. Meanwhile, the film just gets louder and more frantic as it goes along.
Lessons about revenge and friendship are offered along the way, but they get a little overwhelmed by the wild sight of the villain riding a cascade of “minibots,” or a portal to a fourth dimension opening up and sucking an entire city block into its maw.
In other words, the climax is just as gigantic as ever in the superhero universe. And yeah, it works, I suppose — the designs are imaginative, and the cross-ethnic imaginary city of San Fransokyo is colorful. But considering that Disney is coming off the success of truly ingenious movies like “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” this one feels like a step off the beam.
“Big Hero 6” (21/2 stars)
Disney animation embraces the superhero frenzy. This one begins as a tale of a 14-year-old genius buddying up to his puffy, inflatable robot, but quickly becomes the saga of young geniuses inventing superpower capabilities for themselves. It works, but this one has more noise than magic.
Rating: PG, for violence
Showing: Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds Theater, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood Cinemas, Meridian, Sundance Cinemas Seattle, Thornton Place Stadium 14, Woodinville, Cascade Mall, Oak Harbor Plaza.