Big Hero 6Title: Big Hero 6 (2014)
Directors: Don Hall and Chris Williams
Runtime: 108 minutes

Welcome to San Fransokyo, an obvious homage to San Francisco and Tokyo. Seeing the hills and the Golden Gate Bridge, animated as they exist in the real world San Francisco, but with a Japanese flair. From the buildings to the neon lights, it’s a perfect meld that gets you in the mood for the mix you’re about to experience with Big Hero 6.

Hiro is a fourteen-year-old prodigy who loves to battle robots. His brother is a student at a local school and has created a big, white, medical robot, Baymax, who can scan for ailments, and whose sole purpose is to heal. Hiro meets his brother’s fellow academic counterparts; they’re all a little quirky, and remind me of the Scooby-Doo gang, which is a great thing. Eventually Baymax ends up in the care of Hiro, who finds out that someone is up to some evil deeds in the area.

Big Hero 6 is as full of emotion as it is action. The first part of the film builds these characters into not only likable, but also realistic people with actual personalities. If I said I didn’t cry at least once, I’d be lying. Big Hero 6 is full of heart, and a few scenes, while a bit cliché, remind me of not just Wall-e, but also of How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Baymax is the true star of the film. He’s a simple “minded” robot, with his only ability being to analyze, and try to heal those who are hurt. However, there are always kinks to work out when you’re building a robot. He finds that the only way to heal the pain that Hiro has inside of him is to help him hunt down this mysterious man in a Kabuki mask. It’s this simple-minded nature that makes him instantly loveable, and he remains this way for three-quarters of the film before he gets his superhero armor, as seen in the previews.

Thankfully, the entire vocal cast, most of whom I have never heard of, outside of Maya Rudolph, does a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life. Damon Wayans Jr. plays Wasabi, the serious guy of the group, and I loved him. Fred, on the other hand – voiced by T.J. Miller of Transformers: Age of Extinction – does a great job of being the kooky guy who wants to become a monster. I was surprised this was the same guy who dragged down Transformers: Age of Extinction with his Jar Jar Binks existence.

While visually stunning and full of heart, a lot of credit has to go to directors Don Hall, who also directed the remake of Winnie the Pooh from a few years ago, and Chris Williams, who gave us Bolt, which was the swift kick that Disney Animation needed to bring itself out of the gutter after a few stinkers. Both also have a history for writing a few other Disney films like Mulan and Princess and the Frog, and I cannot wait to see what they do next.

It wouldn’t be fair to review Big Hero 6 without mentioning the short that opens the film in theatres. Feast opens with a starving stray dog on the street. A lonely guy picks up the dog, and they enjoy the single-life together. With a runtime of just five-minutes, the short will make you laugh and cry. It takes you through some of life’s ups and downs, all from a dog’s point of view. I enjoyed it immensely, and will say that it was as good as Paperman (which proceeded Wreck-It Ralph), if not better.

While Big Hero 6 didn’t leave me gasping for air, and it isn’t the next Hollywood masterpiece, it did leave a smile plastered across my face for the entire runtime. That’s why I go to see films: to be entertained, and Big Hero 6 delivers everything I expected, and more, from an animated film. The film does have a few flaws, mainly its clichés, but the heartfelt moments hit the mark every time, and that more than makes up for the little flaws. Big Hero 6 is easily the best animated feature film released in 2014 so far. Fortunately for it, there isn’t a lot of competition yet to be released this year, so the chances of it being outdone are slim to none.