There is little doubt that Disney's recent efforts have garnered more commercial and artistic merits than their counterparts from the latter part of the century's first decade. Big Hero 6 has (as of 23rd February 2015) reaped in over $540 million in the box office as well as a fully deserved Oscar for Best Animated Film at the 87th Academy Awards. Only the $1.27 billion made by the 2013's Frozen (which also won Best Animated Film) overshadowed the latest effort from the Walt Disney Animation Studio. Such accolades have lead critics to hail a 'Golden Era' of the Mouse House's film branch. There is little doubt that the ghosts of the decline that the company suffered early in the new millennium have been banished and the financial failures such as The Emperor's New Groove and Atlantis: The Lost Empire (with combined box office returns of $355 million) truly forgotten.
The reasons why Disney have regained Hollywood's animated crown are complex, but a new artistic direction (largely influenced by John Lasseter and Pixar) and better writing are both crucially important. In particular, the studio's recent films have seen Disney drop the 'good versus evil' and romantic stereotypes that had become synonymous with their more mundane feature films and replaced with more relatable situations. For example, Ralph (the protagonist from 2012's Wreck-It-Ralph) begins the film as a villain; Frozen's love story and the villainy of Prince Hans are essentially subplots to the making, breaking and rediscovery of sisterly love whilst Big Hero 6 features the journey of Hiro, his attempts to move on from bereavement and a villain whose motives the audience can sympathise with.
It is the flexible narrative of the Disney's newer works that is truly astounding, particularly in their latest effort. As well as documenting Hiro's rediscovery of himself and his coming to terms with loss, Big Hero 6 provides memorable humour and exhilarating action as well as the emotion which one would expect given the film's synopsis. The friendships forged between Hiro and the other members of the Big Hero 6 make for an interesting watch, as so often in life very different people pull together in the face of adversity or to provide support to a loved one. It was the however, relationship between the protagonist and his personal healthcare companion that provide the real emotion within the film; the robotic nurse being a lasting reminder of what was. The regular humour is not as one-dimensional as some would assume either. Whilst Baymax stands out as the most quotable character (particularly when suffering from low battery), Fred and Aunt Cass both provide comic relief throughout.
The quality of the animation is astounding. San Fransokyo is a stunningly attractive city. Were it real, I'd book a holiday there myself (if my boss would give me the time off...he wouldn't). Even in the action scenes, the meticulous attention to detail is notable. Right down to the wear and tear on Baymax's armour, it is evident that no stone has been left unturned in providing a great spectacle. Even the most ardent of modern animation opponents would have to concede that Big Hero 6 looks great. Its also perfectly supported by a Henry Jackman soundtrack that encompasses San Fransokyo's oriental vibes whilst staying traditional enough to stop the viewing craving prawn crackers mid-film. The only slight disappointment is the choice of Fall Out Boy to provide the official song for the film, Immortals. I'm not opposed to Fall Out Boy particularly, but feel that the song is relatively weak and that an orchestral piece would have suited the training montage scene far more fittingly.
Big Hero 6 is a fun film for all the family. Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams have paced the film well, ensuring that children will not lose attention, but providing enough time to develop key characters. The combination of fun, action and humour reminds me of Disney films long gone and filled me with a sense of nostalgia. Heres hoping that the new Golden Age of Disney will continue, I for one am certainly enjoying their recent revival. Were Baymax to ask me (post-film) if I was satisfied with my treatment, I'd have to say that I am.