It was either this or the latest Hobbit flick (will they ever end?).
Given that I have not had a clue about what’s going on after ten minutes of any instalment of the Tolkien marathon, it was a no-brainer.
Knowing that this animation was based on a Marvel comic meant that I didn’t exactly approach the cinema with a spring in my step, but sometimes you should leave your preconceptions at home.
Circumstances count for a lot, so after the horror of Martin Place, Peshawar and Cairns, this dose of Disney sweetness and light turned out to be a lovely way to end the year.
Set in the brilliantly conceived San Fransokyo, Tadashi and Hiro are nerdy brothers who are into robotics. After Hiro loses his older sibling – death and grieving are not what you normally expect from Disney, but it’s handled with great sensitivity – Hiro is taken under the wing of the loveable robot Baymax, a healer rather than a warrior, who looks like a puffy white version of the Michelin tyre-man.
When the nasties come, as they always do, Hiro and his teenaged gang of Fred, Go Go, Wasabi and Honey Lemon – an admirable mix of race and gender – combine their high-tech skills to save the day.
Cartoons are sometimes burdened by the voicings of famous actors. You can become detached through your identification of them, but in this case the lines are spoken by a cast of no-names, resulting in freshness and intimacy.
As for the moving images, it really is extraordinary how the animation studios can imbue their creations with such life, even a big white blob like Baymax, who manages to talk but has no mouth – and the tortoiseshell cat is great, too.
With an upbeat soundtrack, dialogue that is smart but not smart-arsed and a hopeful morality, this is one you should not let the kids have on their own.
~ John Campbell