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Big Hero 6 is a charming and visually stunning animation that succeeds as a strong adventure film with great characters and a strong emotional core. The combination of Disney Animation and Marvel Studios is a successful one, combining the epic storytelling and memorable characters of a Marvel film with Disney’s creative storylines and message.

Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams do an excellent job at utilizing the benefits of animation to their advantage. While many animated features attempting to be more “serious” or “action packed” come off as just trying to be live-action, Big Hero 6 flourishes in the many visually stunning sequences that are exclusively effective in an animated feature. The animation is vibrant and beautiful, creating a lush and complex environment that never undermines that elements of the story. The character animation is also some of the best in recent memory; characters’ facial expressions and body language are improved, giving them a more three-dimensional personality and enhancing the audience’s connection and engagement with the story.

The story is also a massive improvement over Disney’s other animated project. Elements of the plot go in generally unexpected directions, and there is no fear to deal with heavier emotional beats. However, the emotional aspects are surprisingly genuine and lack any melodrama that is common in many animated features (Frozen). The emotion is part of what makes Big Hero 6 so great; as illustrated in many other Marvel movies, the exciting adventure only works if the audience is willing to get invested in the characters, and Big Hero 6 succeeds with that big time.

Another fine quality that the film borrows from the Marvel Universe is its great characters. Hiro (Ryan Potter) and Tadashi (Daniel Henney) have a fascinating relationship that sets the plot in motion, as well as introducing the emotional character arcs that the film focuses on. The other voice actors, including Scott Adsit, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr, and Genisis Rodriguez are also strong, giving the film’s titular “Big Hero 6” a diverse group of characters. The biggest complement that any film’s characters can receive is that the characters have a quality that suggests a life both before and after the events that the film portrays, and Big Hero 6 does that excellently.

One of the best parts of the film is that it is a legitimate “family film”. The term of “family film” is often loosely thrown around at any film reaching a younger demographic, but it is certainly not the same as a “children’s film”. A “family film” takes on a quality that attracts viewers young and old, providing a storyline that anyone can feel connected to. It’s a quality that Big Hero 6 maintains throughout, and gives it an adventurous and exciting quality found in such films as Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark. This quality of a timeless adventure is very strong within the film, and is an important aspect as to why it succeeds.

Overall, Big Hero 6 is one of the best animated films in years, providing a brilliant adventure and memorable characters with real emotion and depth. It’s exciting to see that great animated films like this still exist, and even more so to welcome Big Hero 6 to the pantheon. Grade: +B