Walt Disney Animation is kind of in a state of bipolar right now. It seems to be unsure if it wants to do the fairy-tale stories of old, or if it wants to do the much more wider appeal creative films. We had Bolt back in 2008, which was a classic in animation, that blurred the line between Pixar and Disney to nearly unrecognizable. Then we had The Princess and the Frog, which I admittedly still haven't seen yet. Then we had Tangled, which was not without flaws but better than I expected. Then we had the extremely clever Wreck-It Ralph, followed by Frozen, which was a fairy tale updated and butchered to fit today's societal standards, which left me weeping... for humanity.
And now we have Big Hero 6, which oddly enough, actually originated from Marvel comics--much like Guardians of the Galaxy, they're a group pretty much no one had heard of until their movies came out.
Taking place in a fictional blend between Tokyo and San Francisco called San Fransokyo, the story focuses on a robotics nerd named Hiro Hamada who creates a group of microbots, which are near invincible and can take any shape. When they end up in the wrong hands by accident, he uses his older brother's creation named Baymax--who is a friendly medical assistant robot--and also gets some help from his brother's also-nerd friends to get the guy who has the microbots taken down.
Big Hero 6 was arguably some of the most fun I've had watching a movie in quite some time. Hiro plays the role of a somewhat mentally damaged character after tragedy strikes him, which is where Baymax comes in. Baymax steals the show. His lack of knowledge of human expressions results in some awkward or funny moments. Most memorable is when Hiro teaches him the fist bump--with hilarious results. And oddly enough, Hiro's buddies in his group are often very entertaining themselves.
There is a lot of emotional depth in this film as well as humor, much in the vein of Bolt. The main character is dealing with grief, and Baymax spends much of the film trying to help him snap out of it. There is one particular scene in which we see memories of the deceased person (whom I won't give away), which is deceptively simple but still packs a heck of a lot of punch.
Big Hero 6 is an excellent success for Disney and animation. In some ways, some people might see some similarities to The Incredibles, but this is a whole different deal entirely. It's a very good film on its own, and is a good stand-in for a Pixar-less 2014. It's not hard to see why this was considered the best animated feature of 2014.