Having dominated the blockbuster season and taken up residence in television primetime, since, you would think superheroes could at least leave us alone for the holidays.

But no, here's another product of the Disney-fication of Marvel, an animated adaptation from an obscure comic book title that has little to do with the rest of the Marvel universe.

And you know what? It's terrific. It may be a Marvel in design but it's deeply Disney at heart. It's also an American valentine to Japanese pop culture via its Japanese-American lead characters and its imaginary East-West setting of "San Fransokyo", and in its celebration of all things nerd-ish, it feels like it's tapping into the geek spirit of the Maker Movement (taking them to this may alleviate disappointment in those kids who didn't find a 3D printer under the tree).

It's just as much a robot movie as a superhero movie and how it uses robotics is a whole lot more fresh and fun than much of the superhero stuff it defaults to.

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Especially as its star robot is Baymax, a big softie designed and programmed as a caregiver by Tadashi, the older brother to 14-year-old Hiro.

Both orphaned siblings are super-smart. Tadashi worries, though, that Hiro would rather use his engineering talents in bot-battles rather than heading to college, having already graduated high school at an early age.

But just as young Hiro finds his focus on a project about nanobots - swarms of miniature robots he can control telepathically - a tragedy means Hiro is left alone but for his caring Aunt Cassie and big, clumsy, cuddly Baymax whom Tadashi has programmed to take care of his younger brother.

When Hiro finds out his nanobots are now under the control of someone evil, he figures the only way to fight back is to turn Baymax from lovable blimp to fighting machine, which rather goes against his programming and his bouncy castle physique.

He eventually gets from help from Tadashi's college mates, each gifted in their own super-nerdy way - except, that is, for slacker Fred, who initially seems to be a long-lost missing member of the Scooby Doo gang. But even he has surprises in store.

So team Big Hero 6 is born and much of the second half is spent flying, villain-chasing and doing entertaining, if predictable, superhero movie things.

But through all the colourfully animated fireworks, the film manages to stay emotionally grounded in Hiro's sadness. It's hilarious, too, mostly care of Baymax's oversized presence and his hard-wired sweet nature.

True, it may not hit the same spots as Pixar's Wall-E or The Incredibles - it has plenty in common with both - but Big Hero 6 is still a boy's own wonder.

And Baymax is the best movie robot in years.

Verdict: The cuddliest superhero movie, ever.


Voices:

Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney,


Directors:

Don Hall, Chris Williams


Rating:

PG (low-level violence)


Running time:

108 mins

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