Big Hero 6Walt Disney Animation Studios’ latest animated blockbuster, Big Hero 6, arrives on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 24th. But for those that have gone digital, or for those who simply can’t wait to relive all of the awesomeness, the wait is over. Big Hero 6 is now available digitally from all major digital providers.

Big Hero 6 follows Hiro Himada, a boy genius who excels at robotics. When one of his creations falls into the wrong hands, he transforms his genius friends into a super hero team. Among them is an inflatable personal healthcare companion named Baymax. He’s not programmed for battle, but with a few upgrades Hiro makes him the most awesome member of the team. Now they must race to get Hiro’s macrobots back before all of San Fransokyo is destroyed!

Based on an obscure Marvel comic series, Big Hero 6 offers unforgettable characters, an imaginative setting, and amazing imagery. It’s packed full of comedic moments, but is also as funny as it is touching. Most viewers are surprised by how moving this film is. As a fan of superhero films I was pre-programmed to love this film, but I was surprised to find that I liked it even better than Pixar’s The Incredibles.

Thanks to Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA), purchasing the film from iTunes, Vudu or GooglePlay will unlock copies in all three. Plus, you will have the movie in your DMA account along with all of the bonus features. Connecting to DMA should also give you Disney Movie Rewards points for this purchase.

I purchased my copy through Vudu, which offers the film in a 3D/2D bundle with select bonus features for $34.99. The primary reason for this purchase is that Disney has no plans to release the film on 3D Blu-Ray in the United States. If you prefer to experience the film in all possible dimensions, your options are digital or importing from another country.

Video

Vudu 3D – 4.5/5: I was surprised how great the quality is on Vudu’s 3D stream. I used the Vudu app on a PS3 and was concerned that two 1080p streams (one for each eye) would bog down our internet and constantly need to buffer. I experienced no issues and nobody in the house complained of a lag in connection speed. With such incredible visuals, the 3D is very impressive and adds a lot of depth to the picture. There is also the option to download the film to your PS3. However, I don’t feel like this looked as good as it could have on 3D Blu-Ray.

Vudu 2D – 4.5/5: After seeing how great the film looks in Vudu 3D, it’s no surprise that the service is able to keep the 2D stream looking excellent as well. However, the stream quality can vary as you watch. It loses half a point for not being able to maintain the same quality the whole time.

iTunes – 5/5: I didn’t think it could look much better than on Vudu, but iTunes boasts brighter colors and sharper definition. iTunes also wins extra bonus points for allowing you to download the film and back it up on an external hard drive, ensuring that you never lose access to your digital copy. I tested it in full 1080p on an Apple TV and it looks marvelous, never once did the picture quality fluctuate. I know a lot of naysayers will claim that digital can never replicate the same video quality as Blu-Ray, but I can’t imagine the film looks that much better on a disc than it does on iTunes HD.

GooglePlay – 3.5/5: I don’t have ChromeCast, but you can watch GooglePlay through the PS3 YouTube app. The picture is in HD. While it looked better than a DVD, it surprisingly lacked detail compared to the Vudu and iTunes streams.

Disney Movies Anywhere – 2/5: DMA also only offers the film in standard definition. Using AirPlay from an iPad to an Apple TV, the image features lots of aliasing and fast motion reveals pixelation. However, this service is really designed to be used on laptops, tablets and phones. On a small screen, you can’t really see the HD details anyway, so it’s only disappointing on a larger screen.

Audio

Vudu – 4/5: Vudu offers the film in 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. However, the mix felt too quiet. I had to turn the volume on my receiver way higher than usual to have it at a reasonable volume. While Vudu supports 7.1, Disney didn’t release it that way digitally (the Blu-Ray disc will have a 7.1 mix, so this is puzzling).

iTunes – 4.5/5: iTunes also offers the film in 5.1 Dolby Digital and it sounds perfect. The mix uses the rear speakers often for score and sound effects and the audio levels were exactly what I expected them to be. My only complaint is I wish iTunes would support 7.1 (and that Disney would release this film digitally with that mix).

GooglePlay – 2/5: Google Play only offers the film in stereo sound. It lacks the punch of the surround sound mix and it’s confusing why they would offer the film in HD, but not in surround sound.

Disney Movies Anywhere – 2/5: DMA also offers the film in stereo sound, which is not surprising since it’s meant to be played on mobile devices.

Bonus Features

Disney has assembled an impressive array of bonus features for this release. Compared to the content that was available on home video releases of films like Frozen and Tangled, this feels like a deluxe edition. However, not all bonus features are available on all providers. GooglePlay doesn’t offer any and Vudu only offers an assortment. I have noted which services feature each feature below:

  • Feast (6 minutes) – This heartwarming short is about a dog whose love of food impacts his master’s quest for love. (DMA, iTunes)
  • The Origin Story of Big Hero 6: Hiro’s Journey (15 minutes) – A making-of feature that, while brief, is incredibly insightful. I learned lots while watching it and was happily surprised by the quality. (DMA, iTunes, Vudu)
  • Big Animator 6: The Characters Behind the Characters (6 minutes) – Another pleasant surprise, this round table discussion features the lead animators of the main cast discussing the inspiration for their characters. It’s a refreshing introduction to modern animators that have become faceless with the recent lack of behind the scenes features for Disney animated films. (DMA, iTunes, Vudu)
  • Alternate Opening – Prologue (4 minutes) – Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams introduce this storyboard from an earlier draft of the story where Hiro and Tadashi start college together. (DMA, iTunes, Vudu)
  • Alternate Opening – Silent Sparrow (5 minutes) – Another early draft opened with the failed teleportation experiment. (DMA, iTunes, Vudu)
  • Deleted Scene – Yokai’s Crew (3 minutes) – This deleted scene is from an earlier version when villain Yokai had a nefarious crew. (DMA, iTunes, Vudu)
  • Deleted Scene –  “Every Great Super Hero Origin Story Stars With a Grappling Hook” (1 minute) – This short deleted scene has Fred saving Hiro using a must-have tool for any hero. (DMA, iTunes, Vudu)
  • Theatrical Teaser (1 minute) – The adorable teaser trailer is preserved here since it features different animation than what’s in the final film. (DMA, iTunes, Vudu)

It is unknown why Feast is missing from Vudu’s bonus features, but it is available for sale independently for $2.99, so I suspect Wal Mart (Vudu’s parent company) hopes if you want it, you’ll buy it separately. It is not available in 3D as of the time of this writing.

There is one bonus feature that is exclusive to DMA called “Tokyo Go – A Mickey Mouse Cartoon” (3 minutes) which is one of the critically acclaimed TV shorts from the new Mickey Mouse series.

Final Thoughts

Big Hero 6 is an amazing film that proves that Walt Disney Animation Studios knows what they’re doing and is once again at the top of their game. It’s great to have so many options when making digital purchases and the connectivity through DMA adds value with an exclusive bonus feature in addition to linking to multiple providers. If you have a 3D TV, I recommend buying through Vudu. Otherwise, the iTunes version offers the best picture, best sound and the complete package of bonus features.