"Big Hero 6"
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Walt Disney Records
Having composed for more than a dozen features including "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Winnie the Pooh," Henry Jackman's filmography has thus far been dominated by two main types of movies: superheroes and animation. With "Big Hero 6," he finally has a chance to merge both styles, combining his heroic thematics from "X-Men: First Class" with the synthesized pluckiness he brought to "Wreck-It Ralph." As "Big Hero 6" begins with scenes of scientific invention, the album leans heavily on pop beats and electronics for the first half, giving the scenes a sense of bubbling, modern joyfulness. Accentuated by electric guitar riffs and trumpets, the track "Microbots" features whispy, fluttering synths creating an inspirational, yet winking, "anything is possible" vibe that seems pulled from a 1990's promotional video or 21st-century "Carousel of Progress." For a movie about modern teenagers, Jackson smartly imbues the score with video game sonic sensibilities, and entire sections — including "Huggable Detective" and "The Streets of San Fransokyo" — sound as if they'd be right at home backing a Mario Kart circuit.
As the film's heroes progress through their journey, Jackman steadily downplays the "discovery" electronics and increases the "emotional" orchestra's prominence. "First Flight" showcases a successful merger of both styles, resulting in a grand performance of the score's main theme that feels both exciting and satisfying. On the album, it's enjoyable, but when set to the visuals it's fantastic, accompanying hot air balloon-dodging and sunset-painted cloudscapes. By the time the album reaches "I Am Satisfied with My Care," the electronics have almost completely fallen away, leaving the film's climax to be led by strings, piano, and choir. The electro-orchestral-combination returns briefly in the finale track, "Reboot," but it really craves for an extended end credit suite. Or perhaps simply an inevitable sequel.
The album also includes Fall Out Boy's "Immortals," a shrug-worthy pop-rock song with a mildly-catchy chorus that's neither great nor offensive — nor coordinates with the score.