Big Hero 6 – A Review

Big hero six

Well, it wasn’t Frozen, but Big Hero 6 was a cute little movie.

For the last few years, I’ve been going to the movies Thanksgiving morning. It’s a good time to see children’s movies without the actual kids in the audience; there’s not much of an audience period. Most people don’t even realize that the theaters are open on thanksgiving morning and I can sneak in a quick feature before I head out to celebrate with family. There isn’t much to do Thanksgiving morning anyway; I’m not a fan of watching the Macy’s parade and I don’t have any food to prep. My family is all local so there is no traveling. So when in doubt, go to the movies.

I had been looking forward to seeing Big Hero 6 since I first saw the trailer; I thought the white puffy antagonist Baymax was adorable and I have enjoyed the recent slate of Disney movies. Not only was the ubiquitous Frozen quite enjoyable, but I really loved Wreck-It Ralph. While I generally hover on the dark and complicated end of the film spectrum, I do have a soft spot in my ice cold heart for the occasional animated feature. I wouldn’t necessarily want a steady diet of them, but every once in a while I do enjoy a well done kid’s movie. Shocking, I know.

Big Hero 6 has a little bit of something for everyone; based on a Marvel property, the film has plenty of the super hero action and origin story that we’ve come to expect from the proliferation of films and TV shows focused on caped crusaders. However, there is enough other stuff going on in the film that if you are starting to suffer from superhero fatigue that won’t preclude you from getting into Big Hero 6. The film also deals with family relationships, grieving and science and technology. There are moments of humor as well as moments of sorrow; I will even admit to tearing up a bit during points of the movie. Plus you really can’t go wrong when this guy is the star of your film:

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I honestly didn’t know much about Big Hero 6 before I went to see it and was unaware that it was based on a Marvel comic book; nor did I realize that superheroes and the storytelling devices that come with them would play as prominent a role as they did. Big Hero 6 focuses on Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), a teen robotics genius who lives with his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) and Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph) in San Fransokyo. Hiro is a robotics genius, but isn’t applying himself; instead of doing anything productive with his gift, he participates in illegal robot fights. Trying to inspire his younger brother to use his talents in a better way, Tadashi brings Hiro to the robotics lab at his university and introduces him to Baymax (Scott Adsit), the home healthcare robot that Tadashi has created. When tragedy strikes and a supervillain emerges, Hiro employs Baymax to help him get revenge.

Because the film is based on a comic book, there was a lot more action in Big Hero 6 than I was anticipating. This didn’t, however, come at the expense of character development; I thought that the film did a really nice job of making everyone in the film three dimensional, even without the assistance from 3-D glasses. I thought that they did a particularly good job with Hiro and managed to capture all the angst of being a normal teenager compounded by tragedy. Because Hiro was a little bit older, the film can deal with some more complex feelings in a more nuanced way. It’s still an animated film, of course, but I continue to be impressed with the sophistication that has evolved in this genre since I was a kid.

Big Hero 6 was not as laugh out loud funny as a lot of other animated films, but there were still plenty of moments that tickled me. In particular, I found a running joke about fist bumps hilarious. I have no idea why that joke in particular continually cracked me up, but it did. A lot of the humor in Big Hero 6 is more situational than obvious jokes, but it provides a nice break from the narrative and the action. Big Hero 6 is a comedy, but it is at times a more subtle comedy.

What I like the most about Big Hero 6 was its heart; while the action is visually exciting, the film is inherently a very sweet movie. If you don’t find Baymax adorable and endearing, you might want to get you pulse checked. The evolving friendship between Baymax and Hiro and the support that Hiro receives from his friends is very touching. While the film does deal with death and loss, it addresses the subject in a way that I think is appropriate for children and reinforces the importance of loving and supporting a person that is grieving. This was one of the more in-depth ways that I’ve seen death and grieving handled in a children’s film; the movie isn’t a complete downer, but it does take the time to tackle the topic in a more realistic way. But if you have a sensitive child, you may want to be prepared to discuss the film after it’s over.

I quite enjoyed Big Hero 6; I haven’t seen a ton of animated films this year, but I was impressed with how well rounded this movie was and its ability to mix action, comedy and emotion into a satisfying story. Though this is a film that is obviously made for children, the adults that accompany them (or who go see it sans kids) will be entertained as well. The film left open the possibility of additional installments in this franchise, which I would welcome if they maintained the same quality. Big Hero 6 can’t quite reach the heights of Frozen, but there is room for more than one animated film to get some attention. It’s a sweet enjoyable film that will appeal to every member of the family.

Big Hero 6 is currently in wide release.

 

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