'Big Hero 6': Not Just Another Superhero Movie

Love and loss, jokes and adventure — and an unforgettable robot named Baymax

John Kubalak

Published on: November 11, 2014

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6
Rated PG
102 minutes

Superhero movies are everywhere these days. For a geek like me, these are the salad days when my favorite comic books from childhood are coming to life in fun and interesting ways. Of course, not everyone shares this view. Those in the opposite camp may look at the latest superhero release, Big Hero 6, as just another costumed melodrama to throw on the pile.

Not so fast.

Yes, Big Hero 6 is a superhero movie. Yes, it’s an animated confection from the folks who brought us Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen. But it’s also part of a renaissance for Disney Animation Studios engineered by John Lasseter and Ed Catmull from Pixar (the makers of Toy Story, Finding Nemo, etc.) that is bringing us films that emphasize character and meaningful story over simple animated novelty or the cynical business of Hollywood.

And because of that emphasis on character, I would argue that Big Hero 6 is a superhero movie worth watching. Not because it showcases the most awesome superpowers or the most spectacular city-destroying action, but because it actually has something to say about love, loss, dealing with grief, revenge and how the choices we make define our life — all mixed into a fast-paced, candy-colored, superhero story full of jokes and adventure.

The movie follows the story of young robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada as his brother tries to steer him into a productive scientific career that can help people. Through his brother he’s introduced to a charming cast of characters — diverse and engaging — who eventually join him as the members of Big Hero 6. Their aim? To battle the mysterious villain who has stolen Hiro’s invention. Along the way parallels are drawn between Hiro and the villain that lead to a compelling lesson about choosing to help instead of hurt.

The character that most embodies this spirit of helping is Baymax, the soon to be wildly popular plush toy, and moral center of the movie. Baymax, a robotic personal healthcare assistant, is featured heavily in the trailers for the movie and with good reason: His sweet and often hilarious character as well as his robotic devotion to caring for others prove impossible to resist.

Should you take your kids?

While Big Hero 6 movie has no shortage of explosive superhero action that contributes to its PG rating, the violence is remarkably mild. However, characters do die (off-screen) and the story deals with the aftermath and impact of that loss. For that reason, despite Baymax’s universal appeal, I would caution parents of children younger than 7 that parts of the movie may be too much for them.

But if your kids are ready, boys and girls both will enjoy the ride. Despite the lack of princesses and songs, my daughter and the other girls in the theater were just as enthusiastic, if not more so, than the boys.

See also:

15 superheroic movies starring powerful girl figures

Top 10 Hayao Miyazaki films

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