Big Hero 6 Review: Superheroes Return to Animation

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Big Hero 6 represents what many fanboys feared would become of the bigger Marvel superheroes when Disney bought out the company several years ago. The “disnification” of such beloved heroes is a warranted concern, but when it’s a rag-tag group of quirky, C-list heroes, it is actually a lot of fun.

Never shying away from its superheroic roots or the type of material we have come to expect from Disney Animation, Big Hero 6 is a blend that won’t anger fans and give parents a more family-friendly superhero movie to take their kids too. Granted, that’s an odd thing to say, given that superheroes originated as children’s idols. But as the fans aged, we started to see things like Superman and General Zod decimating an entire city only for the hero to straight up murder the villain in Man of Steel.

There’s none of that here, though this little animated film has no problem dealing with some dark material. Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) is a 14-year old genius following the footsteps of his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney). He wants to get accepted into his brother’s university, where the students build robots and hyper futuristic bicycles. To impress Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell) with hopes of getting accepted, Hiro develops nanorobot technology that can be controlled with his mind. But after he gets a chance to show it off, the professor and his brother are killed in an explosion. In line with most superheroes, this tragic incident causes his to suit up his brother’s robot Baymax (Scott Adsit), as well as his classmates, and start fighting crime.

Some members of the team get the short end of the stick character development wise, but Hiro lends the movie its heart, while Baymax lends it its humor. But while Big Hero 6 has a solid story and a few great characters, especially its villain, it doesn’t do enough to try and be different from its live-action counterparts. The animation, which is stunning by the way, isn’t enough to make a fairly formulaic narrative feel fresh again.

What we’re left with is a routine origin story. But this narrative arc still works despite being unoriginal. That’s how so many different superheroes have made it to the big screen, with their sequels giving the writers for freedom to do something different. That’s my hope for Big Hero 6, a bigger and better sequel that makes good use of the solidly laid groundwork done here. That film could be The Dark Knight for kids. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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