Big Hero 6 – Christian Movie Review
Within the last 12 hours, I have seen two films back-to-back — Interstellar and Big Hero 6 — that feature the main character flying into a wormhole in the space-time continuum. There were other uncanny coincidences between Interstellar and Big Hero 6 that I can’t mention without spoiling plots, but, wow, very weird. I’m tempted to write a conspiracy theory instead of a review.
As far as Big Hero 6 goes, it’s safe to say that Disney/Marvel has just launched their next lucrative franchise, this time drawing upon Japanese culture and breakthroughs in today’s robotic technology to create one of the most unique, likeable characters in Disney’s repertoire: Baymax.
As my wife pointed out, Big Hero 6 is basically a boy’s action hero version of Frozen. Just as Frozen focused on the relationship between two sisters, the heart of Big Hero 6 is the relationship between two brothers.
In a moment I’ll explain what makes the movie fantastic — including the sibling relationships element — but first here’s a look at the parental guidance content.
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Parental Guidance Issues at a Glance…
Sexual Content/Nudity: None.
Violence/Gore: A lot of cartoon superhero punching, breaking, and blowing up things. A character does actually die in this film, in a large explosion, but there is no gore or visuals of the death. Another character dies in a science experiment gone wrong.
Alcohol/Drug/Smoking Content: None.
Frightening/Intense/Emotionally Heavy Content: As noted above, people do actually die in this movie. Its intensity is closer to the scale of a live-action Marvel movie like Avengers, not a cutesie Pixar movie. Just keep that in mind: this movie is PG, not G; it is more intense than your average animated movie. Central to the film’s plot is the death of a loved one, so it does deal with some heavy emotional topics that might be a little much for really young kids. Then again, Frozen dealt with some heavy topics too. I’d say if your kids could handle the action intensity of Wreck It Ralph (i.e. the alien battle scenes) and the emotional heaviness of Frozen, they should be okay with this film.
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Entertainment Value and Film Craft
I absolutely loved this film for three reasons:
- Its atmospheric setting: The story takes place in what might be the most enjoyable, memorable, atmospheric setting in any Disney animated film: a city called San Francsokyo. The animators intentionally created a hybrid version of San Francisco and Tokyo — picture the Golden Gate Bridge with torii, traditional Japanese gates, holdings it famous red wires — and you begin to get the idea. It’s fantastic. I want to go see the film again just to luxuriate in that gorgeous, fascinating city that they created.
- Baymax: The plus-sized robot Baymax is one of the most likeable characters that Disney has ever put on a screen. The animators reportedly modeled the movement of Baymax after a toddler, a toddler with a full diaper, and a baby penguin. He’s awkward, deeply curious and sincere, nurturing, and totally fearless.
- The two brothers: The bond between the two brothers in the film, and the way that bond becomes central to the plot’s conflict and resolution, adds a memorable emotional power to the movie.
The plot construction is, however, the film’s weakest point. In a weird kind of way, Disney and Marvel have shot themselves in the foot in recent years by creating a long string of films with extremely imaginative, innovative plots (with a couple exceptions). Our expectations have been set very high.
The plot, particularly the primary conflict that drives the story, is predictable Saturday morning cartoon material. Parents will see everything coming, with maybe a few exceptions.
Kids won’t, and even if they do they won’t care (and parents probably won’t either) because everything else in the movie is done so superbly that when I walked out of the theater the first thing I said was, “Wow, that was a great movie!”
A Story of Two Brothers
The relationship between the two brothers, Hiro and Tadamashi, gives the film its most moving moments. The emotive animation and affecting voice acting really brought out the soul and humanity of the two characters. This allowed the dynamic of their sibling relationship, and the emotional power of it, to work as an engine that drove the story forward into something meaningful.
Worldview In the Film
I wouldn’t say this film burdens itself with any big questions about the meaning of life, the origin and purpose of humanity, or anything on that philosophical or religious scale. It deals more with on-the-ground questions like:
- How do we deal with grief?
- How do we handle the temptation of revenge when someone hurts us?
- What role do friends and family play in our emotional healing after traumatic events?
The film tackles some heavy material, but it doesn’t do it with an over-the-top tone or a heavy hand. There is more than enough hilarity and fun in this film to counter the seriousness.
Although the film is careful to avoid any specific religious or philosophical bents, its messages about revenge, forgiveness, and showing compassion to those who have wronged us shares much common ground with Christ’s command to love our enemies and bless them instead of curse them.
You really can’t go wrong with this movie. The utterly delightful character of Baymax is reason enough to see it. Although its intense PG action and heavy emotional content might be too much for younger children who haven’t left G-rated territory, Big Hero 6 is a great choice for a family outing to the theaters. It packs a powerful, affecting punch, and parents and children alike will find delightful things in its story and execution.
November is turning out to be a good month for Disney animated films. Frozen came out in November of last year. I’m predicting Big Hero 6 will be very successful — though not a cultural sensation like Frozen — but still a solid new profit machine for the Mouse.