(VAGUE THEMATIC SPOILERS BELOW)
I am aware that some parents are unhappy that the latest Disney animation adventure, Big Hero 6, contains scenes of a potentially upsetting nature to wee members of the audience. After all, how dare Disney include scenes of actual death. How dare they have the audacity to greenlight a film that refuses to patronise children. How dare they include a subtext about coming to terms with grief. Children should be wrapped in cotton wool and protected from such harsh realities, shouldn’t they?
Well, anyone who knows me will know that I disagree with such mollycoddling in the strongest possible terms. Big Hero 6 is, above all, a film that will be cathartic and empowering for any child who has lost a loved one. The inflatable robot in the story, Baymax, has been designed as a healer, and our protagonist, child prodigy Hiro, has essentially inherited him. But during a colourful and highly imaginative adventure set in “San Fransokoyo”, a bond develops between Baymax and Hiro wherein Baymax’s healing goes beyond the physical. Oh, and along the way they team up with Hiro’s eccentric friends, become superheroes, and challenge a mysterious masked super-villain.
Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams ensure the animation is never less than stunning, and they often cleverly reference other animated classics, including The Iron Giant. The vocal performances are solid, and the screenplay (loosely based on a Marvel comic series) provides a fine balance between laughter, tears and action set pieces. The film is hardly ground breaking, but it is a consistently entertaining and ultimately very satisfying superhero tale.
On a moral/spiritual level, this has the usual life lessons about not wasting one’s talents, the futility of revenge, the acquisition of moral courage, sacrifice, and above all, the afore-mentioned themes of grief and learning to live with loss. If that makes this sound very heavy and tough, believe me it isn’t. Besides, Disney has been doing this kind of thing for decades, ever since Bambi in fact. So those parents who think this kind of thing has no place in a Disney movie are quite simply wrong.
All in all, Big Hero 6 is a fine treat for all the family. One last thing – don’t arrive late and miss the delightful supporting cartoon short Feast.