Overview: A teenage robotics genius copes with tragic loss by gathering his friends and his personal healthcare companion, Baymax, to unmask and defeat a new super villain in town.  Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, rated PG, 102 minutes.

San Fransokyo:  Big Hero 6 takes place in a fictional city that functions as a mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo, and the result is a work of stunning animation.  The architecture, streets, and landmarks blend two cultures together to produce a vibrant combination of cultures and personalities, which speaks volumes not only to the setting of the film, but all the elements embedded within it.  The theme of diversity and cultural variety is evident everywhere, from the location to the band of misfits that make up our clan of young heroes.  This is admirable, given that this illustrated theme can make such an impact with its target audience, implying that age, size, or background can’t stop you from being exceptional.

This Is Our Origin Story:  Hiro Hamada gives his brother’s robotic healthcare creation Baymax a technological face lift to transform him into a lean, mean, crime-fighting machine.  He also recruits his brother’s classmates and friends to join him in the fight against the bad guy, forming his own Avengers-like team of superheroes, all with a unique skillset and ability.  The story of this group, their “powers,” and the obstacles they face isn’t anything innovative, groundbreaking or new to the genre.  It doesn’t push the world of superheroes in a new and exciting direction, but it doesn’t have to.  This is a fun, playful film that boasts its love for the good guys.  The only non-robotics geek in the group is Fred, a superfan of superheroes.  Fred makes us all remember why we love these kinds of movies so much, because it transports us all to somewhere exciting and extraordinary.  Fred’s eyes light up when he realizes he’s living a full blown superhero movie.  My eyes lit up, too. Big Hero 6 is a love letter to superhero fans everywhere with enough action and humor to light up the inner child in all of us.

I Am Satisfied With My Care: As is often the case with Disney movies, where this movie succeeds is in the matters of the heart.  Big Hero 6 deals with more mature themes:  love, loss, friendship, and growing up.  But it holds these themes with delicacy and tact rather than a heavy hand.  The relationship between Hiro and Baymax is sweet and genuine without becoming overly-sentimental, breaking up the tender moments with comic relief as Hiro tries to teach Baymax things like fist bumping, and Baymax continuously assesses Hiro’s progress through puberty as part of his overall health and well-being.  Their growing friendship is the heart and soul of the film, and even if it were the only good thing about the movie, it would still be worth watching.

Overall:  With its gorgeous, inventive animation, enthusiasm for the genre it celebrates, and the balanced sentimentality, Big Hero 6 is a contender for not only the best animated film, but one of the best superhero films of the year.

Grade: A