Friday, April 1, 2011

Summer Wars Review

Think back to the first movie that made you sit on the edge of your seat. That moment in any great film when the situation suddenly turns dire and the actions of the individuals involved determine the outcome that is to take place in the next few nail-biting minutes. Next, think back to the first movie that presented you with your first taste of "eye-candy". A film with amazing art design and an overwhelming since of creativity. Then, think of the first movie that made you cry. It could have been a movie rich in emotional turmoil from a devastating scenario or the moment of true honor and human spirit displayed as the character finally stands up to face the threat head on. Now, Imagine all of those elements in one movie in which each of those elements are expressed multiple times with, dare I say, perfection. That is Summer Wars in a nutshell.

I can remember when I first saw the trailer for Summer Wars. It starts off with Kenji Koiso, a math wiz who works as tech maintenance for the social-business program known as Oz, The online service used by everyone for games,work, and government procedures. One day  Natsuki Shinohara , a popular school girl and friend of Kenji, rushes to him asking if he'd like to work a job for her helping at her grandmothers birthday celebration. Without question he accepts the offer. But when he gets there, Natsuki throws a curve-ball by introducing Kenji as her fiancĂ©. So as the trailer started I was hooked but only so much. I though to myself "oh, so this will be a pretty good comedy, romance type of film. I can get into that." But then the trailer brought up another scenario that peaked my interest even more. As Kenji is visiting, a program that goes by the name Love Machine has hacked into OZ despite having a highly complex security encryption code. All the computer screens suddenly display the world clocks and change them to a count-down clock starting at 2 hours. Then a character utters the phrase "What happens at Zero?". I knew then that this was a movie I had to see.

Now that you have the "basic plot" presented to you, let me share with you what I got out watching this movie. Hard as it is for me to believe, I was pleasantly surprised by a film I already thought I was going to like. You see, the movie's director had made a previous film called The Girl Who Lept through Time. It was a nice film with great artwork and a decent plot. It wasn't the greatest thing ever but I enjoyed it none the less. Summer Wars  blew that movie away.

I think this movie has the three points in film making that are crucial to a good movie; Character, Spirit, and Heart. Character,as the word implies, is expressed from the cast of individuals in the film. Every thing is important from the way they talk, the way they act, and the way they re-act to what happens around them. What made the most impact for me from these characters is every individual adds at least a small piece to the overall story arch. And I can't really say any moment or scene is wasted with any of these characters. I ,as a viewer, grew into each one and felt as if I was included in this story so much that I shared every emotion each person displayed. The Spirit of this film comes from the inspirational spirit that the characters in this film displayed at each conflict that was presented. When the communications of OZ were suffering at the hands of Love Machince, Natsuki's grandmother got on the phone with several of her family members and friends working in the rescue efforts and sent a wave of motivation helping them to make it through the struggle. And when one character, who seemed to have nothing but bitterness and hatred to everyone else, got world of tragic news he displayed complete shock and emotional impact that showed as his  true nature was revealed.  The last and most important part of this film was the Heart. The movie has several emotions running through it; Sadness, Despair, Hope, Cheerfulness, Excitement, and Pride. And with good characters with tremendous spirit, you tend to feel each emotion that they feel. And boy did I do that. I cried several times and I cheered in victory just as much. That's how much I grew to care for the characters in this film.


The last thing I wanted to point out was the "icing on the cake", the visuals. The Girl Who Lept Through Time was a wonderfully drawn movie and Summer Wars is just as much as a masterpiece. But what sets this movie apart is that it consist of another designed world, the visual representation of Oz. The characters, when interacting with Oz, are shown as their Avatars. Each one is uniquely designed and beautifully vivid as is the world of OZ itself.  And when the characters must battle the threat of Love Machine, it is represented just as so in the world of OZ; A dynamic battle of epic proportions that make your heart skip a beat.

Avatars of Oz

And that's all I can say about this film without giving too much away. I'm not sure what my favorite anime was before but I can say for sure that Summer Wars is now my pick for the best anime movie I've ever seen. I'm hard pressed NOT to call this the greatest movie I've ever seen all of film itself. Maybe that's a little eccentric to say but that's how I feel. So if you see this movie on the self of your local store, I suggest you buy it no matter what the price is. Whatever you pay for it, it will be worth every cent.