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‘Summer Wars’ Movie Review

Posted by uhhhyeahhh on March 7th, 2011
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summerwars_poster.jpg“Summer Wars” is a science fiction romance directed by Mamoru Hosoda and written by Satoko Okudera. The film originally came out in 2009 (Japan) and was produced by Madhouse but has since been released by Warner Bros Pictures. The film stars the voice talents of Ryunosuke Kamiki, Nanami Sakuraba, Mitsuki Tanimura and Sumiko Fuji.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about “Summer Wars” when I was asked if I wanted to review it, but after I was shown the trailer I immediately jumped at the chance. Needless to say, it was right up my alley and from a glance it reminded me of the “Digimon” movie mixed with a bit of the Korean drama “Full House.”

Without giving away too much, the movie centers around Kenjo Kosio, a shy eleventh-grade math whiz who’s been accused of hacking a virtual world name OZ by releasing a virus into the system. With an unexpected ally, he must find a way to prevent the virtual world from colliding and destroying the real world. The ramifications are unfathomable as the OZ corporation pretty much controls everything in their world. Think Google, Walmart and ExxonMobil. Now imagine all of them combined who also govern emergency services and just about everything electronic from banking, Internet to cellular services.

SW_screen_03.jpgThere’s also a romantic subplot to “Summer Wars” revolving around Kenjo. In a lot of ways Kenjo is your typical high school boy who happens to be the lowest rank employee for OZ and is always getting himself into precarious situations. One situations involves blindly agreeing to help Natsuki Shinohara, the most beautiful and popular girl in high school. Let’s just say, he had no idea what he was getting himself into, because before anyone knows it Kenjo is being presented by Natsuki as his fiance at her great Grandmother’s 90th birthday party. Being a math nerd, Kenjo has never even dated before and naturally hilarity ensues as this was one of the more humorous scenes in the movie that was really a lot of fun to watch unfold.

The animation for “Summer Wars” was terrific. Part of it due to its attention to animating the finer details. As someone who pays attention to the small things, I really enjoyed how clothing and hair moved naturally with every head turn or movement. Other examples include when Kenjo was on the train and the handles on the ceilings all moved as if they would on a real train. Pretty much any scene with Natsuki and her large family, or when the kids were on the bus and they moved along with every turn while playing their Gameboy DS in another scene.

The kids were very cute and extremely well animated despite technically being just the background.

A lot of the small details are easy to miss, so I recommend paying close attention and watching it over again in order to not miss out on the hidden animated gems.

SW_poster_02.jpgWith that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I had watched it with my sister and there were several laugh out loud moments for both of us. And because Natsuki has such a big family (they all came to celebrate the great grand mother’s birthday), we had a chance to get to know many characters and all their very different personalities. I love how quirky Natsuki is and how shy and polite Kenji is (quite the combo). I especially love Natsuki’s great grandmother. One of Natsuki’s family members described the great grandmother as a warrior to Kenji before he met her. And that is really the best way to describe her. But what I love most about this movie is its underlining theme of what it means to be a family. That despite differences, a family should be supportive one of another. I found it all to be very touching to see such unity in a family and how everyone was able to work together trying to bring down the virus.

In term of DVD bonus, “Summer Wars” came with several limited first edition only character cards. They must have impressed me because not even knowing who they were when I first opened the disc, I blurted out to my sister that I wanted to cosplay as one of the female character. The movie can be watched in its original Japanese language with subtitles or dubbed in English. I had done this review watching it with subtitles, but I will say that the English dub is more than adequate. It’s just a personal preference, but I prefer watching foreign films in their original presentation. As for extras, the DVD comes with an interesting behind-the-scenes feature that involves commentary from the U.S. cast and a bunch of interviews with the Japanese voiceover actors and director.

Overall, I really enjoyed “Summer wars” which had me sitting at the edge of my seat all the way up until the end. It’s not a film I’d watch over and over again, but it’s definitely worth watching once and I doubt anyone would really be disappointed by it.

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