Thursday, February 17, 2011

Movie Review- Summer Wars

I first heard of Summer Wars when the 14 animated films were being submitted for consideration as nominees for the Academy Awards this year. The film is from Japan and being a big junkie for animated films and foreign films, I had to see what it was all about. When I went and saw the trailer, the crazy visuals reminded me of the 2007 Japanese animated film Paprika by Satoshi Kon, then I knew I had to see it. Here's the synopsis of the film.

The film is set in a world where all information is in this gigantic online digital space called OZ and just about every person in the world has an OZ account, which is integrated with all their personal and professional information. Each account member has their own unique Avatar which they can use to work, play games, and communicate with other users. A high school math geek named Kenji Koiso takes a summer job with his friend Natuski to go up to Nagano as her escort. Natuski is attending a large family reunion for her grandmother's 90th birthday and Kenji soon finds himself mixed up with her family's matters. While there, Kenji receives an email to solve a difficult equation which unleashes a viral cyberspace terrorist named Love Machine upon OZ. Love Machine begins hacking and taking over the accounts of several individuals in OZ and uses them to cause real world menace. Kenji and Natuski's family have to then work together and pull resources in order to stop Love Machine before innocent citizens get hurt.

Although it's a theme seen way too often, Summer Wars is really about people's dependency on technology. Nevertheless, it is still a very original movie. The movie also goes into how everyone's personal and professional data is all online and integrated into a single account, which is something I feel like I see happening more and more these days (cough cough Facebook). If our technology went haywire, everyone would go running around like chickens with their heads cut off. It has been said that one of the most likely ways humanity gets wiped out is by being taken over by AI. Like in the case of this movie, the AI named Love Machine gets into the accounts of several high ranking government peeps and aims the course of a satellite directly at many of the nuclear power plants around the globe. Our hero Kenji is really tested in his math whiz abilities in his attempts to keep up and beat Love Machine.

I love these imaginative, Japanese animated films because they always bring something new and different to the table. I really think many Japanese anime films are the inspiration to several modern directors. For example, I've always thought Christopher Nolan's film Inception may have gotten its idea from the Japanese film Paprika and Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan seemed to have been inspired by Perfect Blue. Too bad the Academy's are only having three nominations this year for Best Animated Film. I really think Summer Wars may have had a shot if they had five. The art style in Summer Wars for the parts in the digital world OZ looked uncannily similar to the Superflat art style created by modern superstar Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. Just take a look at the two clips below. Notice anything similar?

Well I can't seem to figure out if Takashi Murakami had any part in making Summer Wars, but it would be really cool if he did! One more master piece to add to his incredible growing range of art. Oh, by the way, I freaking loved the cute squirrel avatar that belonged to Kenji.

Final Score- 8/10

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