The filmmakers can't keep the strands of their clumsy plot straight, but they create brilliant images and manipulate them with blithe abandon.
An enjoyably trippy Japanese animated feature from director Mamoru Hosoda, Summer Wars combines real-world drama (school crushes, testy relatives) with virtual-world dramatics.
| Original Score: 3/4
The relationship between Kenji and Natsuki unfolds as blandly as a Debra Messing rom-com.
| Original Score: 2/4
It's a sugar rush of candy-colored images, a beautifully drawn tale of family tradition and a bracing brain tonic about the Internet's charms and vulnerabilities.
A sophisticated yet poignant family entertainment with an appeal beyond Japanese animation buffs.
| Original Score: 4/5
A free-flowing amalgam of cyberthriller and high school romcom.
Fanciful and beautifully drawn but leaning a bit too much on clichés and coincidences...
It's no coincidence that the Second Life-style virtual universe thrown into turmoil in Summer Wars goes by the name of Oz. This spectacular anime entry from Mamoru Hosoda echoes that 1939 classic.
Running almost two hours, its increasingly convoluted narrative may be too difficult to follow for younger viewers. But its thematic ambition and dazzling visual style ultimately make it one of the more rewarding anime efforts to reach these shores.
The story unfolds in unconvincing fashion, and the sci-fi elements seem silly rather than suspenseful.
It's hard to appreciate things like the character detail amid the insufferably squealy voicing and arbitrary suspense.
There's a lovely, unhurried quality to Mr. Hosoda's storytelling, which nicely matches the clean, classically composed images of his outer story.
Hosoda adds enough dimensions to his characters and kinetic battles that the serene real world seems like a dream state.
Celebrates togetherness and bravery as much as binary-mathematics expertise.