Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Movie Review: Hal

I was pleased to hear a few months back that Funimation had picked up the recent anime film Hal and I was sad they didn't have a weekend where you could watch it for free like they've done in the past with other films. But they were screening it at Otakon and since it was for only an hour Saturday morning how could I say no?


When her boyfriend Hal dies Kurumi is devastated and can barely function and her reaction, while understandable, worried her relatives a great deal. So they tried something new, her grandfather's robot was altered to look and sound just like Hal and to try and bring her back out of her shell, not to trick her into still thinking he was alive but to show that life was still worth living even when important parts of it are gone.

One thing I did hear about this movie, even as I tried to avoid spoilers, was that it had a twist in the ending and that was a dumb twist. So naturally I started thinking "right, what would be the most obvious dumb twist?" and I more or less nailed it. Or rather, I figured out half the twist, it kept going and the second part was even more dumb and what I really took offense too. While the first reveal could have worked, there were enough hints that something was odd that I think the viewer wasn't supposed to be caught completely off guard, that second part involved a pet peeve of mine which was lying to the camera. It's one thing when you have a character, say a double agent, and they act differently in front of some characters rather than others, that's just logical. However, if a character continues to act differently when no one else but the camera is around then I get grumpy since it implies that the character is still acting for someone, the audience, and that gets too close to breaking the fourth wall to me or that the director wanted a reveal to be that much more out of the blue which I think is cheating if you have to change a character's actions to do it. 

Other than that, the story could have been a really nice little tale of loss and overcoming it but that dumb ending is just making me grumpy about the entire story and that leaves me with even less to talk about than you'd expect out of an hour long movie. The movie was a tad too colorful and shiny for my part, even though I do prefer a story that embraces color to one that is more low key I felt like they needed to wipe off all the extra shiny objects, and the character designs were also a bit too rounded for me, hopefully people can see what I meant there from the poster. Otakon played the dub version of the movie and frankly I didn't like the dub that well, the characters felt too flat and a bit raspy which just didn't sit well with me, they also sounded a lot older than the late teens they were supposed to be and I wish I had a chance to see the sub instead (although I lean much more towards subs than dubs these days in general). So overall I was disappointed, there was plenty of potential but apparently not enough of an editorial influence to go "no, bad, stop that, everyone is going to hate this ending" since I don't think I've heard of a single person yet who really enjoyed it.