FANTASIA18 REVIEW: ペンギン・ハイウェイ [Pengin Haiwei] [Penguin Highway] [2018]

“I might be too amazing for my own good” Adapted from Tomihiko Morimi‘s Nihon Science Fiction Taisho Award-winning novel from 2010, Penguin Highway takes us into a world barely unlike our own. Directed by Hiroyasu Ishida from Makoto Ueda‘s script, the film centers upon a Japanese fourth grader on the cusp of self-proclaimed greatness. With […]

REVIEW: Teen Titans GO! To the Movies [2018]

“Crack an egg on it. Kah-KAW!” Picture this: a popular 1980s comic by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez called The New Teen Titans puts a bunch of sidekicks together to fight one of their rank’s evil father. After a sixteen-year run come new titles to continue the legacy in print with differing line-ups before Cartoon […]

REVIEW: #TheLateBatsby [2018]

“Time is of the essence” Get those kids into the theater and sell some toys. That’s what the executives at Warner Bros. and DC Comics seem to have instilled as their mantra of late. And you can’t blame them. After their dark cinematic universe failed to do numbers on the big screen and its CW […]

FANTASIA18 REVIEW: 打ち上げ花火、下から見るか? 横から見るか? [Uchiage hanabi, shita kara miru ka? Yoko kara miru ka?] [Fireworks] [2017]

“If …” In a nation of repressed emotions, three young teens find themselves confronting their feelings at what might be their last opportunity to do so. Shy Norimichi (Masaki Suda) can’t stop himself from starring at Nazuna (Suzu Hirose) while his more confident best friend Yûsuke (Mamoru Miyano) admits to wanting to declare his love […]

REVIEW: Incredibles 2 [2018]

“Help me make supers legal again!” Fourteen years is a long time to wait for a sequel—especially from a studio that embraced the concept of creatively expanding properties with them early on in its tenure. Letting a decade-plus pass guarantees your initial audience has grown out of the target demographic and therefore presumes their interest […]

REVIEW: Bao [2018]

Watching the first half of Domee Shi‘s Bao with a quizzical expression is par for the course. How could you not react that way with this story of a Chinese-Canadian woman who begins to treat a hand-made dumpling like it is her child? It’s one thing to gasp and laugh when the tiny piece of […]

REVIEW: The Incredibles [2004]

“I have a weapon only I can defeat” When I saw The Incredibles in theaters upon release, the easy comparison was Fantastic Four—its own cinematic adaptation still a year away in 2005. You have the physical brute of Bob Parr’s Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) like Thing, the stretchy elasticity of Helen’s Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) […]

REVIEW: Isle of Dogs [2018]

“You’ve heard the rumor, right?” I feel like the twee sensibilities of writer/director Wes Anderson might be catching up to him. Moonrise Kingdom was a sort of rejuvenation proving both exactly like his oeuvre and wholly unique as its child’s perspective lent a fresh voice to his usual brand of artificial melodrama. But rather than […]

REVIEW: 火垂るの墓 [Hotaru no haka] [Grave of the Fireflies] [1988]

“Please stay home with me” Everything I read and heard about Isao Takahata‘s Hotaru no haka [Grave of the Fireflies] appeared to want to prepare me for a solemnly tragic tale that couldn’t be completed without tears streaming down my face. I took this train of thought as a badge of honor—preparing its emotionality and […]

REVIEW: 大鱼海棠 [Dayu haitang] [Big Fish & Begonia] [2016]

“Without happiness, what’s the meaning of longevity?” In 2004, directors Xuan Liang and Chun Zhang created a Flash animation for an online contest. From there they would expand it into a feature length film steeped in Chinese supernatural legend. And despite some funding snags over its twelve-year production schedule, 大鱼海棠 [Dayu haitang] [Big Fish & […]

REVIEW: Liyana [2018]

“And you are going to tell her story” There’s multiple ways to tell stories depending on the message you wish to instill. So when the subject you’re tackling concerns a country like Swaziland with a rampant AIDS epidemic and the resulting insanely high orphanage rate, you can choose a path towards the stark futility of […]