HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
You Were Never Really Here
Lovely But Deadly
Unsane
Smithereens
Last Warrior, The
Artemis 81
Rampage
Quiet Place, A
Braven
Changeover, The
Isle of Dogs
Funny Cow
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Mad to Be Normal
Beast of Burden
Dead Men Walk
Game Night
Under the Tree
L'Amant Double
Gonin
Coco
Producers, The
Molly's Game
Forest of the Lost Souls, The
Hatchet III
Birdman of Alcatraz
Pacific Rim: Uprising
Wonderstruck
If It Ain't Stiff, It Ain't Worth a Fuck
Nun, The
   
 
Newest Articles
The Edie Levy: Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol and Ciao! Manhattan
The Ultimate Trip: The Original Psychedelic Movies
Players of Games: Willy Wonka, Tron and Ready Player One
What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round? The Ends of The Monkees
Flings and Arrows: Conquest vs Flesh + Blood
Orson Around: F for Fake and The Late Great Planet Earth
ITC What You Did There: Retro-Action on Blu-ray
And It Was the Dirtiest Harry We Have Seen in a Very Long Time: The Dirty Harry Series
Manor On Movies: The Astounding She Monster
Manor On Movies: Don't be a dolt. That's not a cult (movie)
Wes Anderson's Big Daddies: Steve Zissou and Others
Bad Taste from Outer Space: Galaxy of Terror and Xtro
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
   
 
  HAL Her boyfriend's back, there's gonna be troubleBuy this film here.
Year: 2013
Director: Ryotaro Makihara
Stars: Yoko Hikasa, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Mamoru Miyano, Shinpachi Tsuji, Tamio Oki, Ako Mayama, Hikari Yono, Hiroki Goto, IKKI, Kanami Sato, Ryo Kuratomi, Shoko Tsuda, Yuko Tachibana
Genre: Animated, Science Fiction, Romance
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A robot helper named Q01 serves its elderly master in a small Japanese town. One morning they witness a tragic plane accident that claims the life of Hal (voiced by Yoshimasa Hosoya), boyfriend of the old man's granddaughter Kuromi (Yoko Hikasa). Devastated, Kuromi retreats into an almost catatonic shell refusing to leave her tiny room. To help Kuromi cope with her loss the scientists behind Q01 transform the obliging robot into a synthetic lookalike of Hal. This new Hal moves into Kuromi's house to become both a live-in helpmate and coax her back into the world.

Alongside the familiar giant robot sagas and intergalactic action-adventures Japanese animation has its fair share of low-key character or idea-driven science fiction along the lines of live action indie fare like Ex-Machina (2015), The Signal (2014) or TiMER (2009). It is the latter which HAL most resembles since it melds a solid SF idea with philosophical undertones and old-fashioned romance in a sentimental though occasionally poignant story. Frankly a world where grief counselors deploy robotic lookalikes of dead loved ones to help the bereaved sounds like a really bad idea. Yet given the Japanese tend to be more open-minded about the applications of robot technology it might not be so far-fetched.

Nonetheless, more than a few viewers may empathize with Kuromi's initial reaction. On first sight she quite understandably recoils from her 'reanimated' dead boyfriend and locks herself in her room. Gradually robot Hal (whose name presumably alludes to the like-named super-computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), which if you think about it is a poor choice of A.I. to reference) inveigles his way into Kuromi's life. He cooks her meals, cleans house, does her daily shopping and makes friends with the neighbourhood kids and the sweet old ladies at the old folks' home. In other words, Hal becomes the Japanese schoolgirl ideal of the perfect docile non-threatening boyfriend. He even coos over cute accessories and cuddly toys. All of which reflects the current debate in Japan over the supposed emasculation of men in popular culture rather than any weightier themes.

Co-produced by the lauded Production I.G. studio, HAL is animated with great artistry mixing traditional two-dimensional drawing with subtle and dramatic use of computer-animated imagery. Sadly the plot by comparison, much like its titular robot hero, is skin deep. Hal's scientist-sensei says all he has to do is make Kuromi feel good because "that is all human beings need." Thus the story reduces complex human emotions to the level of greetings card sentiment. Some critics have suggested at barely an hour long the film is too short to explore such concepts in any meaningful way. Yet other anime accomplished more with even shorter running times. Things grow more interesting once Hal/Q01 learns original Hal was far from the perfect boyfriend. However his big mysterious argument with Kuromi turns out to be completely mundane, even inane. Late in the day trouble intrudes on an otherwise genteel romantic drama in the form of human Hal's estranged, disreputable pal Ryu (Mamoru Miyano) but the subplot about organ-stealers and an artificial heart is far too vague and sits awkwardly with the overall contemplative tone.

The final mind-bending M. Night Shyamalan-style surprise twist is effective but comes totally out of left-field and arguably undoes the entire premise. HAL's pastoral setting and quirky humour are intermittently endearing but given the promise inherent in this fable about quintessential human notions of grief, loss and mortality seen through the eyes of an ageless machine, the end result is regrettably lightweight.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 360 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Arif Kabban
Graeme Clark
  Robert Segedy
Darren Jones
  Asma Amal
  Chris Lawrence
Enoch Sneed
George White
   

 

Last Updated: