HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Guilty, The
Stranger in the House
Redcon-1
G.G. Passion
Chien Andalou, Un
Boar
Bulldog Drummond
First Man
Machete Maidens Unleashed!
Cannibal Club, The
Grasshopper, The
Searching
Human Desire
Climax
Stiff Upper Lips
American Animals
Outlaws
Venom
World on a Wire
Velvet Buzzsaw
Picnic
Dick Dickman, PI
Hunter Killer
30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, The
Race for the Yankee Zephyr
Boys in the Band, The
Brainscan
T-Men
Blame
Upgrade
   
 
Newest Articles
He-Maniacs: Ridiculous 80s Action
All's Welles That Ends Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 1 on DVD
Shut It! The Sweeney Double Bill: Two Blu-rays from Network
Network Sitcom Movie Double Bill: Till Death Us Do Part and Man About the House on Blu-ray
No, THIS Must Be the Place: True Stories on Blu-ray
Alf Garnett's Life After Death: Till Death... and The Thoughts of Chairman Alf on DVD
Balance of Power: Harold Pinter at the BBC on DVD
Strange Days 2: The Second Science Fiction Weirdness Wave
Strange Days: When Science Fiction Went Weird
Ha Ha Haaargh: Interview With Camp Death III in 2D! Director Matt Frame
Phone Freak: When a Stranger Calls on Blu-ray
A Name to Conjure With: David Nixon's Magic Box on DVD
Which 1950s Sci-Fi was Scariest? Invaders from Mars vs The Blob
The Empire Strikes Back: Khartoum vs Carry On Up the Khyber
Stan and Ollie's Final Folly: Atoll K on Blu-ray
   
 
  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 482 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 star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
George White
Enoch Sneed
Stately Wayne Manor
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi
   

 

Last Updated: