Tag Archives: SciFiNow

‘Lu Over the Wall’ director Masaaki Yuasa on mermaids, vampires, Netflix, ‘Adventure Time’

Masaaki Yuasa’s background in animation goes back decades, but he’s probably best known to international audiences for his debut feature as a director, 2004’s Mind Game: a psychedelic trip of a movie that incorporates life, death, sex and yakuza feuds into one mind-bending package. Yuasa has mostly directed TV series, shorts or contributions to anthology movies since then, but 2017 has seen the long-awaited release of two new feature films from the man: comedy The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl and fantasy Lu Over The Wall.

Yuasa’s film and TV output is characterised by deceptively simple animation that’s prone to expressive outbursts of manic energy. Lu Over The Wall is no exception, though here it’s filtered into material that’s a little more family-friendly than some of his prior work. The story focuses on Kai, a gloomy middle school student in a small seaside town where interests outside of a future in the local businesses are largely discouraged. He reluctantly joins a band with two fellow classmates and they practice in secret. Halfway through the first practice, Kai finds they already have a fan: a music-loving mermaid named Lu who wants to sing and dance with them…

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Lu Over the Wall (Masaaki Yuasa, 2017)

Lu Over The Wall, the latest film from Japanese director Masaaki Yuasa, is an ace new entry in the small but strong pool of animation centred around mermaid or fish-people, alongside Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Studio Ghibli’s Ponyo

Full review for SciFiNow

The Bad Batch (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2016)

In 2014, writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour made a striking debut with A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. That black-and-white vampire drama was a blend of many disparate influences, from spaghetti westerns to a Jim Jarmusch-ian brand of cinematic cool.

While Amirpour’s genre hybrid was a mixed bag in terms of lasting emotional resonance, A Girl Walks was a fully realised vision; the work of a filmmaker in complete control of their high concept. This is a trait sadly, and sorely, absent from her star-studded follow-up, The Bad Batch

Full review for SciFiNow

Why you need to see ‘Your Name’ in IMAX and the potential for more IMAX animation

By now, most sci-fi fans with even a cursory interest in animation will be aware of Your Name, director Makoto Shinkai’s body swap/time travel dramedy – think Freaky Friday meets Back to the Future – that became a global hit last year. At the time of writing, its worldwide gross is at over 355 million in US dollars, over $235 million of which came from its native Japan alone.

Its UK run was also impressive, considering anime that doesn’t involve Pokémon or the input of Studio Ghibli has rarely had the greatest success at the British box office. Distributor Anime Limited put the film out in partnership with National Amusements last November, initially in a one-day engagement across the UK that gave way to longer runs in cities where audiences were lapping up the film. London’s Prince Charles Cinema, to name one location, seemed to have at least one screening of Your Name a week for much of the start of 2017.

As such, it’s not surprising that Your Name has been granted an official one day re-release in cinemas around Britain, ahead of its long-awaited home format release this autumn. To sweeten the deal, the distributors have also thrown in an IMAX version of the film for select participating cinemas – the first anime feature to receive an IMAX release in the UK…

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Napping Princess (Kenji Kamiyama, 2017)

The filmography of writer-director Kenji Kamiyama is rife with updates of beloved anime or manga properties, most notably a TV expansion of Ghost in the Shell. What characterises most of his visions is a penchant for political commentary, which is a tad less prominent in his latest project, Napping Princess, a more straightforward fantasy adventure with some sci-fi dressing…

Full review for SciFiNow

David Lowery on ‘A Ghost Story’, life after death and loving ‘Under the Skin’

David Lowery’s A Ghost Story is quite unlike most spectre-based tales you’ll have seen onscreen. For one thing, while there’s definitely haunting going on, it’s no horror film. Told in a series of slow-going sustained takes, it starts off as a tender romance before taking on paranormal qualities, eventually veering into sci-fi territory best left unspoiled.

Casey Affleck plays a white-sheeted ghost (no, really), who declines entry to an apparent afterlife and returns to his Texas home to see his bereft wife (Rooney Mara), whom he cannot communicate with. As his love moves on, this spectral figure finds himself unstuck in time, trapped on the land of his former home, forced to witness years of changes in inhabitants and surroundings…

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Transformers: The Last Knight (Michael Bay, 2017)

Transformers: The Last Knight makes no sense, but somehow still makes more sense than the previous film, Age Of Extinction. In almost only that sense, it is a success…

Full review for SciFiNow