Kotonoha no Niwa, Frozen, The Hobbit 2

I adore Shinkai Makoto’s stuff and watch it without hesitation; he’s been extending his range from sci-fi/romance (Hoshi no Koe, Kumo no Mukou, Byousoku 5cm), to fantasy (Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo), and now pure romance with Kotonoha no Niwa (Garden of Words). The storyline is pretty light, but gradually reveals various details, and is bittersweet as most of Shinkai’s works are. I found the male lead’s aspirations quite interesting (he wants to make shoes) in this era of technology, mass-production, and professional careers. As usual the visuals are glorious, with the characters in real places in Shinjuku Gyoen.

Frozen has been Disney’s latest CGI mega-hit, moving quite a distance away from the original story of the Ice Queen. I enjoyed it a lot – in particular its more realistic view about romance and true love – though many of the characters are wildly irresponsible. Unlike many of my friends I’m not in love with the film, and while I don’t want to get into the tedious ideological debates about it, this article seemed to hit the mark. Perhaps it’s my age and movie-jadedness, but the movie seemed short and many of the supporting characters underdeveloped – perhaps that’s more about how aggressively those characters have been promoted in advertising and merchandise.

I’m not rational about The Hobbit, so don’t expect too much from my comments on part two. I enjoy the ride, roll with Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s work, like that he’s putting in previously off-screen scenes that tie it to Lord of the Rings (eg Radagast and the Necromancer), and am smiling by the end of the movie. I like Martin Freeman’s acting style, and Ian McKellen and Benedict Cumberbatch are excellent as always. I’ve got to say though, I rolled my eyes at the particularly implausible (and lengthy) action scenes, and wasn’t completely happy that the movie ended with a cliffhanger. Additionally, I thought Azog (the Orc villain) should have been an actor in makeup instead of the CGI-heavy entity that’s not quite convincing enough.

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