Summer Wars

Genre: Drama, romance, sci fi
Score: OK

Kenji has a gift for maths but little else. When his friend Natsuki invites him to her raucous family home out in the mountains, then unexpectedly announces to her grandmother and dozen cousins that they’re engaged (which they’re not), he thinks his life can’t get much worse. But having solved a math problem on his cellphone late one night, he wakes up in the morning to find he’s wanted for terrorism.

From the people who did The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, this film is a mix of reality and a virtual world called ‘Oz’ that appears to be a 3D internet used by banks, governments and everyone else. Kenji’s math problem was the master encryption key to Oz, and now somebody is using his solution to trash the place.

It’s heartwarming and well made, but I found it ultimately a bit predictable. The supposed criminal is clearly going to save the day, the feuding family is clearly going to come together in a crisis, the estranged black sheep is clearly going to redeem himself, the fighting-games-playing kid is clearly going to help by winning some important fight, and the girl is clearly going to warm to the boy. It lays little ingredients, like Natsuki being so good at playing Hanafuda or one of her uncles having a boat, that are obviously going to be pulled in later.

The supposed moral of the story is that when family and friends pull together they can achieve anything. Personally I prefer the moral “don’t use a single encryption key for the entire fucking internet”.