This engrossing documentary takes us inside Studio Ghibli, the renowned Japanese animation studio that created such classics asSpirited Away, Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbor Totoro andPrincess Mononoke. Located in a Tokyo suburb, Studio Ghibli looks from the outside like a modest office building from. But behind its doors, some of the greatest creative talents in cinema work every day. These are the imaginations behind Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbor Totoro, and Ponyo. Mami Sunada’s documentary, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, takes us inside the Studio, offering unprecedented access to the work of producer Toshio Suzuki and world-renowned filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.
The documentary offers many personal views from the director, with plenty of photographs and archive footage, and also incredible shots of the strenuous process of making traditional hand-draw animation. At 72 years old, and facing a possible retirement, Miyazaki still manages to instill hope for more to come. The studio cat gets as much screen time as Takahata working down the road on The Tale of Princess Kagyua. The bulk of the footage covers Miyazaki finalizing As the Wind Rises working in his computer free headquarters, recording voice tracks and music and showing the finished film to his staff.The only person in a suit is the legal rep. Not an unblemished study, as this is likely to be the last film of both these major figures in animation, the record of their work has an extra, slightly melancholy feeling.
This visit to Studio Ghibli proves gratifying as it is to have the pleasure to watch the films produced there. The place even looks like a Miyazaki movie, with its natural imagery, ship-styled windows, all-knowing cat and rooftop billowing lawn. In the film, we see Miyazaki himself working on, what is sadly now known as, his last film. We see Ghibli as a studio where he personally storyboards the entire film from beginning to end, and where is dedicated and talented group of artists painstakingly draw each frame by hand, is cluttered, open and conspicuously lacking any new modern technologies. Meanwhile, in the south, Ghibli’s other maestro Takahata is struggling with his fifth and latest film, his first film in thirteen years. Their producer and co-founder Toshio Suzuki shuttles between the two, managing their distinct styles and approaches with the same amount of obvious love and a shrewd appreciation of the challenges he faces. Relationships among these three men lie at the heart and soul of Japan’s most creative and successful enterprise, and director Mami Sunada traces Ghibli’s evolution accordingly. Miyazaki himself is fascinating and irresistible, impish at one moment, the next moment melancholic – notably when contemplating the meanings of his film. His insistence on traditional decorum proves no impediment to spiky candour. He is a completely captivating genius.
In conclusion, “The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness” does probe as deep and tells as many hard truths as it should, but Mami Sunda’s look at Studio Ghibli’s two legendary founders offers a fascinating and surprisingly intimate and personal glimpse into their lives as well as the studio’s. There is nothing short of a giddy delight in watching the fine folks who founded Studio Ghibli living out their dreams in ways much larger than even they could ever have imagined. Sunada had the gumption to pop open Studio Ghibli’s hood and explore the mechanics, and ultimately created something warmly nostalgic, uplifting and modern at the same time.
In Love Hotel, a new documentary that offers viewers a glimpse inside one of Japan’s many adult establishments, Japan is represented as a country that’s at odds with itself. Thanks to its increasingly conservative government (who’ve imposed an aggressive stance towards some of the country’s cheeky taboos) harsh restrictions on venues that threaten the integrity of Japanese culture were needed to preserve the nation’s character. One such venue that suffered as a result is the Japanese love hotel, a place where people can escape to and feel sexually liberated. The documentary tries to articulate that these establishments actually have some cultural value within the country and its history by demonstrating this through the people who’re affected by the existence of love hotels. Throughout the documentary, several clients and employees of the Angelo Love Hotel in Osaka (where the documentary predominately takes place) reveal their sexual escapades to the camera and openly talk about what love hotels mean to them.
The subject matter of the film is certainly interesting and though Love Hotel isn’t quite as explicit as one may imagine (nudity and sexual activity is depicted on screen), it at least delivers on its promise to show what’s behind the curtain, so to speak. That said, the film really does only offer just a glimpse as filmmakers Phil Cox and Hikaru Toda don’t probe away any further at the implied significance of love hotels. Erotic ukiyo-e paintings appear at the beginning of the film which initially suggest that there’s some historical value to these establishments but Love Hotel doesn’t provide the clarity and context that would have helped substantiate that particular argument. Instead, Cox and Toda focus on the people who frequent these establishments in current-day Osaka but even some of the people they’ve chosen seem to be strange inclusions who add little depth to the discussion. Though they are certainly some interesting characters – with dominatrix Rika perhaps being the most insightful and memorable person included –it’s hard to gauge just how some of these people fit into the conversation of the documentary.
Considering the number of people profiled in the documentary, the film’s focus does waver quite a bit as a result, which can make it difficult to truly read into what the documentary’s intention really is. On the one hand, Love Hotel could function as an anthropological work that documents the repressive qualities of Japanese people; a recurring theme in Japanese film. On the other hand, Love Hotel also appears to have a political agenda as well, and also works as an indictment on the Japanese government who, as a result of their core values, have put people out of work.
Though Love Hotel’s message and intention appears to be quite murky, there’s still a prevailing sense of playful innocence at the heart of the film. In the film, a married couple’s desire to reignite the spark in their love life is given that extra push thanks to the existence of love hotels while a gay couple is allowed to be themselves in an establishment that condones and accommodates their love for one another. In a country where its own people admit that there’s an inherent problem with how their people communicate, perhaps it’s not entirely crazy to think that these establishments have some merit and worth as far as giving people the confidence to express themselves.
**DocHouse are hosting the UK Premiere of Love Hotel at the ICA, London on 17th September at 8.30pm. Tickets are only £11 (£8 concessions) and can be purchased through the DocHouse website.
I love a good martial arts film but too often they end up disappointing me. Often, the action is, to put it charitably, really lame–with punches and kicks that obviously do not connect and ridiculous sound effects that are laughable. And, in a few cases, I’ve seen films that feature some amazingly skilled fighting but the story is paper-thin. Fortunately, with “Once Upon a Time in Shanghai”, you have a film that manages to do both–with some of the best and most brutal fighting you’ll ever see as well as an interesting story.
The cars and some of the costumes really are not from the right period –and the picky history teacher in me noticed that! But, I do appreciate how the film has a historical context and is based somewhat on events of the day. Back in 1930, Shanghai was a pretty wild town–with gangs and drugs and the like which you see in the film. But what makes this interesting historically is that the Japanese are also in the movie and are clearly villains. In real life, Japan would soon begin a full scale invasion of China that would last over a decade. Most westerners have forgotten about this horrible period in Chinese history (many millions were killed) but the filmmakers haven’t nor have the Chinese. And, making them the villains clearly is something that would appeal to Chinese audiences–especially in the finale when Ma screams “Get the hell out of China!!”. While there is still a lot of animosity between the nations today despite efforts by both governments over the years to improve relations and we can only hope this continues.
As for the story, Ma (Philip Ng) arrives penniless in this big town and needs work. However, he and his fellow villagers didn’t realize that Shanghai was a really rough place–with rival gangs running the streets. Not surprisingly, soon the nice newcomers are caught up in the violence of the streets. The only local who seems decent is an odd character played by Sammo Hung (a frequent collaborator with Jackie Chan)–and Ma inexplicably falls for the man’s incredibly grouchy daughter. However, this romance doesn’t have much time to blossom because of all the violence between rival gangs. One of these thugs, Long Qi (Andy On), is amazingly tough–and his martial arts skills are insanely good. And soon he and Ma end up coming up against each other. Here is where the film gets really good. Instead of Long Qi killing Ma or vice-versa, the pair are so evenly matched that they actually become friends. But Ma is a good soul and manages to not only stay pure of heart but become almost like Long Qi’s brother. So everyone lives happily ever after, right?! Nah…this IS a martial arts film and soon the really bad bad-guys arrive–and the Japanese are not about to let some gangs or some country bumpkin like Ma stand in their way.
What’s next? Watch the film for yourself—you won’t be disappointed. As I mentioned above, the fight sequences are amazing…no,…they are BRILLIANT. Intense, fast, highly skilled and insane are all words that come to mind. Plus, while the heroes are a bit too super-human (they can manage to STILL hang on after 137934 stab wounds!!), the fight sequences themselves don’t appear too super-human! There are very, very few “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” sorts of wire-fu techniques in this film and I appreciate this. Yes, I know some of you readers love these–I still prefer the more realistic action sequences like you’ll see in films like this as well as the Street Fighter series (with Sonny Chiba), the Gina Carano films as well as “Ip Man”.
Naomi Kawase has long been a mainstay in independent Japanese filmmaking though it wasn’t until the completion and eventual unveiling of her latest movie, Still The Water, that the filmmaker felt confident in calling this her defining masterpiece. With a declaration like that, one has to imagine that a film like this must have some kind of an imposing presence about it but unfortunately for Kawase, Still The Water’s rumination on death and its relationship to nature, is mostly a floundering bore. Kaito and Kyoko are two teenagers who live on a beautiful Japanese island. Both are in love with one another but each is grappling with their own problems. Kaito’s mother never appears to be at home which stirs up feelings of resentment towards his mother with regards to his parents’ divorce. Meanwhile, Kyoko’s mother, who is literally on her death bed, is discharged from hospital so that she can comfortably pass away at home.
Still The Water’s very loose and disjointed narrative doesn’t try to make it clear which story ought to take precedence and one may surmise that this likely isn’t something Kawase cares too much about. On the one hand its partly a coming of age story about these two teens, on the other it’s an unfocused ramble on death and nature. In addition, Kawase’s characters aren’t as developed or interesting as they could be, which as a result, adds to Still The Water’s slow and terribly clumsy rhythm. Rather than focus on character and story, Still The Water’s aesthetic and fascination with its subject matter is where Kawase places her attention. Bearing a resemblance to the recent works of Terence Malick, Kawase’s attempt to imbue her film with a sense of spirituality isn’t quite as convincing as Malick’s own confounding, The Tree of Life. As a result, often times it really feels like the filmmaker is grasping at straws just trying to find a way to make the work feel meaningful in any way possible. And though she mostly falls short of this, Kawase does come close to it with a resounding scene halfway through the film. The scene in question is in relation to Kyoko and her mother who, on the verge of dying, quietly requests for a song to be played. It’s beautifully orchestrated and, on a personal level, hits close to home, standing out as the film’s centrepiece moment. The preceding moments between Kyoko and her family also feel genuine and inspired.
Kawase’s previous experience as a documentarian is also made evident in the film as she adopts a flowing, handheld camera to tell the story. With help from cinematographer, Yutaka Yamazaki (one of the best in the business when it comes to creating a sense of verisimilitude through film, given his association with famed auteur, Hirokazu Koreeda), Still The Water is lavished with some amazing visuals (the best of which involve the underwater swimming sequences and the aforementioned death bed scene) yet at the same time features some jarring camera work that works against the film too. Obscured images and shaky close-ups add to the pile of frustrating problems of the film, making the work all the less engaging.
Whatever it was that Kawase wanted to rummage up with her long-winded muse on death and nature remains largely ineffective and falls on deaf ears. Still The Water is far from the masterpiece that Kawase wants to believe it is which only brings up concern for the quality of her previous films. If Kawase’s masterpiece to me feels shallow and wanting, what then of her other works? A wandering, mostly incomprehensible film, there’s not enough in the film to substantiate interest which ultimately leads Still The Water to drown under its philosophical pretensions. For an exceedingly better example of films that contain contemplative pacing, calming sense of spirituality and animal cruelty (within the first few minutes of Still The Water, a goat’s neck is slit by a knife, thus draining it of blood), please refer to the cinema of Kim Ki-duk.
Adventures of three Korean female warrior, Jin-Ok, Hong-Dan and Ga-Bi as the three most legendary bounty hunters in the Joseon dynasty. It’s about what you would expect from the blurb on the back explaining it as Korea’s Charlie’s Angels. Lots of stupid stuff, some of it funny, all of it weird. This movie was a joke. Those girls cant act for their life. That story and dialogue is as cheesy as they come. The only good parts were with the guy who constantly got beat up buy them. If you’re mortal and don’t have eternity like most of us, I suggest you don’t waste your precious time watching this crap. hmm what else to say since I need 10 lines. This was part of the fantasia film fetsival and there were so many people in line to watch this it was crazy. However I don’t think anyone was expecting it to be this bad.
The tone of the movie is inconsistent and switches randomly from very silly to trying to be dark. The plot convoluted, poorly explained and paced, something the characters even comment on and try to explain to each other, though it still doesn’t help the audience. The movie is also very sexist, though not objectifying like the American Charlie’s Angels, but instead applying Asian stereotypes to the girls making them talk about boys, like shopping, jewelry, act air-headed and giggle a lot. It is a tropefest, and is only for people enjoying seeing countless references to other better movies, and every trope imaginable invoked and abused.
The Huntresses, while not a smart highlight of South Korean cinema, makes for a fun 107 minutes of comedic action. And it certainly helps that Ha Ji-Won knows a thing or two about swordfighting. Ko ChangSeok (the big bloke from Lady Vengeance who builds Lee Geum-ja’s gun and one of the South Korean soldiers in The Frontline) stars as the likeable mentor of the girls and popstar Son Ga-in from Brown Eyed Girls (best bandname ever) does a good job as the tomboy with a temper of the team. Yes, in South Korea that’s a tomboy.
Few thrillers can pull off the escalating adrenalin that Korean feature, A Hard Day, possesses. Imagine the worst day you could possibly have and magnify that tenfold and you’d get a rough idea of what this film might be all about. A Hard Day is simultaneously exhilarating and surprisingly, a very disarmingly funny movie as well. Any other film may have played this film up as a serious drama (MIFF’s closing night feature, Felony, would certainly attest to this) but A Hard Day brazenly provides a white-knuckled thrill ride full of tension and laughter.
A Hard Day starts with a man, Gun-soo, having just left his mother’s funeral. Stressed by the death of his mother while also having to talk on the phone, Gun-soo becomes distracted, swerves his car to dodge an animal on the road and ends up hitting another person with his car, killing the victim upon impact. Afraid of the repercussions he’ll have to face, Gun-soo tries to hide and dispose of the body which is where his troubles really begin to take shape as the more he dodges questions about the incident, the more trouble he finds himself in. Setting up the film immediately from the get go, writer-director Kim Song-hun, leaves no room for audiences to breathe. The lack of exposition in this instance is quite brilliant in that it drops audiences straight into the film and from there, Kim’s foot is permanently placed on the accelerator. A Hard Day manoeuvres around its twist-filled story with tight precision and at a very controlled speed. And while the situation that the film’s protagonist is undeniably dire, how he chooses to go about addressing the various problems he’s forced to deal with – and their eventual outcomes – is absolute comedy gold. I can’t remember the last time a thriller in the vein of A Hard Day magnificently managed to balance its wealth of black comedy so confidently while also providing genuinely tense, ‘edge-of-the-seat’ experience.
Lee Sun-gyun, a Hong Sang-soo regular, is outstanding as the bumbling detective trying to cover up his tracks. His comedic timing is on point and he also makes for quite the convincing action star should he decide to ever commit to that path. On the other end of the spectrum is the film’s villain, played by Cho Jin-woong. Though largely a one-dimensional character, Cho is fun to watch as well and is enjoyable as the corrupt cop chasing after Gun-soo. And on that note of corruption, while A Hard Day is most certainly a fun thrill ride and a great example of what Korean genre cinema is capable of, its concerning that the authoritative figures in the film are all corrupt cops. Writer-director Kim would have most likely been aware of this which may perhaps give A Hard Day another badge to wear – the badge of satire. Kim’s film mightn’t have much to say about the matter of corruption in Korea’s police force (if there is any as I am largely not privy to this news) but it certainly shines a light on it and brings the matter up front.
For a cracking good time though, A Hard Day is as energetic and frenetic as it gets. It wastes no time in getting into the thick of it and is committed to having its audience to enjoy the film’s excess of thrills and barrels of laughter. A smart, funny and gripping thriller, A Hard Day earns its stripes as a sterling cop thriller and is a great example of why people keep coming back to Korean film.
Celebrated architect, Kang Tae Pung (Kang Ji Hwan), gets into a car accident and suffers an odd aftermath of the event: he sees beautiful women as ugly and ugly women as beautiful. When he meets Wang So Jung (Lee Ji Ah), he is instantly smitten and even goes so far as to prepare to marry her…that is, until his odd side-effect subsides and his vision returns to normal. Returning to his callous, superficial ways, he heartlessly rejects So Jung. By the time he realizes the true meaning of loving a woman, another accident comically gives him a taste of his own medicine.
Problems occured when Tae Pung’s eyesight back to normal. He no longer recognized So Jung. The harsh reality slapped So Jung awake to the reality that she was just an ugly girl and Tae Pung loved “the beautiful” So Jung not “the real” So Jung. Lee Ji Ah’s acting was very natural that viewers would probably get carried away by her character because of So Jung’s personality was very expressive and unique. And for those of Kang Ji Hwan’s fans wouldn’t want to miss this movie because he looked more handsome here. This movie wanted to break the general idea about what beauty really meant for people, that other than a pretty or a handsome face there was something more important to be loved. Outer beauty are important, but not more important than inner beauty. And maybe this movie was sort of a quip for the phenomenon of plastic surgery as a big hit in Korea.
But where do you find a girl who could be that cheerful, confident and optimistic about everything if she’s that ugly? I’m not saying that ugly people should be depressed, lack confidence, and pessimistic, that’s not what I’m trying to say. What I’m trying to say is the message they sent is Lee Ji A’s character looks like an ugly monster when she’s nothing like that nor did she act like that. Things just don’t add up. Writer-nim, I don’t mind leaving my brain behind and just enjoy whatever I’m watching – I did that all the time – but there are things that will bother you no matter how willing you are and how hard you try to be involved in the story.
Granted, I appreciated the critique of the fleetingness of the outer beauty and how it’s really the inner beauty that ultimately matters. I even chuckled at bit at the end when Tae Pung gets a taste of his own medicine when So Jung develops a similar symptom after a bonk on the head. However, the story is told a bit too bluntly for my taste and without very much finesse. Overall, I found my beloved Kang Ji Hwan’s talents unable to compensate for the weak story to lure me back for a second viewing
he girl has mauve hair, an indication of the hipness of this couple who first meet on a smoke break in a Hong Kong alleyway. He’s in advertising; she sells cosmetics. And his shirt is the same color, signaling an affinity this movie seeks to explore. A Hong Kong ordinance prohibited smoking in all indoor areas. Employees began gathering in gathering cliques they called “hot pot packs” to smoke outdoors, talk, and have fun. That’s the starting point. There’s much camaraderie and banter — liberally laced with profanity — among the “hot pot pack” that includes a man with round glasses, a girl with a knit cap, a Pakistani pizza man, a little uniformed hotel bellman — and the couple- to-be, Jimmy (Shawn Yue) and Cherie (Miriam Yeung Chin Wah). The movie begins with a dramatization of a shaggy dog story about a man locked in car trunk in a parking lot who turns out to be a ghost. There’s a lot of joking round, and things stay very light, becoming just a little romantic when Jimmy joins Cherie at a costume birthday party at a Karaoke bar — except Cherie turns out to have a boyfriend, KK (Jo Kuk).
Eventually he finds out about Jimmy (and we see how much fun he and Cherie are having together) and he gets jealous. Love in a Puff shows how romantic text messaging can be — and how it can give away secrets if spied on. And when Cherie decides to switch to Jimmy’s network so her SMS fees aren’t too high, Jimmy’s cohorts at work say she’s too aggressive. Jimmy has just had a breakup with a girlfriend at work, and Cherie is older. These are the givens that do nothing but fuel the mutual attraction. This movie excels in its constant interplay of lightness and seriousness, in the way the milieu and the social world is sketched in, and in the great chemistry between Yeung and Yue. Their dialogue is breezy and sometimes touching. Dialogue in group scenes is feisty and provocative by sometimes strict Hong Kong standards; Love in a Puff caused some controversy, which could add to its hip gloss for locals. Some of the whimsy recalls romantic moments in Wong Kar-wai, but it’s all more mundane, but enough to show that Wong’s tropes are far from unique and sometimes come from Hong Kong pop culture. If only Pang had taken more breaks from the sit-com charm and stepped back a bit, he might have created a bit more magic. There is a bit of that with a silhouette-and-full-moon sequence of Cherie at the 80-minute mark, when the story reaches its make-or-break get-serious point. At film’s end, the couple come to some kind of commitment, with Jimmy’s Land Rover stalled on an overpass, appropriately enough by making serious plans to both give up smoking, and focus on each other.
The apparent triviality of the subject matter, along with the modern urban couple’s difficulty with communication (despite multiple platforms) is offset by wit and keen observation of little details every step of the way. This light, cinematic, amusing movie is appealing and fresh — and has an assured polish, along with casual touches, like the little small-screen 16mm interviews that serve as occasional commentary. All in all, Love in a Puff is a delightful little piece of fluff, as casual as its lovers try to be. One online critic listed it as one of his top movies of 2010 and characterized it as “forgettable in an unforgettable way,” and that’s about right. Local commentaries say the film won’t work dubbed in Mandarin because its Cantonese profanities are untranslatable and had the audiences in stitches throughout. Subtleties apart, the English titles give a fair sense of this pungency. Some little SMS tricks emerge too: for instance, if you type “i n 55!W !” it looks like nonsense or code, but turn the phone upside down and it reads “I MISS U!” Of such details are Puff’s flavor and charm made.
After its initially rocky debut in Hong Kong due to its profanity and heavy nicotine use, Love in a Puff has breezed along the festival route, appearing in Seattle, Melbourne, Tokyo, Palm Springs, landing in April 2011 at the San Francisco International Film Festival, where it was screened for this review. The original Chinese title is Chi ming yu chun giu, which means simply Jimmy and Cherie. I was not previously familiar with the work of this prolific 2000′s Hong Kong director.
Year 2084, humans are fighting a bloody war against an alien species known as “Daggra”, the war is coming to an end and it seems as if the human race will lose it. The human race however has managed to build a time machine, and in the dying seconds of the war they manage to send a girl, “Milly”, back in time. Her mission is to locate and kill the first alien to land on earth, hoping that this will prevent the future war. There is never any doubt where this movie has picked up its inspiration, movies like “The Terminator 1/2″, “Independence Day” and “The Matrix” are quite obvious in the movie, but that isn’t necesarrily a bad thing, all movies pick up inspiration from somewhere. The storyline isn’t very original, but still in a way original. Problem with it really is that it lacks some depth, and also the 82 years war feels a little unrealistic, however the storyline is driven enough, just nothing special, nothing that will make this movie stand out, even though I think it had a lot of potential. There are also moments of the movie where the story feels a little too weak, especially the very end I disliked, just the way it went, reminded me too much of E.T, and the sentimental point of view should have been kept out of this movie.
Now to draw out the positive sides of this movie. The action scenes are great, even though they are very inspired by The Matrix they are still very good and enjoyable. I never found myself getting boring, and I think the action scenes are definitely one of the things that makes this movie worth watching. Some people say that the effects here are worse than in Hollywood, to be quite honest, I don’t believe they are. I didn’t find them unconvincing at all, especially the scenes with the Cyborgs were well done, the bullet-time scenes were also good, but we’ve seen that a lot of times before after “The Matrix” was released. The movie ends with a small twist, a twist I personally felt didn’t belong to the movie at that point, the clues given were a bit weak, and I think it was just generally a weak attempt to create a shocking end, opening your eyes, which it didn’t for me, at least not when he woke up again. Had he died, then I would have been shocked and amazed.
Another problem with the movie is the lead characters. Anne Suzuki is cute, yeah, but she lacks depth and her performance never feels real. Her character felt kind of empty and that also damaged the chemistry with co-lead actor Takeshi Kaneshiro, who in the personal scenes neither was very good and convincing, but I must admit that he was fantastic in the action scenes, a 50/50 performance from him, although his character never were very believable. The star on the acting side is the guy playing the notorious bad guy, Goro Kishitani had a magnificent performance playing mr. Evil himself, Mizoguchi. This is a character I most definitely hated, and definitely one of the characters that brought life to the story. Takashi Yamazaki obviously had a good hand on things while directing the action scenes, and also the movie contains some good cinematography. Sadly Yamakazi didn’t manage to control the personal scenes of the movies as well as the action scenes, truly sad, because the movie could really have been at a higher level if the personal scenes had felt more convincing. The script also lacked some depth for each of the lead characters, the idea of the movie could actually have been a lot better.
An excellent movie, with a lot of Japanese clichés, like transforming robots, ninjas, and strange new technology. I swear, this must have been the best bullet time I’ve ever seen. It’s even better than The Matrix. No only do you see the bullets, but also the streamers of air coming off of them, and they can be moved if something passes through them. Also, it accurately shows bullets going though flesh, and many other cool things in bullet time. The ending was strong, and tied up many plot holes and paradoxes. The ending was very surprising, yet touching. Overall, excellent film, with unique storyline, cute aliens, realistic special effects, and believable action.