Invader ZIM: Enter the Florpus
Invader ZIM was short-lived and ahead of its time. But over the years, the zany series about the inept alien who’s hell-bent on enslaving humanity garnered a strong cult following. And the fans craved more onscreen escapades involving the little green rascal and his nemesis, Dib. Jhonen Vasquez listened to those demands and made this unsentimental Netflix movie that resists capitalizing on the nostalgia that drives most other revivals. Invader ZIM: Enter the Florpus is as weird and morbid as the original series, and it picks up from where the show left off to deliver a wacky conclusion. At the same time, in this age of weird cartoons, there is room for more ZIM stories, and Netflix should consider greenlighting a new series or more movies.
Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Crossover movies are often tricky, especially when the fan bases of the respective individual properties have their own set of expectations going in. These movies require some give and take, but when they work, they make for an interesting collision of worlds. Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one crossover film that works. For a start, pairing the Foot Clan with the League of Assassins fits well from a storytelling perspective, as both criminal organizations complement each other well in terms of motives, etc. Secondly, this simple story is a perfect excuse to bring Batman and the Turtles together, which makes for a great adventure about likeminded yet totally different heroes uniting for a noble cause. The Dark Knight and the Turtles play off each other well, making for 90 minutes of nonstop fun that serves all of the characters marvelously.
The astonishing success of Ne Zha cannot be understated, as it’s a breakthrough film in many ways. Firstly, it’s the first Chinese-produced movie to be released in an IMAX format, and that no doubt played a huge part in the movie gaining some widespread commercial appeal. At the time of this writing, Ne Zha is the second highest grossing film of all time in China, and one of the most successful non-English language animated movies in history. Loosely inspired by Investiture of the Gods, the film chronicles the mythological origins of Ne Zha, a deity in Chinese folk religion. The movie features an abundance of fantastical action sequences that dazzle and celebrate native mythology, but the central story of empowerment and finding one’s place in the world is universally relatable.
The first feature-length film from Studio Trigger is a wild ride, though it’s very much in line with some of the other frantic and wacky works created by Hiroyuki Imaishi prior to co-founding the studio. The story takes place in a world where flame-throwing mutants are making life hell for firefighters. To combat the danger around them, the firefighters must wear mech suits that gives them superhuman abilities. And did I mention that some of the firefighters are shirtless? This movie is a trip. However, the film’s visual style is also worth commending, as it merges 2D and 3D animation seamlessly, despite each style being fairly distinct on its own. Unleashing full-throttle madness is Promare’s main objective, but underneath the bombast, there is a story about the demonization of minority groups, which is quite reminiscent of the X-Men.
Weathering with You
The latest gem from Makoto Shinkai — whose previous film, Your Name, is a masterpiece — is frightening. The story takes place in a constantly gloomy and rainy Tokyo, and follows a teenage runaway who falls in love with a girl who has the ability to make the days sunny and clear. The romantic and fantastical elements of the film will appeal to viewers seeking heartfelt storytelling, but there’s something bigger at play in Weathering with You: the notion that the environment will inevitably change for the worse. The film addresses these ecological concerns with a sense of urgency, and the surrounding environment is a character in its own right, and one that feels inextricably connected to humanity. At first, viewers will be awestruck by the film’s visual beauty, but underneath its aesthetically pleasing qualities lies a terrifying message worth contemplating.