Hosoda revisits Summer Wars and mixes in a royal dash of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Belle is no doubt one of his most ambitious films to date, blending different universes and loaded themes to create an epic fantasy adventure with a strong dramatic backbone. The visuals and soundtrack are absolutely grand, the voice actors do a terrific job and Hosoda finds a nice balance between fantastical grandeur and personal drama. It's a rather risky film and may divide audiences, but I feel Hosoda's bet paid off. His best film to date.
If you're in the mood for action or lots of plot twists, there's little here for you. But if you're up for a little variation on the Ghibli magic, this film might be a pretty good bet to make.
The good stuff
Mamoru Hosoda is back on track. His previous film didn't really do it for me, luckily Mirai is a big step up again. A fine balance between drama and fantasy, subtle when it needs to be, completely magical just a few moments later. Lovely animated, well-paced and very touching, this is the Hosoda I love to see.
From the actual animation to the behavior of the little kids, running around with their DSes, Summer Wars will come off as surprisingly recognizable
When Hosoda keeps it small and strays away from dramatic arcs the film is at its best, but Hosoda often overplays the drama and ends up with scenes that are far too mushy and melodramatic.