Jellyfish Eyes Reviews
Nearly all of the films that I watch fill me with wonder, which is one of my baseline requirements. I realized, watching Jellyfish Eyes, that sprinkling joy on top of the wonder go the distance in fulling my emotions.
The story of Jellyfish Eyes is a group of twenty-somethings who found a portal to another realm filled with companion creatures. Negative energy is required to open the portal and they have learned that children are the best generators of the energy that they need. I really want to leave as much of story untouched as possible because the film is well worth your time.
The American Film Critics have not been particularly kind to this highly innovative, original and thought-provoking film. That's too bad. This is an entertaining and smart film.
Digital animation / real-time special effects aside, this is an amazing little movie. While it is clearly aimed at children, it deals with survival in a damaged world without ever going too far. That is not to say that I would rush to have my 8 year old child see it. Japanese culture is very different than American.
As I think everyone is aware, Japan encountered the most horrific nuclear disaster in 2011 that could have made Chernobyl look like a cake-walk. Lucky for Japan and the entire world, the disaster's impact appears to be somewhat minimal. Or so we "think." In a post-nuclear world nothing is guaranteed or fully understood. For those near the incident in Japan, the scanning of food, water and soil is a normal occurrence. As for the implications for the ocean, it is very unclear.
Similar to what many parents faced after the tragedies of 9/11 -- comforting and explaining all of that to a child was almost impossible in my mind. I think we can all be sure that Japanese parents deal with a similar situation when families were evacuated and forced to move to new homes. Some stuck in detention centers for a while.
While Takashi Murakami had been developing this project for close to a decade, he clearly revised and reinvented his idea to address the fear, anger and sadness that the nuclear disaster presented to children.
Within this context, "Jellyfish Eyes" takes on a whole other level of meaning and commentary. Overly-protective parents, grieving families and bullies take on a new context. While the truly magical creatures the each child in the film "owns" is presented within a simply-complex Sci-Fi story -- it doesn't take a rocket science to understand that these at first threatening creatures could be a result of nuclear mutation. Murakami's magical creatures offer hope and empowerment for the children. They absorb the childrens' sadness, fears and anger.
At times the metaphor is a bit convoluted. And the movie is paced differently that what we anticipate from Disney. And the mixing of real and digital effects are sometimes more than a little disorienting and violent.
This may not be a smart choice for young children or some parents. But I find it hard to find many faults with such a magical invocation of imagination and spirit. It is not perfect, but it is pretty awesome!