Hal – The Movie (Blu-ray Review)

Hal - The Movie Blu-ray Review Kurumi’s heart was broken by the sudden death of her boyfriend in a tragic airplane accident. Forced to carry on without her beloved Hal, she fell into a reclusive and joyless existence. Kurumi had given up on the world, but a brilliant scientist devised a plan to win her back. By melding futuristic technology with the binary equivalent of human emotion, they created an ultra-lifelike robotic surrogate to take Hal s place and lure Kurumi from her shroud of solitude. Resistant at first, this shattered beauty slowly yielded to her feelings of longing and took comfort in the company of a robot. Though their unique bond grew stronger with each passing day, Kurumi and Hal would soon discover that nothing about their artificial love story was quite as it seemed. 

  Hal - The Movie Blu-ray Review


Hal – The Movie is the latest science fiction anime from FUNimation (English version) and the studio that brought you Attack on Titan. When Kurumi’s life is shattered by the seat of her boyfriend in an airplane accident she retreats to a life of grief and solitude. A sympathetic scientist decides that he will not let Kurumi succumb to a joyless life and goes about creating a replica of Kurumi’s boyfriend Hal. Dr. Aranami starts off using a robot android of his own creating as the skeleton, if you will, before injecting Hal with the dead Hal’s personality traits. When it comes to creating a robot life form based on a dead boyfriend all I can say is that baby steps are required.

Once Hal introduces himself to Kurumi typical hijinks ensue and Kurumi is freaked out at first before settling in. Hal – The Movie plays out in typical science fashion pseudo-cliché in that an artificial life is created to satisfy someone’s longing but eventually ends up questioning its own existence. Yes, Hal The Robot was created for Kurumi to get over her loss but as time goes by Hal begins to question the who, what, where, and why of it all. This is a good thing and I wouldn’t expect anything else otherwise. The fundamental problem Hal – The Movie has is that it’s trying to cram too much too soon into a 60-minute feature film. Once Kurumi opens up and let’s Hal in then we switch to Hal’s nagging questions of existence, love, etc. This is a two-part component after all.

Yes, you read that correctly. Hal – The Movie is only an hour long. If this were episodic manage then I would have no problem with it, because I’d know that there were more episodes coming my way soon. As a standalone film this is where Hal – The Movie failsDon’t get me wrong – Hal – The Movie is filled with many ideas, is visually stunning, and features great animation, but sinks due to its short running time. There are more questions than answers and I feel they could have been expanded on by just few more minutes of exposition.

Please don’t take my 3-star review as a negative. Underneath it all (criticism and what not) Hal – The Movie, as is, is a terrific little film filled with ideas and such. I liked that and the fact that the animation is not overly bogged down by excessive CGI helps immensely. These days I am very picky about the types of animation that I watch, because I grew up with the real deal. I am happy to say that Hal – The Movie looks and sounds terrific.

Due to it’s low running time and slightly cryptic message I cannot rate this above a 3-star but PLEASE don’t assume that it’s a bad film at all, because it is not. I enjoyed it for what it was and am hoping that if it sells well we can get a sequel or just expand on this universe depicted in Hal. I game for either one. Now I’m sure you guys are wondering how the Blu-ray stacks up in terms of video, audio, and extras’ quality, so please keep reading and you shall see.



Hal - The Movie Blu-ray Review


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: My past experience with anime on Blu-ray has been a bit of a moved bag. If it’s not upscaling it’s something else and whatnot. I’m happy to confirm that Hal – The Movie is native 1080p and the high definition image is pretty stellar. There bits of haze that run throughout but I’ll assume those are for aesthetic reasons. Sharpness levels are on point as is contrast.

Depth: I don’t think there’s a 3-D version of Hal – The Movie but this Blu-ray certainly has enough depth to make one believe that the 2-D version wants to really be a 3-D version, if that makes sense.

Black Levels: The few scenes of nighttime exteriors shine through as I did not notice and intrusion of crush or compression during those scenes.

Color Reproduction: This is a big and bold palette that highlights the full spectrum of the color wheel. Primaries, secondary, and every color in between the rainbow shine through marvelously. I thought I was watching a Starburst commercial. All rights reserved. Banding was only visible in a handful of scenes but it was not a problem.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: I did notice an anomaly or two here and there but it was centralized to only a few spots that it was negligible.

  Hal - The Movie Blu-ray Review


Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: FUNimation did not skimp on the lossless audio tracks on this Blu-ray. Early on when the airplane explodes in midair you’d think it had just exploded in your living room as it envelops the entire sound stage in a realistic fashion – for being a very introspective film that was a very startling scene and is a testament to the audio geniuses that mixed the film for Blu-ray. Kudos!

Low Frequency Extension: Low-end bass levels were also stellar and injected an extra bit of extra LFE into the proceedings. No complaints here.

Surround Sound Presentation: Besides stellar ambience the surround sound field was very enveloping especially during those earlier scenes mentioned before. The film also takes place primarily in the outdoors, so animal life and what not tend to buzz around and chirp in the background.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is sharp, clear, and concise. I heard everything as it was supposed to be heard.


Hal - The Movie Blu-ray Review


Hal – The Movie has a whopping 21 minutes of bonus features. They are very informative and a voice actor’s commentary is also included.

  • Actor Commentary – This audio commentary track features the American voice crew of: Bryn Apprill (Kurume), Chris Burnett (Hal), and Bill Flynn (Aranami). Voice director Mike McFarland moderates it.
  • Making Of: Production Process (HD, 11:10) – This featurette is focused more on the storyboard process and is guided by the Japanese filmmakers. It is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.
  • Making Of: Animatic and Scratch Tracks (HD, 6:17) – This featurette is focused on animatics and what comes after storyboarding the film. It too is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.
  • Original Trailer (HD, 1:13) – This is the original trailer for Hal – The Movie presented in high definition.
  • Textless Closing Song (HD, 3:23) – If you want to sing along to the closing credit song without that pesky translation you are given that option.
  • U.S. Trailer (HD, 1:18) – This is the FUNimation U.S. trailer for Hal – The Movie presented in high definition.


Hal - The Movie Blu-ray Review


As a standard exercise of science fiction existentialism Hal – The Movie works. My only gripe(s) are that the film needed to be at least 30-60- minutes longer to properly gel. Now if the filmmakers were to make a sequel to this then that would be awesome but I feel they should have made a more complete offering right out of the gate. Hal – The Movie pairs nicely with 2001: A Space Odyssey and A.I. The Blu-ray has above average audio and video specs and some fairly entertaining special features. If you’re a fan of smart and introspective science fiction anime then Hal – The Movie will be right up your alley.


Order Hal – The Movie on Blu-ray!

Hal - The Movie Blu-ray Review


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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