Pacific Rim (Guillermo Del Toro, 2013)

 I mustn't run away, I mustn't run away

There can be no doubt that Guillermo Del Toro is a huge fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion. His latest epic (and they keep getting more and more epic for this director, though he oscillates between those and smaller features) draws broadly and heavily from the anime classic. Let's not mince words: it's a straight-up love letter. Where many homages turn into something less than the thing they were inspired by, Pacific Rim manages to walk the rope with skill - until it eventually plummets off.

The Wolverine (James Mangold, 2013)

Am I a samurai?

I will not lie: I enjoyed this movie. Perhaps that should be prefaced with the expectation that I was in for a dumb action flick. You know, in the vein of the first stand-alone Wolverine feature from 2009, which wasn't terribly impressive. Imagine my surprise then. Just imagine it.

Hospitalité (Koji Fukada, 2010)

This is why we can’t have nice things

Japanese people are incapable of saying no. That observation is put to the test in Hospitalité. How far can you bend over backwards until something snaps?

Doodslag (‘Manslaughter’, Pieter Kuijpers, 2012)

 An insoluble moral dilemma seized by demagogues (spoiler notice)

Every culturally diverse society bumps into certain problems. Problems that politicians and demagogues are keen to use as currency for attention. In recent years, one of those big topics was the way ambulance personnel are increasingly mistreated as they attempt to provide aid, with an emphasis on the role of ill-adjusted immigrants.

Ninja Assassin (James McTeigue, 2009)

 You must hate weakness in others and in yourself

It’s easy to see where the fascination for ninjas comes from. Invisible warriors, hiding in the shadow, flitting over rooftops, lethal with any weapon, possessing supernatural powers. It should come as no surprise that though ninjas did exist, they were nothing like this romantic vision. The historical ninja has as much in common with the black-hooded killer from pop culture as actual British secret service agents have with James Bond.