Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Castle in the Sky (1986)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I’ve never really been big on directors. Sure, there are movies that were well-directed, but I’ve never really been one to seek out movies based on a director or production company. Then, along came movies like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and The Cat Returns. I was hooked on Studio Ghibli’s movies. I began renting as many as I could find on NetFlix.

Castle in the Sky seems to be one of the earlier works, but wasn’t released in the US until recently. The story revolves around several people looking for a lost city called Laputa. The military wants this city for its technology. Pirates want it for untold riches that are bound to be there. Then, there’s Sheeta and Pazu, two children that are out to find the city, as well. (Sheeta has a special connection to the city.)

The thing that makes Laputa hard to find is that it floats above the Earth, hidden from view pretty well. Some doubt that it even exists. Pazu’s father died trying to prove its existence. Sheeta has the ability to find it, which makes her valuable to both the military and the pirates. Together, Sheeta and Pazu might just be able to find the lost city which floats above the planet.

There’s this great debate between Sub vs. Dub, or subtitles versus the English dubbing. I’ve always preferred the dub, mostly because the English voices are usually well-known actors. In Castle in the Sky, you have Mark Hamill, Mandy Patinkin, Richard Dysart and Cloris Leachman. From what I understand, the translation of some of the earlier works, like this movie, led to a ‘No Cuts’ policy, forcing a more literal translation of the movies. I’d love to learn Japanese to see the difference.

As I’ve said with other animated movies, there’s so much more you can do with animation. What would require special effects in a live-action movie is bound to look seamless in an animated movie. Castle in the Sky is a great example of such a movie. You’ve got all manner of flying ships. To look at Laputa is to see exactly what I’m talking about. Imagination is the limit with anime and animation Despite a somewhat complicated plot, I found it was easy to follow and understand. The story is as well crafted as the animation.

I never really thought the comparison of Ghibli to Disney was fair. Yes, both have produced a lot of great films, but both are radically different. Ghibli has produced a wide range of films, some being meant more for children and others that are better suited to adults. (Granted, Castle in the sky is probably better for children, but look at movies like Grave of the Fireflies.)

At just over two hours, it’s not too long. Everything about it is genius. I’d recommend it to anyone. 

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