Laputa: Castle In The Sky


Viewed – 29 January 2012  Blu-ray

It goes almost without saying, that Studio Ghibli, the animation house that brought us the Oscar-winning Spirited Away has become one of the most respected animation studios in the world, and taking just a glance at their back catalogue reveals a wealth of magical and endearing movies.  Back in 1986, the famed studio was formed to make its first feature-length movie, and so we have this, a magical Jules Vern inspired adventure that proves even over twenty years ago, director and studio founder Hayao Miyazaki was a true talent.

Pazu is a hard-working young boy in a mining community, who one day witnesses a young girl fall from the sky.  Hurrying to her rescue, he soon discovers she is on the run from a group of pirates and the army, who seek the magical properties of her necklace.  Before long a spectacular adventure ensues as Pazu tries to help the girl unravel the mystery of the necklace’s origin and its connection to a fabled city floating in the sky.  Clearly the imagination and artistic style Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have become known for, was their from the start.  The animation and character on display here is quite breathtaking.  The story borrows from the aviation-mixed-with-science-fiction of Jules Vern, but also reminded me of the Brit fantasy Stardust, which this could easily have been the inspiration for.  The two young characters are easy to like and get caught up in their adventure (voiced well by James Van Der Beek and Anna Paquin), and the mother pirate is a classic Ghibli creation, as is the shady villain, all smart suit and sunglasses.  The action, when it comes is also very exciting (the robot encounter, the various sky battles) and the final act is pretty damn magical.

At over two hours, the movie is quite lengthy for an animation, but doesn’t drag.  I would have liked more revealed about the floating city, and sometimes the comedy was laid on a bit thick.  Yet this doesn’t really spoil what is essentially a well made and enjoyable movie, surely worthy of any animation fans viewing list.

For an older movie, this Blu-ray release from Optimum is difficult to fault.  The colours are vibrant and the detail is very sharp.  It looks like the whole movie has been remastered to show off the format, including a decent soundtrack and some good effects with booming explosions, as well as clear voice work.  Extras include brief behind the scenes featurettes, story boards and trailers, as well as the movie on DVD.

Verdict:

(the movie) 4 /5

(the Blu-ray) 4 /5

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