Find the list here: The Top 250 Films List Total Films Watched: 250/250

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

#248 - 'Castle in the Sky' (1986)

"A girl just fell from the sky, boss!" - Pazu.
This was my first venture into the world of Studio Ghibli, something I admittedly only first heard about last Sunday. It is a Japanese animated film studio known for producing anime feature films - quite a few of which will appear later on in this challenge. 

'Castle in the Sky' is the story of Pazu, a young boy who works in a mine. He finds a mysterious girl, Sheeta, floating down from the sky and wearing a glowing necklace. Pazu soon realises that Sheeta is being tracked down by pirates and agents who wish to possess the necklace. A photograph taken by Pazu's father depicts the only sighting of Laputa, a legendary floating castle. Pazu wishes to find Laputa in order to prove its existence and that his father was right. Could the power of Sheeta's curious necklace hold the key to finding the lost castle of Laputa?
Photograph of Laputa taken by Pazu's father.
The version of the film that I watched was the English Disney re-dub Bluray from Lovefilm. James Van Der Beek provided the voice of Pazu, whilst Anna Paquin (of recent X-Men fame) voiced Sheeta. Notably, Mark Hamill was the voice of Colonel Muska. The dub was a little distracting and obvious at first but I got used to it as the film went on. Muska was a good antagonist, owing to the edge that Hamill brought to the character. Captain Dola and her rag-tag team of pirate sons - Louis, Henri and Charles - provided the laughs. She reminded me a lot of 'Mom' from Futurama and her three idiot sons - Walt, Larry and Igner. The fact that they kept calling her 'Mom' in the film only furthered the similarities. In this scene you could interchange 'Dola & sons' with 'Mom & sons' and you'd do well to tell the difference:
[Dola comes thundering into Pazu's town on her automobile where her boys are brawling with the citizens]
Dola: Full speed ahead!
[to Louis and Henri in the distance]
Dola: Hey, boys!
Louis: Wha - ? Hey, it's Mom!
Louis, Henri: [Dola drives up to Louis and Henri]  Hi, Mom!
Dola: [incensed]  You chowderheads! Get your brother and hop on!
Louis: [dumbfounded]  Huh? But Sheeta's hiding inside that house!
Dola: Lamebrain! They made an escape! Now step on it!
Louis: [jumping onto Dola's car]  They ESCAPED?
Henri: [jumps on after Louis]  Hey, I wanna come!
Charles: [grabbing onto the back of Dola's car]  Mommy!
Futurama's Mom and her three idiot sons.
Captain Dola and her three pirate sons.

The giant airships, the mining town and the sky/clouds all looked great. One of the best, and spoiler-free, scenes was the train chase near the beginning. The scale of the chase was what made it so impressive with the expansive city in the background as well as the details of the characters in the chase. The wide shots showing the train and the car were brilliant.
Part of the train sequence.
The animation was very good. I know it's been digitally remastered for the Disney bluray but it was visually striking. For a film originally animated in 1986, I was impressed by the attention to detail and the mammoth effort that must have gone into making this two hour feature in the 80's. Having not seen an anime feature film before ('Pok√©mon: The First Movie' aside) this was a new cinematic experience for me - which is what this challenge is all about. Never in a million years would I have picked to watch this film out of the blue so I feel like I am actually getting something out of this. I enjoyed it and I look forward to seeing what other works Studio Ghibli have to offer - all in good time.

Up Next #247:

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