Castle In The Sky Blu-ray Review
A young boy named Pazu catches a falling girl named Sheeta who after being chased by pirates, an army and a few government agents is knocked from flying aircraft. When they discover the magical stone Sheeta wears around her neck is the gateway to a legendary floating castle, the motives become clear for all parties. Pazu and Sheeta team up with Dola, the mother and captain of a pirate family and crew to elude the corrupt army and save the mysterious floating CASTLE IN THE SKY Laputa.
After joining forces with Japan’s Studio Ghibli, Disney has released the little seen CASTLE IN THE SKY to Blu-ray. A pioneer of sorts, writer, producer and director Hayao Miyazaki ushered in a new style of animation and mythical storylines… well at least new to Americans. As the years have passed his skills have increased capturing dream-like visuals with somewhat abstract narratives, yet still maintaining very direct moral themes. As one of his earliest works in CASTLE IN THE SKY, I found many of the elements not working together the best they should. By themselves, the characters, the story, the visuals can all be complimented but when put together the film failed to retain my attention.
The floating castle has superhuman powers of mathematical proportions, the crazy family of pirates with a heart of gold seeking their own fortune, a villainous agent Muska and a couple of child heroes wsho have heart, courage and innocence rivaling no other are all wonderful aspects in CASTLE IN THE SKY. But the actions scenes while ideally are complex and inventive come off a little stale and uninteresting. On the other hand the score is quite interesting yet a little too disorienting. Perhaps not bad just different to what we might be accustomed to that seems to slow the pacing in a monotonous tone that’s good for an afternoon nap. I don’t mean this in total negativity take a look at the incredibly slow yet mesmerizing Disney classic BAMBI for comparison. Both have different tactics but can induce dreams and imagination. The biggest confusion comes with the attempted humor. Providing only a few chuckle moments, the jokes poorly translate feeling quite childish, and yet the animated film is far too long for any child to remain interested.
Director Hayao Miyazaki has earned quite the following with his brand of animation. As someone who has only seen and enjoyed a couple of his more recent endeavors, I was curious about CASTLE IN THE SKY – one of the directors first animated films. When compared to Miyazaki’s exquisitely fascinating and award winning SPIRITED AWAY, CASTLE IN THE SKY underwhelms and with much trepidation would I recommend. However the 1986 film can still be appreciated for its incredible imagination and adventurous storyline that I’m sure long time fans will enjoy.
Video: (1080p 1.85:1) Obviously CASTLE IN THE SKY is old school animation from 1986 and blemishes are quite apparent compared to today’s standard. With that the colors and picture are an improvement from the original print.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Both English and Japanese version sound excellent. However, while watching the English version I noticed the subtitles didn’t match up which means the translation is probably a little off from the Japanese version.
Original Japanese Storyboards (2:04:41): This option allows you to watch CASTLE IN THE SKY with audio attached to the storyboard sketches.
The World of Laputa (2:19): Director Hayao Miyazaki discusses the inspiration for the flying city in CASTLE IN THE SKY.
Creating Castle In The Sky (3:41): Miyazaki talks some more about different influences and inspirations in making the film.
Character Sketches (2:40): Pazu and Sheeta have been in Miyazaki’s mind well before the creating CASTLE IN THE SKY.
The Producer’s Perspective: Meeting Miyazaki (3:14): Producer Toshio Suzuki discusses the beginning and continual friendship with the director.
Scoring Miyazaki (7:18): Composer Joe Hisaishi talks about the many scores he has produced with Miyazaki films including: NAUSICAA, TOTORO, PONYO and CASTLE IN THE SKY.
Behind the Microphone (4:08): American actors James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman, Mark Hamill and Mandy Patinkin discuss the joys of voice acting.
Original Japanese Trailers