Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Castle in the Sky

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
8 out of 10
Extras Rating:
6 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Starring:
James Van Der Beek as Pazu
Anna Paquin as Sheeta
Mark Hamill as Muska
Cloris Leachman as Dola
Mandy Patakin
Jim Cummings
Andy Dick

Special Features:
"Castle In The Sky" Introduction by John Lassiter
Complete Storyboards
Behind the Microphone with James Van Der Beek and Cloris Leachman
Original Japanese Trailers

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) - Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Original Japanese Language Track
French Language Track
Running Time: 125 Minutes

Synopsis:
Pazu lives in a world filled with wonderful machines. From fantastic flying airships to elaborate fortresses, his world is a blend of early WWI technology and fantasy. He is an orphan living a normal life as a mechanic in a mining town. However, nothing prepares him for the sight of an unconscious girl by the name of Sheeta drifting from the sky with a glowing crystal. He rescues her, but when she wakes up she remembers very little. What she does remember is that secret agents, the army, and pirates are pursuing her. She holds the key to finding the lost city of Luputa.

Luputa is a legendary castle that floats in the sky. It is rumored to hold powerful technology as well as wonderful treasures. Everyone wants it for their own selfish reasons. Pazu and Sheeta decide to find it first in order to keep it safe. What ensues is a fantastic chase under the earth and in the sky involving fighter airships, mysterious robots, and an army of soldiers. Whoever finds it first holds the fate of the world in their hands.

"Castle In The Sky" is not rated.

The Movie:
This movie was originally released in 1986 and was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the creator of the award winning film "Spirited Away". Disney has re-released it on DVD to cash in on the hype for "Spirited Away". I'm unfamiliar with Miyazaki's work, but I have to say that I enjoyed "Castle In The Sky" more than "Spirited Away". The story is much more straightforward and it features an amazing world full of fantastic machines and high adventure which appealed to me.

If I had to compare "Castle In The Sky" with anything, it would be Disney's "Atlantis" with a little of "The Iron Giant" thrown in. Both feature the search for a hidden lost city. Both have machines that look like crosses between Jules Verne designs and Moeibus designs. Both have chases between armies and a small band of heroes. Both cities feature alien technology powered by crystals. If you liked "Atlantis", you'll definitely like "Castle In The Sky". Even if you didn't like "Atlantis", I think you might want to give this a shot.

I really loved the crazy machines in the movie. The pirates flew these wonderful dragonfly fighters that helped give a great feeling of speed and flight to the story. The large flying ships, with hundreds of propellers, would never fly but that doesn't stop them from looking cool. The film had a great look with a mixture of real world and fantasy styles. You'd see this amazing flying ship with high technology, but the soldiers on it would be firing gatlin guns and using Morse code to send transmissions. People would be wearing bowlers in the middle of a town that could never exist in reality. It all blends together perfectly. All this works really well when the action kicks in. This has some of the best action scenes I've ever seen in an animated movie.

The English dub seems pretty good. For some odd reason, the DVD only hypes the involvement of James van der Beek and Cloris Leachman. Nowhere on the cover is Mark Hamill mentioned, and Anna Paquin only gets one tiny blurb. Throw in the talents of Jim Cummings, Andy Dick, and Mandy Patakin and you end up with a first rate cast.

If you're any kind of fan of adventure, animation, or action, I think "Castle In The Sky" is a movie you would enjoy. I just wish I had seen it sooner.

The Extras:
This DVD doesn't have as many extras as "Spirited Away", but the fact that this movie was from 1986 makes it understandable.

"Castle In The Sky" Introduction by John Lassiter - This is just a brief introduction by Pixar's John Lassiter. He sings the praises of Hayao Miyazaki and not much more. It's mainly another obstacle to jump before the movie starts.

Complete Storyboards - On the second disc, you can watch the entire movie in storyboard form. It is viewable in the Japanese or English version. I'm not entirely sure why you'd want to do this, but you can if you want to.

Behind the Microphone with James Van Der Beek and Cloris Leachman - This is a short Disney feature on the English dub of the movie. It features a slightly younger James van der Beek, Cloris Leachman, Mark Hamill, and Mandy Patakin. They discuss the challenges of dubbing the movie, their love for the story, and more. It's brief, but fun to watch after seeing the film.

Original Japanese Trailers - The trailers in Japan are very different from those in the US and this is a great example of it. They're fun to watch.

The Bottom Line:
If you're a fan of animation, anime, action, adventure, Atlantis, Star Wars, Iron Giant, or sci-fi in general, you may want to add this one to your DVD collection.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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