-

Jump to content



Photo
Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Ponyo



This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
86 replies to this topic

#1 of 87 ONLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer

  • 11,266 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted February 25 2010 - 02:19 PM

">">

Ponyo (Blu-ray)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Studio: Disney/Ghibli
Year: 2008
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 103 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese, French
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
Region: A
MSRP: $ 39.99

Release Date: March 2, 2010
Review Date: February 25, 2010
 
 
The Film
3.5/5
 
A lovely fantasy for the entire family (but primarily the younger set) distinguishes Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo. A reworking of some of the basic tenants of The Little Mermaid, Ponyo is long on charm but also long on running time (103 minutes) with pre-school and elementary school children as a target audience. That aside, the animation is alluring and quite arresting, the English voice casting for this version quite wonderful, and the story certainly one that carries a handful of life lessons families can work through after the film is over.
 
Young fish Brunhilde (Noah Cyrus) gets trapped in a jar and rescued from certain death by five year old human Sosuke (Frankie Jonas). Because he feeds her ham and she tastes his blood when she licks a cut on his hand from his rescue of her, she begins to morph into a magical human whom he christens “Ponyo.” The pair becomes devoted to each other, but her father Fujimoto (Liam Neeson), a sort of ocean caretaker, is concerned that a sea creature living on land will upset the natural balance of things, a prediction all too accurate as tidal waves begin engulfing the village where Sosuke lives with his mother (Tina Fey), who runs a home for the aged, and his sea captain father (Matt Damon) who is often gone for long stretches of time.
 
Those familiar with the previous magical works of the master filmmaker and Oscar winner Hayao Miyazaki will need no introduction to the pleasures his hand drawn features have to offer. The worlds of his imagination are magical places, and Ponyo captures so much of a child’s view of wonderment with the world around him, but the film isn’t cloying, and some of the nastiness of life (both natural disasters and human-induced) is never ignored or sugar-coated. (Some of the opening glimpses of the garbage laden sea bottom with Fujimoto grousing about humans’ inconsideration of others’ worlds makes a strong, finger-pointing statement. The animation of water with floating sediment in it in a few shots is rather hypnotic.) The uniqueness of vision, however, is quite startling as the giant waves of a tsunami take on the appearance of monstrous sea serpents and giant fish swirling and growing to mammoth sizes. All of the glorious colors of the rainbow are present, but they’re used in very unusual ways: gold, for instance, becoming a symbolic representation of destruction. The screenplay written by the director may have a juvenile bent, but the devotion of the children, their love for their parents under even infuriating circumstances, even its depiction of old people eager to continue to take part in life give the story a universality that all can enjoy and appreciate.
 
The voices for the English version distributed here by Disney uses two primary children from families of Disney contract players. Both Noah Cyrus (Miley’s younger sister) and Frankie Jonas (a younger Jonas brother) give believable life to the animated characters that children will certainly identify with. Liam Neeson’s deep, threatening baritone works well as the fearsome father of the title character. Tina Fey has pluck and grit as the mother who’s having to do a great amount of the parenting with her husband away for lengthy spells. Cate Blanchett has a queenly air about her as Ponyo’s mother, a kind of goddess of mercy who gives her blessings on the transformation. Cloris Leachman, Betty White, and Lily Tomlin each contribute fun caricatures of the elderly with more life in their shaky limbs than even they suspected.
 
 
Video Quality
4.5/5
 
The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Colors are beautifully delivered here, mostly pastel hues but still nicely saturated with no blooming evident. Sharpness is rock solid with no line pixilation observable. There are some glimpses of faint banding with some of the lighter skies late in the film, but the artifact isn’t prominent and doesn’t really spoil the effect of the gorgeous animation. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.
 
 
Audio Quality
4/5
 
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is very effective combining the lithe and charming music score by Joe Hisaishi with efficient sound effects of ocean waves, wind, and other sea sounds into a very bracing and immersive combination using a better than adequate spread through the soundstage for panning effects (especially front to rear ones). The low end of sound doesn’t quite hit the mark it needs to hit in terms of the storm sequences, so the LFE channel doesn’t get quite the workout it should.
 
 
Special Features
5/5
 
The film can be played with or without a “Meet Ponyo” introduction which runs 3 ½ minutes in 1080p. The film may also be played with picture-in-picture overlaid storyboards for the movie.
 
Unless otherwise noted, the featurettes are presented in 1080p.
 
“Creating Ponyo is a 4-minute interview with director Hayao Miyazaki in which he expresses his philosophy of filmmaking and his perspectives of nature which led him to write the script for the movie.
 
“Ponyo & Fujimoto” finds the director explaining the origin of the name of the movie’s main character and his ideas about fashioning the father originally as more evil and destructive than the final character ended up being. It runs 3 minutes.
 
“The Nursery” examines the part that the Ghibli Studio’s nursery had on influencing the way the nursery in the movie is portrayed. This runs for 2 minutes.
 
“A Conversation with Hayao Miyazaki and John Lasseter” presents the film’s director and Disney’s executive producer discussing the film and Lasseter’s admiration for the director’s other works. This lasts 3 ½ minutes.
 
“Behind the Microphone: The Voices of Ponyo shows some of the big name talent recording lines for the English-language version of the movie. There are also brief introductions of the film’s two young leads: Noah Cyrus and Frankie Jonas. This runs 6 minutes.
 
“Producers’ Persective: Telling the Story” shows us how the filmmakers start with story sketches which lead to full storyboards and then on to animation. Clips from several of Miyazaki’s films now distributed on DVD by Disney are also shown in this 2 ½ minute vignette.
 
“Scoring Miyazaki” is a 7 ¼-minute introduction to composer Joe Hisaishi as he explains themes to some of the films he has scored for the director (including clips once again from these works).
 
“The Scenery in Ghibli: Locations of Ponyo gives us a brief tour of Seto Inland Sea which offered inspiration to the director before he mapped out the story to his film. This 1080i featurette lasts 9 ½ minutes.
 
There are two original Japanese trailers which are combined into one 3 ½ minute featurette.
 
The disc offers three featurettes from the bonus features on other Hayao Miyazaki films distributed by Disney. From My Neighbor Totoro is “Creating My Neighbor Totoro (3 minutes). Kiki’s Delivery Service has “Creating Kiki’s Delivery Service(2 ½ minutes), while Castle in the Sky offers up a 2 ¾-minute feature on character sketches from the movie.
 
The World of Ghibli is a series of interactive maps which allows users to click around the worlds of four different Hayao Miyazaki features: Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky, and My Neighbor Totoro. The map offers clips from the films, descriptions of the stories and characters from these movies, and games and puzzles based on the films. Watching every feature in this section will take a minimum of 195 ¾ minutes.
 
The disc offers 1080p trailers for Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story 1 & 2, The Princess and the Frog, Toy Story 3, Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, Tinker Bell, and Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, among others.
 
The second disc in the set is the DVD version of the movie.
 
 
In Conclusion
4/5 (not an average)
 
Ponyo will thrill fans of traditional line animation, and the story has enough interest for both young children and adults to make it a recommended experience. The voluminous bonus features with the Blu-ray will really immerse you in the world of director Hayao Miyazaki making the entire package something animation fans will undoubtedly want to experience.
 
 
 
 
Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC


#2 of 87 OFFLINE   kemcha

kemcha

    Second Unit

  • 376 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 31 2009

Posted February 25 2010 - 02:24 PM

Thanks for posting, Matt. Hayao Miyazaki is one of the premiere anime directors in Japan. It's only regrettable that Disney can't speed up the releases of the Ghibli  movie library onto Blu-ray.

#3 of 87 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

Adam Gregorich

    Executive Producer

  • 14,831 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 20 1999
  • LocationThe Other Washington

Posted February 25 2010 - 03:28 PM

I thought it was odd that only ponyo made it to Blu-ray this round.  Thanks for the review Matt.  I can't wait to watch this on with my kids.

#4 of 87 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

Edwin-S

    Producer

  • 5,581 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 20 2000

Posted February 25 2010 - 04:52 PM

Is this properly subtitled or is it dubtitled? Is the subtitle track strictly a descriptive track for the deaf and hard of hearing or is therealso a standard subtitle track?
"You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

#5 of 87 OFFLINE   kemcha

kemcha

    Second Unit

  • 376 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 31 2009

Posted February 25 2010 - 06:04 PM

Edwin, if you want to know the answer to that question, simply watch or rent the previous Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli films that Disney has released before. Every release contains an English dubbed track as well as the original Japanese audio track with English subtitles.

This release is the same as any other anime release. Subtitles are not word for word of what is being spoken by the voice actors. But, rather just a close-as-you-can-get translation of the original Japanese audio track. The reason for that is that studios like Walt Disney, Funimation, Bandai can fit more of the translation on the screen than what is spoken in the English dubbed track. 

#6 of 87 OFFLINE   Kenneth Lee

Kenneth Lee

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 56 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 12 2000

Posted February 26 2010 - 12:22 PM

Hi Matt,

Thanks for the great review. :) 

@ Adam: FYI, Buena Vista / Disney confirmed that Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind would be coming to Blu-Ray in Japan this summer! :) (Which thankfully we can all play w/ our U.S. Blu-Ray Players :) (love it!). They also said they were going to be bringing out the rest of the Miyazaki library to Blu-Ray "in 2010."

I'm just bummed the U.S. Blu-Ray skips out on an HD Original Japanese Language Audio Track. I'm thinking about picking up both the Japanese Blu-Ray release instead:

Japanese Edition:Japanese: DTS-HD Master / 6.1 / 48 kHz / 4537 kbps / 24-bitEnglish: Dolby Digital Audio / 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbpsFrench, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese: Dolby Digital / 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps Subtitles: English, French, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese  Trailer: 2 versions TV spots: 11 versions Collaboration TV spots: 3 versions NTV TV spots: 2 versions Credit-less ending: 5 minutes Theme song announcement press conference: 11 minutes Voice recording: 25min The first day opening greeting: 10 minutes Hayao Miyazaki interview: 15 minutes A talk between Toshio Suzuki and Toshio Tsuchiya: 30 minutes NTV's program NEWS ZERO spin-off "Five genius craftsmen": 49 minutes A collection of document film "Hayao Miyazaki wise remarks": 40 minutes A collection of document film "Venice International Film Festival": 13min Theme song music video: 4min


#7 of 87 OFFLINE   TonyD

TonyD

    Executive Producer

  • 16,146 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 01 1999
  • Real Name:Tony D.
  • LocationDisney World and Universal Florida

Posted February 26 2010 - 01:18 PM

I was a little disappointed in this one. I watched it on dvd over the weekend.
Most of the animation is very minimalistic with several scenes that are extraordinarily beautiful.
Such as when the Mother is on screen.

Maybe if i rent the blu ray and watch the Japanese track I'll appreciate the movie more.

I'd say 2.5 out of 5

facebook.com/whotony

#8 of 87 OFFLINE   kemcha

kemcha

    Second Unit

  • 376 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 31 2009

Posted February 27 2010 - 04:44 AM

Ponyo does have a strange relationship with anime fans and that resentment is a little mixed. Half of anime fans who have watched the movie love it while the other half hate it. But, you have have those Miyazaki fans who love the movie because it's a Mityazaki movie and Studio Ghibli release. While some Ghibli films are less than desirable, I do own all of them beceause they are Ghibli movies ...

I do have plans on buying the Ponyo movie but I have heard reviews from both sides of the aisle.

Anime fans are fickle when it comes to their anime and this is no different. You either like it or you hate it.

#9 of 87 OFFLINE   Miles

Miles

    Second Unit

  • 284 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 31 1969

Posted February 27 2010 - 12:46 PM

Should be a 2/5 or 3/5 for audio due to low-rez original audio track


Just my opinion though...


As for the animation, I thought it was quite beautiful.



#10 of 87 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

Edwin-S

    Producer

  • 5,581 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 20 2000

Posted February 28 2010 - 05:46 AM

I'll rent this one first. It doesn't sound anywhere near as good as his earlier films such as Totoro or Kiki's Delivery Service.
"You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

#11 of 87 OFFLINE   AaronMK

AaronMK

    Supporting Actor

  • 768 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 30 1999
  • Real Name:Aaron Karp
  • LocationOrlando, FL

Posted February 28 2010 - 04:34 PM


Quote:
Should be a 2/5 or 3/5 for audio due to low-rez original audio track.


I agree that additional emphasis should have been placed on the original language track. Or maybe separate score for the Japanese and English tracks.  One thing I have liked about reviews on this forum in the past is that part of their context has been how well it represents the original source material, be it lack of filtering, aspect ratios, etc.  I think that is lacking in this review.

For those with children, who prefer dubbing to subtitles, or are interested in the Americanized experience, I think it is great that the effort put into the dub and this disc will serve them well.  For them, I think this review is well done and a great resource, so please know the criticisms come with appreciation for the review as well.


#12 of 87 OFFLINE   cafink

cafink

    Producer

  • 3,037 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 19 1999

Posted March 01 2010 - 01:17 AM

I agree with Miles and Aaron.

I appreciate that Ponyo is a family film and that because a lot of children will be viewing it, an English-language audio track is necessary for a U.S. release.  I can even go along with the decision to make the English dub the default audio track for that reason.  But the Home Theater Forum's mission statement says that we "are interested in the film product to be recorded and reproduced as closely as possible to the way the original creator(s) of that particular film intended."  Therefore, the quality of the original Japanese audio track should be an important factor in the disc's audio score.  Why didn't Matt consider it at all when giving Ponyo's audio an undeserved score of 4 out of 5?

 

 


#13 of 87 ONLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer

  • 11,266 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted March 01 2010 - 02:24 AM

I considered reviewing the Japanese language version, but there were several reasons why I didn't.

Disney went to great trouble and expense to hire star voice talent and create an English language VERSION of the film supervised by executive producer John Lasseter. Note the names of its starry cast in the packaging. Clearly Disney meant the film to be judged on the basis of the English version they were creating for its American theatrical and home video release. Since animated films' audio tracks are all ADR produced anyway, this is a very different thing from reviewing a live action foreign film with crude English dubbing, something I would not likely do.

The only English subtitle option was the SDH track, and I felt that would be very distracting from the visuals with the descriptions of sounds taking up more of the screen than simple subtitles would. Since Disney didn't provide a simple English subtitle option, again I felt that was their cue that the English-language version was the one they wished to be considered.

#14 of 87 OFFLINE   cafink

cafink

    Producer

  • 3,037 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 19 1999

Posted March 01 2010 - 03:07 AM

It's no surprise that Disney is treating the English dub with primacy.  Again, I don't even particularly begrudge them that.  But regardless of how much care they've put into the dub, or how much they've chosen to highlight it as the "real" version of the film, Disney is not the "original creator(s) of that particular film," so acquiescing to their insistence in giving preference to the dub still violates the HTF mission statement, doesn't it?

Even more frustrating is the omission of a real English subtitle track.  Are you saying that it's impossible to watch the film in Japanese with English subtitles without having descriptions of sound effects?  That is simply unacceptable for release in English-speaking countries.

Again, I understand how this release would be perfectly fine for families who just want to watch Ponyo with their kids.  But the HTF has a mission statement (with which I strongly agree) that goes beyond that and pretty clearly lays out what we should expect from a DVD or Blu-ray release, and Disney's Ponyo Blu-ray doesn't meet those expectations at all.  For that reason, I can't agree that this release deserves a 4/5.

 

 


#15 of 87 OFFLINE   AaronMK

AaronMK

    Supporting Actor

  • 768 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 30 1999
  • Real Name:Aaron Karp
  • LocationOrlando, FL

Posted March 01 2010 - 06:31 AM


Quote:
The only English subtitle option was the SDH track.

A lot of people a are thinking "Well, it sucks that the dub is lossy, but if its $15, I'll still bit."  If I were not going to be in Japan on vacation in a month, I might have bitten that bullet as well.  None of the reviews have mentioned that the subtitles are SDH only.  That is a pretty important bit of information.  A lossy track, while not up to quality one should expect when purchasing a blu-ray, is not distracting.  SDH subtitles are.  That would have been a make or break for many at pretty much any price.

Quote:
 Disney went to great trouble and expense to hire star voice talent and create an English language VERSION of the film supervised by executive producer John Lasseter.

As someone on another forum said:

"I don't care if they have Jesus Christ and James Earl Jones on the dub; that's irrelevant to me. I want the original language track in lossless audio."

I applaud Disney for the effort in creating a great dub, especially considering all the kids who will and have enjoyed this movie.  However, its third party studio pushing that as the preferred way to watch the film and crippling efforts to watch the film in its original form.  If you were reviewing a P&S only release, would it be scored well because the studio not providing an OAR option is their cue that the P&S is the one they wish to be considered?

Quote:
 
Since animated films' audio tracks are all ADR produced anyway, this is a very different thing from reviewing a live action foreign film with crude English dubbing, something I would not likely do.

I'll grant that the style of the animation makes the dubbing less distracting.  Still, it is painfully obvious that the dub actors are tying to fill shoes that don't quite fit them.  They are having to time their lines to fit mouth movement not animated for what they are saying.  They are not just acting, but doing a tightrope walk as well.  As a result, performances come off a bit flat, and lack character in comparison to their Japanese counterparts.  This is no less detrimental to the realization of a character than P&S is to a cinematographer's composition.

Pretty much all live action films make extensive use of ADR.  Even in animated films, characters are no less animated to fit the actors doing the voice performance than the costumes and dialog are tuned to fit the live action actor.

Matt, you make some really good points that are not lost on us, especially the benefits of a well done dub for the right audience and on a medium that makes it less distracting.  So please take this as constructive criticism/debate. However, I think your review was a bit misguided, especially considering the forum for which it was written.



#16 of 87 OFFLINE   Jari

Jari

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 95 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 13 2002

Posted March 01 2010 - 06:44 AM

Thanks for the review Matt!

But no lossless audio for original soundtrack? Up yours Disney!


#17 of 87 ONLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer

  • 11,266 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted March 01 2010 - 08:48 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by cafink View Post

It's no surprise that Disney is treating the English dub with primacy.  Again, I don't even particularly begrudge them that.  But regardless of how much care they've put into the dub, or how much they've chosen to highlight it as the "real" version of the film, Disney is not the "original creator(s) of that particular film," so acquiescing to their insistence in giving preference to the dub still violates the HTF mission statement, doesn't it?

 
Carl,

I understand you points and your objections, but I made an executive decision in light of the fact that the original Japanese film is NOT what Disney released in this country (its title, as I'm sure you know, was Gake no ue no Ponyo  translated Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). Disney has put out on Blu-ray the home video of the film it released to theaters in the United States with an English-language voice cast, and this is what I have reviewed.

I do not feel I have violated the mission statement of Home Theater Forum by doing as I have done. If you or others feel differently, I'm sorry, but I want you to know that the decision I made was not made rashly or without consideration to all factors.

#18 of 87 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

Edwin-S

    Producer

  • 5,581 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 20 2000

Posted March 01 2010 - 10:38 AM

Now I can't even be bothered to rent it. Thanks Disney. Why do you people always have to repeat the same mistakes over and over and over? This was a foreign film with a foreign language and as such it should have had a standard subtitle track, in addition to the SDH track. The same battle was fought over ensuring that all of Miyazaki's earlier films had proper subtitles and the original language track. A person expected the lessons learned from that battle to be applied to any future Miyazaki release, but here we are years later and we're back at square one in regards to ensuring that original language tracks are given proper subtitle tracks. I have lost all respect for Lasseter. Ever since he took over the animation reins at Disney, he has contracted the dreaded DID (Disney Industrial Disease). 
"You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

#19 of 87 OFFLINE   TonyD

TonyD

    Executive Producer

  • 16,146 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 01 1999
  • Real Name:Tony D.
  • LocationDisney World and Universal Florida

Posted March 01 2010 - 11:34 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH. 



Carl,

I understand you points and your objections, but I made an executive decision in light of the fact that the original Japanese film is NOT what Disney released in this country (its title, as I'm sure you know, was Gake no ue no Ponyo  translated Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea). Disney has put out on Blu-ray the home video of the film it released to theaters in the United States with an English-language voice cast, and this is what I have reviewed.

I do not feel I have violated the mission statement of Home Theater Forum by doing as I have done. If you or others feel differently, I'm sorry, but I want you to know that the decision I made was not made rashly or without consideration to all factors.
I agree with a lot of this except the part I bolded, are you saying that because it has a English title this is a different movie?
The title doesn't make it a different movie unless the entire film was re-edited and totally re-imagined for the U.S..
Is this what happened?
As far as I knew this is still exactly the same film just with an English title.


facebook.com/whotony

#20 of 87 OFFLINE   Andrew Pierce

Andrew Pierce

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 187 posts
  • Join Date: May 22 2002
  • Real Name:Andrew Pierce
  • LocationMinneapolis

Posted March 01 2010 - 12:02 PM

By this logic, this Ponyo release means that it is unlikely that Miyazaki's film Gake no ue no Ponyo will get a proper US release. And what would it have taken to do it correctly? A proper English subtitle track (which is 99% done, someone would have just had to spend an afternoon to edit down the existing SDH track (or email the Japanese affiliate for theirs) and MAYBE a lossless version of the Japanese track (which also already exists out there). I can certainly understand making the dub the default, and even why the lossless Japanese audio -- that's a bit budget issue. But to issue a US release where I don't have the option to watch it in Japanese with proper English subtitles? Damn. I'll still BUY it, and any other Myazaki release I can get, but I certainly take issue.