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Blu-ray Reviews

The Secret World of Arrietty Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 7 Matt Hough

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Posted May 13 2012 - 09:38 AM

A lovely if bittersweet tale of fleeting friendship, The Secret World of Arrietty brings another of Studio Ghibli’s memorable animated creations to Western audiences. It’s an involving and endearing fantasy as light as gossamer, and this new Blu-ray release allows viewers to watch either the original Japanese creation or its 2012 Gary Rydstrom-directed version with an American cast and some new music on the soundtrack. You can’t go wrong with either one.


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The Secret World of Arrietty (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Studio: Ghibli/Disney
Year: 2010
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 95 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Japanese; Dolby Digital 5.1 French
Subtitles: SDH, ESL, French


Region: A-B-C
MSRP: $ 39.99



Release Date: May 22, 2012

Review Date: May 13, 2012




The Film

4/5


Sickly, quiet, lonely twelve-year old Sho/Shawn (David Henrie in the English version) discovers that a family of tiny people are living under the floorboards of his home. They’re known as “Borrowers” since they borrow items from humans that won’t be missed (sugar cubes, bay leaves, pins, tissues). The Borrower family in Shawn’s house includes Pod (Will Arnett), his wife Homily (Amy Poehler), and their fourteen year old daughter Arrietty (Bridgit Mendler). Shawn finds out his mother and grandmother had suspected the existence of these miniature families and had even built a dollhouse for them to live in, but they could never make contact. Now that Shawn has met Arrietty, he wants them to become friends, even though the code of the Borrowers states that they must leave once they’re discovered. But busybody housemaid Haru (Carol Burnett) isn’t going to make that easy once she captures Homily. Shawn and Arrietty must band together to rescue her mother from her captivity.


The beautifully detailed watercolor-like textures of the animation are a constant delight, but don’t for a minute think that the film is just a pastoral snooze. There are several action scenes (an attack from a monstrous crow, the explorations of the house as Arrietty and her father must scale the levels of the home as if they were climbing mountains, and the exciting search and rescue of Homily), and the story penned by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa based on the book The Borrowers by Mary Norton doesn’t go to expected places which is very refreshing. There’s wonderful invention to the animation as the Borrowers make their way through the house (reminiscent of similar moments behind the walls in Pixar’s Ratatouille), and the details in that exquisite dollhouse made exclusively for the use of the Little People are a real source of delight. The film may also remind viewers of Arthur and the Invisibles though the touch here is more delicate and decidedly more winsome.


All of the voice work is excellent with Bridgit Mendler doing a first-rate job expressing the longing and excitement Arrietty expresses as she makes new discoveries and sets out on new adventures. Carol Burnett gets to screech and cackle as the wily Haru, and Amy Poehler matches her screech for screech as the easily excitable Homily. Will Arnett lends a strong, solid presence as Pod. And David Henrie as a young boy struggling with a heart condition but determined to protect his new friends is admirable.



Video Quality

5/5


The film is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is offered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Color is gorgeously saturated but with utmost control to never bloom, and the lines are rock solid with no twitter noticeable at all. There is also no evidence of banding in the image. The white subtitles (if used) are very easy to read. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



Audio Quality

5/5


The disc offers both the original Japanese version of the film and the newly recorded English soundtrack for its stateside release both in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For review purposes, I watched half of the film with each track, and there was no appreciable difference in the superb music placement around the soundstage (the English version does track in the song “Summertime” sung by Brigit Mendler over the closing credits not in the Japanese version) or the outstanding use of ambient sounds that pan through the soundfield from back to front or across from left to right. There’s a bit of directionalized dialogue, too, though most of it is focused in the center channel.




Special Features

3/5


All of the bonus features are presented in 1080p.


The entire film may be watched with the soundtracks in storyboard layouts rather than completed animation.


A montage of the original Japanese trailers and television spots for the film runs for 13 ¾ minutes.


“Arrietty’s Song” music video is performed by singer and harpist Cecile Corbel and runs for 3 ¾ minutes.


The “Summertime” music video is performed by English language Arrietty Bridgit Mendler and it runs for 3 minutes.


A brief behind-the-scenes interview with Bridgit Mendler about the writing of the song and filming of the music video runs 2 minutes.


The second disc in the package is the DVD version of the movie.


The disc offers promo trailers for Cinderella and Brave.



In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)


The Secret World of Arrietty is an exquisitely animated and emotionally satisfying animated story of friendship bringing another of Studio Ghibli’s creations to American shores. The Blu-ray offers the original and English language versions of the film looking and sounding at their absolute best. Highly recommended!




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC

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#2 of 7 Brian Kidd

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Posted May 13 2012 - 12:51 PM

I took my eight-year-old son to see ARIETTY in the theaters and was so glad I did. We both enjoyed it immensely. What a wonderful, gentle, funny film. It's a very worthy addition to the Studio Ghibli stable of films.
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#3 of 7 haineshisway

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Posted May 25 2012 - 06:05 PM

Watched it this evening - another Studio Ghibli masterpiece. However, I have to say it - the Japanese version is the masterpiece - subtle, understated, real performances, and lovely. I then watched thirty minutes of the dub and had to shut it off - the film didn't need MORE music, and the dub just coarsens everything and makes it sound like a Disney Channel show - it's not what these films are about. And the proof is that a fourteen-year-old I know hated it - until she watched it in Japanese and then she loved it. Can you imagine? A fourteen year old reading subtitles but she totally got into it and everything she hadn't liked about the dubbed was made right in the original.

#4 of 7 Edwin-S

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Posted May 25 2012 - 06:45 PM

Disney did the same thing on the DVD of "Kiki's Delivery Service". On the dub, they expanded the BGM and had the voice actor for Gigi (the cat) ad-lib a bunch of extra dialog, in order to make the character into a more "traditional" Disney sidekick. The result wasn't pleasant. Disney just can't seem to get that silence in a film can actually add something. Kiki is a good example. There were long stretches with no background music which made the film seem more introspective at times. Also, her cat was supposed to be a familiar, not a sidekick. In the Japanese version, it spoke only when it needed to, so what it had to say took on a bit more meaning.
"You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

#5 of 7 haineshisway

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Posted May 25 2012 - 07:22 PM

Disney did the same thing on the DVD of "Kiki's Delivery Service". On the dub, they expanded the BGM and had the voice actor for Gigi (the cat) ad-lib a bunch of extra dialog, in order to make the character into a more "traditional" Disney sidekick. The result wasn't pleasant. Disney just can't seem to get that silence in a film can actually add something. Kiki is a good example. There were long stretches with no background music which made the film seem more introspective at times. Also, her cat was supposed to be a familiar, not a sidekick. In the Japanese version, it spoke only when it needed to, so what it had to say took on a bit more meaning.

Kiki's Delivery Service is my favorite Ghibli film, just perfect - at least in Japanese. The dub was atrocious, completely changing and undermining the feel of the film - Phil Hartman as the cat was insufferable and a perfect example of how they go wrong in these dubs - they put dialogue where there was no dialogue and made the cat a smart-ass - terrible, and what's really terrible is that many people's only knowledge of the film is the dub - and they don't love it and they would if they'd get over this laziness about reading subtitles. It's a Japanese film and is part of that culture - it shouldn't sound like a Disney movie.

#6 of 7 Edwin-S

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Posted May 25 2012 - 07:46 PM

Kiki's Delivery Service is my favorite Ghibli film, just perfect - at least in Japanese. The dub was atrocious, completely changing and undermining the feel of the film - Phil Hartman as the cat was insufferable and a perfect example of how they go wrong in these dubs - they put dialogue where there was no dialogue and made the cat a smart-ass - terrible, and what's really terrible is that many people's only knowledge of the film is the dub - and they don't love it and they would if they'd get over this laziness about reading subtitles. It's a Japanese film and is part of that culture - it shouldn't sound like a Disney movie.

Yes, it's a favorite of mine as well. It's right up there with "Porco Rosso"; although, PR does edge it out a bit in my book. I get what you mean about the cat being a smart ass in the English dub. The other thing that really annoyed me was when they dropped the song that is playing on her radio and replaced it with some country sounding tune. It's another reason why I never watch the dub. I'm hoping to get my hands on the subject of this thread soon. I hope its better than "Tales of Earthsea". That was a bit of a disappointment.
"You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

#7 of 7 Guest__*

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Posted May 29 2012 - 06:56 PM

Are the songs in the Japanese version supposed to be in English? Seems kind of strange to me. I hope that wasn't mistake.





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