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Blu-ray Review Castle in the Sky Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, May 17, 2012.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    With its fantasy firmly intact and a pair of appealing protagonists in the forefront, Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky remains one of the crown jewels of Studio Ghibli. Featuring luscious animation and a fanciful story that dwells not on its sci-fi elements but on the humanity underneath it all, Castle in the Sky is an almost total delight.



    Castle in the Sky (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
    Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

    Studio: Studio Ghibli/Disney
    Year: 1986
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 125 minutes
    Rating: PG
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; 2.0 Japanese; Dolby Digital 2.0 French
    Subtitles: SDH, ESL, French

    Region: A-B-C
    MSRP: $ 39.99


    Release Date: May 22, 2012

    Review Date: May 17, 2012




    The Film

    4.5/5


    Pazu (Mayumi Tanaka in the original Japanese version, James Van Der Beek in the English adaptation) is amazed to see a young girl Sheeta (Keiko Yokozawa, Anna Paquin) floating down to Earth from the sky. He comes to learn that she’s escaped from an airship that was attacked by space pirates led by the dominating Dola (Kotoe Hatsui, Cloris Leachman). The local army being guided by a government agent Muska (Minori Terada, Mark Hamill) wants to put the girl under its protection as the duo learns both the pirates and the government are looking for the floating island of Laputa which allegedly holds a vast treasure. But little do Pazu and Sheeta know that Muska has another reason for needing to locate Laputa, something that only Sheeta can help him with since she has an etherium crystal that can not only point the way to the floating island but can also harness the incredible power the island holds.


    Director Hayao Miyazaki’s story takes its sweet time (almost ninety minutes) getting us to this legendary floating island, but he uses the time wisely in helping us get to know the plucky and winning personalities of his two young leads, and while the science fiction elements are a lot of fun (including daunting robots and space sleds that resemble mosquitoes), they don’t overpower the story. It’s grounded in a typical Studio Ghibli way with its lessons about selflessness and compassion that never grow stale, and one admires the sleight of hand Miyazaki pulls midway through the movie when allegiances get scrambled. The animation is unusually superb with aerial views that are simply breathtaking, and an exploration of a cave where the rocks coming to “life” have a majesty and beauty that are almost magical.


    Both the Japanese and English-language casts do well by their roles. Keiko Yokozawa and Anna Paquin take similar approaches to the innocent Sheeta though Paquin’s natural accent which she seems to be trying to disguise slips through from time to time. James Van Deer Beek plays Pazu a bit younger than Japanese counterpart Mayumi Tanaka, but both performances work just fine for the film. Cloris Leachman and Kotoe Hatsui both take the crabby, cantankerous route to their Dola performances, and they’re equally delightful and effective. Mark Hamill plays Muska in a much smarmier fashion than Minori Terada who tends to be gruff and autocratic from the get-go. Hamill’s take is much more effective in terms of the ironic revelations about the character late in the movie.



    Video Quality

    4.5/5


    The film has been framed at its theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and the transfer is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Colors are vivid and eye-catching throughout and are in firm control with never any blooming to spoil their effectiveness. Contrast has been consistently maintained optimizing the amount of detail one can observe in the animation. There is some minor banding that can be glimpsed here and there, but it’s never a serious problem. The subtitles (when used) are in white and are easy to read. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



    Audio Quality

    4.5/5


    The English language version boasts a DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 sound mix (the liner notes incorrectly identify it as 5.1), and it’s a very effective redo of the original two channel mix. There is a fair amount of noticeable low end with this mix that is not as evident in the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 sound mix for the Japanese language version. The English track also boasts some directionalized dialogue which is not present in the Japanese mix. Both mixes, however, present Joe Hisaishi’s lilting and inspiring score to excellent advantage. (For the purposes of review, I listened to approximately one hour of each language track.)



    Special Features

    4/5


    Unless otherwise noted, the featurettes are in 1080p.


    An introduction to the film by John Lasseter can be turned on or off before the feature begins. It lasts one minute and is in 480i.


    The entire film can be watched with the original storyboards running 125 minutes.


    “The World of Laputa” finds director Hayao Miyazaki describing his travels to Cardiff to see the mines there to get inspiration for the mine sequences in the movie. This runs 2 ¼ minutes.


    “Creating Castle in the Skylets director Hayao Miyazaki discuss his reason for creating the film, a desire to write his own sci-fi adventure tale. He also elaborates on his admiration for the works of Jules Verne and his love of the robots in Superman which inspired his robots in the movie. This interview lasts 3 ¾ minutes.


    “Character Sketches” has director Miyazaki discussing why he wanted his two lead characters to be an ordinary boy and girl without super powers. This runs 2 ¾ minutes.


    “Producer’s Perspective” introduces us to producer Isao Takahata who describes his rocky first meeting with the master director and how they eventually came to work together. This lasts 3 ¼ minutes.


    “Scoring Miyazaki” features a 7 ¼-minute interview with composer Joe Hisaishi who discusses his inspirations for several of the films he’s scored for the director including Castle in the Sky.


    “Behind the Microphone” shows actors James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman, Mark Hamill, and Mandy Patinkin (who plays Dola’s oldest son Louis) at work behind-the-scenes recording their dialogue for the English language version of the movie. This runs 4 ¼ minutes. It’s in 480i.


    The original Japanese trailers for the movie are presented in a 4 ¼-minute montage.


    The disc features promo trailers for Brave and Cinderella.


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



    In Conclusion

    4.5/5 (not an average)


    A beautifully crafted and involving sci-fi adventure told in the alluring animated style of Studio Ghibli, Castle in the Sky is not to be missed. The Blu-ray shows both picture and sound to excellent advantage and comes very highly recommended.




    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

     
  2. svenge

    svenge Stunt Coordinator

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    You forgot to mention that this release is DUB-TITLED. For those who don't know what that means, dub-titles are when a subtitle track is represented as the literal translation for the Japanese audio but is in fact merely a transcript of the dub's inaccurate adapted dialogue. It completely kills the release for those who want to watch the movie in its original language (myself included).
    For those who want literal subtitles for their Japanese audio, the only viable options are the Japanese release (which has an English dub) and the much less expensive Hong Kong release (which doesn't). Since I don't want or need a dub, I got the HK release from DDDHouse.
     
  3. dmiller68

    dmiller68 Supporting Actor

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    I really like this movie. It is one of Studio Ghibli best movies although all of them are worth a watch.
     
  4. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Producer

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    Considering how bad the literal subs were on the original US dvd release of Laputa (loaded with holes, timing problems, and spelling and gramatical errors), I'm not sure dubtitles is a huge drawback especially considering how nearly all of Jack Fletcher's pointless additions were removed from the most recent releases.
     
  5. svenge

    svenge Stunt Coordinator

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    The Japanese DVD that I have of Laputa had no such subtitle problems, nor do the JP and HK Blu-rays...
     

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