‘Castle in the Sky’ Blu-ray Review

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'Castle in the Sky' Blu-ray Review

One of my favorite animated movies has always been ‘Castle in the Sky’, the very first Studio Ghibli film. After a small run in America, it made it was re-released again in 2003, where it gained Studio Ghibli even more traction after the success of ‘Spirited Away’. This was the second of their films I saw, and it has been a personal favorite ever since. The  exciting steampunk adventure has an incredible voice cast including Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman, and Mark Hamill.  This is one of my all time favorite movies, and I’m excited to say that Disney has done an outstanding job on this new blu-ray release.

When Pazu (Van Der Beek) discovers Sheeta (Paquin) falling from the sky, he decides it his job to protect her. They both soon discover that they’re both looking for the mystical floating castle, Laputa. Together, they set off on a quest to find the castle, while they begin an amazing friendship. But they aren’t the only ones looking for Laputa, as a ruthless mad man known as Colonel Muska (Hamill) follows there trail, as well as a pack of air pirates led by Captain Dola (Leachman). No one can be trusted, so Pazu and Sheeta must stay together as they embark on their quest to find the mythical castle.

I’ve always found that ‘Castle in the Sky’ is one of the absolutely best adventure films that’s been made. It sort of reminds me of the old 1930s and 1940s serials, and is in the vein of Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Rocketeer. This is a movie full of things like sky pirates, steam punk style automobiles and weapons, spies, action and adventure, and more than a few bad guys, so you don’t know who is to be trusted. It’s a classic example of how to perfectly execute adventure films, and I’m glad to say that the movie still holds up as well today as it did when it was created almost twenty years ago. Hayao Miyazaki is a visionary, and as his first film out the gate of his new studio, he couldn’t have made a better movie. It’s not only some of the most fun I’ve had watching a movie, but it’s one that is incredibly well balanced and never loses site of its characters. That’s something that is very important in a movie like this, because a movie can only be so good if you don’t care about the characters, but thankfully Miyazaki knows that and gives us two characters truly worth rooting for in Pazu and Sheeta. They’re young, impressionable, and innocent, and to have them thrown into this crazy adventure is something that makes it that much more compelling. And the friendship that they grow to have feels so real and natural that you never question it. I’ve noticed something over the years as I watch Miyazaki’s movies, as well as those from Studio Ghibli, and that’s the eye for characters and how they mesh together. Everyone one of their movies has incredibly strong characters that you can’t help but fall in love with and care about. I’ve always enjoyed that about their movies, and ‘Castle in the Sky’ is no exception.

This movie also features what may be one of my all time favorite movie villains in Colonel Muska, voiced by Mark Hamill. I’ve always loved the character, and Hamill’s excellent voice work really brings this despicable character to life, much in the same way he brought the Joker to life in the animated ‘Batman’ series. He’s just so good at voice work, and I like his character in this. He’s that truly ruthless man that is always looking for more power, and he’ll do anything to get it. It’s a little Bond villain like, but I love it. I also love Captain Dola, who is voiced by Cloris Leachman. She’s a sky pirate who may have more of a heart of gold than she lets on, and Leachman delivers in spades. Her voice and delivery so perfectly fits the character, and she has some of my favorite moments in the movie. I also really do enjoy Van Der Beek and Paquin as well. They bring a sort of youth and innocence to their characters, and they really make you feel for them, and believe in this friendship they’ve created. If you don’t believe in that, the story falls apart, but thankfully they deliver. The action in this movie is incredibly well crafted and very exciting. One of my favorite scenes in the film is a chase scene in the beginning of the film involving a train. It’s just so well done, and it alone is worth checking this movie out for. But this movie also features gun fights, mid air battles, and so much more, it really is exciting. As I’ve said before, it’s a perfect adventure film.

Disney once again doesn’t disappointing with this fantastic blu-ray release. I’ve seen this movie many, many, many times over the years, and it’s never looked nearly as good as it does here, sporting a brand new high definition transfer, courtesy of Disney. Seriously, the movie looks brand new to me, which is a huge compliment. It absolutely blew my DVD version out of the water. I was so impressed by it, it almost felt like I’d never seen the movie before. No print damage, the colors are more vibrant than ever, and the animation looks near flawless. This is the best this movie has ever looked, and probably will ever look. Making things even better, Disney has made sure that the movie features it’s original Japanese score, which makes the impressive 5.1 DTS-HD audio that much better! The movie sounds fantastic, with the score being sweeping and epic, the dialogue is crystal clear, and no shortage of power when the action gets going. Fans of the original Japanese language track will also be happy to note that it is included here as well, which is great. This is, not surprisingly, another great release from a technical standpoint from Disney. They really know how to deliver the goods. The movie also features a nice selection of bonus features, including an introduction of the movie from John Lasseter, a three part Behind the Studio look that talks about The World of Laputa, Creating the movie, and sketches of the characters. You also get a look at meeting Miyazaki, a look behind the microphone with the actors, and much more. This is a great bunch of special features, which makes the movie that much more exciting to pick up. Fans of the film will be very pleased.

‘Castle in the Sky’ is one of those movies that is just about perfect. With a great voice cast that really brings their characters to life, exciting action, a great story, and some of the best animation I’ve ever seen, it’s hard not to love the movie. It excels at what it sets out to do, which is tell an engaging story about friendship through this rip roaring steam punk adventure. They don’t make many movies like this anymore, which is really a shame. The movie is proving to withstand the test of time, feeling as new and relevant now as it did when it came out. Stacked with a great video transfer, excellent sound, and a great array of bonus features, I honestly can’t recommend this blu-ray enough. Fans are going to love it, while those who have never seen it can fall in love with it in the best way possible.  This is worthy to add to your blu-ray collection, whether you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli or not. This is just a great film that all should see. Highly recommended.

Rating: A+

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'Castle in the Sky' Blu-ray Review

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