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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 18 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on May 5, 2003
I'm going to Japan this summer, so after reading all the great reviews on this site, I thought this movie would be a great thing to watch. I was quite disappointed.
There is no denying that the animation is great. Everything is very nicely drawn. However the story is confusing. The story revolves around a young girl who becomes trapped in a magical world is spirits. I don't know where these spirits came from or what they do. It seems that this girl is constantly getting scared and running away from scary spirits. But the movie never explains why these spirits don't like humans. She befriends another young boy who turns into a dragon. How and why does he turn into a dragon? I'm so confused.
This was the first anime movie I've ever watched. Perhaps Japanese people know more about Japanese stories and mythology and can fill in the gaps. But for a North American audience I feel that more should have been explained.
Overall, this movie is worth watching. However I suggest renting it instead of buying it.
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on May 3, 2003
In Hayao Miyazaki's Oscar-winning animated feature, "Spirited Away," a young girl by the name of Chihiro and her parents stumble across an abandoned "amusement park" that turns out to be a mysterious bathhouse for the spirit world (a la "Carnival of Souls"). After her parents are turned into pigs, the young girl must infiltrate the bathhouse to find a way to make them human again. Chihiro encounters an amazing array of strange and exotic creatures abiding there, some of whom help her in her quest and some of whom don't.
No one would ever deny the visual splendor and wealth of imagination that have gone into the look of this film. The animators have created an entire world filled with inhabitants that defy description. Moreover, the elegance of the backgrounds and the fluidity of the movement provide some of the best work in those areas that animation has ever offered. One appreciates the effort, especially in this day and age when imagination in movies is at such a premium. Therefore, I feel like a bit of an ingrate pointing out that "Spirited Away" might actually have been a somewhat better film had the filmmakers opted for a little LESS imagination in favor of a little more discipline in the storytelling. The filmmakers are so busy trying to dazzle us with their creativity that we end up with more characters and subplots than the film can reasonably cope with. The story often feels arbitrary in nature, with events that seem unrelated to each other vying for our attention just so we can be impressed with how creative everyone is trying to be. The film seems to ramble for a good part of the time, and we find ourselves yearning for a tighter, more streamlined narrative to help keep us involved. In addition, there's a certain lack of logic that runs through most of the film, making us question why certain characters do what they do. For instance, why would a bunch of spirits be so concerned with eating, sleeping, making money, riding trains, etc.? The rules of this world don't seem to be laid down rigorously enough for us to understand what it's all supposed to be about.
I don't want to sound like a total curmudgeon in criticizing a film that, apparently, many people, including innumerable critics, have hailed as a masterpiece. And I do concede that "Spirited Away" has moments of great beauty and charm to more than compensate for its rather slow pacing and excessive length. A haunting trip on a ghostly train is, perhaps, the highlight of the film, a transcendent moment that hints at how great the rest of the film could have been had its makers not felt the need to pad out the story so consistently. Chihiro is a spunky, poignant and noble heroine, and a few of the other characters are compelling as well.
"Spirited Away" offers much for the audience to gape and marvel at, but it lacks the drama to make us really care.
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on April 28, 2003
Another stunning film by, Hayao Miyazaki, the undisputed master of animation this film suffers from many of the flaws of Princess Mononoke and other masterpieces of Japanese animation: a combination of almost random imagery and shocking leaps between brutality and tenderness and between gravity and silliness. For those comfortable with these features of the genre, this film will stand out as clearly the finest yet made: an essential part of any serious anime collection and easily worth a dozen viewings. However, viewers new to serious anime (we're not talking Speed Racer here) and especially those with young children, should take care: this film, like many of its predecessors (notably Mononoke) contains disturbing images that will not be suitable for all audiences. Moreover, because these images are -- in typical anime fashion -- often dreamily disconnected from any real narrative purpose, they are all the more shocking, especially to those expecting a family animation experience along the lines of Lion King. For the daring though, well worth a try; but be sure to pre-view it before sitting the family in front of it.
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on March 31, 2003
This fantasy won the Academy award. It was typical Japanese fare, similar to the old 'Speed Racer' my children watched on t.v. It was an antimated GHOSTBUSTERS or similar to the Scooby-Doo movie.
Village Roadshow Pictures are releasing some really strange productions such as the primitive prequel to DREAMCATCHER. It seemed to be based on a Japenese video game as in early Nintendo. It contained weird animation, artificial acting (no emotion), and bad voice overs. Even the skinny woman with superhuman strength sounded like a man. Bette Ford made a good "old" woman. There were some subtle references to various classics, thus the fairy tale aspect. The male 'lead' had a Little Lord Faulteroy haircut and looked like Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. He had a feminine hand (long, slender fingers) like that of the father in the famous painting of THE PRODIGAL SON. He was put under a spell and transformed into a weird dragon.
After the hungry phantom swallowed the frog (WIND IN THE WILLOWS) whole, later he was regurgitated and revived -- as in the story of Jonah in the Whale.
Even the "Pillsbury doughboy" baby of the incredibly old madame looked like Medulsa with snakes in his long swirling hair. He is transformed for awhile into a strange-looking mouse which is carried around by a real-sounding mosquito. He looked like a Sumari wrestler.
Everyone had such wide big eyes and no noses. At first, I thought it was going to be just another "eel" story, but it was just as much a Japanese version of Spiderman.
There was a court jester tempted by the gold, a skull phone of the 'old woman' gnome, poor Sin knee-deep in mire at the bathhouse where Sludge was a smelly guest. The music kept the atmosphere of a geisha instead of a pig farm.
There was an abundance of exotic plants and a spectacular hawthorne bush. Other colorful flora abounded in this little paradise by day/Hell after dark.
The rain clouds were symbolic of foreboding things to come. Other clouds and the night sky were somewhat realistic-looking, except for the moon.
I've never before seen such industrious sootballs. And when they played charades, it was a sight to behold.
Their elevators are faster even than those in the Sears Tower in Chicago. One final test (where is Sin?) was a ride on the ghost train to the Swamp on which the conductor shredded the tickets, for whatever reason.
As in any fantasy, it takes awhile for memories to return, and only love could break the spell.
The public t.v. series SAGWA, misadventures of the Siamese cats, is much more enjoyable than this academy award-winning feature.
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on May 20, 2003
One of the most original and beautiful films to come out of Japan, Spirited Away suffers in English-speaking countries from the poor dubbing forced upon it by the Disney distributors. I could say so much about this film, but the other reviewers have said it all, apart from the fact that this film (like all films) is diminished in quality once an overdub track has been laid over the original language. The three stars is for the English over-dubbed version. I saw this film in the original Japanese and couldn't watch more than five minutes of the English dubbing without wanting to switch it off. (Obvious) American over-dubbing (which not only translates the language, but changes the content of what is spoken)is the reason so many foreign films fare poorly when released outside of their native lands. Ban all over-dubbing! [I remember somebody telling me that even the Australian Mad Max (released as The Road Warrior) was over-dubbed! What a joke]
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on July 21, 2003
Having seen the preious moives from Hayao Miyazaki, I think I know pretty much what will be happening in this movie. Some sort of man vs. nature kinda thing. To be suprise, this is not the case but rather it is kinda like Alice in Wonderland -- having the big headed motel owner being the queen, and the workers being the solders. I think this movie is just another version of Kiki's Delivery Service with the same theme. One goes in a strange place. One meets some friends. One gets into trouble. One gets excitement. One fights for something. One wins. One gets out the strange place and happy ever. This is not a boring movie but I constantly try to match the plot (if there is any) to the current event around my own life (my own strange place if I may say). This may be a better movie if it is released in the 80's. However, nowaday, we are mostly worrying about war and stuffs like this, this movie just doesn't suit.
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on April 24, 2003
I was expecting more from this film considering it is the most successful film in Japan's history ever. It is long and slow in parts (many parts). The animation is great with many magical moments, but don't expect cool Matrixesque parts. I was hoping that characters would have more special powers etc. Overall the movie is great but don't believe the hype, watch for yourself. As far as people claiming that Disney has changed the film, this is totally untrue. Obliviously the translation from Japanese to English is not exact, but even with this great pains were taken to be as close as possible. Scene to scene, everything is the same. I definintely recommend watching this film possibly with some uhh emm mood enhancement. You know what I mean.
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on April 30, 2003
OK, I read a lot of reviews before buying it last week, and I thought this was going to be one the best animated movies in my collection. The story seemed intriguing and the animation looked pretty good. Whoever made the trailer for this movie deserves a raise, 'cause the movie sure as hell did not live up to all the hype. It started out pretty good, but it all went down hill from there. The movie seems to wander around and gets a little boring at times. I have a lot of other Disney/non Disney animated movies which are FAR superior to this one. Its an OK movie and I would recommend to rent it, NOT buy it. The idea behind that a little girl gets stranded in a spirit world is actually a very good one but it was never brought to its full potential.
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on April 15, 2003
For someone who loves animation a great deal, I sat through this movie greatly puzzled at the praise heaped upon it and its box-office takings. Yes, it has some strange and wonderful imagery, but come on! So has tons of other Japanese and Chinese animated features. Plus, the story is so plodding, and at times confusing, that my partner started nodding off half way through the movie. For a vastly superior and more entertaining animated feature in the same vein, I greatly recommend Tsui Hark's 1997 animated remake of "A Chinese Ghost Story". With its strange fantasy world of gods, demons, ghosts and timeless love, "A Chinese Ghost Story" is a great deal more engaging than the sleep-inducing "Spirited Away".
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on April 21, 2003
It's not a horrible movie, but certainly nothing extraordinary. I found the story to be minimal, with a lot of wasted time between the very beginning and the very end, which was entirely predictable.
Clearly, Hayao Miyazaki is one of those opium writers, like the Alice in Wonderland guy. The whole movie is basically a shroom trip, just like Princess Mononoke. Lots of cool visuals.
The best part is the beginning, where Dad is driving the family around in his Audi S4, aggressively tackling the dirt road and boasting of his Quattro IV all wheel drive system. :-)
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