Reviews Comments: A good adventure movie, though not one of Miyazaki's best

A good adventure movie, though not one of Miyazaki's best
Hayao Miyazaki is famous for making childrens' animated movies with broad appeal to adults, pervaded with a sense of magic, wonder, and fantasy. Sometimes they near profound status, other times they're just fluff. Laputa is one of the latter, with a heavy focus on adventure and old conventions attendant to it.

Inspired by a trip to Welsh mining towns, Laputa mashes together airships, pirates, ancient civilizations, the Dulcinea Effect, magic crystals, lost technology, some light humor, Ghibli Hills, and finally some foreboding messages about harnessing science (though here it's really magic) for destructive ends. Thus, the movie ends with an appropriate Aesop, but for the most part it's just rip-roaring fun. Pazu and Sheeta are not one of Miyazaki's more compelling characters and Muska gradually morphs into a cartoon villain, but Ma Dola and the pirates are a fun, if corny, bunch. It's not at the caliber of its predecessor, Nausicaa, or some of Miyazaki's later works, but at the time it proved that Studio Ghibli was a force to be reckoned with and it's justifiably a classic today. I especially recommend it to kids who have outgrown Disney and are beginning to get into adventure stories like Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

PS: In general the sub is better but Mark Hamill s performance as Muska and Cloris Leachman s as Ma Dola are great. PPS: I think the rescoring is probably better because it suits the bombastic, epic nature of the story.


Good point. It's a great adventure film, but unfortunately we have to compare it with other Studio Ghibli works — notably Nausica and Princess Mononoke, which are in my opinion some of the greatest films of all history. However, a great adventure film is so rare nowadays that 'Castle' still has its place as a cinema classic.
comment #7298 depaderico 17th Apr 11 (edited by: depaderico)
Agreed about the rescoring; one listen to it and I just couldn't go back to the original Japanese version. That, and Hamill and Leachman's performances, plus the presence of other character actors like Jim Cummings, Mandy Patinkin, Mike McShane, and Tress MacNeille made the dub a real treat. And though I'm probably in the minority, I actually didn't mind James van der Beek or Anna Paquin's Pazu and Sheeta. True, they sound more like teenagers, but both still made a solid effort, even if both were outclassed by their more experienced co-stars. I really can't say anything bad about the dub, or this film for that matter.
comment #7311 JTurner 18th Apr 11 (edited by: loracarol)
At one point I was one of those snobs, who refused to listen to a dub. But then I realized that the dubs of most Miyazaki movies, including 'Castle', are actually some of the best dubs of Japanese films ever produced — on par with the original voice-work, if not arguably better. With Nausica and Mononoke, I actually prefer the dub to the original. I would say that the dub of 'Castle' is good, but seeing as the movie is a bit bland, it's nothing worth writing home about.
comment #7313 depaderico 18th Apr 11
There are plenty of harsh detractors of Disney's dub, but it's pleasing to see it has its fans. Then again, I'm one of those people who actually likes the dubs of all the Miyazaki films; this is one of my favorites, alongside "Kiki", "Mononoke" (agreed about that), "Totoro" and even the redub of "Nausicaa". Although seriously, even though I HAVE watched this film in Japanese, I don't necessarily prefer it to the dub; I like it both ways.
comment #7315 JTurner 18th Apr 11
I haven't heard the rescoring but in my opinion one thing among others that sets Laputa apart from other adventure films is the silent moments, which make the action scenes feel even more exciting. I've seen the movie several times in Japanese and have never felt it would have needed more music. Some times less is better.
comment #7496 harkko 1st May 11
I've only seen this with subtitles for now. I haven't seen many Miyazaki films yet, aside from Howl's Moving Castle, so I guess I'm in for a real treat when I do — because I thought that Castle in the Sky was probably one of the best things my eyes have ever been fortunate enough to be exposed to. :)
comment #13280 girlyboy 15th Mar 12
Only Miyazaki film I've ever seen that has a clear cut villain with no redeeming qualities. As a kid, I easily accepted that. But in retrospect, that was kind of odd. Still a really good movie.
comment #13281 doctrainAUM 15th Mar 12

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