Laputa: Castle in the Sky Blu-ray Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 10
Video 10
Audio 10
Special Features 5.0
Total 10

Distributor: Madman
Running Time: 126 Minutes
Reviewer: Simon Black
Classification
: PG

10


Laputa: Castle in the Sky

Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) was the first film produced by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata’s nascent Tokyo-based animation house Studio Ghibli, and followed hot on the heels of Miyazaki’s universally-acclaimed Nauticaä of the Valley of the Winds.  No less rapturously received than its predecessor, Castle in the Sky holds up brilliantly a quarter of a century after its initial release and remains one of the classics of 20th century anime. 

Centuries ago, mankind’s fascination with flight led to the building of giant floating fortresses which dotted the sky.  Eventually the flying cities were destroyed by an unspecified calamity, until only one remained; the famed citadel of Laputa.  Hidden deep in the clouds and protected by violent thunderstorms, Laputa has descended into the realm of myth and make-believe. 

Castle in the Sky opens by introducing us to Sheeta, a young girl held captive aboard a giant airship commanded by general Muska.  When the ship is attacked by pirates Sheeta reclaims a magical pendant from one of the guards and makes a miraculous escape back to earth.  She quickly befriends Pazu, a young peasant boy whose father claimed to have seen Laputa, and together the pair make their escape across the country, attempting to evade not only treasure-hungry pirates but the forces of an entire army who believe Sheeta’s pendant holds the key to finding Laputa and harnessing its awesome powers of destruction. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  Conceived, scripted, designed and directed by Miyazaki, Castle in the Sky is a film of rare and daunting imagination.  Many of Miyazaki’s dominant theses and motifs are in play; love of fantasy and myth, the use of ordinary children as heroes, an obsession with the industrial age, the senselessness of unbridled militarism, the twin glories of nature and peace and the moral ambiguities inherent in the human character.  Rarely has a work with so many weighty themes been executed with such aplomb; Castle in the Sky is a remarkable achievement in every sense, and a triumph of creativity that is absolutely not to be missed. 

Video

As it to be expected the film looks truly stunning in HD.  The artefacts that featured so prevalently on certain previous DVD editions are nowhere to be found and the anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen transfer is pristine.  The colourification is eminently striking too, like a painting come to life; Castle in the Sky is a masterpiece of the animated genre, and now it finally has a local release worthy of its manifold visual charms. 

Audio

The English voice cast which includes James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek), Anna Paquin (True Blood), Cloris Leachman and Mark Hamill (Star Wars) drew plenty of praise for their performances, but the Japanese voicework is simply second to none, with impeccable performances from renowned voice artists Keiko Yokozawa and Mayumi Tanaka as the two young leads.  Madman’s new Blu-ray edition features both Joe Hisaishi’s original 39-minute synthesiser score and the additional classical excerpts he composed at Disney’s request prior to the films North American release.  While the two styles occasionally sit uneasily side by side the soundscape overall is amongst the best we’ve ever heard, possibly the best; the LPSM 2.0 Japanese master audio is impossibly immersive, featuring almost as much directionality as the English 5.1 surround mix and even crisper sound design.  If you haven’t yet upgraded to Blu the release of Miyazaki’s work on the format is the perfect excuse – this is quite simply as good as a film can look and sound. 

Extras

Behind the Studio – three short contemporary interviews with Miyazaki about his influences and the creative process of Castle in the Sky, and an interview with producer Toshio Suzuki on his initial impression and working collaboration with the famed director

Behind the Microphone - footage of the English language recording sessions (4 mins)

Storyboards

Promotional Videos

Textless Opening and Closing Credits

Original Japanese trailers

Studio Ghibli trailers






 
 



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