The Fate Of The World Rests On The Courage Of One Warrior.
Running Time: 134 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: PG
To be honest, I was kind of forced into watching Princess Mononoke as I’m not usually drawn towards Japanese anime but still this is one of the few Japansese animated films that burst out of its niche and into the mainstream, so I thought I’d give it a try.
The story follows Ashitaka (Crudup) who, whilst defending his village from a demon, is injured and given a curse that gives him extraordinary power but will eventually kill him. Following instructions by a so-called Wise Woman, he sets off the find the answer in a vague manner and soon gets pulled into a huge battle between nature (not the usual passive ‘war’ but with spirits, gods and angry animals etc) and an industrial town.
The plot is a timeless one of a man on an quest to find the answer to something but it includes a couple of overlapping strands that gives it a rewarding complexity and entertainment value. This is thanks to a range of likeable and multi-layered characters creating an interesting web of interests and alliances and the subtle storytelling means that throughout the movie it’s hard to tell who are the bad guys and the good guys. With it’s theme of nature versus industrialism, it could even be seen as a pre-cursor to Avatar.
Hayao Miyazaki had made sure that there is a balanced mix of action, plot and weird spiritual stuff to keep everyone happy but it does drag a little in the mid-section. It’s easy to forgive though as in these slow-moving parts, the striking visuals stand out and impress even more. Finally, a minor irk is that some of the dialogue may seem a bit stilted and unintentionally humourous at times in the English-language version but that can be forgiven.
It's Got: An entertaining multi-stranded plot, a nice balance between plot and action, a wonderful look
It Needs: A bit more urgency in the mid-section, bit of rewording at times to make it sound more natural in English
DVD Extras We have an American trailer, a five-minute featurette with some of the English voices and two English dubbed versions - a literal translation and one with more artistic license. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10
Alternatives:Avatar, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring
Princess Mononoke is accessible anime close to its best, A multi-layered, interesting storyline and a measured mix of action, plot and the weird spiritual stuff make it a winner.