Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Ponyo (Miyazaki, 2008) is the latest (and most likely final) offering by Hayao Miyazkai, whose previous works include Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and, of cource, Porco Rosso. The dub and distribution of Ponyo, as for all recent Miyazaki work, is being handled by the Walt Disney Corporation.
Starting off with the negative: my first and major complaint with Ponyo lies in the story. In terms of narrative, it is rather lacking, the conflict completely peters out in the third act, and some of the characters are more loose sketches than fully fleshed-out well-rounded characters.
But, films aren’t (as much as I loathe to admit it) just about narrative. In terms of almost every other technical and emotional element, Ponyo really shines.
No surprise given Miyazaki, but Ponyo is breathtakingly beautiful, especially in the backgrounds. The animation is generally breathtaking, and the story, despite the flaws I addressed above, is very emotionally engaging and poignant.
Should you see Ponyo? Are you under the age of 7? If so, I commend your grasp of advanced vocabulary and reading comprehension for having read this article. Tip of the hat, young geniuses. You’ll probably like it, and see some striking maturity and raw emotions that are often ignored by contemporary “family films.” Are you a parent? You should enjoy this film quite possibly as much as your kids do, although they might deal with it in different ways than you do. Disaffected, pretentious, childless hipster? You mean you haven’t seen it yet? No, in all seriousness, and without hyperbole, this is fun for the whole family.
Overall, it’s on the borderline of a B+ and an A-. However, the emotional artistry of the film pushes it over to an A-.