Castle in the Sky
Type: Movie
Genre: Fantasy, action
Version: Region 1 DVD
Reviewed: 12/18/05


Castle in the Sky is about a pair of young adventurers, an evil military, and devious but kind-hearted pirates. I have a feeling I’m going to be repeating that line for an awful lot of these reviews.

Pazu is a young miner, orphaned and trying to learn the trade. He dreams about following in the footsteps of his dead pilot father, who claims to have found Laputa, a floating castle. Too bad no one believed his dad, who disappeared attempting to find the island again. Of course Pazu’s chance comes when a young woman named Sheeta drops down from the sky, floating in the light of her mysterious blue pendent. From there, the pair runs afoul of air pirates, evil military guys in bad suits, and a weird old man living underground. It turns out everyone is looking for Laputa, and only Sheeta and her pendant can get them there.

Screen Shot
Now throw her off!

So does everything end happily? Are you retarded? Miyazaki directed, so the thrill of the story isn’t in if everything’s going to turn out all right, it’s in how Miyazaki gets us there. He populates the world with massive airships, quaint mountain towns, and the amazingly impressive sky-kingdom of Laputa. What makes Miyzaki’s world so thrilling is the care he takes in designing it. From above, Pazu’s hometown is littered with massive craters that look to be the work of serious military firepower… the kind that Laputa is hinted to have. The sky pirates operate tiny gliders that fly with wings remarkably like dragonfly’s, and their main ship looks like a bird. These details make it impossible not to become lost in the world of Castle in the Sky.

So it’s really too bad that Pazu and Sheeta’s English voices are so rotten. Both of them sound way too old for teenagers, and Pazu’s nasal, deep voice is enough to jar you out of many scenes. The rest of the voice acting isn’t anything terrible, and if it really grinds on you, the Japanese dub with subtitles is perfectly acceptable fare. Joe Hisaishi, famous for all his work on Ghibli films, redid the music for Castle in the Sky‘s American release, because apparently we’re uncouth barbarians and wouldn’t have liked the long silences in the original. Frankly, it did a great job as it was, and has created another thrilling score.

Aside from the rotten English dub issues, there really isn’t a whole lot not to like about the film. The pacing of the adventure is solid, with the action and breather scenes well placed. Characters are very memorable, especially the pirates, who are loud, boisterous, and completely under the thumb of their mother. Castle in the Sky is an excellent film, and one that I encourage everyone to see.

-Andrew Duff