Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki Cast: Noah Cyrus, Frankie Jonas, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson Running Time: 1 hr 45 min Rating: G Due Out: March 2, 2010
PLOT: Sosuke (Jonas) finds a goldfish in the cove near his house, but Ponyo (Cyrus) is no ordinary goldfish. She's the daughter of magical sea creatures and has the ability to change between fish and human form. But despite her interest in life on land, her father is determined to bring her back to the sea.
WHO'S IT FOR? Children will enjoy it, and adults will enjoy it just as much if not more.
Miyazaki may be the best 2D animator working in the world today. He's proved it repeatedly with films like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa. This film covers some of his favorite themes, humans and the environment and kids proving their independence. But it's also very original, telling the story of a good-hearted little boy and the fish-girl he befriends and attempts to protect. But even if the story wasn't enough, the film just looks gorgeous. On Blu-ray the colors totally pop. I found myself wanting to pause the film and look at the individual frames like a painting. The shots under the sea are especially interesting, with a menagerie of strange sea creatures scuttling and floating through the background. Some moments may be scary for young children, but I think that older kids, especially those interested in anime, will really enjoy it.
MOVIE SCORE: 8/10
The World of Ghibli - A series of short vignettes about the making of Ponyo as well as some history of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki. Some of the highlights include the Japanese trailers for Ponyo, one of which plays like a karaoke video and a conversation between animation titans Miyazaki and John Lasseter. The Enter the Lands segment is more an ad for Miyazaki's other films, but it's still fun to press all the buttons and play around.
Storyboard Presentation of the Movie - The film plays while the storyboards are presented in the upper right corner of the screen. A great way for animation lovers to get further insight into the creative process.
Meet Ponyo - A short introduction of the film by American producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy.
Sneak Peaks - Trailers for other Disney movies.
EXTRAS SCORE: 7/10
I think every film that Miyazaki has directed is worth owning and Ponyo is no exception. But the Blu-ray has more going for it than just the film, the extras are put together with care and do a good job of illustrating the process of making the film. This means they don't seem to be selling the movie so much as trying to explain the process behind it. I confess, I would have liked a commentary but since Miyazaki doesn't speak English, that would be difficult. Still worth it.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10