JTurner's Movie Review of Princess Mononoke ( Mononoke-hime )

Rating of

Princess Mononoke ( Mononoke-hime )

Breathtaking. Watch with "eyes unclouded"
JTurner - wrote on 05/31/09

With PRINCESS MONONOKE, Miyazaki churned out a highly acclaimed masterpiece that became the highest grossing movie of Japan, until his later SPIRITED AWAY dethroned it. Darker and more violent than any of Miyazaki's other films, PRINCESS MONONOKE is a dramatic multi-layered story about an Emishi prince who tries to settle the brutal conflict between a clan of human outcasts and the vicious gods of the forest. Most animated movies tend to portray characters as either "heroes" or "villains", but MONONOKE eschews these kinds of stock roles in favor of telling a story in which practically all the characters are flawed figures trying to find their way in the world. I think this makes MONONOKE all the more mesmerizing as a film, combined with the spectacular animation (check out the Forest Spirit and Nightwalker sequences) and stirring music. Disney/Miramax may have made their share of marketing mistakes with this movie, but their translation job was not among them. Neil Gaiman's English script achieves the difficult task of remaining faithful to Miyazaki's screenplay while maintaining a natural, poetic flow in his dialogue. I've read all kinds of complaints about using big-name stars in animated feature films, but in the case of any of the Disney-Ghibli dubs I have to say that this approach has paid off rather well, and PRINCESS MONONOKE's voice cast is no exception. The actors assembled for the dub--including Billy Crudup, Minnie Driver, Gillian Anderson and especially Keith David--all provide good, solid vocal performances. Some folks have issues with Billy Bob Thornton and Claire Danes's voice acting here, but in my opinion, they both did great jobs too. It remains one of the best Anime dubs ever produced. Of course, hardcore fans will probably go for the Japanese language track, which is thankfully included on the DVD.

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