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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Hayao Miyazaki
Cast:
Yôji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yûko Tanaka
Writing Credits:
Hayao Miyazaki

Synopsis:
On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami's curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Subtitles:
English (SDH)
English (Original Language)
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 134 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 10/17/2017

Bonus:
• Feature-Length Storyboards
• “Princess Mononoke In USA” Featurette
• “Behind the Microphone” Featurette
• Trailers & TV Spots
• DVD Copy


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RELATED REVIEWS


Princess Mononoke [Blu-Ray] (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 11, 2021)

When it hit American shores, I heard for months and months about how terrific 1997’s Princess Mononoke is. Here’s a sampling of the comments I’ve read: it’s been called a “towering achievement” and “one of the best films of the 1990s”.

One writer referred to it as “action packed, philosophically and emotionally deep” and “one of the greatest films put out in the last decade.”

It’s time for me to put on some flame-resistant garb because I have to go against this tide of overwhelming praise. I looked forward to seeing Princess Mononoke but found the result less than scintillating. While I thought the film was entertaining and generally well-executed, in no way do I believe it deserves the amazing press it received.

After he protects his village from a demon, Ashitaka (Yôji Matsuda) becomes infected with a deadly curse. To avoid his demise, he needs to go west to special forests.

This journey doesn’t go smoothly, as he winds up in the middle of a war that involves ambitious Lady Eboshi (Yûko Tanaka). Ashitaka works to find himself on the side of right.

Basically my issues with Mononoke fall into a few categories. First I consider the storyline, as I see nothing deep about this plot.

In fact, the tale features an insanely obvious and tired ecological message. We have nature and man at odds, and things are going down the crapper. You don’t suppose that both sides will need to learn to get along together for all to be happy, do you?

There’s a lot of discussion about the depth to the characters. Many fans praise the lack of truly evil or good characters, as everyone’s flawed in some way and “human”.

Personally, I’m not sure I agree with this. Lady Eboshi seems like a fairly generic villain to me, and San (Yuriko Ishida) - who’s also the title character – appears pretty virtuous, though perhaps her Riot Grrrl attitude is supposed to add complexity to her personality. All I know is that I find none of the participants to be especially vivid, lively or intriguing.

Next, I remain confused about all the praise for the film’s “amazing” animation. While much of the art in Mononoke indeed appears attractive, the animation itself usually looks stiff and unconvincing.

Some of the movement comes across as acceptably life-like, but these instances act as the exceptions. Most of the action seems stilted and doesn’t flow smoothly.

Dialogue features the usual “flapping mouth” syndrome typical of Japanese animation. Although I don’t much care for the look of this form of work, I won’t fault the quality of the art itself, which seems lush and well-rendered. Unfortunately, the characters tend to move poorly, which makes it more difficult to get into the story.

After I initially watched the film, I became so perplexed by all of the plaudits that I did something unprecedented for me: I viewed Princess Mononoke again. When I review movies, I go with my first opinions because it’s unlikely my thoughts will change upon further examination.

Frankly, I also don’t have the time to watch each movie about which I write multiple times. However, in the case of Mononoke, I thought I should give it another shot because of the radical gap between my thoughts and the common consensus.

Nothing changed. As I watched Mononoke a second time, I still couldn’t fathom why the film received so much praise.

Without question, it’s a fairly compelling movie, and it offers a generally interesting and entertaining experience. However, I feel it brings little that made it stand out from the crowd.


The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

Princess Mononoke appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a strong presentation.

Sharpness worked well at all times – indeed, the image revealed the limitations of the source, as any softness related to the original art. Those instances seemed modest at worst, so the movie felt accurate and concise.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects emerged, and I saw no edge haloes. Light grain cropped up, and the image lacked print flaws.

With a warm palette, the film’s colors worked well. The tones appeared vivid and dynamic throughout the movie.

Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows seemed firm and smooth. Everything about the image satisfied.

In addition, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack also fared nicely. We got a soundfield that leaned toward the front speakers but still came across as well-rounded.

Audio moved well from channel to channel, and the overall impression remained good. The surrounds kicked in music throughout the film as well as effects during louder sequences. The rears also provided general ambiance that helped fill the room.

Audio quality appeared consistently solid, as dialogue felt distinct and warm with no problems related to edginess or lack of intelligibility. Music appeared bright and rich and presented good dynamics, as did the effects.

Those aspects of the mix seemed clear and bold and offered no concerns related to distortion. The entire package boasted some good bass. As a whole, the soundtrack of Princess Mononoke worked well for the film.

Note that the disc offered both the original Japanese soundtrack as well as a dubbed English version. It also came with two kinds of subtitles: one set translated from the Japanese dialogue and one from the English dub.

A few extras appear here, and we get an unusual option: Feature-Length Storyboards. These offer precisely what they imply and give us the opportunity to view the entire film via its storyboards. This seems like a cool addition for fans.

Two featurettes follow, and Princess Mononoke In USA runs 19 minutes, 55 seconds. It brings notes from director Hayao Miyazaki as he meets the press in North America and tours various places.

Miyazaki offers some notes about his work, though a lot of “USA” just feels like a view of the director’s visit. It becomes a mediocre featurette that needs more depth.

Behind the Microphone goes for five minutes, 13 seconds and boasts remarks from US voice director Jack Fletcher, US screenwriter Neil Gaiman, and US actors Jada Pinkett-Smith, Billy Crudup, Billy Bob Thornton, Gillian Anderson and Claire Danes.

They discuss the movie’s story/themes as well as aspects of voice performances. Don’t expect much substance from this promo piece, though I like the brief glimpses of the actors at work.

Finally, we get ads. The disc finishes with eight trailers and 13 TV spots.

One subtitle note: with “USA”, we get English subtitles for comments rendered only in Japanese, and we find Japanese text for remarks solely in English. We get no option to watch the featurette with subtitles for everything.

Few films receive praise as glowing as the raves heaped upon Princess Mononoke. While many will disagree with me, I don’t see the reasons behind these attitudes, as I think the movie delivers a fairly interesting but unspectacular eco-fantasy. The Blu-ray brings very good picture and audio along with a handful of bonus materials. The film doesn’t connect with me, but its legion of fans should feel happy with this release.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
15:
04:
0 3:
12:
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View Averages for all rated titles.

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main