Tuesday, January 28, 2014
The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
So about a week and a half ago, my friend Candra and I wanted to start looking at all of the anime film of Hayao Miyazaki under the circumstances of him retiring from film (as sad as it is for us to hear, especially Candra). So we decided to watch the film that neither of us have seen, but was the film that was Miyazaki's debut as a director, The Castle of Cagliostro.
Plot: Lupin III is a thief who steals with his cohort Daisuke Jigen. They come across a young woman named Clarisse who is running away from a gang of thugs. They follow her all the way to the Castle of Cagliostro, where The Count of Cagliostro is attempting to marry Clarisse in order to use the rings of both their families to discover the secret treasure. So Lupin makes plans to try to rescue Clarisse before the wedding while also trying to avoid Inspector Zenigata who keeps trying to arrest him.
So what did Candra and I think of the film that started so many films that Miyazaki has both written and directed? It's...nice. It's not terrible per say but...well...let's talk about what's good about it, because it is at the very least, entertaining. The characters are likeable even is some seem to be downplayed like Jigen and...whoever the samurai guy was. The story is enjoyable, though you might find it to be similar to Castle in the Sky, if you've seen that movie before. The comedy, though there isn't a whole lot of it, does at some points pretty amusing moment. And the action and adventure in the film comes out very fun and enjoyable. The are only two big problems Candra and I have with this film. One is that the first half or so of the movie is pretty slow. It takes quite a while before we really find out what's going on with The Count and Clarisee and while the film has some good moments of development before hand, it's only when we find out The Counts real plot and the story starts moving from there that it really gets interesting. The second problem that is probably the biggest one for the both of us is that it doesn't completely feel like it's Miyazaki. Don't get us wrong, it has some aspects to his other work that seem familiar such as some of the animation, back stories that aren't explained (though part of that in this case has to do with this film actually being the second film for the manga series Lupin III), and it also has some other familiar Miyazaki beats such as enemies becoming friends, a cute romance between some of the main characters and so on. But it lacked a lot of the fantasy elements that you'd usually expect and...had an awful lot of language. I know I usually don't talk about language in general when I'm talking about movies, but when you put into context how this is the directorial debut of the man who has gives us such great family friendly films like My Neighbor Tortoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Howl's Moving Castle and Ponyo, and his first film has mild language to the point where I'm pretty sure I even heard the F word hidden in there at one point. Eventually, we both found ourselves hoping the language came from the guy that co-wrote the script with Miyazaki, instead of the man himself. I guess both of these problems wouldn't have been a big deal for either of us if we've seen this before we watched any of Miyazaki's other films, but since we have...it kinda messes with the experience in watching this film.
And that's my review for The Castle of Cagliostro, if you're a fan of Miyazaki's other work, you're probably not going to be a big fan of what makes this film so different from all of his other films. But when you put that aside, you still get a film that has fun comedy and action adventure with a nice story and some likable characters. It's hardly among Miyazaki's best work, but it's still plenty entertaining. If you're ever interested, give it a try.