""Castle in the Sky" is a masterpiece of one of Japan's finest filmakers. There is a simple artistry to Miyazaki's stories. This is a children's film, but it is in the tradition of children's stories that appeal to all ages. A rare, pure fantasy, the film has the same magic as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" and other early Disney films.I first saw this movie when it was released in US theaters as "Laputa the Floating Island." The mythical floating island of Laputa is taken from Swift's "Gulliver's Travels." Like Swift, Miyazaki cloaks a political statement with a fantasy, giving deeper meaning to his story. Environmentalism has always been central to his films, and "Castle in the Sky" is no exception. Visual, the film is a literal flight of fancy. Much of the film takes place in the air. Air pirates travel in unwieldy flying machines. Giant dirigibles sail the skies. Travel by kite is an acceptable option. The animation is of the highest quality, as is the sound and acting.The story may seem familiar to followers of animation. Miyazaki also work briefly on the script of "Nadia: Secret of Blue Water" using some of the same concepts. The story was also adapted by Disney as their film "Atlantis," sending the characters underground instead of up to the sky. However, "Castle in the Sky" is the story in it's original, best form.I cannot recommend this film enough."
Disney has utterly destroyed a wonderful film.
Seth Rogers | 05/16/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw Castle in the Sky in the original Japanese while living in Japan in the early 90s. I was instantly captivated. The characters were engaging and immediately likeable, the cliffhanging action was fantastic, the plot was original and rather gripping, and the music was just absolutely gorgeous. If I were rating the original film (titled "Tenku no Shiro: Laputa"), I would readily give it five stars. Miyazaki is easily one of the most original and watchable animators in the business.
That said, this is an atrocious rendition for American audiences.
Overall, the voicecasting isn't too shabby. However, the actor playing the main character - the adventurous boy Pazu - is just plain awful. Not only does he sound more like a 28 year old than a 13 year old, but he has two voice settings: loud and soft, and absolutely no nuance in between. Listening to him is a rather teeth-grinding experience.
The translation of the dialogue from the original Japanese is pretty wretched. A lot of the original meaning was simply discarded and replaced by Disney. The lines of the air-pirate sidekicks were completely altered and not for the better. By the end of the movie, their constant stream of inane babble will have you wishing someone would just jettison the entire airship crew at high altitude. Overall, the dialogue of most of the supporting characters shows extremely poor scriptwriting.
For some odd reason, Disney decided to mute most of the sound effects in this movie. The ominous whirr of massive propellers, the sudden crash of explosive shells, the crisp sound of gun shots. All of it was toned down and muted-out by Disney. This detracts significantly from the excitement of the chases, the thrill of flying, and the incredible cliffhanging moments that made the original movie so much fun. Imagine the most recent summer action movie with the sound effects turned off and you'll get a pretty accurate picture of what Disney has done to Castle in the Sky. This is truly unfortunate since the original movie had some great sound-effects work.
The worst crime of all however, is what Disney has done to the soundtrack. The original Japanese film had one of the most spectacular, haunting and beautiful soundtracks I've heard in any movie.
Disney completely removed this soundtrack and replaced it with their own rendition.
Hints of the old score come through at times, but it is heavily watered-down and sounds almost elevator-musicish. I almost cried when I heard it.
The end result is a movie that little resembles the original film. Dramatic moments of silence are filled in with pointless dialogue, the savage howl of the wind replaced with bland instrumentals, piercing gunshots are replaced with something sounding suspiciously like a child's cap-gun, wonderful dialogue is completely butchered. It leaves one with a sneaky suspicion that Disney deliberately vandalized the film to protect its monopoly on the American animation market by making Japanese films look as bad as possible.
It is quite possible I'll never forgive Disney for this disgrace of an adaptation.
On the other hand, the Japanese language option (with subtitles) retains the original film in all its glory. For that reason alone, this DVD is definitely worth buying.
But please, PLEASE, watch the Japanese version before subjecting yourself to the horrible English-language version. Even if you hate subtitles, this film is worth watching in Japanese. Everyone I've shown it to, both young and old, has been instantly captivated.
Like I said, if I were rating only the Japanese-language version, this review would have been five stars. But the English-language monstrosity thoroughly deserves a one-star rating. On balance, I can't give this DVD more than 3 stars for an American audience.
This is probably the biggest disappointment I've had with films since George Lucas inflicted Jar Jar Binks on millions of unsuspecting Star Wars fans. Consider yourself warned."
Disney: Put this film on DVD!
David C. Rutledge | Ada, Oklahoma | 10/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"More than four years ago I rented the VHS tape of Kiki's Delivery Service, and there was an ad for Castle in the Sky before it. It was listed as "coming soon."Since then, I've gotten the Japanese version of Castle in the Sky on DVD, and I love it. However, I'm still baffled by the fact that Disney has paid professional actors to voice the characters and gotten the film prepared for release in the US -- even advertised it -- and has since then just sat on it.It's almost criminal to hold such great films as Nausicaa, Castle in the Sky, and Pon Poko in your possession and not share them with the English speaking world.If and when they see the error of their ways and make this film available, do yourself a favor and buy it. We need to let the media juggernauts know how much we love Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli."
Most Admired and Adored Miyazaki Film
cleung12 | Cypress, CA USA | 01/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Laputa, Castle in the Sky, is the most creative, ambitious, and adventurous Miyazaki film I have ever seen. I like Miyazaki's work very much for its grandeur, originality, and imagination. Sadly to say that Disney has lost its creative edge. It has been copying stories all over the world. Disney promised to release the Castle in the Sky video in 1999 but they failed to keep their promise. (Disney, please include the original Japanese soundtrack on the US release because I don't like the English voice actor behind Pasu.)After 16 years since Castle in the Sky was first released in the theatres, I still consider it the creme da la creme of all anime movies. Certainly Laputa's art direction cannot compare to today's S/B CGI and S/B 3D animation. However, the story is much more fascinating and breathtaking than KiKi Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, and even Princess Mononoke. Princess Mononoke is a graphically stunning piece of art but Castle in the Sky is a wonderful story of courage and determination. While there are a few graphically violent scenes in Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky is packed with action without graphic violence.I considered myself fortunate to be able to see it on the big screen (the original English version.) Castle in the Sky is a grand movie that deserves the big screen. I love the soundtrack of the movie very much. It is very uplifting and motivating. The title song, Carrying You, communicates the same kind of warmheartedness that permeates throughout all of Miyazaki's films.
Bad Bad Bad Talkative Dumbed-down American Version!
Ming | New York, USA | 04/20/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Don't get me wrong, Laputa is one of my all-time favorite movies, and not just for animated movies, and I've eagerly awaited the region 1 release of this DVD (I already own the region 3 release), only because I thought Disney will do a decent job of translating this anime masterpiece in a respectful, and most importantly accurate, way like they did for Mononoke Hime. After all, isn't it in the Disney-Ghibli-Tokuma contract that NOTHING can be changed in the process of traslation? Miyazaki's masterpieces are like the music of Mozart, take away or add one note anywhere, and you'll end up destroying the whole thing. But Disney thought they can improve upon perfection and boy did they do a butcher job to Laputa! First they thought the attention span of American audience is so short that they have to fill every quiet moment with musical background, just like in Hollywood movies. While Joe Hisaishi did a superb job with the updated score under the circumstances, it really distracts from the mood of the movie, because those quiet moments are meant for us to ponder, to reflect and to pick out the subtle background sounds from the movie, but all that is lost by filling almost every minute with background music. But the worst offence of all are the awful voices and the bad bad alterations in the dialog. If you put on the Japanese audio track while watching the English subtitle (dubbed version), you can see the difference even if you don't understand Japanese. My estimate is that there are twice the amount of dialog in the American dub as in the original. Places where the characters shouldn't be talking are replaced by useless remarks or explanations. And worse, many of these remarks are spoilers of things to come! Again it seems Disney thinks that American audience is so dumb that they have to have every single thing explained in painful detail. And the American voices of Pazu and Sheeta are just plain awful to hear.I understand that Disney always views animation as only for kids, probably of age 12 or under, but Miyazaki's movies are equally entertaining to kids and adults. In fact I first saw Laputa almost 20 years ago when I was 20 yeas old and I loved it then and I still love it as much today. By dumbing down Laputa like Disney did, they're showing great disrespect not only for Miyazaki and Ghibli staff, but to all of us older audiences. It's plainly an insult to our intelligence.I do hope that in time a Director's version of Laputa will be released, featuring the unaltered music and dialog in full DD5.1/DTS glory. But until then, I suggest everyone watch the Japanese audio version with English subtitle (the literal translation version, not the dubbed version) to really appreciate this amazing movie for what it is.P.S. the one star subtracted for the rating is solely for the bad American version. The original Laputa gets my perfect score in any rating system ^_^"