Princess Mononoke

Hayao Miyazaki, director of Princess Mononoke, is well-known for his animated films. Often cited as being character-orientated, fanciful, and fun, Miyazaki's films are critically-acclaimed throughout the world, so I thought I'd go ahead and try out this director's work.

The film follows the last Emishi prince, Ashitaka, who has recently been wounded - as well as cursed - in a battle against a dark and demonic spirit. Exiled from his village, the prince vows to find a cure to his curse as well as destroy the source of the demon. What starts as a simple quest becomes much more complex, as Ashitaka discovers a blood-thirsty war between an industrial leader and the mythical 'princess of the forest'.

Visually-speaking, the film looks amazing. The animation is top-notch, with a bit of 3D rendering thrown in for good measure. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, just looks fantastic, from the peaceful valleys to the gruesome battle sequences. The character designs I especially like, with each design being carefully animated and wonderfully original.

The soundtrack is just as fantastic as the visuals are. Whether it be the main theme, sung by the lovely Sasha Lazard, or the simple orchestral pieces, the music really fits the mood of the film. Beautiful, endearing, and with a touch of the unnerving.

The characters, though, are kind of lacking. They're not terrible, far from it, but they lacked a certain charm promised in Miyazaki films. I wouldn't say they're shallow, but they're far from being deep as well. The film, instead, puts more attention on the plot. Admittedly, the plot is pretty good, but the lack of character focus really brought the film down for me.

Also, if you're watching the English dub, some of voice acting can be pretty mediocre. There are some great performances, especially from Minnie Driver (Lady Eboshi) and Keith David (Okkoto). However, some of the other performances could either be lackluster (Gillian Anderson as Moro) or just plain awful (Billy Bob Thorton as Jigo).

While the characters and the acting were lacking, the visuals, soundtrack, and mood show that Princess Mononoke has its heart in the right place.





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