599. Ponyo (崖の上のポニョ) (2008)

6.9 Not great
  • Acting 6.9
  • Directing 7.0
  • Story 6.8
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: Tomoko Yamaguchi, Yuria Nara, Kazushige Nagashima

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Running Time: 101 mins

Ponyo is a Japanese film about a little boy who finds a goldfish in the sea. However, upon discovering that this goldfish has magical powers and a desire to become a human, a world of darkness and chaos emerges.

Well, my main problem with this film is that it is, of the ones that I have seen, by far the least good-looking Studio Ghibli picture. It does have many of Miyazaki’s magical trademarks, but to me, this wasn’t a film that was made better by what is normally some of the best animation you ever get to see.

However, there are parts of this film that are quite sweet and enjoyable, and some that emulate Miyazaki’s tendency to find beauty amidst horror, which is a positive, but the majority of the film is quite weak and occasionally a little doom and gloom.

So, my question is why this film doesn’t have the real wonderment and magic of the majority of Ghibli fantasies. This is probably because of the environmental message hidden beneath.

It seems as if this a bit of an attempt to jump on the environmental bandwagon of the late 2000s, as so many other films did after the release of An Inconvenient Truth. On the one hand, this is simply annoying to see in a fantasy film, however it also shows a small lack of originality from the film maker who’s so renowned for his imaginative qualities.

But don’t think that this is a complete failure for Ghibli. At most, it’s a blip on the history, but it still has a lot elements that are as entertaining and classic as the rest of Miyazaki’s movies.

Ponyo and Sousuke, the little boy, are both absolutely adorable characters, and while some of the adults are a bit depressing, seeing two very young, innocent characters at the centre of the story is a nice break from some of the more grown-up stories.

In terms of the way this film develops, it’s strong at the beginning, seeming enjoyable and fun enough, but it ends on a poor, slow note, as it follows a near half an hour trudge through the scenery, which is never as emotive nor interesting as it should be, and that’s why it gets a 6.9.


About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com