In the animation world, Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki has staked out his own inimitable territory, away from both the unsavory excesses of his anime counterparts and the crass commercial machinery seizing Disney and its imitators. A box-office phenomenon in its native country, Miyazaki’s epic, visually sumptuous Princess Mononoke may come as a shock to fans used to the quirky, idiosyncratic comic touches abundant in his My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. While the change in scale allows him to expand his vision to include capital-letter themes and strikingly graphic panoramas, he loses much of the coherency and offbeat charm that set him apart in the first place. Featuring a surprisingly conservative translation by Neil Gaiman and a merely passable cast of celebrity voice talent, this version does little to clear up Miyazaki’s muddled eco-allegory, but it should still deliver American neophytes to his lush, meticulously rendered drawing style. A hero’s mythical journey begins when Ashitaka (Billy Crudup), a prince in feudal Japan, is infected by a giant-boar-turned-demon-monster and sets out to find the evil source responsible. His adventures lead him to Iron Town, an industrial fortress presided over by Lady Eboshi (Minnie Driver), which strips the forest of its… Read full this story
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