Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
What the MPAA Rating should be: PG (for some scary moments)
Directed by: Hayao Miyasaki
Written by: Hayao Miyasaki
Produced by: Toshio Suzuki
Starring: Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette, Susan Egan, David Ogden Stiers, Bob Bergen, Michael Chiklis
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Animated films are typically looked down upon as juvenile, especially those in which children play the protagonists. This is highly unfortunate, because that means that people with that frame of mind will miss the majestically beautiful Spirited Away
. Hayao Miyasaki is an animation genius and Spirited Away
stands as the masterpiece of the Japanese filmmaker. No animation director in the future will be able to match the carefulness and supervision with which Miyasaki makes his films. He is not only responsible for directing and writing a lot of his works, but also working on the animation. It's also wonderful to see a filmmaker who is not afraid to work with traditional cell animation, making Spirited Away
is very refreshing to watch in this CGI-drenched world.
Chihiro is moving to a new house and a new school, but she is not in the least bit excited to go. However, she begins to enter a new world when her parents decide to eat the food of the spirits, which soon turns them into pigs. Aided by Haku, a young boy working in the city's complex bathouse, she goes to the owner Yubaba to ask for a job so she is able to stay there. She annoyingly gives it to her and so begins the adventures of Chihiro (now re-named Sen) in a bathhouse full of mythical creatures and monsters. However, all she has on her mind is to survive her new job, return her parents back to normal and help her new friend Haku. This is all about the journey that Miyasaki takes us on in Spirited Away
, one of the most magical and best animated films I have ever seen.
The plot doesn't seem like much, but Miyasaki manages to weave a beautiful story with many charming and funny moments. Credit should also go to his screenplay for creating a main character who is much more charming and realistic than whatever Disney releases each year on their direct-to-video lineups. The English voice cast allows the film to work well with Daviegh Chase doing very effective work, even surpassing the previous work she had done as the voice of Lilo in Lilo & Stitch
. It is a shame that she has not done more voice-over work for animated films lately. Meanwhile, regular voice artists David Ogden Stiers, Jason Marsden and John Ratzenberger provide their usual fantastic pipes and Miyasaki regular Joe Hisaishi composes one of his most beautiful and memorable scores. However, as with all of Miyasaki's films, the magic comes in the form of the animation which proves that Japan provides some of the best and most beautiful in the world, even rivaling Disney. Spirited Away
is an amazing and impressive film that all families should certainly see as it stands as an absolutely brilliant work of art.
Chihiro (Sen) standing with one of the magical creatures of Spirited Away.