2013 in review

Thank you all for still reading this blog, even though I haven’t been as active on it as I would have wanted to.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 35 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Old Review: Antz

At an anthill in Central Park, New York, is where a young worker ant named Z-4195, or Z for short, is going to have his simple life changed. He works a mundane worker ant lifestyle, helping construct a tunnel to find food for the whole colony. After falling in love with the Princess of his colony, named Bala, after meeting her in pure luck at a local bar, he takes the place of his best friend Weaver and joins the army in an effort to see her again, as they head off to fight a war. Thanks to his cowardice, he ends up becoming the only survivor of brutal battle against an army of termites, and is celebrated as a hero. Unbeknownst to Z, Bala or any of the worker ants, the battle was a plan set up by a corrupt royal General Mandible, who wants to eliminate the worker ants and the loyal soldier ants so he can form a strong enough army to take over the whole colony from the royal family. After a troubled reuniting, Z and Bala escape their oppressed lifestyles to try and find Insectopia, where food is of an unlimited supply, but with the rest of the colony in danger because of a rogue General, Z has to help his friends and workers if they all want to live a free and happy life.

Let me introduce you to a man named Jeffery Katzenburg, he began his success with the Star Trek revival at Paramount before becoming CEO of Disney after Michael Eisner purchased the company in 1984. While he was one of the leading men behind the Disney Renaissance that brought Disney back to dominating the western animation industry, he was known for his controversial decisions that almost hurt the company. In 1994 he wanted the position of company president, which Michael Eisner refused, this eventually lead him to resign from Disney and form Dreamworks with Steven Spielberg and David Gaffen in the same year. He decided to create Antz as the company’s first feature film, and based it on a film pitch by Tim Johnson, who is credited for the story. However, this angered Pixar, who pitched and began development on their second feature A Bug’s Life a few months before Katzenburg began work on it. Katzenburg offered to push the film back to March 1999, as long as A Bug’s Life was also pushed back so it wouldn’t be released with Dreamwork’s other film, Prince of Egypt, but since Pixar refused, the film was released on October 1998, more than a month before Bug’s Life.

The animation is very professionally made, but hasn’t aged that well. Granted this was the first ever Dreamworks animated feature, and for its time it is pretty good, especially the subtle emotions and large crowd scenes, but watching it nowadays the flaws are more noticeable. All the characters move robotically at times and lip movements feel a little off during dialogue scenes. The films worst visual part is its colour scheme; it’s mostly full of browns, greens and reds, and for its atmosphere, surroundings and character designs it does make it realistic, but for the kind of film this is, it is really dull. The character designs really surprise me, almost every character is either a worker and or a soldier ant that has the same colour and body structure, and yet except in the scenes with really large crowds and distance shots, there are almost no duplicate character designs, and each visible character in each scene is different in some way.

The soundtrack includes some pop tracks and generic orchestral pieces, so there isn’t really anything memorable. It normally plays through the action and comedic moments, and while it isn’t one of John Powell’s best soundtracks, it is very listenable and it doesn’t drive away from the visuals and the story.

The cast is a bit of an odd bunch overall, some of them do an alright job like Christopher Walken, Danny Glover and Sylvester Stallone, who make Cutter, Barbatus and Weaver really likeable, especially Danny Glover since Barbatus only appears for less than ten minutes of the whole movie. The majority of the cast is basically listenable at best; they definitely suit their roles as characters such as Gene Hackman as a war focused muscle-headed General Mandible and Sharon Stone as the free-minded yet still upper classed princess, but don’t really give anything impressive. I know that since it’s a kid’s animated film I shouldn’t give high expectations in the quality of acting, but I don’t think they really try to make these characters anything truly likeable or memorable. There is one exception to this, but for the wrong reasons, and that is Woody Allen as Z. I understand that he’s meant to be the odd one out, but he becomes really annoying, really quick. I think it’s mainly due to the fact that Woody Allen sounds like he reads the script and then improvises around it, so every time he talked, he says so much in one dialogue session I wanted him to shut up.

If it wasn’t for Prince of Egypt or Shrek, I’d amazed that Dreamworks survived after this movie. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t really that interesting or worthwhile after an initial viewing. This is mainly due the film’s direction of the plot, and exactly what the plot is. According to Wikipedia, Antz is loosely based on a 1930s novel called Brave New World, a story that explores the ideas of genetics to form societies, as well as the ideas of genetics to class people from birth into lifestyles, which in a way is demonstrated in the film with newborn larvae being decided on either being soldier ants or worker ants, and given training regimes to build them to be suitable for that task, and all of them except being insignificant except the main protagonists. This is also somewhat portrayed with one of the morals of the movie being choosing your own path, and while it would make an interesting movie, this is not greatly developed, probably because it’s a light hearted kid’s film. Instead it focuses more on the more predictable and generic plotlines, which include an upper class -lower class romance, trying to find a better world, and the evil guy wanting to take over the world. In the end, it becomes a really dull film with almost no reasons to re-watch it.

For this film, it’s not the question of why would you watch it, it’s why would you want to watch it more than once, besides reviewing it. While it may be interesting to see where Dreamworks started off, but it has a generic storyline that isn’t really interesting, with a generic soundtrack and a barely memorable cast. Since nowadays it’s well known as Dreamworks first attempted at taking elements from Pixar for their own story, this is probably one of a many knock-offs that’s worth skipping for the original.

Antz is available from Dreamworks Pictures. If you a curious about the loose source material of this film, the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley was originally published by Chatto and Windus, and has since been reprinted by multiple publishers including Vintage Classics and Amazon.

Old Review: Freddie as FRO7

Young Frederick is a frog that works as a Secret Agent under the codename F.R.O.7. He was once a human and a Prince of a Magical land until his evil aunt sorceress named Messina transforms him to the amphibian being in an attempt to take over the kingdom. He has been called in to investigate a mysterious case, where some of Britain’s most historical and recognisable buildings and monuments have vanished. With the help of his friends, including Nessie of Loch Ness herself, who helped the little frog get away from Messina as a child, Freddie has to search the nation to find the culprits, and bring back England to what it was.

This film was meant to be the next big hit for British animation; it was written and directed by Jon Acevski who based it on bedtime stories he told to his son back in the 1970s, whose favourite toy was a frog. Having an $80 million budget, it was produced by an independent company “Hollywood Road Films” and was heavily marketed in the UK, being advertised on major TV networks and newspapers, with a sequel titled “Freddie Goes to Washington” already early in production before the film’s release. The reason why almost no one knows about this film nowadays, even in the UK, was that it was very poorly reviewed and a major financial bomb after its 1992 release. It only grossed $1.19 million at the box office, making it the lowest grossing animated film until the release of Promenade Pictures’ Ten Commandments and Fathom Studio’s Delgo. Despite a re-released edit in 1995 to try and gain more money from the film, the financial failure caused Hollywood Road Films to close down and the sequel project to be scrapped.

For its time, the animation is professional but nothing groundbreaking. A few of the effects are ok, and the amount of detail is pretty evident in some scenes, especially the animation of the water, which at the time was almost impossible to get to a near realistic level, but most of it looks really dull and don’t really hold up in comparison to earlier animated films. The character designs are ok, most of them emphasise certain stereotypes of British culture, and Freddie’s secret agent look really shows his suave and intelligent personality. The villains’ character designs however are very dull and uninspired.

The music is no better, just the simple orchestral scores that only really appear in the villain scenes with Messina but most of the time, I forgot that there was music playing in the background. There are also musical numbers which at the time when Disney was making a comeback for itself was common, but in this film they don’t work and it’s an example of why I hate needless musical numbers and songs. The film doesn’t transition to them very well, they don’t really add to the story aside from adding a few minutes to the running time and they are poorly sung by the main cast who I doubt have had previous experience with music. The sound editing is alright until near the finally where the music clashes with the dialogue and sound effects so much that it becomes distracting, and some of the tracks don’t really match with the scenes they are in, such as the final fight between Freddie and Messina that occurs while a Boy George pop song plays in the background. The voice acting is really disappointing, since it has some good British actors in its cast, such as Ben Kingsley, Jenny Agutter, Brian Blessed and Nigel Hawthorne, and yet they sound really lousy throughout. Despite Ben Kingsley being one of my favourite actors from England, it really hurts me always hearing him trying to speak in a bad French accent throughout the majority of the film.

When I first saw the video at a local car boot, I thought the idea of a frog secret agent was unique and a fun throwback to the James Bond style films. But it’s easy to see why it didn’t do well beside the poor music and acting performances in this film, the story is a mess. The first 15 minutes of this film is mainly the back story which is set entirely in a renaissance-esque fantasy world, and then it transitions to a 1950s setting despite no description of the amount of time passed, and while there are elements that could be classed as an homage to the secret agent/detective style storytelling, it is hastily mixed in with fantasy elements mixed in a modern setting, almost like the film cannot decide between a magical fantasy action-adventure or a child friendly James Bond parody. Most of the characters barely get development outside of Freddie and Messina, even for kid film standards, making it hard to care or sympathise with any of the characters, and some of the suspense and action can gets repetitive making the film very boring near the end. I do give credit to the villains and how they are portrayed as a legitimate threat with how powerful and dark Messina’s magic is, the size of her accomplice El Supremo’s army, and how vigorous their plan is, however they are very one-dimensional to the point where it can simply be described as them “trying to take over the world” because “they are evil”.

It’s sad to see a promising concept get ruined like this, although the fact that it was a major financial bomb probably suits as a fitting punishment. If they made this like a family friendly homage to secret agent flicks then this might’ve had a better following, maybe as it is now, it’s better to let this film stay in obscurity.

Freddie as F.R.O.7 was available from Starvision, Miramax and Universal, but is out of print. There has never been a DVD release, at least not officially. There was a re-edit in 1995 for the US release which trimmed down and included narration from James Earl Jones, but that’s also out of print. There is no known physical work of its sequel Freddie Goes to Washington.

Oscar Prediction Game 2013 Results

So over a month ago I submitted my predictions for the game I’ve played for the past three years, The Oscar Prediction game (as described by Rocketboom). Now that the results are all online, it is time to see what my score is, as well as my thoughts.

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Oscar Prediction Game 2013

Hey there! It’s that time again to play the Oscar Prediction Game, the game to test how well you know how the Oscars work. For those who don’t understand how this works, I refer you to last year’s game. So here are my predictions:

Best Picture
6 Amour
4 Argo
7 Beasts of the Southern Wild
5 Django Unchained
3 Les Miserables
2 Life of Pi
1 Lincoln
8 Silver Linings Playbook
9 Zero Dark Thirty

Best Actor
3 Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
1 Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
4 Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
5 Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
2 Denzel Washington, Flight

Best Actress
5 Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
4 Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
3 Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
1 Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
2 Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Best Supporting Actor
1 Alan Arkin, Argo
2 Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
5 Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
3 Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
4 Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Best Supporting Actress
5 Amy Adams, The Master
1 Sally Field, Lincoln
2 Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
3 Helen Hunt, The Sessions
4 Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Director
5 Michael Haneke, Amour
3 Ang Lee, Life of Pi
2 David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
1 Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
4 Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Original Screenplay
2 Amour, Michael Haneke
1 Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino
5 Flight, John Gatins
3 Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
4 Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal

Best Adapted Screenplay
2 Argo, Chris Terrio
5 Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin,
3 Life of Pi, David Magee
1 Lincoln, Tony Kushner
4 Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell

Best Animated Feature:
5 Brave
4 Frankenweenie
2 ParaNorman
3 The Pirates! Band of Misfits
1 Wreck-It Ralph

Best Cinematography
5 Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey
4 Django Unchained, Robert Richardson
1 Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda
2 Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski
3 Skyfall, Roger Deakins

Best Costume Design
5 Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran
1 Les Misérables, Paco Delgado
2 Lincoln, Joanna Johnston
2 Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka
4 Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood

Best Documentary Feature
5 5 Broken Cameras
3 The Gatekeepers
2 How to Survive a Plague
1 The Invisible War
4 Searching for Sugar Man

Best Documentary Short
5 Inocente
4 Kings Point
2 Mondays at Racine
3 Open Heart
1 Redemption

Best Film Editing
1 Argo, William Goldenberg
2 Life of Pi, Tim Squyres
3 Lincoln, Michael Kahn
4 Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
5 Zero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Best Foreign Language Film
1 Amour, Austria
3 Kon-Tiki, Norway
2 No, Chile
4 A Royal Affair, Denmark
5 War Witch, Canada

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
2 Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
1 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
3 Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Best Original Score
5 Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
4 Argo, Alexandre Desplat
3 Life of Pi, Mychael Danna
1 Lincoln, John Williams
2 Skyfall, Thomas Newman

Best Original Song
5 “Before My Time” from Chasing Ice, music and lyric by J. Ralph
3 “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted, music by Walter Murphy; lyric by Seth MacFarlane
2 “Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi, music by Mychael Danna; lyric by Bombay Jayashri
1 “Skyfall” from Skyfall, music and lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
4 “Suddenly” from Les Misérables, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Best Production Design
5 Anna Karenina, Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
1 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
2 Les Misérables, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
4 Life of Pi, Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
3 Lincoln, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Best Animated Short
3 Adam and Dog
4 Fresh Guacamole
2 Head over Heels
1 Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”
5 Paperman

Best Live Action Short
1 Asad
2 Buzkashi Boys
3 Curfew
4 Death of a Shadow
5 Henry

Best Sound Editing
4 Argo, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
2 Django Unchained, Wylie Stateman
3 Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
1 Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
5 Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson

Best Sound Mixing
5 Argo, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
3 Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
4 Life of Pi, Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
1 Lincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
2 Skyfall, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Best Visual Effects
2 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
3 Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
1 The Avengers, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
4 Prometheus, Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
5 Snow White and the Huntsman, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

Since this time, I ordered my most likely winner with the lowest number, the amount of points given will be reverse (i.e. if the actual winner of an award was placed 2nd out of 5 nominees, I will get 4 points). Now it’s time to wait till the ceremony on 24th February 2013!

Old Review: Tekkonkinkreet

Welcome to Treasure Town, a large city that’s situated a futuristic steam-punk world and is run down and potentially dangerous for citizens from crime and vandalism. The city is watched over by two orphaned children, known only as Black and White. Black is a smart but rough kid, embodying the faults within the city, while White is an out of touch kid, innocent but not bright in the head, both work and live together like brothers, and both have a hidden demons within them. Every day, they fight thugs, religious nut-jobs and even a Yakuza group to defend the city from destruction and violence. These battles are beginning to get harder, as a corporation known as “Kiddy Kastle” want to strip down Treasure Town in its entirety, rebuilding it as an amusement park. Both Black and White will need to fight hard to protect their city from the corporations that want to take it over, and from themselves.

Tekkonkinkreet began as a manga in the early 1990s, published as Tekkonkinkreet: Black & White in western territories between 1998 and 2000. In 1995, American born Visual and CG effects producer, Michael Arias had a passion for the manga after a friend of his introduced him to the manga. He made along with animator Koji Morimoto a four minute long Pilot film, which grew in production to become a full feature animated film, but it was dropped after both lack of funds and Morimoto leaving due to lack of interest with the project. After producing the financially successful animated anthology film “The Animatrix” in 2003, he got the help of screenwriter Anthony Weintraub to write a screenplay for Tekkonkinkreet.  Working with Studio 4°C, the film was released on December 22nd 2006. So yeah, this was actually the first anime film directed by a non-Japanese person, which was cool to find out.

The animation is stunning, and possible has the best opening I’ve seen in any anime film to date. The shaky pan around the city as the camera follows a crow flying round the city is really cool to see. There is a great mix of 3D and 2D effects, and the shaky camera effects really gives the feel of a live action, and is real creative. Some scenes are really memorable and the action scenes are really cool. The art style is really colourful, really giving a feel of both a modern Japanese setting and a gritty rough future.

While I do at least admit they’re unique, I don’t like the character designs at all. They look very amateurish, every character is shaped bizarrely, and it’s more distracting than watchable.

The soundtrack is very good, the scores have a large range from electronic, piano, orchestral, and I think there is some Austrailian style scores as well. Each really fit with the settings, and the music in the opening sequence I mentioned earlier is really cool. However, I think the soundtrack dies down in quality mid-way the film, before it goes deep into Psychological horror territory and ends with a brilliant closing theme.

The voice acting in the Japanese dub is good but overall is generic, nothing really impressive. Yu Aoi gives a really childish impression, very sweet and innocent, so she gives a suitable performance as White. Kazunari Ninomiya does give a mature and serious tone for Black, acting like an older brother to White, but when he doesn’t act threatening or emotional, he gets really dull. Other voice actors are pretty bland; the villains especially don’t give any sort of intimidation or fear from them. The English dub is slightly the same, Scott Menville as Black and Kamali Minter as White give a western feel to the film, but like the Japanese version, and other cast members do an equally good job. It’s a shame the dub is no better, when you expect an American to be the original director, and the screenplay written in English to begin with. So really, the dub you choose is up to preference, so you won’t be missing out no matter what choice you make.

I never expected to find a film harder to talk about than Princess Mononoke, but I have no idea what to put from this film. I don’t understand what the overall story is, or what message it tries to place. The relationship, and the personalities of both Black and White are quite touching, but more than halfway through the film, the plot goes haywire. The villain, or villains, really confuses me in this film. What is the purpose for these people being evil? What I can get in the second half of this film is that Black seems to be fighting against darkness in a losing battle, and ends up making him go insane, but the way it’s portrayed is really confusing, it’s fine that they show a lot without needing to explain it, but I bet you would need to watch the film more than once to get everything. There’s a side plot involving one of the Yakuza members, named Kimurai, who experiences the hardships of gang life, which is a lot easier to understand, and the way Kimurai is portrayed really makes him really likable.

Overall, Tekkonkinkreet is a bizarre yet creative film. While the story may take time to understand, especially in the latter parts of the film, the impressive animation and the fitting soundtrack makes this a great viewing experience like no other.

Tekkonkinkreet is available from Sony Pictures Entertainment. The original manga by Taiyō Matsumoto is available from both Nova Productions and Viz Media.

Old Review: Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki's Delivery ServiceKiki is a thirteen year old witch in-training and she has to spend a year and make a living in a new place on her own as part of her training. Taking her mother’s broom, her father’s radio and her talking cat, Jiji, she flies off and eventually finds the town of Korico, a pleasant seaside town which no which has resided in for many years. Although not given the best of welcomes, she befriends a local baker named Osono, who gives her a place to stay. Since her best talent is flying, Kiki decides to open a delivery service, and while doing her work, meets several other friendly people in the place she hopes not to regret staying in.

The production for Kiki’s Delivery Service began over a week before the double feature release of My Neighbour Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies. The first script was originally written by a young (and as of writing, unnamed) staff member, who was also assigned to be the director. Then producer for the film, Hayao Miyazaki, disliked the script and wrote his own. The young staff member, believed because he was intimidated by the experienced film director, decided to step down, which meant Hayao Miyazaki became the film’s director, as well as the writer and producer. Like previous projects, Joe Hisaishi composed the music, and for the first time, Toshio Suzuki worked on a Studio Ghibli film as the Associate Producer.

For the first time at Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki was directing and writing a direct film adaptation, of the novel by Eiko Kadono, unlike Isao Takahata’s approach of adapting an original novel or manga, Miyazaki only used the original story as the concept of the overall film, and he added scenes not in the original story to produce a more flowing storyline instead of the multiple short stories like a slice-of-life film, as well as emphasise the film’s message of growing up and motivate yourself to achieve your goals in life. Kadono wasn’t happy with these changes, which almost led to the cancellation of production. It wasn’t until she got a chance to see the production of the film and a talk with Toshio Suzuki and Hayao Miyazaki’s explanation of the film’s elements and story that convinced her to let the film’s production go ahead. The film was released over a year later on the 29 July 1989.

The animation in Kiki’s Delivery Service is very standard, but definitely shows effort. Wind is the film’s main element in the animation as a lot of scenes show flowing details of hair and clothes being blown against the wind. The animation on an overall level however, doesn’t reach ground breaking levels, and like other Studio Ghibli animations, this is not a bad thing, it makes the viewer focus on the story, so it doesn’t bother me personally.

The art style is very bright and colourful, especially the town of Korico, which has a brilliantly done seaside/island town feel, like Venice. In fact, Miyazaki took several influences from Venice as well as San Francisco, but mainly Stockholm for the overall design of the town. There are darker looking scenes but it definitely arrives in the right situation and transitions back to the bright environment very smoothly. One issue that I find when watching my copy of the film (and I guess it’s on the US copies too) is that some scenes have translated text (mainly the opening and final credit sequences) are obviously taken from another low quality source, possibly the Streamline dub of the film back in the early 90s but it’s very distracting since none of the other films have this issue.

The music is nice but it’s underplayed, so it doesn’t give a lasting impression on me. Joe Hisaishi definitely composed some nice melodies, as well as a great use of instruments to help the environment of the scene, like the Concertina playing during the bright and sunny town scenes. Despite this, there are a lot more quite moments that help focus on the dialogue, and not many scenes that take advantage of the music.

This is one of the few anime films I almost always want to see in English, I don’t have problems with the Japanese audio, but the English version I feel is somewhat superior. The characters put more energy in their roles and the film’s comedy is well timed and Phil Hartman as Jiji is a lot funnier to listen to compared to Rei Sakuma. Other voice actors like Matthew Lawrence as Tombo and Janeane Garofalo as Ursula feel somewhat superior to the Japanese cast, but I wouldn’t recommend not watching the Japanese version before saying if you agree or disagree with my opinion.

The story overall is very basic, and when the plot involves teenage witch starting a delivery service, it’s for the best. It could count as a different kind of “whole new world” element like Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky, except on a more realistic approach, probably like someone going to a new city or country far from home. With that in mind the film ends up quite intriguing, and makes me wonder if the original author or Miyazaki himself based the story partly on real life feelings during their teenage years, it’s only a possibility but you know a film’s story is good when it makes you think outside the box.

Another interesting thing about the film is like I said earlier, Miyazaki added scenes such as the dramatic moments to the original story. While I have never read the original story, the scene certainly help the progression of the film, gives a mixed balance of happy and sad scenes, as well as develop Kiki’s character so we can understand her and what she goes through. However, if I was to nit-pick then this would lead to my only problem of this film, and that is the film focuses too much on Kiki. I know that is obvious when she is the title character, but when I first watched this film I almost knew nothing about the other characters other than their names and who they are, and if I tried to explain them all, it would be very brief. This is only a minor problem, this is still a great film and if it were possible, I would give it 4.5 stars for not being near-perfect, but a film that can be watched many times without any change of opinion.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is available from Walt Disney and Optimum Releasing. The original novel by Eiko Kanodo was translated by Lynne Riggs and released by Annick Press, but I guess it’s out of print since I’ve found new copies for sale for ridiculously high prices. Kanodo has since later released five sequel novels subtitled “Kiki and Her New Magic”, “Kiki and Another Witch” and “Kiki’s Love”, “Perch of Magic” and “Each and Every Departure” the later four taking place some years after the original story. Sadly, none of these sequels have been officially translated, so good luck trying to find an English version if you are interested. Apparently Disney is working on a live action version of the film, but since it was first announced back in 2005, it’s probably through development hell, despite the apparent 2011 release.