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Overall Rating
4.5

Awesome73.45%
Worth A Look: 13.27%
Average: 7.96%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 5.31%

4 reviews, 89 user ratings


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Princess Mononoke
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by Robert Collins

"An Important Movie Worthy in Every Regard"
5 stars

"Princess Mononoke" is not a film to be relinquished. A refreshing alternative to the typical American mainstream crap, it makes for an undeniably compelling experience-- one that cannot be found elsewhere. Exploding into what seems like a million tangents, "Mononoke" manages to be a fantastic epic, a story of personal triumph and failure, an incredibly exciting adventure, and even an untraditionally heartwarming romance all while still retaining its coherence, unpretentiousness, and, most importantly, intelligence intact. Furthermore, it steadily reinforces a genre that has been waning very seriously in the past several years, and holds a torch for all future animated features to attempt to follow.

Even for anime, the attention to detail present in the animation of Princess Mononoke is astounding. Very rarely before has such an extraordinary amount of animated ingenuity and creativity been fashioned, and such an utter lack of laziness in the creation of each and every scene throughout the movie been observed. One of the marvels of Mononoke is the incredible way the artists never overlooked a single situation. Wisps of smoke inconspicuously rise from the barrel of a gun following it being fired. The individual pieces of hay on the main character's costume sway with the gentle breeze and glide vertically as the main character rides his elk. Very little, if anything, is overlooked, and the pictures Mononoke provides makes for an unparalleled and enduring experience.

And the pictures describe a world very seldom ever touched by an animated film. While the beauty is clearly evident in the film's atmosphere, there is also a very dark and extremely cool aspect to the world. With dangerous writhing tendrils covering their entire bodies, the boar-gods after undergoing the transformation into a demon are frightening apparitions. Arrows, driven by the strength of the hero's cursed arm, simultaneously pierce and amputate random body parts of enemies, resulting in a moderately large death toll and a decent amount of decapitations. While these events, and those similar to them, are not found throughout the entirety of the movie, they may be violent or frightening enough to raise questions to whether you should show this to small children, although depriving them of this movie simply for that reason could be considered a crime.

Released in Japan as Mononoke Hime, the English version of the screenplay was written by capable scribe Neil Gaiman. Gaiman did an extremely admirable job of adapting the script for American audiences. His adaptation is stirring and strong, turning a gem of a film into a priceless one. While, at first glance, the plot underlying the entire film may seem like nothing more than environmentalist propaganda, there is truly some depth to this animated spectacle. It amply showcases the classic struggle between man and nature, forcibly revealing, un-biased, the good and wicked sides of society and industry, and nature and fertility, and the need for symbiosis between the two. It's an epic legend of war, treachery, tragedy, and deceit, with more than a tad of Romanticist influence. It's also a harrowing tale of an individual fighting against himself to survive, striving not to succumb to a disease fueled by hatred. Beautiful, emotional, and exciting, Princess Mononoke never fails to captivate on so many levels.

After confronting and saving his village from a boar-god whose rage for humanity turned him into a fearsome monster, young warrior Ashitaka is infected with a fatal disease that will first proceed to rip apart both his soul and body. Leaving his home to search for the source of his pestilence, a metal ball found within the pig's bones, he rescues two injured workers who were casualties in a brief fight with some denizens of the woods; along the way he discovers that, due to his unfortunate illness, anger gives him a frightening amount of strength. By saving the hapless workers, he gains access to the origin of the metal balls, Iron Town, and the enigmatic Lady Eboshi, whose citizens are in a constant battle with the forest inhabitants led by a woman named San. During a nightly raid on Iron Town, Ashitaka manages to create enemies with both worlds. Ashitaka then decides he must try and stop the war between the entities of the forest and Eboshi's community before he perishes to the plague wreaking chaos throughout his body.

Ashitaka is a worthy hero, selfless and strong-willed, full of compassion and concern for others, the basis of his personality setting the course for future events. However, the mysterious San, as well as Ashitaka's relationship with her, isn't nearly as fleshed-out, with her past and real role in the movie in a blurrier focus. Alas, she is pivotal in the plot, but, fortunately, is given a smaller amount of screen time. Lady Eboshi, on the other hand, is a carefully crafted and superbly complex villain. She is, at times, cold-hearted, driven by her questionable ambitions, destroying the forest around the town she governs to make room for growth, and relentless and determined in her quest to dispatch the forest gods. Meanwhile, she finds work for former prostitutes, and provides lepers in her community with shelter and food in exchange for their skills, while simultaneously offering them protection from those who don't understand them. There is truly some depth to her, and she is an interesting change to the more common, simply evil antagonists.

Another strong advantage Princess Mononoke has is the array of mainstream, and mostly talented, actors providing voices for the film, quite a change from the typical anime cast roster of little-known thespians. Excepting Claire Danes' mostly emotionless and shrill performance as San, the rest of the cast does extremely well. Minnie Driver does an especially fine job as Eboshi, but, by far, the most precious audible resource Mononoke has to offer are the articulating skills of acting novice Billy Crudup. As Ashitaka, Crudup is extremely capable of instilling emotion and stability in the main character, and gives a wonderful performance.

Princess Mononoke is a spectacle not to be missed. A true animated achievement, its ability to please almost all audiences will make it destined to become a classic. It astounds through its profound ability to shock and stir its audience, making it one of the most interactive movies I've ever seen. Amazing to behold, Mononoke is one of my favorite films, and has an eternal spot in both my heart and video collection.

Despite what your biases may be toward anime, this is one whose appeal is not limited to that genre's fanatics, and is absolutely a crucial movie to see. To skip over "Princess Mononoke" because of a partisan opinion toward the genre would be a grave and grievous mistake. As one of my favorite movies, it earns my loftiest recommendation.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1574&reviewer=316
originally posted: 09/23/02 13:02:39
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User Comments

3/04/14 PAUL SHORTT THOUGHTFUL AND BEAUTIFULLY ANIMATED 4 stars
7/04/08 Steve My favorite movie, and with out a doubt one of the best ever made, but not for young kids. 5 stars
10/28/07 Stephen Fantastic! I usually hate anime, but this was extremely good. 5 stars
9/12/06 Eden Pretty amazing - one of the best animated films ever made 5 stars
5/31/06 William Goss Gorgeous? No doubt. Good? Entertaining, at least. Great? Not so sure. 4 stars
4/22/06 Andrew Jones Supereb. I love the visuals ,and of course, the stroy is brilliant. 5 stars
4/11/06 Alex yupi 5 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer Rather dark for Miyazaki, but still a great film. 4 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Miyazaki creates a minor miracle. 5 stars
11/09/05 Katie this movie rules it rocks my socks man 5 stars
10/22/05 Jay Norris A fun and exciting trip. 4 stars
9/13/05 drew different 4 stars
5/25/05 Jake Great! Just Great, and this is coming from a guy who doesn't care about Japanese Anime! 5 stars
3/28/05 darkofnight Perfect pacing, jaw-dropping visuals, superb story - truly the greatest fantasy ever made. 5 stars
3/25/05 Taiko Yamanaka ITS THE BEST ANIME MOVIE EVER! ITS FREAKIN ALSUM!Every detail of the movie is breath taking 5 stars
1/31/05 clinger26 Oh god, this piece of crap puts on the hippie " harm the forest I'll kill you," this movie 1 stars
1/17/05 Dark Rain the best movie fuck the people who dont like it 5 stars
11/07/04 DM If you have seen this movie and don't like it, you're an idiot 5 stars
8/15/04 nick good 4 stars
4/21/04 Kagome I thought it was really kewl!!!! I had a lot of fun whaching it meny times!!! 5 stars
3/31/04 true review - correct review everytime Horrible bore with no plot, (typical Miyazaki) but brilliant compared to Spirited Away 1 stars
3/27/04 spongebobhater1017 This movie is highly overrated, sucks and Akira is far superior to this piece of shit!! 1 stars
3/15/04 Tom M. My favorite Miyazaki film. The beginning it awesome and it tails off a bit near the end. 5 stars
3/09/04 Jessica Bell I love this movie so much, it hurts when people say bad things about this movie! I love it! 5 stars
1/07/04 Raf Not as good as Spirited Away but Still in my top 10 list 4 stars
12/31/03 Ender Ohhhh man if I could rate this movie 20,000,000 stars I would. It is my all time favorite 5 stars
4/30/03 Procrastinator Truly inspiring bravery, some people who think this anime sux need a life 5 stars
4/15/03 reptilesni Overrated crap. 1 stars
3/12/03 Butterball Cenobite has great heart and lots of imagination; Dane's voice a bit "spoiled brat" sounding, though 5 stars
3/08/03 whitney i llllllllllllllloooooooooooooovvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeee it. 5 stars
2/13/03 Loyd YO FUCK ALL THOSE BASTARDS WHO SAYS THIS MOVIE SUX ! THIS IS A GREAT PIECE OF ART ! 5 stars
12/23/02 E-Rock Anime at its best. Bested only by Akira and Miyzaki's other epic, Spirited Away... 5 stars
12/21/02 krystal this is the best movie in the world. not much more than perfect. 5 stars
11/10/02 STEVE WOW!FIRST TIME I WATCHED A MOVIE 2 TIMES IN A ROW. 5 stars
11/08/02 joe shmoe blah. it sucks donkey balls 1 stars
10/29/02 Getchell Williams F'n Awsome! It was the movie that got me loving anime! 5 stars
9/23/02 The Bomb 69 shame people won't watch this because it is animated. Their loss. 5 stars
6/28/02 Zefram Mann Beautiful movie with more heart than a lot of movies I've ever seen.. 5 stars
4/06/02 Junshi it wasn't spectacular, but it left some memories and moments 4 stars
3/28/02 NeuroManson Di$ney got greedy when they saw the $100 mill Jap box $$$, Di$ney got burned, haw haw haw! 5 stars
1/19/02 Rego Allegro No more an anime - it should get the same world wide recognition as the Seventh Samurai 5 stars
9/21/01 Kevin Garcia This is one of the greatest films I have ever seen. 5 stars
8/08/01 KC Au Very well drawn, but I won't watch it again! You can't force me, Ebert!! 3 stars
7/28/01 Steve I'm no anime fan/otaku, but GREAT movie. Shit translation though, get DVD and turn on subs. 5 stars
5/02/01 Phillip Amazing one of the best anime movies For all you otakus you should see vally of the wind! 5 stars
4/25/01 J It was a very fine anime movie and was one of 1999's best. 5 stars
3/24/01 Alex So pretty.... 5 stars
3/16/01 Spetters Beautiful visuals, but what the fuck was it all about? 3 stars
3/16/01 Janelle Niles It's the best move I ever seen! 5 stars
2/28/01 The Bomb 69 unbelievable stuff, eye candy!!! 5 stars
2/12/01 LOOBER Actually one of the best movies of the year 5 stars
2/10/01 Al Simply beautiful, best to see with eyes unclouded 5 stars
2/02/01 Aiken Drum I love what this Movie teaches to people. Superb 5 stars
1/27/01 Rahan Far too underrated. Disney *wishes* they could do something like this. 5 stars
1/20/01 Trausti It's beutiful and with photo realistic backgrounds and very imaginative,compare to disney 5 stars
1/17/01 Josh Tybur Original and beautiful, but just a little to mundane of a plot.... 4 stars
11/21/00 The Bill Head Extraordinarily compelling animated masterpiece-One of the top ten best animated films ever 5 stars
11/08/00 Greyjack I'd give it four and a half stars; I can't, but it's good enough to round up. Stellar film. 5 stars
9/18/00 Michael Grimm better than Phantom Menace, awesome!!! 5 stars
9/03/00 The Bomb 69 blew me away!!! animation and story were top notch!! 5 stars
9/02/00 spunkmirej Everything about this movie rocked! The plot was great. A great movie to see. 5 stars
6/28/00 Ari Nadir Omnys I loved it! The animation was breathtaking, and the plot was clever and well-thought-out. 5 stars
6/24/00 Aaron White Makes keychains out of most Disney films. Miyazaki's richest film, and that's rich fare. 5 stars
4/28/00 Xavier Michaut The film blowed me. I've seen it for times and I love it more each time. 5 stars
3/26/00 Laura There's just no getting around how awesome it is 5 stars
3/17/00 Lame-Oh much better than Pokemon: The First Movie, you just can't miss it! 5 stars
1/17/00 TomServo50 Breathtaking in its beauty and a tremendously good story. 5 stars
1/04/00 Gotham DK Animation not quite up to classic Disney, but Disney would never do something this original 5 stars
1/04/00 Morgan Watson Great movie... 5 stars
12/09/99 Slurpee_E The best anime I've ever seen. 5 stars
12/01/99 Alexander Smith Excellent. By all means, the best anime I have ever seen! 5 stars
11/26/99 Jimmy Betts One of my favorite Animes, Subtitled, however, is a better watch. 5 stars
11/21/99 Chloris Green I've seen it twice...and I want to see it agin. All of it met my highest standards. 5 stars
11/16/99 Charlie Tangora It's just so incredibly beautiful... 5 stars
11/16/99 Tom Wilkes Breathtaking animation, and characters one can care about. 5 stars
11/16/99 Herself the Elf Simply the most breathtakingly beautiful animated movie I've ever seen. 5 stars
11/16/99 Cynthia L. It has a sublety that obviously you missed. To see it on the big screen, a gift. 5 stars
11/11/99 nellardo Gorgeous, otherworldly, yet realistic 5 stars
11/08/99 focus Brilliant and magnificient! 5 stars
11/07/99 goryturd@hotmail this is a beautifully illustrated anime.I have seen other anime(lots of it too)and its..-> 5 stars
11/07/99 Justin Sevakis A masterpiece, pure and simple. 5 stars
11/03/99 Mr. Show This was the most boring piece of heavy handed crap I've seen since Fern Gully, And the a 1 stars
11/02/99 Paradox This is the second-best anime I've ever seen. The top one was by the same director... 5 stars
10/31/99 Critic Japanese Anime, good, but not the best, hollywood tint 3 stars
10/31/99 Watership Great Film! And guys.. Disney and Miyasaki are partners, so Disney doesn't exactly lose :P 5 stars
10/31/99 Lame-Oh This is the way anime movies should be made. You lose, Disney! 5 stars
10/28/99 relayer Stunning visuals are teamed with a good story. A must see! 5 stars
10/26/99 Roman The animation is awesome (story ain't bad either) 5 stars
10/26/99 elfpunkt Miyazaki will kick the crap out of any Disney Movie, any day. This just proves it. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  29-Oct-1999 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Jul-2000

UK
  N/A

Australia
  08-Feb-2001


Directed by
  Hayao Miyazaki

Written by
  Neil Gaiman
  Hayao Miyazaki

Cast
  Gillian Anderson
  Billy Crudup



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