I seriously needed to wash my mouth out of that godforsaken mess of last so for one last hurrah before the dark times fall, more Studio Ghibli!
Even though this is not my first time seeing Princess Mononoke, it feels like it. The last time I saw this movie I was in high school so it's been a awhiles since I last saw it and I do have to say I appreciate it more and understand it better than the first time around. The story set centuries ago in feudal times follows a prince of a village named Ashitaka who one day after fighting off a demon boar is inflicted with a curse that will one day kill him. He sets off to find some manner of cure before finding an industrialized town aptly named Iron Town that has been destroying the forests and incurring the wrath of a girl raised by wolves named San. Ashitaka slowly gets to know the girl and tries to prevent a war from breaking out between the humans and the various gods and spirits that inhabit the forests. I love how the movie is heavily rich in japanese mythology and spirituality, there are gods and demons in this world that have their own place and do what they do and you rarely ever see such a thing in movies. Books sure, and stories since the beginning have had this look on these beings that control certain things from ancient Greece to more modern day interpretations like Neil Gaiman's Sandman. And it really does make me wish to look further into the more religious and folk tale history of Japan because it is interesting and the movie is still accesible even if you're not familiar with such tales. And I like how it's more for older audiences, anybody young or old can watch and enjoy films like My Neighbor Totoro or Howl's Moving Castle but this movie has things and does things that those movies couldn't. Nothing severe, there's no serious harsh language or nudity, there's some surprisingly unadulterated violence with blood mingling with the landscape but there's reason and purpose behind it. It's a constant conflict of ideologies, worldviews, and forces clashing. It's what we call a mature story, it is for older audiences but that's because of the message the movie has and the way it is told. Miyazaki has always had an affinity for the world's natural beauty in trees, rivers, and landscape and the film could not look more gorgeous if it tried. There's just so much serene backgrounds with lovely use of color in all aspects and the animation is a bit more detailed and crisp in terms of movement and action. There's a lot to admire and enjoy with this movie. I almost dare say the voice actors they got for the english dub may actually be the best dub I've heard in the sliver of Studio Ghibli movies I have seen and they always bring their A game! The characters are actually real people with some fantastic voice acting work! I think my favorite character in the whole thing is this merchant with less than altruistic motives played by Billy Bob Thornton, I can't explain it, he is just a great joy to watch, I love his character and the way he talks, he's just my absolute favorite. Billy Crudup is a fine lead, Claire Danes as the eponymous Mononoke is quite good despite how I've heard she's a bit of a whiny girl but I don't see that at all though her flip from a girl who is fully ready to knife our hero to friend for life is a bit off but whatever, Minnie Driver is great as the head of this Iron Town she's not this moustache twirling villain who wants to destroy the woods cause why the hell not but she has a quite nice sovereign rule over this town and is an interesting character. Of course this movie is great, I'm so happy I added yet another fine addition to the collection with more no doubtedly on the way. 4 stars check it out, and we will see you next time for either Nausicaa or Castle In The Sky.