A's Review of Ponyo
Ponyo, though far from Miyazaki's best work, is still a fantastic piece of art from a director who understands how to use animation and film itself to captivate and amaze.
The plot of Ponyo is something like The Little Mermaid with a Japanese/Miyazaki twist, which is unfortunately the biggest flaw of the movie. The plot seemed unnecessarily complicated at times, too simple at others, but all the while being a little too similar to the old Disney classic. There's nothing wrong with a re-telling of an old fairy tale, but surprisingly, Miyazaki failed to do anything remarkably new with it. The changes that were made were welcome, but were sometimes convoluted, making me unsure about what Miyazaki was attempting to accomplish.
However, the overall theme of the work is impossible to miss, yet satisfyingly subtle. It avoids all of the usual pitfalls of the traditional movie-for-kids-but-with-a-message-for-adults genre. Miyazake creates a true wonderland, and with care and rarely-off precision, tells a beautiful love story that's simple enough for kids to enjoy yet deep enough to keep adults interested and ultimately, motivated to think, the aim of all art.
The characters are a fairly interesting bunch, but towards the climax of the movie, loose ends became tied up a bit quickly for my tastes. Besides Ponyo, Sosuke, and his mother, the characters seemed almost inconsequential. However, Ponyo and Sosuke are so fascinating on-screen together and alone that I could easily watch two more hours of their childish antics. They share true believability as children and as pieces of an elaborate puzzle in Miyazaki's world.
The film itself is quite beautiful. In true Studio Ghibli style, every frame of the movie is a piece of art in itself, and the visuals never once fail to amaze. And you'll never be able to get the theme song out of your head. Ever. And that's a good thing, because it's awesome.
Watching Ponyo was definitely a treat for me, and if you don't focus too hard on the shortcomings, you'll be spirited away.
See what I did there?