Considering the bonus-filled reissues of three Hayao Miyazaki masterpieces alongside the release of Ponyo, it is a wonder that the DVD in this Combo Pack contains only the movie and a five-minute look at its creation.
The film itself is brilliant with its reimagining [in the truest sense] of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid being visually delightfully and filled with intriguing and entertaining characters and situations.
As we’ve seen in My Neighbor Totoro, with its catbus and friendly titular giant for example, Miyazaki’s imagination is strikingly original. In Ponyo, he creates Ponyo, who begins life as a goldfish and winds up a little girl, having fallen in love with a five-year old boy named Sosuke. Sosuke, of course, also loves Ponyo, who was named Brunhilde by her father and took the name Ponyo because Sosuke gave it to her.
The fact of Ponyo’s change – and her love for Sosuke – puts the world out of balance and it is up to the five-year old Sosuke to save it. Only Miyazaki would place the fate of the world in the hands of a five-year old. Only Miyazaki would have believed an audience would accept that.
That we do accept that is due to Miyazaki’s ability to take the bones of a classic tale and flesh it out in new and wondrous ways. Ponyo is beautifully designed and brilliantly executed. In it, the ocean becomes a living thing [its waves have eyes!] and the storytelling so compelling that we can believe that the world can be saved without firing a shot or throwing a punch.
The North American theatrical release utilized an all-star cast [Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett, Tina Fey, Betty White, Cloris Leachman and more] and produced the best box office totals ever for a Miyazaki film. So why is the DVD lacking the features that have been added to this month’s reissues of My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Castle in the Air? That just doesn’t make sense – especially when you consider that the Blu-ray disc does include them [which is useless to the majority of us who haven’t upgraded to Blu-ray, yet].
Grade: Ponyo – A+
Grade: DVD Features – D
Grade: Blu-ray Features [from listing on cover] – B+
Final Grade: B