Oh heck, Studio Ghibli did it again. With this, they created yet another must-watch for all ages. If you like family movies, it really is a must-watch.
Now, Ghibli makes two kinds of movies: epic adventure movies, and slice of life movies that often have fantasy adventure themes. Arrietty belongs to the latter, as it shows how a young boy meets a fantasy creature known as one of the borrowers: tiny people who borrow small stuff from humans in order to survive. That kind of set-up is common, but rather than “boy meets fantastical creature”, this movie makes it “fantastical creature meets boy”. Unlike the vast majority of these kinds of movies, we follow Arrietty, how she lives, where she lives, and what she does. And dear God, this movie is good at that.
This movie is meticulously detailed in order to make its setting come alive. Nearly the entire movie just takes place in one house in a small forest, but the creators put a ton of small ideas and detail into just about every scene. The amount of things that these borrowers create from the stuff that they borrow from the humans is immense, the movie is full of all kinds of different kinds of animals, ranging from bugs to mice and birds. It’s a lush movie that just sparkles with life wherever it goes.
Also: the animation. Let me say that out of all of the Ghibli movies not directed by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, this one has the best visuals. The backgrounds in particular are just gorgeous, but what feels unique about the animation is how the creators succeeded in showing the difference between large and big. I mean, the main character is about ten centimetres high. When big things are around her, they really look BIG. Especially the way in which humans are animated next to her: that was done in such a way that I have never seen before.
There’s only one major weakness in this movie, and that is some forced conflict near the end of the movie. I’m not talking about the actual ending (which really was great), but the climax before that, in which this movie suddenly turns into one of those preachy environmentalist movies for ten minutes with a conflict and villain that just don’t fit the mood at all. It’s an act that feels like it doesn’t belong in the movie in terms of tone and themes, not to mention that the ‘villain’ is pretty pathetic.
The rest of the movie is environmental, but not at all preachy. Instead it focuses on the subtle tensions between coexisting species, not pointing a bad finger but rather letting everything resolve itself naturally. It’s got some wonderful characters to back this up with (again, the animation really brings these guys to life) with really good voice acting. Despite that one hiccup near the end, it’s a wonderful watch.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Down to earth, well paced and mature, with perhaps one forced bit near the end.|
|Characters:||8/10 – There may not be much interesting development, but the acting is excellent, and the characters really come to life. It’s got a bad villain, though.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – Gorgeous artwork, detailed beyond belief, not to mention the wonderful soundtrack.|
|Setting:||9/10 – Immensely detailed in describing the life and environment of the main character. There are a ton of ideas in just about every scene.|