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Take flight with "Porco Rosso, ", a valiant World War I flying ace!
From tropical Adriatic settings to dazzling aerial maneuvers, this action-adventure from world-renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki is full of humor, courage and chivalry.
When "Porco", (whose face has been transformed into that of a pig by a mysterious spell) infuriates a band of sky pirates with his aerial heroics, the pirates hire Curtis, a rival pilot, to get rid of him. On the ground, the two pilots compete for the affections of the beautiful Gina. But its in the air where the true battles are waged. Will our hero be victorious?
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I am a fan of Miyazaki and his studio Ghibli movies. The America cast enjoys their work and make this a fun movie. I keep returning to how beautiful the world is in a Studio Ghibli, movie with the result that this one is like being entertained by an animated museum. One telling you a 1930s era swashbuckling adventure yarn.
The basic set up is that we are in the Mediterranean Sea, between World War I and nearing World War II. Our hero Porco Rosso, it means the Scarlet pig, is a former Italian fighter pilot turned into a human pig, we never find out exactly why. He lives alone on an island, making his living as a bounty hunter and good guy for hire. All of the local flying pirates are afraid of him and so band together to bring in a hired bad guy from America to deal with our hero. There is a strong willed Lady Love interest and a much younger female airplane engineer and a wide variety of fun minor characters.
Virtually everyone flies seaplane. All of them wonderfully drawn and giving Miyazaki extra opportunities to give us clouds and landscapes and things beautiful. Along with this are a number of fairly standard Miyazaki themes. An over eager talented young lady, goofy if sentimental bad guys, hints of a larger and intruding political world and a trio of scene stealing older women.
Of the DVD extra features, the scenes with the American voice actors are fairly routine and the original story boards may appeal to some but I got bored. The best was the interview with the Japanese producer. For me this was a chance to see studio Ghibli at work even if most of what was said iwas typical DVD movie making off stuff.
Like the movie teasers say: A pig has gotta fly.
Set during World War II, Porco Rosso follows the ace fighter pilot formerly known as Marco Pagot, who was cursed long ago to look like an anthropomorphic pig during his adventures bounty hunting sky pirates and evading the Italian army who are a bit upset with him for leaving. With an established reputation as the best bounty hunter around and the fear of every pirate in the Mediterranean, Porco has things pretty good until the winds change. The arrival of Curtis, a hotshot American pilot, and a shift in policies towards sky pirates sees Porco grounded and without much money to get himself back in the air. If he wants to even the score, he’ll have to sneak back into Italy, rebuild his plane, and make a triumphant return – while maybe making a friend along the way.
When all is said and done, Porco Rosso seems to lack a number of the themes common to Miyazaki’s films: there’s no real battle of man against nature; we only see the consequences of a curse, not the cause or the end, and it’s basically just accepted; and the horrors of war aren’t demonized, but rather sadly acknowledged and then left behind as a mere anecdote. In fact, even the story itself is rather aimless. One moment it’s the story of a rivalry between Porco and Curtis for the attention of Gina, the next it’s about the budding friendship between Porco and the brilliant teenaged engineer Fio, and then it takes the logical conclusion of Curtis and Porco’s rivalry into a very weird but funny competition MC’ed by all of the sky pirates Porco made a living busting up. The shift from Miyazaki’s most common themes and the very loose plotting make Porco one of the director’s oddest creations, and yet it’s charming all the same.
Visually, Porco Rosso is still a masterpiece, even if the story is and themes are somewhat off, but there’s also something to be said for the Japanese and English dubbing. If you’re going to be a purist and watch it with the Japanese audio, then you’ll be watching the film as Hayao intended it when he released it back in 1992. However, if you choose to indulge in the English audio dub that Disney has brought us, you’re in for a treat. The English audio dub has Michael Keaton giving an understated but excellent performance as the reluctant porcine hero, with Cary Elwes playing Curtis as the suave jerk-we-love-to-hate character he’s perfected over the years. Kimberly Williams-Paisley drops a couple decades to play Fio and without knowing it’s her going in you’d swear it was someone much younger. Susan Egan stars as the underused love interest Gina, but the cherry on the sundae that is the cast for Porco Rosso is easily Brad Garrett as the head sky pirate who goes from a bumbling fool to an amusing and likeable side character by the end of the third act.
Porco Rosso might not be the strongest entry in the Studio Ghibli collection from a narrative perspective, but the animation, the audio dubs, and Hayao’s clear passion for flying machines elevate it to become a memorable favorite. Instead, Porco Rosso feels more like a labor of love than Miyazaki’s greatest masterpieces; what it lacks in some areas, it makes up for with raw love for the subject matter. That said, the very sudden and rather unsatisfying ending is still a bit infuriating, even 23 years later.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The Blu-ray includes a featurette on the creation of the audio dub, the original Japanese trailer, storyboards for the film, and an interview with producer Toshio Suzuki.
[Originally posted at JustPressPlay.net]
Most recent customer reviews
Other than being sort of blatant, a cute story I guess.
Interesting coupling with Italy and wartime.Read more