Sunday, May 27, 2012

Porco Rosso (1992)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Anime is the greatest form of animation of all time and Hayao Miyazaki is the quintessential anime director. However, one of the weaker entries from Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli company is 1992’s Porco Rosso.

The story revolves around Porco Rosso, who was, at one point; a WWI flying ace named Marco Pagot, but has been transformed into a pig whose only job now is to be a bounty hunter chasing air pirates. He, also, spends time at the Hotel Adriano with his friend, Gina, who is also the hotel owner. One day, an American pilot attacks Porco and he crashes, to where he takes his plane to Milan, where a mechanic, Piccolo, and his granddaughter, Flo, reside, to have his plane repaired. Many things occur such as growing chemistry between Porco and Flo and an offer that Porco can’t refuse.

The star of this movie is, as always, the animation. Just read my My Neighbor Totoro review. How I described the animation in that movie also applies to this movie. One shot in this film that I adore is in a flashback sequence where Porco is his human self on a cloud as the fallen men in WWI float up to Heaven on their planes. That single shot is one of the most poetic and moving shots I’ve ever seen in an animated picture. The battle scenes, while not anything magnificent, are pretty rousing, as well.

The story is pretty simplistic. While it didn’t leave as big an impact on me as past Studio Ghibli films I’ve seen had, I appreciate that Hayao Miyazaki decided to just tell a normal story mixed with wit, a small portion of Miyazaki’s notable, original creativity (seriously, a former WWI flying ace turned into a pig) and even some history. The film takes place during a time when fascism imprisoned its citizens and economic hardships were plenty. Some may obtain a bitter feeling from this history, especially if one grew up around that time. Also, there are moments, especially at the end, where the movie echoes Casablanca.

The characters, while not as effective as the characters from previous Studio Ghibli films, are still pretty satisfying. I didn’t find the villains all that exciting, but they did provide some funny comic relief. I like the way Porco is made into a subtle and, occasionally brooding, character. I, also, like the character of Gale, who is a classy woman kind of like Ingrid Bergman or Audrey Hepburn and, also, has a seductive, mystique quality about her, to where I thought she could make a great femme fatale, if placed in another movie. The character I liked the most was Flo. I love her bewilderment and her almost charming obsession towards Porco. Seriously, she wants to kiss him several times throughout the film. Pepe le Pew looks at her and goes, “ Take it easy, my friend.”

The reason I say that this movie is one of Studio Ghibli’s weaker efforts is because of the reason that I keep mentioning: not as effective or impactive. It didn’t engross me like I feel an anime movie should and, at times, I was actually a tad bit bored watching the movie. However, the weakest effort of Studio Ghibli is better than half of the American animated movies that come out every year.

RATING: An enthusiastic three stars out of four!

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