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Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea

Translated title: Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
Original title:
Gake no Ue no Ponyo
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Written by:
Hayao Miyazaki
Year: 2008

This is the tenth film I’ve seen directed or written by Hayao Miyazaki and from my earlier experiences, it’s obvious that the man is a genius. Sometimes, he directs his talent and skill in precisely the right direction and masterpieces such as Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Nausica of the Valley of the Wind are the result. However, everything he touches doesn’t automatically turn into gold, but he has still produced a number of films which would have been utterly boring if somebody else had made them (I’m thinking of Kiki’s Delivery Service, for instance). Unfortunately, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Miyazaki’s most recent film, firmly places in the latter category:It’s a nice film, but only because Miyazaki has made it.

The story focuses on a goldfish or mermaid named Ponyo, who desires to become human. Her father is busy countering the damage the humans wreak on the oceans and Ponyo manages to escape and make her way to the boy Susuke, who immediately takes fancy to the cute goldfish. Ponyo can transform herself into human form, but to become truly human, she and Susuke must together overcome a number of challenges facing them after the seas flood and all but the highest hills are submerged under the ocean.

As is the case with the other Miyazaki movies of this kind, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea is cute, but fails to be so utterly adorable that it’s impossible to dislike. Totoro got away with only being cute, but such an achievement is far away here. The story is moderately interesting, but lacks the sparkling genius Miyazaki has shown proof of earlier. It contains too few cool ideas and too many children running around.

I hesitated quite a while before giving this film below three snails. It didn’t feel like I a waste of time, but it’s still a big disappointment. There are some really buried in there, but they are too few and not good enough to make up for the general averageness of this film. I’m very sorry to say so, but this is the first time this Miyazaki has disappointed me.

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