LAMB MOTM: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

So, this movie was chosen as the next LAMB Movie of the Month. But not only has it been picked there, but it has also appeared in a couple different other LAMB events, such as Sirens of the LAMBs and The LAMB Action Hero. So when this was chosen for the MOTM, as an anime fan, I had to check it out (as I hadn’t seen it, though had heard of it numerous times, even prior to LAMB events). I love Miyazaki’s films, and I think the man is one of the greatest in the field, but I have to say… this one wasn’t one of his best.

First, the story was jumbled and rather all over the place. It just felt as if it didn’t know what it wanted to be about. Did it want to be about finding a cure for the poisoned Earth? Did it want to be about two feuding nations? Did it want to be about stopping one of said nations from resurrecting one of the monsters that ruined the world a thousand years ago? Did it want to be about stopping the giant insects from destroying the valley and/or world? Did it want to be about finding the one prophesied hero who would save them all? Who knows? Apparently the movie didn’t.

For the animation, I’m taking into account that this was made back in 1984 (which is ironic, as it has some slight dystopian undertones). Some of the animation was pretty good, and some of it was only decent at best. There were some great, epic shots at times (usually in moments of action or ‘suspense’), but then there was some rugged, awkward animation. The best moments (of the whole movie), though, as I said, were the action scenes.

As for why I put ‘suspense’ like so, I am brought to one of my big issues of the movie: I didn’t care for any of the characters. Nausicaä was naïve and oftentimes annoying. All the other characters were just shown intermittently. None of them really had any kind of character growth. So when it came to the action sequences and such, while they were usually interesting (at the least) to look at, I never cared about the outcome, which just made the whole movie quite dull.

The dialogue was incredibly annoying, as well. It seemed like every character spoke in exposition (and/or their thoughts). Especially in the first 15 or so minutes of the movie, when Nausicaä continually talked to herself in an incredibly unnatural way, as if obviously explaining to the audience everything they needed to know. This kind of thing also happened quite a few times throughout the movie, as well. But it wasn’t just that about the dialogue, either. Just the dialogue in general was stiff and unnatural.

The voice acting, on the other hand, wasn’t too bad. I watched the 2004 dubbing that included the talents of Edward James Olmos, Chris Sarandon, Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman, and Shia LaBeouf. Mr. Olmos and Mr. Stewart were especially good. I could barely tell it was Uma Thurman doing the voice. Chris Sarandon seemed to be channeling Prince Humperdinck from The Princess Bride (and, oddly enough, looked like Christopher Guest’s Count Rugen of the same movie). The only voice that was distracting was Shia LaBeouf’s, mostly because he has such a distinct voice and has been in every other movie these days, so I would always picture him instead of the character. And I know anime rule #1 (as well as any foreign movie, really) is to never watch it dubbed… but I didn’t have much of a choice, here, in my viewing options.

But another thing that bugged me was the music, though not all of it. Some of the music was actually quite good. Other times it sounded as if it would belong in a Final Fantasy game (which is not bad… those games can have some great music). But oftentimes, it sounded as if it would better belong in some campy, old-school video game, and it was really distracting. The weird mix of orchestral music with weird techno-keyboard-type music was an odd choice, in my opinion.

Overall, even though I like anime (and Miyazaki), I couldn’t get into this one. And it wasn’t because of the environmental message either, which I really didn’t mind, except for the awful dialogue that it brought on (and the message was really in-your-face. Seriously, this movie would make anybody who hated the “green” message in WALL*E find it suddenly easily tolerable. I was also reminded of the recent The Happening with its trees of doom and such). Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be watching this one again… at least not anytime soon.

The Zed Word

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