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Porco Rosso (Blu-ray Review)

Porco-RossoPorco Rosso was a bit of step in a different direction for Hayao Miyazaki.  This film would take a more adult tone and presence than his previous ventures.  Its still very accessible for children and in the “all ages” arena for viewing, but if its going to skew to one side of the fence, the tilt is in the older direction.  Its mainly in its classical war setting that will resonate with the parents.  The film totally worked, becoming the number one film of 1992 in the Japanese market.  In addition, it received awards and has had plenty of accolades over the years.  That includes making some “best of all time” for animated films lists.  Its report this production made 2.8 billion yen with all of its distribution taken into account, which would be $23.8 million in US dollars on a nine million dollar budget.  Disney is bringing this Miyazaki classic to Blu-ray for the first time in the US.

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Film 

Take flight with Porco Rosso, a valiant World War I flying ace! From tropical Adriatic settings to dazzling aerial maneuvers, this action-adventure is full of humor, courage and chivalry. When “Porco”—whose face has been trans- formed 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 it’s in the air where the true battles are waged. Will our hero be victorious?

Porco Rosso feels much like classic Hollywood of the 1940s.  Where you don’t make a straight war film per se, but you do a film revolving around people not involved in the war during war time or someone from the war during post-wartime.  It feels very much like a film that would have possibly starred Humphrey Bogart.  Michael Keaton sort of plays it like Bogey, and to my surprise, even pointed that out in his interview on the bonus material.  Porco Rosso himself helps shape this movies tone and feeling throughout.

This film was originally planned to be only a short film based on Miyazaki’s  own manga comic The Age Of The Flying Boat.  Japanese Airlines was an investor in the film and it was being made primarily for in-flight movies.  However, war broke out in Yugoslavia, and that sort of lent itself to bringing a more serious approach to the film and really shaping what it was to be.  Funny enough, because it was to be an in-flight movie, this is why the opening scroll of the film features multiple languages simultaneously delivering the information.

Comedy, drama and action find a nice blend and mix perfectly well in this film.  There was a scene in the open featuring some pirates that had some dialogue that had me laughing pretty good, being self aware of how ridiculous the film and ones of its ilk are being.  In turn, there are many great monologues and character interactions about war and their personal history with it.  To top it off, the film features some wonderfully animated and choreographed dog fights, races and rescue scenes featuring the planes.

Hayao Miyazaki’s Porco Rosso is a nifty little post-World War I film that features a little something for everyone, especially fans of classical war films.  It fits right at home and longs to be included with films of a different era.  This US version features a wonderful cast that fill out their characters quite nicely, adding more weight than normal with some of these kinds of films.  It also features a nice array of animated action sequences as well as laughs and engaging dramatics.  Its one that people of any age are going to get something enjoyable out of it for different reasons.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  The image is nice, sharp and pretty damn clean.  Every detail appears to be to the forefront and present.  Movements are nice and smooth and digital distortions occur at all.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich, dark and provide some decent shading.

Color Reproduction:  Colors appear accurate.  They are nice and distinct.  Nothing too vivid as some of this looks a little water colored.  There isn’t a wide array of color, green seems to be the only one that has a vast palette.

Flesh Tones:  N/A

Noise/Artifacts:  Some light specs in random places.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA, French 2.0 Dolby Digital, Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

Dynamics: This 2.0 track sounds terrific.  A nice balance between sound, score and voice.  Every little piece of an effect or dialogue grasps every little brush and breath.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp, clean, loud and very distinct.

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Extras 

Porco Rosso comes with a DVD copy of the film, a Disney Movie Rewards code and an offer to get 4 Movies For $1 from Disney Movie Club.  The extras come courtesy of the original DVD release.  They are standard definition clips presented with AVC encoding.

Behind The Microphone (HD, 7:05) – The voice actors from the American edition of the film discuss the process of recording.  They go over their characters and doing Anime performances.  Every actor from every major role as well as some crew have an interview.

Original Japanese Storyboards (HD, 1:33:18) – The entire film, told with storyboards.  Features the original Japanese audio track and English subtitles.

Original Japanese Theatrical Trailers (HD, 7:55) 

Interview With Producer Toshio Suzuki (HD, 3:22) – He answers two questions posed to him.  The producer talks of how this film was a more adult oriented feature, and more personal a project for Miyazaki.  Also tells of what Miyazaki is like in person.

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Summary 

Porco Rosso is a nice little post-World War I film that features a wide array of enjoyment for all ages.  Its a more adult Miyazaki film, but not so abundantly so.  This Blu-ray features great picture and audio with the extras from the previous DVD release ported over.  So, this serves as a nice upgrade for those looking to get the much better audio and visual experience.  Or, for those who never picked it up, here you go.  Unless you go out of Region, this is possibly the best you’re going to get!

Porco-Rosso-Blu-ray

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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