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Spirited Away - aka Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2002)

...the most unforgettable characters in anime history...

Spirited Away
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You are telling me that you have never heard of a film titled Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi? Well, that isn't the title for English speaking countries, but that is what you'd hear overseas (to any Japanese readers: Konnichiwa!). The film is animated, so if that is a turn off then you may not want to watch this. However, the content is not typical of American animation. It contains a deep storyline with the some of the most unforgettable characters in anime history. It's Japan's highest grossing film for a reason.

On the way to Chihiro's new home, her family stops at an abandoned ruins site to explore. Her mother and father soon find tons of food just waiting to be eaten. Chihiro tries to save them, but it is too late. They have been turned into pigs! Soon, she is thrust into a world ruled by spirits and she must learn to fit in so she can one day return to the other side. Her opposition, a witch (who surprisingly has a very nice twin sister), stands in her way, but with the help of a multi-legged man, a maid, a mysterious dragon named Haru, and many others, she must work towards her goal.

No, it doesn't make sense. You just have to see it to experience the brilliance. Some of you who have watched dubbed anime in the past shouldn't fear. Spirited Away has the best voice overs to date (possibly second to another Miyazaki film). The animation is all hand drawn so those who complain about computer animation should be happy in that aspect. This film is based around some Japanese folklore which just makes it more intriguing for those who aren't familiar with it. Everyone in the family will fall in love with Chihiro and I have a feeling that the film will spend a lot of time in your DVD player.

My Rating = Five Stars


Ladder 49 (2004)

...cast couldn't accomplish anything worth mentioning...

Ladder 49
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I was just reading through a couple of reviews for this film, and everyone mentioned a feeling of sadness after they watched it. The only thing I was feeling was ripped off. As you watch it, the actors persuade you to feel sorry for them. Sorry, but even John Travolta couldn't accomplish that. Unfortunately, he and the rest of the cast couldn't accomplish anything worth mentioning.

Ladder 49 follows a fireman (Phoenix), who gets caught in a burning factory that may be the last thing he will ever see. As he awaits either rescue or death, he thinks back to all of the good times he has had in life with his career and family. Most of the scenes revolve around him during his training days. Not all of the memories are great though. His demanding job often meant that he couldn't spend time with his wife and kids which caused tension in his marriage.

Movies that resemble things that have or could have happened tend to bore me. There are exceptions(The Queen and Letters from Iwo Jima come to mind), but those movies are few and far between. As you may have guessed, this film doesn't fall into that category. If the idea had been fleshed out a little more, and if it was less predictable, I could have given this a much higher score. You may not want to listen to me though. If this is your type of movie then I suggest you go see it because chances are that you'll enjoy yourself.

My Rating = One Star


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