Arrietty London Screenings - Review
Date: 2011 July 10th Sunday [13:07] | Posted By: Joe
On Wednesday 6th July 2011 we went to the London Barbican sell out screenings of the latest Ghibli movie to make it over to the UK.
Arrietty is due for a wider cinema release in the UK on 29th July 2011.
Publicity for Arrietty has just started, with posters appearing on the tube at prominent locations. We spotted this one at Leicester Square Tube station, on the Northern Line.
Studio Ghibli titles are often adored by anime fans and rightly so, however Ghibli has had the odd miss now again, with Tales of Earthsea showing the Studio that it can't always hit the mark (but that's whole another article in itself).
Inspired by the children's classic The Borrowers, Arrietty tells the tale of tiny little people who live in secret in a house, borrowing things that they need which won't be missed. The borrowers are supposed to be around 10cm tall, but those more observant will notice that the scale shifts now and again throughout the film.
The animation quality is exactly what you'd expect from Studio Ghibli, with lots of detail and lavish sets, and fluid faultless animation. The animators clearly enjoyed imagining things at a tiny scale, particularly when animating the water in the borrowers' tea.
Unusually for a new title, there are actually two dubs, one done in the UK with a British cast for the distributor Optimum Releasing , another done in the US for Walt Disney, with an American cast. As the Barbican was showing the UK edition, we were shown the British dub. Unfortunately the translation script was too literal and really needed some polish to make it sound more natural in English. The male roles of Pod, voiced by Mark Strong and Sho, voiced by Tom Holland, sounded quite flat, without much emotion or expression. This is particularly a surprise from Mark Strong. If you've seen him in anything else (such as Harry Starks in The Long Firm) you'll know he is an amazing actor.
I wouldn't put this movie in the same class as other Ghibli blockbusters, the budget is lower, so there are fewer sets and scenes and characters as a result. It's enjoyable to watch, but the story felt weak. Keeping it spoiler free, the motivations of Haru, were left unexplained, which leaves a bit of a plot hole. Additionally the environmental message in the middle, lacked subtly, seemed out of place in the film and was delivered rather rudely by Sho.
It's impossible to watch a Ghibli movie without having high expectations. Arrietty delivers on the promise of Ghibli animation, but feels more formulaic than groundbreaking. It is an enjoyable enough story, solidly executed but is not the kind of timeless classic you'd expect from the studio that made Castle in the Sky and Totoro.