HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Gretel and Hansel
Mademoiselle
Tunnel, The
India Song
Last Rhino, The
Made in Hong Kong
Ring of Spies
Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad
Pocketful of Miracles
The Tomb: Devil's Revenge
Sidecar Racers
Space Dogs
Out/Marriage
Safety Last!
Bride Who Has Returned from Hell, The
Show Boat
Savage
City Called Dragon, A
I Used to Go Here
Six Suspects
Still the Water
Not Now, Comrade
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Wives of the Skies
Two Heads Creek
Next Stop, Greenwich Village
Captain, The
Great Wall, A
Trout, The
Zorba the Greek
Horror Crowd, The
Matthias & Maxime
Bullet for the President, A
Constant Husband, The
Anbessa
Man in Grey, The
Harakiri
Way to the Stars, The
Man Who Skied Down Everest, The
Bottoms Up!
   
 
Newest Articles
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
   
 
  Mary and the Witch's Flower Ghibli is dead, Long Live Ghibli!
Year: 2017
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Stars: Hana Sugisaki, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Yuki Amami, Fumiyo Kohinata, Hikari Mitsushima, Jiro Sato, Kenichi Endo, Eri Watanabe, Shinobu Otake, Ruby Barnhill, Kate Winslet, Jim Broadbent
Genre: Animated, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mary Smith (voiced by Hana Sugisaki), a young English girl tries to make herself useful at the country estate of her Great Aunt Charlotte (Shinobu Otake) but keeps messing things up. A local boy named Peter (Ryunosuke Kamiki) teases Mary for both her clumsiness and wild red hair which she hates. One day Peter's cats Tib and Gib lead Mary to a place in the woods where she finds some mysterious glowing flowers. Zebedee (Kenichi Endo), the estate gardener, identifies them as "Fly-By-Night", flowers coveted by witches, according to legend, for their magical flower. Later when Gib disappears, Tib leads Mary back into the woods. There they find an enchanted broomstick that when freed by Mary unleashes the magic contained inside the flowers. It then flies Mary and Tib to a magical realm in the clouds that turns out to be Endor College, an academy for young witches.

When is a Studio Ghibli anime not necessarily a Studio Ghibli anime? When it is the first film from Studio Ponoc, the new production house formed by former Ghibli animators including director Hiromasa Yonebayashi. With two impressive films - Arietty (2010) and When Marnie Was There (2014) - already under his belt, Yonebayashi here delivers another polished children's fantasy in the tradition of his mentor: the great Hayao Miyazaki. Upholding the long-standing Ghibli tradition of adapting children's books by British authors, Mary and the Witch's Flower is based on 'The Little Broomstick' written by Mary Stewart. It is only the second book by Stewart adapted for the screen coming more than fifty years after Walt Disney fashioned The Moon-Spinners into a vehicle for Hayley Mills.

Obviously the concept of a school for magic users cannot help but feel reminiscent of Harry Potter. There is even a passing mention of a philosopher's stone. However Stewart's novel predates J.K. Rowling's Potter books by more than twenty years. On top of that Yonebayashi and his team of animators imbue Mary and the Witch's Flower with a distinctly different visual imagination. More colourful and eccentric than the Potter universe, the film paints a vivid magical world fusing spells and technology, where crazy robots mingle with delightful animal characters. The animation exhibits all the artistry, scope and intricacy, along with a solid grasp of character-driven storytelling, one would expect from a team with this pedigree. For seasoned Ghibli fans it is almost impossible to watch Mary and the Witch's Flower and not pick up on certain elements and imagery that evoke classic Miyazaki films. Yonebayashi fashions a familiar coming of age tale wherein an insecure young heroine has her fortitude tested in a magical world and discovers inner strength laying the groundwork for the strong woman she will become. You have got the boy sidekick who goes from teasing nuisance to stalwart ally, the secret connecting the child heroine to an old woman and the polite but menacing witch. All elements familiar from NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind (1984), My Neighbour Totoro (1988), Spirited Away (2001), Howl's Moving Castle (2004), Yonebayashi's own When Marnie Was There and obviously Kiki's Delivery Service (1989).

Which is not to suggest that the film is derivative. Rather it reflects certain tried and tested tropes rather than breaking new ground as Yonebayashi did with When Marnie Was There. While Kiki's Delivery Service is a low-key, intimate character study, Mary and the Witch's Flower spins a much grander, if at the same time more conventional adventure story. Things get off to a running start and maintain a much faster pace than a Miyazaki film (and stages dynamic aerial action sequences) which is liable to sit well with western viewers. Featuring Ruby Barnhill, star of Steven Spielberg's Roald Dahl adaptation The BFG (2016), Kate Winslet, Jim Broadbent and Ewan Bremner, the English dub befits an anime that seems at least in part skewed towards Japanese Anglophiles. British viewers may wish to check out the original Japanese language version if only for the novelty of watching English characters exhibit Japanese mannerisms and social etiquette. Stewart's clever plot subverts expectations as Mary discovers her seemingly nurturing fantasy world hides a dark underbelly. Story twists add an interesting anti-animal experimentation subtext along with a moral complexity that upholds yet another heartening Ghibli tradition.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1029 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: