Castle in the Sky (1986)

8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Not my favorite Hayao Miyazaki but still great

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Castle in the Sky

Studio:  Studio Ghibli

Genre(s):  Animated/Action/Adventure/Family

Release Date(s):  August 2, 1986

MPAA Rating:  PG


Wahoo! Free girls!

Sheeta finds herself kidnapped by a government agent named Muska and pursued by pirates led by a woman named Dola.  When Sheeta falls from her flying ship, her heirloom necklace saves her…and leads her to be discovered by a boy named Pazu.  Unfortunately, Muska and Dola are still searching for Sheeta, and now Sheeta and Pazu are on the run.  The key to the attack could be Sheeta’s necklace…and the legend of a floating city named Laputa.

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ or Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta or sometimes also called Laputa:  Castle in the Sky) is an animated family adventure film.  The movie was released to critical acclaim in 1986.  The film followed Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind from 1984, and was released in America by Disney in 2005 with many of Miyazaki’s other films.


Well, it’s better than a moat…

I’ve always considered Hayao Miyazaki the Japanese animator for those who don’t like Japanese animation.  Though all of his projects, he always shows life not only in the art and its presentation, but the story choices themselves.  Castle in the Sky is no different in that aspect.

Miyazaki has been known for taking a European approach to his stories and animation.  Castle in the Sky has a lot of basis in stories like Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels which had a floating island.  With this classic novel as its inspiration, the story takes two smart young kids that children can identify with and has them fighting classic enemies like evil military men and pirates…all material of children’s dreams.  It is a great fantasy that does a good job sculpting a story that is compelling and fun but also classical in feel.


Castles make me happy!!!

When the film was released in the United States, it was dubbed by an all-star cast but it also received some criticism.  Anna Paquin and James Van Der Beek portrayed Sheeta and Pazu and many felt by using older actors, the characters were aged from around ten or eleven to teens…which altered the feel of the story.  Mark Hamill took the role of the evil Colonel Muska and Cloris Leachman played the pirate queen Captain Dola.  Other actors contributing to the film include Richard Dysart, Mandy Patinkin, and Andy Dick.


Does Nausicaa know you stole her squirrel?

Miyazaki is a visionary.  His films always have real-life breathed into them.  The style is Japanese anime but the art and construction is European.  It isn’t just the art however that is impressive, but Miyazaki’s cinematography excels above other animated films and rivals filmmakers like David Lean and Stanley Kubrick who were known for their scope.

Castle in the Sky is a good film, but it is not my favorite Miyazaki film.  The story is more family friendly than some of his other action movies and kids will enjoy the adventure.  You can see a lot of Miyazaki’s signature traits in Castle in the Sky like recurring characters, and it is worth checking out for fans of the director.  Miyazaki followed Castle in the Sky with My Neighbor Totoro in 1988.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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