20 years ago, an elementary school student falls on an island in the northern tip of Hokkaido. A teacher and 6 students makes contact through songs. What happened to the student who fell? ... See full summary »
Far from the best, but can be enjoyable for the more open-minded
The Floating Castle isn't the worst I've seen, but its pretty far from the best. First thing to note, however, is that this is most definitely NOT a realistic historic drama, despite what the trailer and description seem say. The best example of this is a particular scene where one character lifts an enemy bodily from the ground on the tip of his spear. With one hand. On horse back. So yes, don't expect too much realism here.
It's strongest point is probably its colorful cast of characters. The team defending the castle consists of a good hearted buffoon, a reasonable older leader, a blood-thirsty warrior,a young strategist, and finally, a warrior princess that doubles as the love interest. It's a good mix, and pitted against the ambitious young general, the story sure sets itself up for a fun, adventurous tale. Unfortunately, it doesn't go much further than that. The right ingredients are there, but the final mix is particularly lacking.
I would say that the biggest problem lies in the movie's tone. It doesn't seem to have decided on whether or not it wants to be a light-hearted comedy or a serious action film, and trapezes back and forth between both extremes. Don't get me wrong, comedy action is a perfectly acceptable genre. But there has to be transitions. There are several jarring scenes where the entire cast is serious and somber, and literally, in the span of a single second, everyone on screen is suddenly doubled over in laughter.
One of the biggest complaints I've heard of from viewers is the CG. However, keep in mind that judging whether or not CG is good or bad really depends on what you compare it to. By Hollywood standards, yes, the CG is quite atrocious. By lower- budget Asian Cinema standards, the CG is acceptable, maybe even slightly above average. There are some scenes that stand out in particular and really throw you off, but I have seen far, far worse in non-Hollywood films.
The other big complaint I've heard of is the "lead" character, Narita Nagachika, or Lord Bone. The character is supposed to be a buffoon, and the actor seems to play him in a very over-exaggerated, slap-stick sort of manner. Another review describes him as Chaplin-esque, which I think is accurate. Although it might work in a different sort of movie, it stands out quite a bit here and seems overdone. Context might be helpful though, since a quick Google search reveals that the actor, Nomura Mansai, is a well-known Kyogen actor in Japan (Kyogen being a type of traditional Japanese comedy related to Noh theater). If Nomura's exaggerated, comedic acting is a direct result of his background, I'd say he was a bit...miscast. But whether or not it's the actor's or director's fault, Lord Bone's character definitely sticks out like sore thumb in the movie. I can see what they were trying to go for though, so I'd give them some points for trying.
Final recommendation? Only watch if you're of the more tolerant type and genuinely interested in the story. Many might say its a bad movie, but if you don't mind the CG or some of the more unique decisions made by the director, it can be enjoyable and fun. Just don't go in expecting too much.
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