Monday, 30 August 2010

Film Review: THE CAT RETURNS (2002)

Director: Hiroyuki Morita
Running time: 75 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): U

UK release date: 27th May 2005

Watched on Sky+ Monday 30th August 2010.


I may have stated this before, but I’m quite a fan of animated films from all over the world. I won’t say I’m any kind of expert, but I know when I see something I like, and I like this one quite a lot! I have read a couple of reviews about this one and they seem to be slightly disappointed by the quality of the animation. Now, I’m no expert on the work of Studio Ghibli, but to me it still looked a lot better than many I have seen from the West. But I digress, here’s a little about the plot. Oh, and for the record, I must say I saw the English language version of the film.

A young girl, Haru saves a cat from being run over. The cat thanks her and says he will return soon to thank her properly. Dumbfounded, Haru can’t believe a cat just spoke to her. That night she is woken when a parade of cats comes down her street and stops outside her house. The Cat King himself thanks her for saving the life of his son, Prince Lune, and she is presented with a list of gifts that will be presented to her. She goes to sleep forgetting about the list until morning. As usual she is late for school and has to run, but today she is perused by every cat in the area. Getting to school she finds little boxes containing mice in her locker; things seem to be going from bad to worse! That evening, a royal herald invites her to visit the Cat Kingdom and tells her she is to marry the prince. Not sure what to do, a mysterious voice tells her to seek out the Cat Bureau, which she does. There she meets The Baron, an automaton in the shape of a cat with a soul, Muta, a big white cat and Toto, a stone bird, also with a soul. They are about to make a plan when Haru is kidnapped and taken to the Cat Kingdom, closely followed by The Baron and Muta. Can they get her back to the real world before it’s too late? Well, I guess you’ll have to watch it to find out.

Now, I haven’t seen a lot of Studio Ghibli films, so I don’t have a lot to compare it with, but I really liked the simple style of the animation used. The plot was easy to follow and I thought the voices used fitted the characters really well. So, honourable mentions go the voice talents of; Anne Hathaway as Haru, Cary Elwes as The Baron, Andrew Bevis as Prince Lune, Kristen Bell as Hiromi, Rene Auberjonois as Natori, Peter Boyle as Muta, Elliott Gould as Toto and Tim Curry as The Cat King.

I felt there are strong hints of Alice in Wonderland in this story which I didn’t mind one bit. It’s a very engaging tale that has a lot of mystery, wonder and adventure in it. I guess my only gripe would be that they have a lot of the cats standing on their hind legs and, to me, this just doesn’t look natural. If you’re not a cat lover then this one probably isn’t for you, but if you are, or have no preference, then it’s definitely recommended for old and young alike.

My score: 7.8/10

IMDb Site:
Official Site: The Cat Returns Official Site (Disney)
Trailer (Japanese with English Subtitles):

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