Review for The Cat Returns
After saving a cat from being run over, Haro finds herself engaged to the Prince of the cats and transported to a crazy magical world where cats can talk and so much more. Here she meets the King of Cats, a talking bird, a huge fat cat and even finds herself turned into a cat. She must escape the land, before she finds herself married and the only way she can do this is with the help of a smart cat in a top hat.
What did I just watch? I mean seriously. I watched The Cat Returns thinking throughout 'What on earth is going on?' I couldn't quite tell if this was a take on Alice in Wonderland, only instead of a land of crazy characters, it's just talking cats.
I will not deny that this film looks as beautiful as anything Studio Ghibli have done, but the story to this film, though entertaining (and I'll come to the whys in a second) is so bizarre that when the film finished I almost had to watch it again to figure out what was going on. The entertainment comes from the amazing voicework in this film. Now, I know there are some people who can only watch these films with subtitles, but seriously I would recommend that you give the English dub a try as it is all kinds of awesome.
Voicework from Anne Hathaway and Kristen Bell as Haro and Hiromi is perfect and they play their roles as you would expect. Where the brilliance comes is in casting Cary Elwes as The Baron which he even admits in the interview is a mix of David Niven and Alec Guinness and just wonderful to listen to. Alongside this, we have Peter Boyle and Elliot Gould as Muta and Toto, the bickering giant cat and bird and the jewel in the crown has to be Tim Curry as The Cat King. Yes, they got Frank N Furter as the king of the cats and I cannot say how funny and how entertaining it is listening to him.
This is possibly the saving grace of the film as the story is so strange that I would defy anyone who could explain what was going on. Or what was supposed to be going on. A lot of the film just assumes you will accept everything that is going on and the film moves so quick that before you can acknowledge that cats can talk, something else happens and you have to accept that and then the next thing. It makes following the film and what is going on very difficult. I think this is one of the few films that could have benefited from being a little longer and maybe with a little more development of the situation or characters then this would have been a lot more enjoyable.
Extras include a Storyboard comparison alongside the film which is nice and if you are someone looking to get into animation, or filmmaking in general, it is a fascinating look at how the shots were created. Behind the Microphone interviews all the main voice actors on the English dub which is nice, though it would have been great if some of them had contributed more or even a Commentary. A 'Making of' documentary is nice and certainly covers all aspects of how the film was made. This is all wrapped up with a number of trailers for the film and some other Studio Ghibli films.
The Cat Returns is an entertaining film, but certainly not the best from Studio Ghibli. Though I enjoyed watching it, when it was over I spent more time trying to figure out what was going on, than I did trying to figure out whether I enjoyed it or not. If you are a fan of the Studio Ghibli style, then you may like this, but if you are expecting the dark tones of Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke then you may find yourself returning this cat.