Blu-ray Review: Porco Rosso

Recently theaters across America ran a retrospective of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated masterpieces which covered My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. Sadly one of the films I’d want to see on the big screen is missing. Porco Rosso is a high flying adventure tale that soars. The movie came out between Kiki’s Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke in 1992. The film gets treated as an obscure title in America. In a James Bond sense, it’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. And like OHMSS, Porco Rosso deserves to be appreciated by fans of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.

In the time after World War I, the area around the Adriatic Ocean has become a bit dangerous as pirates have taken to the air to swoop in on unsuspecting ships. This turn of events has allowed a few flying veterans to become security for hire to protect people and battle the evildoers. One such person is Porco Rosso (Batman‘s Michael Keaton). He’s a daring pilot who for some reason has been transformed into a human-pig. But even with a snout, he’s one of the greats behind the propeller. He’s the one who gets the call when a band of pirates grab gold and kidnap school girls. After a successful rescue, Porco head down to the Hotel Adriano for a nice dinner and a little time with Madame Gina (Steven Universe‘s Susan Egan). She’s the singer who has a soft spot for Porco. She knew him when he was Marco. But he sees her as a friend. Donald Curtis (The Princess Bride‘s Cary Elwes) sees him as a rival for both her heart and the air. Porco is forced to adjust when his new mechanic turns out to Fio Piccolo, a young girl who does know her way around an airplane. Things get nasty when the pirates in the area team up with the objective to take out Porco so their crimes can go unchecked. The pilot might be part pig, but he’s stubborn like a mule and won’t be stopped.

Porco Rosso is a fun film with its mixture of aviation action and hints of fantasy that allows you to considered that a man turned into a pig can still fight in the air. Keaton’s voice work brings so much to the character. He endows Porco with a bounty hunter attitude. The animation works amazingly well during the flying and fighting sequences. There’s quite a bit of fun mixed in with the action. Maybe the one reasons Porco Rosso doesn’t get the attention in America is Porco doesn’t mind lighting up a cigarette and puffing away on screen. It makes sense that the character during the era depicted in the movie would smoke. That does make him a taboo character for kids, but this is more than a kiddie movie. It deserves a higher profile. If you have become a fan of Miyazaki, do not overlook Porco Rosso.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the beauty of the hand drawn animated post-apocalyptic world. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 versions of both the original Japanese cast and the English cast. There’s a 2.0 mix of the French voices. I prefer to hear Keaton in the lead role. The subtitles are in English and French.

DVD with movie and some bonus features.

Feature-Length Storyboards has to original sketches and the final soundtrack.

Original Theatrical Trailers (7:57) shows how the movie was promoted in Japan.

Interview with Toshio Suzuki (3:23) focuses on being a producer for Miyazaki on Porco Rosso. He says it’s a family film, but aimed more at the adults. This was part of a Nippon TV special.

Behind the Microphone (7:05) takes us into the sound studio for the American dub with Michael Keaton in a tux. The actors speak of having to work on a finished film so they have to match the mouth instead of the animators matching the dialogue. Susan Egan is frustrated that she didn’t get to meet her famous castmates during the sessions, but she got to sing in French.

Textless Open and End Credits let you enjoy the art.

8-page Booklet with Producer’s and Director’s Statements.

Shout! Factory & GKIDS present Porco Rosso. Directed and Screenplay by: Hayao Miyazaki. Starring: Michael Keaton, Susan Egan, David Ogden Stiers and Cary Elwes. Rated: PG-13. Running Time: 93 minutes. Released: November 21, 2017.

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