Princess Mononoke (1999)
Main cast: Billy Crudup (Ashitaka), Claire Danes (San/Princess Mononoke), Minnie Driver (Lady Eboshi), and Gillian Anderson (Moro)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

This English-dubbed Japanese anime is pretty fun, but it is runs out of steam fast enough. What happened? I have no idea. Princess Mononoke is entrenched in enough Japanese/Chinese mythology of gods and spirits to make it an enthralling watch, but at the same time, my attention starts to wander towards the last quarter of the movie.

The story is about Prince Ashitaka who is cursed while saving his village from a Demon Boar. He will die if he do not find the cure. Hence, he wanders west in search of a cure as well as a reason as to why a Boar Spirit would go mad and turn into a demon. Soon he is trapped between the forces of Lady Eboshi who wants to raze the forests down and the forest spirits led by Wolf Spirit Queen Moro and her adopted human daughter San, the Monkey Spirit King, and the Boar Spirit King. At the center of this Save the forest conflict is the spirit of the forest, whose head Eboshi and the emperor are after.

There are enough conflicts to keep my attention rivetted. But in the end, I'm more interested in the Spirits and the whole dynamics of interwoven mythology and pro-conservation messages than the really bland human characters. Princess Mononoke is a watchable action piece, but ultimately it fumbles when it comes to sustaining its momentum.

Rating: 80

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