The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

So very zany and Japanese or something.  I don't understand other cultures.

So very zany and Japanese or something. I don’t understand other cultures.

Note: I wrote this review years ago, but upon re-watching it, I felt the exact same way about it.  It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been re-reading the Fletch books and playing loads of “Ni No Kuni” recently, as this movie is pretty much the perfect blend of the two.

This is the second movie to chronicle the adventures of Lupin III, adapted from the manga and anime series about the master thief. The movie starts off with a bang, with Lupin and his partner Jigen escaping from a casino that they’ve just robbed. Once they’ve made their getaway, Lupin realises that the money is all near-perfect counterfeits and therefore, worthless. Almost immediately he decides to search out the plates used for creating the fake currency and steal them because the value of those plates would be much higher. Or perhaps just because he’s Lupin III, a master thief who steals whatever he wants whenever he wants.

The Lupin III character is quite entertaining, coming across like a mix between James Bond, Thomas Crown and Fletch. Fletch from the Gregory Mcdonald crime novels, not the Chevy Chase Fletch movie which pales in comparison, nor the possibly-soon-to-be-made Zach Braff (ugh) Fletch Won movie (NOTE: thank fuck that was never made by Kevin Smith). The literary Fletch is a wise-ass, but he tempers that with his considerable wits and investigative skills, which is pretty similar to Lupin III’s abilities in stealing priceless objects.

Even though this movie is pretty much as old as I am, the animation techniques still look better than most of the cookie-cutter CGI animated films coming out these days. Miyazaki tends to let a scene breathe, taking time to set mood and explore the lush landscape, or just have one of the characters performing a very simple everyday task. Grounding the film in a reality close to the real world makes all the amazing things that Lupin III pulls off throughout the movie even more impressive. Much of the film plays without a score behind it, making the environments the characters find themselves in feel all the more real.

The only downside to the movie would be if you had no idea whatsoever about the Lupin III magna series. Which pretty much describes me. Sitting there watching the movie, I had the feeling that there were years and years of back story behind the characters, that each of them had differing reasons for helping Lupin out with his dangerous heists. Don’t let that fact discourage you from watching this film if you ever get the chance. It’s a wonderful adventure movie that has influenced many other movies throughout popular culture, Raiders of the Lost Ark probably being the most obvious.

4 / 5

Once again, a worthless object gets cut.

Once again, a worthless object gets cut.

About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

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