(1980)3.5Craig ButlerLegendary Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki made his feature directing debut with The Castle of Cagliostro, and it's a humdinger of an action film that should please his fans, fans of animation in general and fans of spy thrillers in the James Bond mode. Perhaps because Miyazaki is working with a previously-established character, the film doesn't feel as personal as some of the master's other works; that said, Cagliostro represented a major re-configuring of that character, the well-known in Japan Lupin III, grandson of the legendary French detective Arsene Lupin. (Depending on which of several versions of Cagliostro one sees, the character may be called by another name, such as Wolf or Rupan, due to a copyright issue.) But whatever compromises and changes have been made, the result is an exciting, enormously enjoyable story that is simply joyous. Even in his film debut, Miyazaki demonstrates mastery of the medium, telling a tale that seems to be moving at a breakneck speed but which actually takes time to pause and linger over details in a most appealing manner that accentuates rather than derails the fast pace of the film. The character animation is not as fluid as some of Miuyazaki's later work, but it is still more than effective, and the backgrounds are stunning. Fight sequences are handled with assurance, and characterization is simple but clear and precise. Cagliostro is a swell way to pass the time and will appeal to all those who enjoy a rollicking good time.
cast-crew for The Castle of Cagliostro on AllMovie