The Boy and the Heron in IMAX – The DVDfever Cinema Review – Hayao Miyazaki

The Boy and the Heron The Boy and the Heron shows that however incredible a Japanese anime looks, the plot can sometimes leave me completely befuddled, to the point where I’m not enjoying it as much as I thought I would.

You’d think reading up on the plot later, on Wikipedia, would help, but as soon as I recalled the “supernatural swarm of toads”, I realised it didn’t.

In explaining what I do understand, it’s the of the Pacific War – during World War II. Tokyo has been bombed, including, sadly, the hospital where Natsuko, the mother of Mahito Maki (Luca Padovan) works, leaving just him and his father, Shoichi (Christian BaleThe Pale Blue Eye), who later marries her sister, Natsuko (Gemma ChanThe Creator, also as Hisako) – in a not exactly inconvenient move, and heading to her hometown in the process, while other men are being called up to fight.

Mahito’s rather like Will McKenzie in The Inbetweeners, trying to ingratiate himself with other schoolkids, but just ends up having fights with them, rather than being subjected to taunts such as “briefcase wanker”. However, there’s a completely NON-Inbetweeners plot point when he becomes regularly followed by the heron in the title, who I thought was some sort of spirit animal, and may well be, but when it comes to be voiced by Robert Pattinson, I got completely lost when…

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Meanwhile, in his new location, Natsuko knows lots of nosey old women – some of whom look quite like Gollum from The Lord of The Rings, and sound like him, too; Mahito gets visions making him think that he can still save his mum, there’s a mysterious tower which appears to be inaccessible and he’s warned off approaching it, plus there’s lots of weird stuff happening with fanciful characters, at which point I start losing the plot – if there was a coherent one to begin with (the jury’s still out on that).

However, The Boy and the Heron does have the usual goergeous animation from Studio Ghibli, and it does look stunning on an IMAX screen, even if my attention was rather starting to drift.

Odeon currently has both subtitled and dubbed versions of the film on the IMAX and regular screens. There’s no change in aspect ratio between the two, although I initially thought the aspect ratio was 1.66:1, since it was slightly pillarboxed on the screen. Later, I remembered the digital IMAX ratio is 1.90:1, not 1.85:1, so that was done in order to retain the correct 1.85:1 ratio without cropping the top and bottom.

The sub/dub versions were alternated through the day, but the dubbed one just happened to be the more convenient one for timing. Given that they’ve gone out of their way to get some decent acting talent for the voices, it’s a fair exchange.

The Boy and the Heron is in cinemas now, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD. However, once announced, it will appear on the New DVD Blu-ray 3D and 4K releases UK list.

However, until that’s out, you can also buy the soundtrack.

The Boy and the Heron – Official Trailer – Stuido Ghibli

Detailed specs:

Running time: 124 minutes
Release date: December 26th 2023 (limited release), January 5th 2024 (wide release)
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (Dolby Vision)
Cinema: Odeon Trafford Centre
Rating: 5.5/10

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Producer: Toshio Suzuki
Story/Screenplay: Hayao Miyazaki
Music: Joe Hisaishi

Voice cast:
Mahito Maki: Luca Padovan
Shoichi Maki: Christian Bale
Natsuko / Hisako: Gemma Chan
The Parakeet King: Dave Bautista
Noble Pelican: Willem Dafoe
Lady Himi: Karen Fukuhara
Granduncle: Mark Hamill
The Grey Heron: Robert Pattinson
Kiriko: Florence Pugh
Parakeets: Mamoudou Athie, Tony Revolori, Dan Stevens
Aiko: Barbara Goodson
Izumi: Denise Pickering
Eriko: Melora Harte
Utako: Barbara Rosenblat
Oyuki: Nika Futterman
Kazuko: Debi Derryberry