(In theatres, August 2009): I may watch fantasy films, but they seldom resonate with me… and neither do kids’ films for that matter. Both of those character flaws may explain why I’m impressed but not overly fond of Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo. It’s skilful fantasy moviemaking that presents an original vision and yet… I’m less than thrilled about the entire thing. It advances in fits and starts for those who aren’t completely absorbed in its visual panache, and the story itself is paper-thin with little suspense along the way; at most we get a few mysteries, but no serious drama: the final choice made by the protagonist is never in doubt, lending an air on inconsequentiality to the entire film. Which may not be an inappropriate choice given the dream-like quality of the fable: Ponyo is definitely a kid’s film, after all, and the way it manages to impress Western audiences despite being firmly set in a Japanese rural area is still impressive. If it doesn’t come close to Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke… then again what does?