"Laputa: The Castle in the Sky," (Japan, 1986)
Nuart Theater, 9:45 p.m.: 2 hours, 4 minutes
While many Japanese animated features conform to set patterns, this elaborate science-fiction adventure follows the conventions so slavishly it amounts to a generic film. Every element in "Laputa" has been seen many, many times before: the weird, semi-Caucasian characters with the enormous eyes; the elaborate machinery that suggests a steam-powered, 19th-Century vision of the future; the computer-generated special effects; the minimal plot, weighed down with hilariously inept dialogue.
Hard-core fans of Japanese sci-fi epics will undoubtedly enjoy this collection of cliches, but the somnambulant pacing and threadbare storyline will put the average viewer to sleep at least an hour before the long-lost Princess Sheeta finally destroys the floating island of Laputa, rather than let its deadly weapons and gargantuan robots fall into evil hands.