There’s a lot to like in the recent (2014) live action adaptation of Kiki’s Delivery Service. There’s also a lot to not like.
Overall Kiki’s Delivery Service hits the right story beats (mostly), has a sense of humour (sometimes), and lead actress Fuka Koshiba does a solid job as Kiki (mostly).
The challenge to Kiki’s status as a witch is a lot darker than the anime version, and the satisfaction of Kiki overcoming it is also greater.
Or it would be were it not for the flaws dragging this film down from greatness.
First, the special effects, particularly the CGI, aren’t just bad, they’re hilariously bad for such a recent film.
It doesn’t help that Kiki’s familiar Jiji is one of the CGI effects, nor that the final challenge for Kiki involved a CGI baby hippopotamus. No, really, I’m not making this up you know.
The other major issue is how disjointed, for want of a better word, Kiki’s Delivery Service is. There were at least 3 – 4 “wait, what, when she get there!?” moments. The consensus in the group is that Kiki’s Delivery Service would greatly benefit from another 10 – 20 minutes run time to smooth out the scene transitions, and explain some of the jumps.
Kiki’s Delivery Service is a film in need of a director’s cut, and a George Lucas special edition.
We enjoyed it as a group, but are unlikely to seek it out for a second viewing. That said, Kiki’s Delivery Service is definitely worth a look, but go back to the Studio Ghibli version afterwards.
Grant’s review of Kiki’s Delivery Service is here, and goes into considerably more detail.