118 Min. | Animation – Adventure – Family | December 2004
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Chieko Baishô, Takuya Kimura, Tatsuya Gashûin
Howl’s Moving Castle Review
Howl’s Moving Castle is as marvelous and magical as Miyazaki’s other great work. While not as awe-inspiring as Spirited Away or action-packed as Mononoke, it does work on the level of Kiki’s Delivery Service as a girl is forced to be better than she thinks she can be (well, that’s not a big surprise, that’s all his films). And as with all Miyazaki stories, the story of Howl’s Moving Castle, teaches without being preachy. And the lessons learned are represented in character changes and in the character’s physical appearance as well. It’s that same attention to detail that has made Pixar so great.
In Howl’s Moving Castle, the animation is wonderful. The castle is itself is a mesh-mash of so many haphazardly arranged pieces that an engineer would have an aneurysm just sorting them all out and yet it works. Through magic, of course. The magic being Howl’s and the authoritative hand of Miyazaki’s direction. The airships are great variations of one’s he’s used before and there are some rather dark and beautiful scenes of a world at war. Most of the voice work was very strong including Christian Bale (Howl) and Emily Mortimer (as the young version of the heroine, Sophie). The voice that surprised me was Billy Crystal as Calcifer, the little flame that could. He’s the heart of the castle and only annoyed at his first few scenes then becomes a very likable character.
There a few clunky moments in the plot line where transitions between story points weren’t very strong, but overall it’s another outstanding film from Studio Ghibli. The genius of Anime films, Hayao Miyazaki, shows why he is one of an absolute masters of the genre. Taking Diana Wynne Jones’ story “Howl’s Moving Castle” and creating the magnificent film for our delight, is something that no other man could have accomplished with as much flair and panache as Mr. Miyazaki has done. Howl’s Moving Castle has such a great look that at times we wonder if one is really seeing an animated film, or not. The images we watch on the screen have such detailed and rich look that we wonder how did Mr. Miyasaki could have accomplished it. This Anime film will delight young and old fans of Hayao Miyazaki who can look forward to a great time at the movies with Howl’s Moving Castle.
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