Howl's Moving Castle Movie Review

Hayao Miyazaki's new film "Howl's Moving Castle"is so good that it shames virtually every animated film made since Miyazaki'slast, "SpiritedAway," graced movie screens in 2002.

If nothing else, it proves to Hollywood that its recentfailure in the animated realm comes not from old-fashioned hand-drawn animationbut from its severe lack of imagination and over-reliance on fart jokesand pop culture references.

The first of Miyazaki's films to be based on a book, "Howl'sMoving Castle" quickly establishes itself with the director's personalsignature, bursting with enough ideas and imagination to make up half adozen summer movies.

It begins, as most of his stories do, with a shy younggirl, Sophie (voiced for this English-language version by Emily Mortimer).She works in a hat shop and humbly watches as life passes her by. But oneday a handsome fellow -- whom she will come to know as Master Howl (voicedby Christian Bale) -- rescues her from an alleyway altercation and accidentallysteers her into all-new problems, involving several ghostly, globular thingswearing porkpie hats.

Before she knows it, a witch (Lauren Bacall) has cursedSophie and turned her into an old lady (and her voice changes to that ofthe legendary Jean Simmons). In an attempt to find the witch and reversethe curse, she stumbles upon Howl's titular castle, a rattletrap contraptionthat roils and jostles its way across the countryside on mechanical feetthat resemble a camel's.

The plot grows ever more complicated, and has somethingto do with lost hearts, a fire spirit named Calcifer (Billy Crystal), andmore magic than you can shake a broomstick at.

Blessedly, Miyazaki doesn't bother to sort out the storyusing mere logic. He instead goes with his instincts, like a child inventinga playtime universe and making up the rules in the moment. The great filmmakeruses primal forces to tell his story, like wind and cold, feeling yourage, or feeling hungry. It's a purely visceral ride.

The filmmaker's most unique attribute, his uncanny senseof space, time and weight, is still here. When Old Sophie and the witchclimb the endless stairs to a royal palace, you feel every straining step.

Unlike most animated films, which feel the need to constantlymove at a breakneck pace, Miyazaki loves to sit still from time to time,just listening or watching or waiting, as did the great Japanese directorYasujiro Ozu before him. It gives viewers a moment to rest and reflect,and it keeps the film from growing tedious.

But when Miyazaki starts moving, it's best to hold on.If the characters fly through the air, we can feel the height and the sensationof floating. Many movies use "roller coaster ride" to describethrilling sensations, but Miyazaki takes that literally.

Pixar's Pete Docter and Rick Dempsey directed the Englishvoice cast, and they've done another remarkable job. It's great to hearJean Simmons again, a gorgeous young woman back in the 1940s in David Lean's"Great Expectations," Michael Powell's "Black Narcissus"and Laurence Olivier's "Hamlet." Her voice still sparkles today.

Comments

stuff6064's picture

stuff6064

Bale can be in any kind of movie, mm mm he's so good in every movie he's been in. Damn that dawg is good.

5 years 6 months ago
Report
View Comments

dedinik's picture

dedinik

I watched howls moving castle and i loved it give me more

6 years 9 months ago
Report
View Comments

Howl's Moving Castle Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: PG, WIDE: Friday, June 10, 2005

Advertisement

More Emily Mortimer

HBO's Emmy Winning 'The Newsroom' To Wrap After Season Three: Why So Soon?

The Newsroom will come to an end after the finale of the upcoming third season, which is set to air this autumn, according to HBO,...

The Newsroom Season 2 Premieres To 2.2 Million Viewers

The Newsroom has returned for its second season. The second season's premiere aired on Sunday 14th July at 10pm on HBO. The episode gained an...

Claire Danes, Connie Britton And Amy Poehler At The 2013 White House Correspondents' Dinner - Part 3

There was a huge diversity of movie stars arriving at the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton including 'Nashville' star Connie...

Hugo Trailer

Hugo is a twelve year old boy who lives in Paris and loves mysteries. One day, in 1930, his father presents him with a wind...

Advertisement

Cars 2 Trailer

Lightning McQueen knows he's the best and fastest race car in the world and when he hears about the first-ever World Grand Prix he decides...

City Island Trailer

Occasionally even close families keep secrets from one and other, the small white lies that most see as a necessary evil to keep a close...

Shutter Island Trailer

Watch the trailer for Shutter Island In the 1950's mental patients were incarcerated in some of the worst hospitals. The mental institution on Shutter Island...

Harry Brown Trailer

Watch the trailer for Harry Brown If you're a pensioner and live in a rough part of London, the night-time isn't the best time to...

Advertisement