Howl's Moving Castle

"Excellent"

Howl's Moving Castle 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.



Howl's Moving Castle

Facts and Figures

Run time: 119 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 20th November 2004

Box Office USA: $4.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $234.7M

Budget: $24M

Distributed by: Buena Vista

Production compaines: d-rights, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, DENTSU Music And Entertainment, Mitsubishi, Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV), Studio Ghibli, Tohokushinsha Film, Tokuma Shoten

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 139 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 8.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: Takuya Kimura as Hauru, Akihiro Miwa as Arechi no Majo, Tatsuya Gashûin as Karushifâ, as Koshô, Yo Oizumi as Kakashi no Kabu, Akio Ôtsuka as Kokuô, Daijiro Harada as Hin, Haruko Kato as Sariman, Ryunosuke Kamiki as Marukuru, Chieko Baishô as Sofi

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.