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

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

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.