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

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

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.