I think many people have misread the theme of this movie- obviously there is the evil of man in the iron industry, but there is also the evil of nature, as evidenced by the gods of the forest who let their hate for mankind consume them. This is why I love this movie- it is not the traditional American hippie-nature-is-always-good, nor is it trample across the forest. BOTH mankind and nature have lost their way, and the main character, a sort of dark, brooding, savior of sorts comes to tell them that both of them are wrong and if they continue on their path both of them will be destroyed. That's at least what I got out of the movie. I think the visuals are stunning and serve to emphasize the story and theme, and the violence has a purpose for being in the movie, and could not be called gratuitous by anyone's measure. I love this movie because it is quite different from most of the anime that seems to make its way to American shores. I don't know if they're keeping all the best stuff in Japan, but some of the stuff I see is no better than our own American animation in terms of content and execution. Then of course, are the rare gems such as this. Miyazaki is a genius, the equivalent of George Lucas (before the prequels), Steven Spielberg, and Walt Disney (the man, not the company), all rolled into one, with a vision and craft that transcends them all. Magnificent.
Billy Bob Thorton had no reason to be cast for this movie- bad decision, but I won't let it mar my love of the underlying movie.