Howl's Moving Castle is yet another in a long line of Studio Ghibli animated adventures that Disney has now re-issued in a Bluray/DVD combo edition. And like Arrietty, it's based on a western novel. But unlike the more family friendly Ghibli movies such as Arrietty, Totoro or Ponyo; this movie is a little more dark, a lot more angsty and involves war. Definitely aimed at a more mature audience as it comes with a PG rating. So I'd put it in a similar category to movies like The Hunchback of Notre Dame or Nausicaa. A family movie for kids old enough to watch the typical sci-fi movie like The Terminator without flinching. Younger than that; you'll have to check it out first and decide for yourself. Otherwise though, it's the same high quality animation and magical wonder as other Hayao Miyazaki movies!
The storyline revolves around a young shop girl by the name of Sophie who gets hit with a life altering spell and must go on a quest with a mysterious stranger in his walking castle to break the spell. Set in a Victorian style alternate world that Miyazaki always does so well; it consists of steam engines, strange villainous creatures, flying battleships and of course Howl's Moving Castle! It's quite wondrous to behold and is the best part of the picture. If you've never seen any previous Ghibli works and you think they're typical animated movies; you're going to be in for one heck of a shock! Ghibli movies are always among the best looking animated movies on the planet
Now it's not my favourite Miyazaki movie; his masterpiece Princess Mononoke and my personal favourite Kiki's Delivery Service hold those spots. But it's still a Studio Ghibli movie and that means stunning visuals, fine detail and being a newer production, a full and rich surround track with 5.1 DTS-HD audio for the English and Japanese dubs; Dolby Digital 5.1 for the French. All three tracks sound pretty much equal.
For a Disney combo pack, the extras are surprisingly sparse. There's a 9 min. piece on the English dubbing, a 7 min. piece with the English translator and a short documentary with John Lassiter welcoming Hayao Miyazaki to Pixar studios where the dub was made. That's about it. The DVD is similar.
A little too dark and angsty at times to be among my personal favourites and with a plot and ending that's a little too muddled for my tastes; I'll rate it 5 for the animation and 3-1/2 for the storyline. 4 overall.
on March 27, 2006
I really did like Howl's moving castle, but I wasn't as thrilled with it as I thought I would be. Having watched many of Hayao Miyazaki's films and Spirited Away being one of my favorite movies of all time, I must admit that, although Howl was possibly one of the most gorgeous anime characters I've ever seen (I really liked Sophie too),I was a little disappointed with the plot. I like how characters like Chihiro and Sophie learn about themselves, how to make themselves better and their good qualities, and I love the characters and the animation, but it just didn't seem like Howl's Moving Castle had the same flair as his other movies, or the same plot. It seemed to drag on a little bit, but all in all, it was really great, and obviously a Hayao Miyazaki creation, and I have an immense appreciation for him and his works.