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on March 16, 2006
I may write my review like a teenage - I like to scream: "Buy it now!"
1) The anime storyline is a 4-star story. It is classic, romantic, lucid and beautiful, but lacking of fancy modern twists. However, this is the reason that I like the story. In my personal opinion, the story is more catching than the "Spirited Away" although all major works of Miyazaki are quite interesting. The only setback is that young viewers may not be able to catch the subtlety of the story.
2) The interpretation, translation and adaptation worthies 5 stars. I watched two versions in both English and Japanese. The English voice-dub is as good as original Japanese if it were not better than. The voice-dub is professionally done and has raised the bar for future voice works. What I really like is the translation and adaptation. The I-T-A of this movie is excellent.
3) Both animations and colors are superb. It is an old fashioned 2D anime. But, all those beautiful details like waving flowers in the wind, the clear blue-sky, the background mountains, the buzzing cities, the grand palace and more make me very fond of the whole theme of 2D animations. The entire color theme of this anime is well designed and well matches the storyline with vivid, bright, but not overly sharp colors.
Overall, it is a 5-star DVD set for a 5 star anime.
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Not a lot of directors would be brave enough to take on a love story between a girl-turned-old-lady and a wizard missing a vital organ.

But Oscar-winning director/writer Hayao Miyazaki tackles a new fantasy realm in in "Howl's Moving Castle." In this case, it's the world of fantasy dowager Diana Wynne Jones, and he wraps the storyline in humor, romance and genuine flair. No, it's not faithful. But it is fantastic.

Sophie (Emily Mortimer) is a plain, unhappy young woman working in a milliner's shop. But then the evil Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall) comes into the shop, and turns her into a hobbled old lady (Jean Simmons). Sophie ends up wandering into the Moving Castle, a chicken-legged chaos machine, and encountering the sexy, immature wizard Howl (Christian Bale), smart-aleck fire demon Calcifur (Billy Crystal), and preteen apprentice Markl (Josh Hutcherson).

Sophie appoints herself the cleaning lady and starts whipping the castle into shape, trying to deal with Howl's temper tantrums and the rapidly deepening war. And, of course, trying to de-curse herself. But when she runs an errand that Howl is too scared to deal with, she finds that her new boss has some sinister problems of his own -- including a missing heart.

Don't expect much fidelity to the humorous fantasy novel. Miyazaki takes plenty of liberties with the story, leaving out characters and adjusting others. As a result, it feels more like his story than Jones', with the earmarks of his style -- blobby monsters, colorful rural settings, intense anti-war messages, strange machines, and a Jules-Verne atmosphere of Victorian technology. But "Howl's Moving Castle" is very different from the others Miyazaki has done, since he kept the British flavour of the original book.

Moreover, it's a love story. Miyazaki has vaguely touched on romance in prior movies, but here it's full-blown, and surprisingly un-cheesy. In less skilled hands, having Howl say "I finally found something worth protecting. It's you" would seem inane. In Miyazaki's hands, it's not. And even though Sophie looks elderly through most of the movie, Miyazaki never falls into trite observations about inner beauty. He just lets the story show it.

Not that it's all lovey-doviness -- Sophie's housecleaning and Calcifur ("Sophie, help! I'm going out!") provide plenty of amusement. And the animation is as close to flawless as you can get, from the chaotic absurdity Castle to the breathtaking aerial battles that Howl swoops in on. Tiny details are everywhere, from painted ceiling beams to elaborate doorknobs. Calcifur is the one sore point -- he's not done badly, but he looks vaguely artificial.

There are a few flaws in that the story could have used a bit more fleshing out -- at times the relationships between the characters are sketchy. Not much detail, for example, is given about sorceress Suliman (Blythe Danner) and her relationship to Howl, why she's so peeved at him. And it's a bit hard to comprehend why Howl's condition would turn him into a monster bird.

And while there are the usual "howls" that the English dubbing is inferior to the original Japanese vocal work, the American voice actors did exceptional work. Christian Bale and Billy Crystal are the major standouts -- Crystal is funny and dry as usual, while Bale is sultry, sexy, soft-spoken and deep. Except, of course, when Howl runs around the house wailing that his hair is ruined.

"Howl's Moving Castle" moves on a little too fast in places, but it's still a breathtaking, romantic, colorful ride. A wonderful story, told by one of the few filmmakers who could do it justice.
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on January 30, 2006
--then this movie is a definite watch!
I have only seen the japanese version, but I can seriously tell that this story can be caught on quite easily by all ages. But, let's not forget the animation! Studio Ghibli's films are always world renowned for their amazing pictures and scenes in their movies. You always wonder what'll happen next in this magical film!
Anime fans, rejoice!!
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on January 16, 2006
This is one of the greatest movies of all time. It's so rich and the animation is so good. I saw this when it first came out in theaters and i was swept away. I didn't expect it to be everything it was. This is a fabulous movie for kids as well as adults. I highly recomend it to all.
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on February 23, 2007
"Howl's Moving Castle", directed by Hayao Miyazaki, is a thoroughly delightful movie that young children will love, and adults enjoy. You don't believe that both children and adults can appreciate the same film? Well, some of Miyazaki's cartoons are simply magic, and "Howl's Moving Castle" is one of them. And who can resist real magic?

The main character is Sophie, a 19-year-old girl that leads a very boring life until the unbelievable happens: she is cursed by a spiteful witch, and turned into a very old woman. The only person who can break the spell is a wizard, so Sophie decides to leave the city and search for him. Sophie will find the wizard she was searching for, but also some unlikely friends, a moving castle and love. Things will not be easy, though, as Sophie is unable to tell her friends she is under a curse, and their country is in the middle of a war. What will happen? Well, watch this movie and you will see :)

All in all, I can tell you that I loved "Howl's Moving Castle", and that I highly recommend it to you.

Belen Alcat
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on September 22, 2008
Ok, I'll start by saying that I love this movie, like all of the other Miyazaki movies that I've watched. But let's also say that this movie is unlike the rest of them.

The story follows Sophie, a quiet girl who works in a hat shop, when she's swept off her feet by a wizard named Howl (Who, by the way, is VERY cute). The Witch of the Waste, who's jealous about Sophie and Howl's friendship, puts a spell on Sophie. Sophie, completely distressed, sets out to break the curse.

This movie is breath taking and full of fantasy and reality all rolled into one great film. Enjoy!
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on August 8, 2010
This movie is a real hit in my house. As far as I'm concerned, this is the culmination of many years of animation knowledge. There's action, humor, romance (in small doses) and no bad guys?? As always with Studio Ghibli, by the end of the film it's hard to put your finger on the antagonist. You find them being revealed as multi faceted, not quite what you would expect once you're given more than a glance at them. There are no "Cruella Deville's" in this film (thank God!). Billy Crystal makes a great fire demon (if you can call him a demon, as charming as he is). Sophie is the kind of girl next door we'd all like to get to know. This movie has heart, in more ways than one. Watch it and you'll see what I'm talking about.

To summarize, this movie is a little harder and perhaps a bit more expensive to acquire (I can't believe more people aren't raving about it!) ..but it's worth it. Just refer to the first three sentences above and gauge whether you can appreciate the things I mentioned.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 12, 2011
"Howl's Moving Castle" is a great movie that implies the powerful message of how things are not always as they seem. Sophie plays a spirit who is reliable, down-to-earth, and is doing the best she can with the hand dealt to her in life. Her life is forever changed when she encounters a man named Howl. Howl met her when she was accosted by a couple of men. From their first meeting clues are given to how the movie is going to unfold. This is because Howl commands Sophie to act natural within moments of their initial meeting. Howl feels at ease with her, and even engages in some magic within minutes of meeting her. Another female is interested in him, and is a character foil to Sophia. The following are some of the other characters that play a pivotal role in this film: Howl's apprentice Markl, Calcifer, and Madame Suliman. Howl's Moving Castle is highly recommended for anyone who enjoyed any of the Harry Potter Movies. This is because "Howl's Moving Castle" contains various magical and supernatural themes that are related to many of the metaphorical "Harry Potter" messages.
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on August 26, 2009
Prior to this movie, I had seen Spirited Away and Totoro and those had completely made me fall in love with Miyazaki movies. Then I found this one and bought it without ever seeing it before and I of course also loved it! The magic that Miyazaki brings to his movies is what gets me. They are so unique and special and I feel like I can't get enough of them.
All the characters are developed so well that you get a real sense of who they are. The wizard was self absorbed but you could tell he had a heart. The little boy was wise beyond his years but also fun and insecure. The fire had a deeper sense of humour but was a softy at heart. Sophie was responsible and loving to everyone. The scarecrow was reliable, friendly and persistant, also funny to see him pop up randomly in the movie.
Overall this movie is wonderful for all ages and is well worth any price you pay for it.
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on October 3, 2008
I watched the movie myself, and found out that Miyazaki did a good job on adapting Howl's Moving Castle into a Movie form.

In my view, this is a good movie, expressing the kind and gentle side of human nature, which is kind of rewarding, after you have done a long day of work and sometimes need to lighten up.
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