Movie Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

Junior year has been busy sucking the fun out of my life, but I managed to find time on Halloween to watch Howl’s Moving Castle, a movie I’ve been meaning to see for quite a long time but had never quite topped my priority list. Bored and at a friend’s house, we started the movie up and I found I liked this movie. I may not feel motivated to see it again anytime soon, but it was definitely good and worth a watch.

The movie begins with Sophie, a quiet hatmaker, going out to meet her sister and facing trouble from the henchmen of the evil Witch of the Waste. She is saved by a mysterious wizard named Howl, who is rumored to eat the hearts of girls and is feared by the general public. The Witch of the Waste, seeing this, is jealous of Sophie and sets off to the girl’s hat shop. Sophie is then cursed by the Witch to become an old woman, and she runs away to try and break the curse. She eventually ends up at Howl’s titular moving castle, where the story and conflicts truly begin.

First off: the art is fantastic. Second off: the characters are unbelievably charming and frankly just adorable. Calcifer and Howl were  just the best, hands down no questions asked. The only characters I really didn’t end up falling head over heels for by the end was probably Madame Suliman and surprisingly enough Sophie herself, but that’s just because she occasionally holds the idiot ball a little too long and I end up frustrated at her. Not often, just occasionally. The music is also fantastic, and I seriously cannot get enough of the theme song. All in all, the movie was solid in almost all aspects. It definitely kept me entertained the whole time and captured my attention enough that I didn’t end up talking through it at all. Of course, I do have one complaint.

My sole complaint about this movie is my general complaint about all Miyazaki movies– they proceed too quickly with little to no explanation and require a huge amount of suspension of disbelief. While I am certainly not saying that suspension of disbelief is bad, there is a certain point where strange things are happening with no explanations forthcoming, not even fantasy ones, and you end up sitting there scratching your head and understanding nothing. That is the only thing that really dampens the magic of Miyazaki movies for me. While other people may enjoy vaguer storytelling, I am dumb. I need things laid out on the table for me.  I didn’t even understand the movie until I looked up the synopsis on Wikipedia, and while I did manage to retroactively piece it together that way, there was no way I would have understood the plot without it. Eventually things are proceeding really quickly and nothing is making sense and that’s where the movie just kind of starts to fall apart for me. Maybe I’m just not smart enough, maybe it’s too deep for me, but I really just cannot truly enjoy any Miyazaki movies simply because I rarely know exactly what’s going on.

If you are a fan of other Miyazaki movies and you for some reason haven’t managed to see this one yet, do it. If you’ve never watched a Miyazaki movie in your life before, I highly recommend you watch it because it’s more likely you’ll love it than feel neutral like me. And if you are solidly neutral about Miyazaki movies like I am, it’s up to you. Howl’s Moving Castle is charming and beautiful, but not a movie that I think is an absolute must see. I do recommend it though, so if you are interested you should definitely check it out! This movie is rated PG.

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One Response to Movie Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

  1. Summit10 says:

    exactly the same thing I have in mind, though the film was fascinating to watch it really didn’t have the plot to begin with which makes it dull or on the other hand the Director might suggest the viewers can use their imagination to work through the storytelling.

    I agree as well with their chracters being easy to accept because of their compassion and genuine interaction while loathing those who make it difficult for the protagonists (Spirited away hehehe)

    Studio Ghibli delivers the best in animation my personal favorites were Princess Mononoke groundbreaking! My Neighbor Totoro heartwarming and Grave of the Fireflies heatbreaking! Nice review Cheers 🙂

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