16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Gorgeous, unique, beautiful, and entertaining. Delicious to the "heart.",
This movie is superb. Contrary to a few critics who babble out the line "I don't get it" and then proceed to rip on this movie, I think the fact that many parts of this movie are not dumbed down and explained to you word-for-word (one of Director Miyazaki's trademarks - letting you use your mind, letting you as the viewer, use your imagination) is what makes it one-of-a-kind. Unique.
Howl's Moving Castle is not only a very entertaining movie, its artwork is pheonomenal. You can see Studio Ghibli's animators' talents in amazing detail - from the beautiful landscapes (the studio capitalized on their artists who were trained in impressionistic artwork), gorgeous scenery, and the beautiful color, character drawings that can display so much emotion without words, and creativity that unfortunately cannot be seen in much of mainstream animation today. And I have yet to mention the amazing score by Joe Hisaishi. Music so lovely it will sweep you off your feet.
A warning to fans of Diana Wynne Jones's novel from which this movie is loosely based, and "loosely" is a good word. The story does deviate much from the book. But before those loyal to the novel start screaming in outrage, it is good to note that Miyazaki creates a beautiful story separate of Diana Jones, using her much loved characters, and in my opinion, enhances them, adds a bit of visual magic, and adds to their appeal. And a final note to hopefully mollify the novel-faithful, Diana Wynne Jones herself was very pleased with the outcome of the movie and Miyazaki's rendition of her works.
Finally, the English dubbing. I was horrified with Disney's English dubbing of Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi), Miyazaki's predecessor to Howl. Not only did they add English dubbing that dumbed down the script, the main characters voices were incongruent with the ages of the characters. Disney added a horrific commercialized voice for one of the main characters as well. BUT! I must go against all of my previous beliefs for Howl's Moving Castle. I've seen both the English and Japanese versions, and for once.... I almost feel the English version is BETTER (yes.. never in my life). The voice actors do a great job conveying the emotions of the movie. There is no deviance in the storyline. And if anything does seems confusing, its not due to the script, its more due the fact that it is a busy movie with lots of subplots.
The storyline briefly, is about a young girl, Sophie Hatter, who encounters a mysterious young wizard named Howl. (Chance encounter, or fate?) The jealous Witch of the Waste transforms Sophie into an aged woman. This takes Sophie on a journey where she discovers Howl's Moving Castle, a host of other interesting characters, and Howl himself, the enigmatic wizard to which her fate is entwined....
Watch, enjoy, and use your mind and imagination to figure out the parts you may not understand at first glance, and you may find this movie to be truly delightful. It is really very "heart"-warming.