Analog Thoughts on a Digital Age

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Movie Review: "Howl's Moving Castle" (2005)

anime for non-pervertsIf you have ever seen a Hayao Miyazaki movie, you know you are always in for a treat. You also know that you are about to escape from the reality that surrounds you and enter into netherworldly landscapes, quirky characters and and bouncing bodiless heads that look like mexican wrestlers. Disney has been so 'kind' to be distributing these films and tagging their name along with the Studio Ghibli credits for recognition. They also dub it in english, you know, for those dyslexic kids who can't read english subtitles.

Still,thanks to Disney, I wouldn't even be able to grab a copy of this amazing movie. So all is forgiven.

The story starts out with Sophie, your generic ordinary girl in the lead, then enters Howl(voiced by Christian Bale), a sorcerer banished from society and lives in a castle with four legs which moves around the countryside like an oversized beetle. Howl has been observing Sophie and takes aliking to her, much to the cagrin of the Witch of the Waste (voiced by Lauren Bacall), an obese, unattractive witch with a thing for Howl. She casts a spell on Sophie and turns her into Betty White from the Golden Girls (Bea Arthur would be too much of a stretch). Sophie with all her wisdom and arthritis, seeks out the witch to have the spell broken, but along the way ends up becoming the cleaning lady for Howl's Moving Castle. Here she meets and befriends Markl, the junior apprentice and Calcifer (voiced by Billy Crystal) the flame that powers the moving castle. Together they go through the hardships of dealing with the ongoing war between the two great kingdoms of that world (whose name was never mentioned) and, get this, Howl's terrible mood swings.
Extraderm my @ss!!

Howl's Moving Castle is in essence, a fairy tale. It is based on the original story by Dianne Wynn Jones. A fairy tale crossed with Alice in Wonderland-type hallucinogenic visions and warped logic. Like Spirited Away, it introduces us into the deep unapologetic imagination of Miyazaki and makes us wonder how these japanese animators get such weird ideas in their heads. Although, Miyazaki executes his ideas devoid of the usual scandalous, irreverent, even perverted anime fodder. His movies play out like a Hans Christian Andersen classic, which is probably why Disney likes his work so much.

a nwe way to save on mortagesHis attention to detail is impeccable. With little to assistance from CGI. He is able to execute a breathtakingly smooth approach to scenes and character movements.For example, have you noticed how some parts of a cartoon look different from the characters the way they're drawn (i. e. the lead in front have more vibrant colors than the background)? Thats because they draw the leads in cells(transparent cellophane sheets) while they draw the background in a diffrent matte because they rarely see movement. So they just change the cells for the lead and place them on top of the matte. Miyazaki makes it look like they were drawn in one matte, so everything looks like theyre in the same place.

Comparing Howls Moving Castle with Spirited Away is kind of like comparing apples to oranges. The emotional factor kind of favors SA, but HMC has values, a moral lesson. Very fairy tale. Very Disney. All Miyazaki.

Click here for the Disney page.

Click here for the Studio Ghibli page.

Rocketboy's Rating:**** (4 out of 5)


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