UK Release date: 23rd September 2005
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 26th February 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I have made a point of watching all of the Studio Ghibli films I’ve seen up to now in the native Japanese. With this one though I’ve had to make an exception as the TV company showing it supplied the English language dubbed version. Not that it’s a particularly bad thing; it just means I’ll have to re-watch it at some point in Japanese with subtitles. So what did I think? Well I’ll tell you after this brief summary.
When eighteen year old Sophie is cursed by The Witch of the Waste she finds herself grown very old. Unable to stay with her family, she sets off to find her fortune. She befriends a scarecrow who takes her to the Wizard Howl’s moving castle. Here she meets a fire demon, Calcifer, who agrees to lift her curse if she can release him from the control of Howl. Also in the castle is Markl, a young boy who is kind of an apprentice to the wizard. On his return Howl accepts Old Sophie as a cleaning woman, but it appears he knows more than he’s letting on. We follow these characters through a series of adventures that eventually lead to the truth about Howl, and not to forget Calcifer. I will not say any more or the Spoiler Police (Ghibli Division) will be subtitling me (again).
Beautifully animated with a great score by Joe Hisaishi made for an epic feel to this picture. Likable characters also added to the enjoyment factor. Performance-wise, I thought everyone did a great job, and so honourable mentions must go to; Jean Simmons as Grandma (or Old) Sophie, Christian Bale as Howl, Lauren Bacall as Witch of the Waste, Blythe Danner as Madame Suliman, Emily Mortimer as Young Sophie, Josh Hutcherson as Markl and Billy Crystal as Calcifer.
One thing I cannot get over is the beautiful clarity of the animation. Studio Ghibli has a very particular style and I must admit to being a great fan of the way their films look; at times they can be quite breathtaking. I also love the imagination of the people that designed things like the Castle, it’s quite fantastic. Putting aside the visuals for a moment, I have to say that, sadly, I did find this one a little too long at nearly two hours. Although I did find the story quite enthralling at times, there wasn’t quite enough (for me) to enthral me for quite that long. Having said that it’s still an excellent piece of work and one I have no problem in deeming… Recommended.
My score: 7.1/10.
IMDb Score: 8.1/10 (based on 73,040 votes at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 86/100 (based on 147 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 93/100 (based on 220,543 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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[Two soldiers are bothering Sophie]
Howl: There you are sweetheart, sorry I'm late. I was looking everywhere for you.
Soldier: Hey, hey! We're busy here!
Howl: Are you really? To me, it looked like the two of you were just leaving.
[gestures with his hand, the soldiers are forced to march away]
Old Sophie: What a dump. When I think of castles, it's not what I picture.
Old Sophie: All right Calcifer, lets get cooking.
Calcifer: I don't cook! I'm a scary and powerful fire demon!
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site: http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/castle/