Howl’s Moving Castle may not be considered one of Miyazaki’s greatest works but I enjoyed the movie for its splendid visuals, interesting storyline and well cast voice actors for both the Japanese and English-dubbed versions.
Genre(s): Animation, Fantasy, Comedy
Buena Vista | PG – 120 min. – $39.99 | May 21, 2013
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer(s): Diana Wynne Jones (novel); Hayao Miyazaki (screenplay)
English Voice Cast: Jean Simmons, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Blythe Danner, Emily Mortimer, Josh Hutcherson, Billy Crystal
Japanese Voice Case: Chieko Baisho, Takuya Kimura, Akihiro Miwa, Tatsya Gashuin
Theatrical Release Date: June 17, 2005
Features: Featurettes, Trailers, DVD Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Japanese (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French
Disc Size: 45.4 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 4.5/5
Plot Synopsis: Sophie (EMILY MORTIMER), a quiet girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl (CHRISTIAN BALE). The vain and vengeful Witch of the Waste (LAUREN BACALL), jealous of their friendship (albeit brief), puts a spell on Sophie turning her into an old woman (voiced by JEAN SIMMONS). In a life-changing adventure, Sophie climbs aboard Howl’s magnificent moving castle and enters a magical world on a quest to break the spell.
Quick Hit Review: While not considered one of Hayao Miyazaki’s great anime movies, I actually really enjoyed Howl’s Moving Castle. The animation is incredible, the voice acting on both the Japanese and English versions are great – with Jean Simmons on the English-dubbing standing out – and the story itself was engaging. While it wasn’t as emotionally captivating as I’m sure the filmmaker’s intended, I felt there was more than enough there to carry it across the finish line.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
This release comes with a glossy, slightly title-embossed slip cover. Inside is a standard DVD Copy.
Behind the Microphone (9:02; SD) is a relatively short but fascinating look at the process of recording the voice actors, including a pre-Batman Christian Bale and a young Josh Hutcherson, for the English-dubbed version.
Interview with Pete Docter (7:23; SD) – This chat with Pixar veteran Pete Docter with a Japanese interviewer provides insight into translating the movie into English.
Hello Mr. Lasseter: Hayao Miyazaki Visits Pixar (16:29; SD) – The legendary filmmaker pays a visit to the Pixar studios.
TV Spots and Trailers (8:15; HD)
Original Japanese Storyboards (1:59:10; HD) – This is the entire movie in storyboard form. While interesting, it’s probably not of much use outside of those who want to or are in the field.
VIDEO – 5.0/5
Released through Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Howl’s Moving Castle is one of the more brilliant looking animated movies I’ve comes across on Blu-ray. The 1080p transfer looks glorious from beginning to end showing off vivid colors, fine detail levels and no signs of artifacting or banding. The transfer is wonderful and easily reference material for anime films.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
Both the Japanese and English soundtracks, 5.1 DTS-HD MA, sound great. The dialogue levels are crisp and clear and other elements, such as the war planes flying above, gives the track a more dynamic sound. The audio as a whole is well done and fills the home theater room with good range and depth.
OVERALL – 4.0/5
Overall, Howl’s Moving Castle may not be considered one of Miyazaki’s greatest works but I enjoyed the movie for its splendid visuals, interesting storyline and well cast voice actors for both the Japanese and English-dubbed versions. The Blu-ray offered by Buena Vista presented excellent audio and video transfer while the features, albeit lacking, are at least worth one viewing.