OK, since a couple of my besties have been pestering me for a while to read or at least watch, “Howl’s Moving Castle,” and since my college’s Media Center (our miniature version of “Family Video,” to the uninformed laymen, LOL) just so happened to have it right where I would find it (near the cache of “Harry Potter” DVDs… curse the alphabetized sorting system!!!); so, upon seeing it, figured, what the heck, I’ll give it a shot.
After viewing it for quite some time, I was confused, story/plot-wise, at several twists and turns (probably the reason I should’ve read the book first), but I must say I think the whole thing was rather decent. Not my favorite, by far, but something I might watch again, by all means (but then, I’ve a penchant for action-adventure stories, with some “fantasy-magic” thrown in, soooo….). Here are my conclusions after watching, good and bad:
- In the movie, “Howl’s Moving Castle” doesn’t really seem to have any plot goals. The biggest goals, in all I could make out anyways, were Sophie and Howl falling in love, and the war eventually ending (which, they still don’t really state how exactly the latter was accomplished, to my frustration.). Every story needs to have at least one goal, such as to defeat a villain, get the guy/girl of their dreams, complete a quest, etc., and all must state HOW it’s accomplished, not just write it off and let it hang for the viewers to guess what’s happened.
- Who exactly was the ACTUAL villainess?? I’ll be honest, I never would’ve guessed the king’s right-hand magician; I thought it was the Witch of the Waste. But by the end the two are kinda dimmed outta their evilness, leaving us without a REAL foe, a GENUINE enemy, worthy to face off against the H.M.C. crew… unless, of course, the real enemy was actually SELF, which would in some ways make more sense. But I’m not sure they were expecting the viewers to pick up on that. Readers of the book, definitely, but viewers? Not always.
- Howl’s vanity, and, to use the words of my one bestie, “slightly bipolar”-ness. OK, I’ll admit that, upon the movie starting, I was pretty set-off (or at least, very uncomfortable with) by Sophie being flirted with two guards, who’re then marched off literally by Howl’s magic ring, and Howl in turn also proceeds to flirt with her (anyone else kinda iffy ’bout that?); Howl seems to have a very high opinion of himself, especially concerning his looks, and at one point stating, in a fit of pure moodiness and depression (when Sophie accidentally changed his hair bright orange), he doesn’t see the point of living if he can’t be good-looking, which frustrates both Sophie and myself; fortunately, she manages to talk some sense into him, and gets him to see a bit beyond that, but it still got on my nerves a good bit. Not to mention the frantic bipolar episode was extremely out-of-character for someone as cool, collected, and casual-natured as Howl. Unless he really is slightly bipolar, or has multiple personality disorder (no offense meant to any who have those disorders, BTW), I have a bit of a hard time believing that that’s, well, him.
- Howl’s… dare I say it… “hotness,” and the rest of his character. I’ll be honest, when Sophie and Howl first met on-screen, I was really, REALLY creeped out (like, “STRANGER DANGER! STRANGER DANGER! CREEPER ALERT! NO BETTER THAN THE GUARDS!!”), but after figuring out he WAS actually Howl, and after he started showing more of his true character, I was all, “Oooo…. he’s kinda cute…” (hence why his blonde pic is the chosen pic of this article). In terms of looks, at the risk of sounding somewhat shallow, I think I prefer him blonde to darker haired, but I will say he’s very handsome either way….(and yes, I do have this weird thing for cute anime dudes with long-ish hair. Deal with it.) He isn’t the bravest or most selfless person on planet earth, I’ll grant him, BUT he is highly intelligent (by use of his castle and skills) and compassionate, and as Sophie put it, tries to genuinely be a good person. And I like that in terms of us as humans in general– flawed beings who very honestly try our very best to BE good, though we often miss the marker (no, this isn’t gonna turn into another sermon.. that’s another story for another day…).
- Everything about Sophie. Her being just an “ordinary girl” plucked literally from the streets because of extraordinary circumstances. Her relationships with the other characters (especially Markl, Howl, and Calcifer). Her spunk and her guts to stand up for what’s right, and to put her foot down when she’s finally had enough. But above all, I liked the switch between her ages. At first, I didn’t, because of looks and voice difference, but once you get over that, you get a feel that she’s truly the same person– as evidenced by her gumption and bravery in everything she does. I think plenty of people (though not too many) discount the elderly because they “weren’t what they once were.” “Howl’s Moving Castle” makes the notion utterly ludicrous; in fact, it mocks it. Elderly people are still themselves, like they were when they were our ages, just have a tougher time getting around, and more wisdom (or at least, more experience), stored up. And I actually think that’s a key theme in the movie, the essential antithesis to Howl’s vanity: you may change in appearances, but you CAN always be beautiful on the inside, if you just have faith.
- Turnip-Head and Markl. Just because they try to act all serious and helpful, but end up also be super cute in the process. Oh, and Calcifer can be comical too, at times. 🙂
- The Castle’s insanely cool ability to change where it’s at physically, simply by the switch of a simple enchanted color-wheel near the door. Enough said.
- The fact that Howl can turn into a gigantic bird-thing and back. OK, so he’s still at risk for permanently becoming the bird-thing, but let’s be honest: HE CAN FLY. Heck, he can even fly WITHOUT becoming bird-thing, which is pretty cool. #jealous
Well, that’s all I got for now. Be sure to check out “Howl’s Moving Castle,” and let me know what you think of it… until next time, LivGirl out!