Howl’s Moving Castle Review

Words by Andy Caley


Hayao Miyazaki returns once again with another bizarre, beautiful and visually-stunning animation. Based on the book by Diana Wynne Jones, ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ tells the tale of a young insecure Sophie, cursed with the body of a weak old lady. It is the hedonistic, yet insecure wizard, Howl, and his friends, living in the legendary moving castle, whom she must rely on to break her curse.

The first thing to mention about this film is the beautiful animation. It will take your breath away – the attention to detail is immaculate, showing that animation is still as alive and evolving as computerised films, like ‘Pixar’ and ‘Dreamwork’s. Both can easily live together harmoniously as equals.

Like Miyazaki’s previous films (in particular reference to his Oscar winning film Spirited Away’), this is a wonderfully weird fairytale.

As in most Miyazaki films, the laws of the universe no longer apply, so for the duration of the film, you have to forget them. Yet, it is the love and elegance of this bizarre world that charms you, something that is rather ‘Miyazakian’.

With a myriad of loveable and redeemable characters, it is Sophie and Howl that steal the show, brilliantly voiced by Emily Mortimer (as young Sophie) and Jean Simmons (as old Sophie) and Christian Bale in the English dubbed version.

Miyazaki brilliantly captures Sophie’s blossoming to a confident and beautiful young woman. Yet, Howl is a rather enigmatic character, someone we have to peel in order to see what he is hiding beneath all the magic and good looks.

While it lacks the goosebump feeling of ‘Spirited Away’, it makes up for it in charm. It has the beauty and grace of ‘Princess Mononoke’ and the fun of ‘Laputa: Castle in the Sky’. This is a thoroughly enjoyable film for all ages that will warm the cockles of your heart.

Spirited Away Review

Words by Benjamin Pinsent


‘Spirited Away’ (2001) is considered to be the main reason why anyone knows anything about ‘Studio Ghibli’. But why is this film the one that broke the ground more so than any other ‘Ghibli’ film?

The style and character design remain consistent to the Ghibli aesthetic: weird creatures populate painted landscapes. All the art is beautifully realised, as it is in any other film by Hayao Miyazaki. This coupled with the exquisite music makes this film a joy to see and listen to.

What is striking about the film is that the main character Chihiro is not a Hollywood child, i.e. a smart talking little adult, but a real child who has character flaws. She is selfish, lazy and cowardly and it is through the events of the film she grows up to be more mature. Another great character is No-Face, a character with almost no dialogue or facial expression but like Wall-e he is able to do so much with so little.

The reason for the major publicity is mainly thanks to John Lassiter (co-founder of ‘Pixar’). He convinced ‘Disney’ to pick up the dubbing license for the film and consequently any other release

. But though this may have given us a great film and animation company ‘Disney’ are perhaps the worst thing about the film; over dubbing dialogue with too many “ohs” and “ahs” and their choice of voice actors sometimes lets down the film as a voice will not fit a character model.

But, apart from that this is a must see for fans of film and animation a like.

Quote Of The Evening – Up, Russell


Words by Naomi Jeffreys

Up was Pixar’s first film presented in Disney Digital 3-D. When one think of Up, one almost always thinks of the tender opening scene, which is all music and chronicles the life of Ellie and Carl Frederiksen. Moving and very brilliant.

The film was directed by Pete Docter (Monsters Inc) and starred Edward Asner (Working Class), Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music) and Jordan Nagai (The Simpsons).

The film was a box office success and grossed $731,342,74 which is staggering considering its budget of $175 million.

Perhaps the funniest character was Russell voiced by Jordan Nagai, the boy scout who befriends the grumpy and love lorn Carl.

Check out these quotes below:

Russell: Good afternoon. Are you in need of any assistance today, sir?
Carl Fredricksen: No.
Russell: I could help you cross the street.
Carl Fredricksen: No.
Russell: I could help you cross your yard.
Carl Fredricksen: No.
Russell: I could help you cross your porch.
Carl Fredricksen: No!
[closes the door on Russell’s foot]
Russell: Ow.

Russell: I’ve never been in a floating house before.

Russell: Whoa, that’s  gonna be like a billion transfers to get back to my house…