Saturday, January 06, 2007

Stardate 61015.66 - Hauru no ugoku shiro

Last night Cheryl and I watched Hauru no ugoku shiro (Howl's Moving Castle). Actually, I watched the almost 2-hour movie while Cheryl slept for about an hour of it. I had selected it becauase I recalled that Entertainment Weekly had given it an "A". I was not familiar with the book upon which it was based, but it seemed like an interesting concept - a world in the middle of an industrial revolution but with magic and witches. A land of both steam locomotives and huge flying battleships. And let me say first of all that the animation (or anime or whatever it is called) was really quite stunning. The backgrounds in particular were quite impressive, as was the detail in Howl's moving castle.

Essentially, the young female lead insults the Witch of the Waste and is cursed to live life as an old woman. The movie is about her journey to try and live with or to break the curse. Add in a young, attractive wizard (Howl of the title) and some sidekicks and you have a movie.

I have to give it a mixed review. The first half of the movie went to great lengths to explain in a very logical fashion precisely how various things works and the relationship between technology and magic (like how the moving castle is powered). But the second half almost felt rushed (except that the movie was actually slow in parts - I know, a contradiction), and things were not explained very well. The ending felt particularly rushed and I was left saying, "Huh?".

In general, it was too long. There was one scene in the early-middle of the movie where Howl became quite self-indulgent and while it probably worked in the book it seemed too far out of character in the movie. I understand the point they were trying to make, but I said to myself, "Oh, come on!" while watching that portion.

In the final analysis, one thumb sideways. Since Cheryl missed a great deal of the plot while sleeping, I didn't really ask her for her review.


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