This is probably the most visually stunning movie, and one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. It was also one of the most confusing.
Overall, this movie is probably the worst from Hayao Miyazaki which has its negatives and positives. His movies are always rich with imagination and wonder and are never not a beautiful journey, but this one is definitely lacking in areas that he usually thrives in such as character development and simplicity in the plot.
For all of Miyazaki’s stories, there is a fantasy element to them. The illustrations create worlds that are incredible to look at and also equally mind blowing to think about how they were created. Howls’ Moving Castle is probably the most pretty and is no exception. In most of his movies, however, the story is enhances and influences the visuals, but it seems to be the other way around in this movie.
Like this movie is confusing as fuck. I honestly could not tell you the plot other than there was a war going on that wizards and witches were supposed to join and fight in, and there is a spell put on our main character Sophie that makes her an old lady, and there is kind of a love story. That’s it though. There really is not a main villain yet there are boatloads of henchmen. There isn’t really a through line tto the plot. There are so many fake climaxes that do not result in anything. I was trying to tell the plot of the movie to my friend after I watched it and ended up laughing at my realization that it was an impossible task.
Furthermore, the characters have the most confusing motivations ever. Confusing as in I don’t even know what they are. Sophie wanted to get rid of the spell on her? Howl wanted to not be in the war? The Witch of the Waste wanted to steal Howl’s heart? That older witch lady wanted to end the war? Like these are all guesses because I do not know. The characters all seemed well realized and like genuine people but I really do not know what they were doing. They would make decisions that were confusing. Moreover, there was no theme about growing up or being true to who you are or anything of that nature.
The more I think about this movie, the more frustrated I get.
It’s honestly still a seven out of ten though because of how awesome the world and characters are,even the vehicles are awesome and futuristic yet medieval. In terms of how immersive the whole movie was, I was transported and blown away, which is a lot more I can say about a lot of movies. The look and feel is magical and classic Miyazaki but at the same time I did not really know where he was going with this one.
Wtf was up with that scarecrow turning into the Prince at the end. Who was in charge of this whole war. Honestly what was that climactic go back in time/dream sequence. WHAT IS THIS MOVIE!?!?