Howl's Moving Castle (2005) - Rotten Tomatoes

Howl's Moving Castle (2005)

Howl's Moving Castle (2005)



Critic Consensus: Exquisitely illustrated by master animator Miyazaki, Howl's Moving Castle will delight children with its fantastical story and touch the hearts and minds of older viewers as well.

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Movie Info

Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese animation director who wowed audiences worldwide with his award-winning film Spirited Away, brings another visually spectacular tale of imagination to the screen. Sophie is an 18-year-old girl who toils in the hat shop opened years ago by her late father. Often harassed by local boys, one day Sophie is unexpectedly befriended by Howl, a strange but flamboyant wizard whose large home can travel under its own power. However, the Witch of the Waste is displeased with Sophie and Howl's budding friendship, and turns the pretty young woman into an ugly and aged hag. Sophie takes shelter in Howl's castle, and attempts to find a way to reverse the witch's spell with the help of Calcifer, a subdued but powerful demon who exists in the form of fire, and Markl, who protects the four-way door which can instantly take visitors to other lands and dimensions. Howl's Moving Castle was released in North America by Walt Disney Pictures, who distributed the film both in its original Japanese and in a dubbed English version; the English-speaking voice cast includes Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Lauren Bacall, and Billy Crystal. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Chieko Baisho
as Young Sophie/Grandma Sophie
Akihiro Miwa
as Witch of the Waste
Haruko Kato
as Madame Suliman
Yo Oizumi
as Prince Turnip
Akio Ôtsuka
as King of Ingary
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Howl's Moving Castle

Critic Reviews for Howl's Moving Castle

All Critics (171) | Top Critics (46)

What you get, above all, is some enchanting flashes of classic Miyazaki and the nagging sense that something essential is missing.

November 19, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
Seattle Times
Top Critic

What a moveable feast of delights.

November 19, 2013 | Full Review…
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

A strange delight awash in visual splendor, understated humor and clever body-and-soul transmogrifications among its bonny band of weirdos.

November 19, 2013 | Full Review…
Associated Press
Top Critic

A richly inventive and enchanting delight.

November 18, 2013 | Full Review…
New Yorker
Top Critic

A stunning example of a pure, disorienting dream logic that cinema provides all too rarely.

October 18, 2008
Time Out
Top Critic

Palaces and shimmering lakes, warplanes and fire sprites all come to life at the breath of Miyazaki's graphic genius.

September 7, 2008 | Full Review…
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Howl's Moving Castle

More imaginative than a barrel of monkeys, the story here is secondary to the execution, and the story is better than most by far. A fairytale, yes, but for young and old. Don't allow naysayers to put you off.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

While the plot may seem a bit derivative (as well as the score and the characterizations) when compared to Miyazaki's greater works, this captivating animation is nevertheless an entertaining adventure of enchanting visuals and an always delicious sense of humor.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Probably Miyazaki's weakest film, but still plenty of good stuff to offer. Once again (it's almost a given at this point) the animation is absolutely top-of-the-line and the raw creativity presented in the uniquely magical steam-punk settings (Howl's mobile castle, which is an absolute wonder of animation) shines with child-like bliss. The characters are also thankfully another strong point and the relationship between Sophie and Howl leads to some interesting character development. There is also a delightful array of side characters such as Calcifer (hilariously voiced by Billy Crystal), the scarecrow, and the Witch of the Waste (whose development takes a truly unexpected turn in the second half). Thankfully the imaginative world and characters are strong enough to overcome the erratically messy plot (complete with a rushed and nonsensical ending), under explained plot points (The reason for the war, inconsistent effects of Sophie's curse.), and a boring villain. I feel Miyazaki is at his best when telling minimalistic stories with layered visual storytelling, 'Howl's Moving Castle' simply suffers from trying to do a tad too much at once. Not quite on the level of his masterpieces, but even Miyazaki on his off-day is still better than many filmmakers on their best day.

Christopher Heim
Christopher Heim

Super Reviewer

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