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DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 119 minutes, three featurettes, trailers and TV spots, Storyboard version of film

STUDIO: Disney/ Studio Ghibli

RELEASE DATE: 3-7-2006

HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE is a fantastic tale about Sophie (a young woman who works at a hat shop) when she is cursed with old age by the Witch of the Waste after she encounters the wizard Howl. She journeys to find Howl (and his moving castle) and looks for a way to break a curse she can't tell anyone about. Howl is disgusted with the war his fellow wizards are put into (as some turn themselves into monsters) as two nations fight a war that just brings destruction in a Victorian type world where you can imagine airships dropping bombs on European cities. Like many other Hayao Miyazaki films, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE is a movie against war as man destroys cities and the environment. HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE is also more than just that. It is about love and living life to the fullest. Sophie finds Howl has no heart and he is selfish as she is hopelessly in love with him. She believes she isn't beautiful, but the spell takes weird turns as she becomes young at various times before she grows old again. Her humanity might just save herself and Howl if she just take a chance on life instead of just stumbling through it every day. HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE is a animation masterpiece that is better than most Disney animated films. It is a magical world with breathtaking animation and the vision of Hayao Miyazaki (some have called him the Japan's answer to Walt Disney). Whether it is a film like HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, SPIRITED AWAY, or PORCO ROSSO, Miyazaki's films are always worth watching.

VIDEO: 1.85:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

The transfer is nice looking and the animation isn't bad looking.

AUDIO: English 5.1 Dolby Surround, Japanese 5.1, French 5.1

Subtitles: English, French

The voices for the English dubbed version are the rare exception where I think the voices work much better than the original Japanese voice actors. The dubbed version is one of the finest English language dubs.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the Microphone is a featurete and has interviews with the actors who did the voices for the English Dubbed version of HOWL''S MOVING CASTLE. Interview with Pixar Animation Studios Director, Pete Doctor is OK, but the big extra on disc one is Hayao Miyaski as he comes for a surprise visit to Pixar Studios bringing gifts, surprising everyone at Pixar as he showed up for the premiere screening of the English dubbed version of HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, and an interview with one of Pixar's top people who is a big Miyazaki fan.  Also 7 theatrical trailers and 9 TV spots from Japan are on disc one.  The second disc is a storyboard version of the movie and is only for diehard Miyazaki fans and those who want to be animators.

FINAL ANALYSIS: HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE is one of the finest Japanese animation films suitable for the imagination of people of all ages.

this review is (c)3-7-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com