Tag Archives: Josh Hutcherson

Howl’s Moving Castle: My First Miyazaki

Oh, woe is me for not having seen a Miyazaki film sooner. I’m back again for a few reviews (after vacation back home) and I thought I’d start with a film that, for me, was a revelation and fan-creating film. If only Disney hadn’t have put its grimy paws all over this film and let Studio Ghibli find English voice actors, this movie could’ve surpassed even my expectations. (But Disney is all about them big bones.) But it had Christian Bale, so it’s all good. This wonderful film about growing up

A house with a view.

and finding what you believe in is a more mature answer to the childish wonder we all find in cartoons and fantasy.

In this steampunk-like adventure story, we come across Sophie (Emily Mortimer), a young woman and local hatter in a town ruled by an aristocracy and the army. Magic is an agreed upon phenomenon and witches and wizards roam the countryside. After an encounter with a young, dashing, magical man named Howl (Christian Bale), Sophie finds herself swept away by the man’s charm. After encountering another witch later that night, The Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall), Sophie is turned into an old woman (voiced by Jean Simmons) and is not allowed to speak of her curse.

After this terrible twist of “Big”-like events, Sophie travels off into the countryside to escape her mother and what people would think of her. She encounters a wonderfully fun and lovable scarecrow on a stick, and, eventually, Howl and his Moving Castle. Accompanying Howl are his associated fire demon, Calcifer (Billy Crystal), and his apprentice in waiting, Markl (Josh Hutcherson). Acting as a makeshift nanny/homekeep, Sophie attempts to gain everyone’s trust, all the while searching for some way to reverse her curse. It ends up being one wild ride, indeed.

Look at that redonk detail.

I was overall impressed with this film. Like I said, I’ve never seen a Miyazaki film before and my girlfriend owned this one and wanted me to watch it. She was totally right and I wasn’t disappointed. It was a great film. Miyazaki’s style for me is completely original, unusual and quirky. His plot may have been taken from a book of the same name, but it was such a unique and off kilter movie/story/plotline that I loved what was going to happen next. It wasn’t action packed, it wasn’t magic performance filled or anything like that. It was what it was. And I appreciated that immensely.

For the most part, the voices in the film were accurately matched to each of the characters. Christian

Cosplays waiting to happen.

Bale, for the kind of frail character Howl was, was a bit of a stretch. And he wasn’t even allowed to use his British accent! What kind of crap is that when a decent percentage of the rest of the cast was British? Oh Christian Bale, will you ever be able to use your own voice? I enjoyed Billy Crystal and his comedic portrayal of Calcifer. And I was spot on again at recognizing voices when I heard both Josh Hutcherson and Crispin Freeman’s guest voicing of Turnip Head towards the end. Some of the supporting cast and background voices were a bit iffy, but overall I wasn’t disappointed.

Masterful Miyazaki.

I loved the overall feel and message of this film. The style it was going for was just right for the way this movie presented itself. The music was whimsical and the animation is above and beyond a lot of cartoon films that are done here. Why? That’s because of the attention to detail and colorful style that Miyazaki and his animation crew have created with all their projects. The film is beautiful to look at and is a visual journey in itself. Hell, this movie didn’t even need much dialogue did it? I would’ve watched it just as a silent film and enjoyed it just as much. The creative ways in which Miyazaki created a world with unique aspects and inventions left me awestruck. I’m definitely in for some treats with the rest of Miyazaki’s films. I’ll give Howl’s Moving Castle a 8.7 out of 10.

Advertisements

The Kids Aren’t All Right

My mother, (see Everything I Know about the U.K. … I Learned from the BBC blog on WordPress.) got the movie The Kids Are All Right (2010) from the library. Not knowing a thing about this “critically acclaimed movie,”we as a family decided to give it a watch. Let me just say you see more sex acts in the first hour than you would see in most HBO or Skinemax shows. This, to say the least was a bit alarming. (Mind you I’m open to plenty of movie styles, but I’ve never been very keen to unneeded sex scenes in movies.) The idea of this movie is quite interesting, what I would call one of those Sunshine movies. What I mean by Sunshine is a movie that is given a quirky edge with heavy and hard topics, some of the more popular ones being homosexuality and death. (Examples being Little Miss Sunshine and Sunshine Cleaning. Get it? Not my bag though.) But yes, the plot of the movie is that Julianne Moore and Annette Bening are lesbians. Even the director’s a lesbian. And what do lesbians want? Children. The have one part of a two part equation for this. What do they need? Some Mark Ruffalo action. Lo and behold, two children, Mia “Alice” Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson. Joni’s (Mia) on her way out of the house and ready for college while Laser (Josh) has a tool for a friend, and seemingly no other friends. At least Joni has a dumb slut for a friend and an Indian kid who reminds me slightly of the love interest in The Lovely Bones (and don’t get me started on that let down.) Laser (Hippy homage to Dodgeball?) wants to meet his biological dad, Paul (Mark Ruffalo) and it takes off from there. Not to toot my own horn, but I did call the need for penis/straight sex in this movie and found it to be a realistic dilemma (sort of). All in all, I didn’t find this movie to be quite the rabble-rousing, critical acclaim film I felt it was when I saw its ratings in Entertainment Weekly. I have liked Oscar buzzworthy movies in the past, this one in particular just struck me as bland. Mark Ruffalo was great, I have a real respect for him. (If you’ve seen Reservation Road, you’ll know why.) I’ve never gotten over Julianne Moore’s role snatch of Clarice in Hannibal or her performance in Evolution shortly after. Mia Wasikowska was quite good for such a small career under her belt, but what got me was how underutilized Josh Hutcherson was in this movie. He had his tuffle with his toolish friend and that was about it. Ever since he was in Little Manhattan he’s been doing great work and I’ve found him able to handle more than he’s been given. (Firehouse Dog… come on…) Other than that, this movie was okay and I’d give it a solid 7 out of 10. Until next time (and that might be soon) welcome to the abyss, I hope you’ll stay for a while.