Tag Archives: magic

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.


Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 & 2

Wow, it’s been far too long since my last post! Been busy, but now coming back more furious than ever. (Not mad.) So first things first. Let’s start with the last of the Harry Potters. Didn’t catch the midnight showing, but watched the first part the day before and the second part only 3 days after its release (matinee in the middle of the day? Yes thanks.). I gotta say, I was semi-impressed. In totality, these movies do justice to the end of an era. But separately, it just seems as if they need to be combined. (Total of 4 hours of film in a row? It’ll just be Gods and Generals with magic.) It’s the final battle, and Harry has to take on the wizard of wizards, Voldemort. If you haven’t read the books, then I won’t spoil anything for you. But here it is.

Good old Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has to find the Horcruxes. These are items in which Voldemort

Harry, Ron, and Hermione vs...

stored his soul through the act of committing unspeakable evils (a.k.a. killing people). With one down (Dumbledore’s sacrificed hand to the “ring”) and another out there in the kid’s peripherals (a locket), the adventure is set. The Ministry of Magic,

...Voldemort & Crew

Gringott’s, the Malfoy’s house, and even Hogwarts, this movie goes everywhere. And as the books did, everything sums up and becomes clearer and connected. People have always had problems with the movies not lining up with the books, but come on, there’s no way all of the info and exact actions of the books can be portrayed, so some slack has to be given to Warner Bro.’s. But that’s besides the point.

The action is fantastic. No 3-D for me though, there’s really no point in any film being in 3-D. I would continue to rant about this, but the movie industry likes the money coming in from it and doesn’t care about the headaches and unrealistic way 3-D alters the films. Oh well. The magic duels were great

Just some of the movie magic from Part 2

and the carnage was really brought to a level not a lot of children’s books would go to in theaters, hence, the PG-13 rating. The effects, as usual for every movie, every year, are top notch. The locations are interesting and breathtaking. (I always picture any adventure film outside must be filmed in New Zealand since LOTR.) It feels almost as if every location were waiting for the characters to return to play their part.

These 3 have thankfully improved over the years.

The acting, thank God, has gotten better with every film. Daniel Radcliffe’s flighty and flinty acting has improved to an acceptable level, but I’m sure, in most fan’s mind’s eyes, Harry should’ve been different. (No offense, you did the best you could Daniel.) Ron (Rupert Grint) with his older age has improved and gone on to make other good films (two I would recommend would be Driving Lessons and Wild Target.). Hermione (Emma Watson), in addition to her beauty, has become a wonderful young actress (come on, I’m her age and I’ve grown up with her basically.) who I’m looking forward to seeing in other films now that the H.P.’s are over.

There’s still the supporting cast (in reality, senior acting class that really give the movies their class) that needs to be mentioned. Snape (Alan Rickman) gives a stirring performance in Part II that was tearful, heartfelt, and lovely. It completely redeems his misunderstood character over the years. Ralph Fiennes is as

Snape. You were the best.

fierce as ever as Voldemort, scary and unrelenting as he was meant to be. Helena Bonham Carter plays the deranged (yet sexy, well at least to me) Bellatrix Lestrange, Voldemort’s right hand woman and biggest fan. Jason Isaacs plays Lucius Malfoy. Although completely defeated and beaten by Voldemort and his failings, I respect Malfoy and his wife and child, Draco (Tom Felton) for their misunderstood compassion shown in the films that is taken for cowardice. Rhys Ifans plays Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna’s father, a smaller part but still important. One of my favorite characters, besides Sirius of course.

Neville Longbottom. Just as heroic as Harry.

And there’s the rest of the kids. I won’t go through all the great acting that the students of Hogwarts have given over the years, but it’s spectacular. Neville becomes the hero he always could have been, Dean has gone through some freak growth spurt, Seamus still blows shizz up, and Luna is as quirky as ever. The whole Weasley family is amazingly brilliant, the Hogwarts teaching staff has all come back for the fight and Hagrid is disappointingly left out for pretty much all of the movie.

I feel a sadness in me as the books of my childhood leave me. When I turned 11, for that birthday I went to see the first movie with my friends. From the beginning I was blown away. The books I was reading were coming to life on screen. I was growing up with Harry as a constant friend. They were all my friends I would return to read and see every year. I, like everyone else my age, wished we were wizards. (Or had crushes on Emma Watson.) We wished we had the adventures of Ron, Harry, and Hermione. And now that it’s over, now that Voldemort has been beaten for good, what is there left to do? Will J.K. Rowling write more on Harry and his children’s lives? Will she be a one trick pony? I hope not. I hope generations to come see Harry Potter and become as bewitched with it as we all did. In its entirety, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows deserves the 10 out of 10. (Separately, Part 1 – 8.8 out of 10, and Part II – 7 out of 10) This magical empire has come to an end, but its the books that will be read and movies seen that will live on forever. In all those Muggles who believe in magic.

Will it continue? What is the future of Harry Potter?


Death Note: Simply Amazing

So this is one of the best anime I’ve watched. Ever. I mean hands down ever. I think this should be a mandatory requirement for all anime fans to watch. In one sitting. I had to load episodes from the internet, but I loaded them 1o at a time and would site for 3 hours watching al 10. This show blew my mind. It has the most intricate plot with twists and turns. It’s one of those pieces of art that you watch and you have to choose a side. (Clearly there’s only one side to choose in this anime.) But it’s harder than that. It’s about morality.

Light vs. L. Who will win?

Ethics. The worth/cost of a life. And whether or not it is just to take a life in the pursuit of justice and goodness. And if humankind can itself be gods.

So this anime is about Light Yagami (Brad Swaile). One day this 17 year old student, top of his class, suave, genius prodigy finds this notebook. And in it are instructions. If a name is written in this book with the persons face in mind, that person will die of a heart attack in 40 seconds. If a cause of death is established in those 40 seconds and the

Light Yagami. God of the New World.

details written in 6 minutes and 40 seconds, then the person will die that way if the means of that death can be accomplished. This is basically disregarded by Light as some ridiculous joke. Until he tries it. Then Light is thrust into a world of possibilities no one before could possibly imagine. And, using this Death Note, Light will become the God of the New World.

There is some baggage that comes with the Death Note. A Death Note can only be found by a human on Earth if it is dropped by a Shinigami. These quite strange, queer, funny creatures come from “limbo” as best I can figure. Their world is dissolving and Ryuuke

Ryuuke. He likes apples.

(Brian Drummond) has grown tired of the days of gambling bones and sleeping. He hungers for intrigue and excitement, and nobody better than Light can give that to him. Light’s attitude towards the power to kill brings surprising results. Light only kills criminals. Ryuuke follows him around, unseen by humans other than Light, for only humans who have touched the notebook can see Shinigamis. And it is Ryuuke’s duty to remain on earth with Light until it is his time to leave Light upon his death.

And from there the show picks up. Light soon becomes Kira (the Japanese pronunciation of Killer. Stereotypical right?) and creates a following. But the justice system won’t stand for that shit. They’re gonna put a stop to him right? So L(Alessandro Juliani), the greatest investigator/crime solver in the world, better than the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew combined, will do just that. And the chase begins. From here, the twists and mind games that’re played throughout the show display the amazing mind behind Tsugumi Ohba, creator of the manga.

I love Light Yagami. Thank you Brad Swaile.

Let me just say that my explanation/review of this anime comes nowhere near doing it justice. Although this anime was picked up by a Canadian company for dubbing, this doesn’t detract from the quality. Canadian voice actors are just as good as American voice actors. Case in point: Light Yagami’s voice actor, Brad Swaile. This guy must rock the mike when he’s recording. His manical laughs, his brilliantly intelligent air about him, it all fits the character. To a tee. Forget watching the subbed version, this guy brings this show home himself. Also of notable mention is Alessandro Juliani, the voice of L. Although his noises when interacting with food may seem off-putting, it enhances the strangeness that is L. L’s character is quirky and cold, intelligent and funny, but, to me, altogether annoying. And that’s why I chose the side of Light. Okay, not just because of the voice acting. To put my own opinion out there, Light’s sense of justice and genius mind are completely superior to L. In every way. Besides that, yes, L is respectable. But altogether inferior. But that’s where the dichotomy of the show comes from. And that’s why I enjoy the battle of the minds so much.

Also of notable mention in the voice acting department is Brian Drummond, ┬áthe voice of Ryuuke. All these Shinigami have sort of a grating, holier than thou, tone of voice to them and Ryuuke is no exception. Although he may play the part of jester, Brian Drummond brings an almost threatening aura to Ryuuke that makes him seem capable of anything being a God of Death. Chris Britton also gives a great performance as Soichiro Yagami, Light’s father. (I’m not gonna go into details about him, you must watch!) The grave, business air of Soichiro is what gives a respectable dignity to himself. Chris Britton’s caring and

Soichiro Yagami. Badass Dad.

intelligent voice lends itself to the character and really helps to envision a father worried for his family. Vincent Tong gets my honorable mention as Touta Matsuda, the goofy, caring, blundering police investigator of the Kira case. (This is inevitably what develops from Light’s mass killings of criminals.) He cares about the case, but he’s young at heart and this comes through strong and clear from Vincent Tong’s performance, making him an endearing character.

Teru Mikami. You'll see...

Another boss character from Death Note with a great voice actor is Kirby Morrow as Teru Mikami. (Now I can’t go into detail about this character, but look out for him!) Kirby does a great job of a devotional character willing to do whatever it takes for justice. Take that explanation as you like it. This show’s also great because there’s a culture crossover with Americans involved as well. And this shows itself in Raye Penber, voiced by Michael Adamhwaite. Adamthwaite (although a minor character) gives a great performance being an English speaking actor doing a English speaking character (not having watched the subbed, I don’t know exactly how this crossover works) and is quite the interesting character with a humble background.

But enough about voice actors. I could go on for far too long. The art is great too. It’s subtle dark colors mixed with flickering lights and dark corners gives it that seedy underbelly, nobody is who they say they are, investigation feel. This show is dark. I mean, come on, it’s about death. Characters are messed up in this show. But it’s all about the intelligence, it’s about the wording, and, most importantly, it’s all

Oh, did I mention there are live action movies?

about the deductions. The Shinigami, although otherworldly, become believable in this setting that seems it could never happen. I was never surprised or in disbelief by this anime, because it makes the impossible, possible. And that’s where the magic comes from.

So watch this show. Please check it out. It’s well worth its weight in gold. This show sets the bar unbelievably high for anime, and I think could make the jump into pop culture. Or, I wish it would. Love it, love it, love it. 11 out of 10. (Because I can.)

Oh, and this anime has one amazing intro. Check it (if you’re a metal fan).