Movie Review

Movie Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle

What the hell was that even? You know, for once I’d like it if the movie didn’t completely butcher the book it’s based on… and if you’re going to do that, then don’t call it the same thing as the book… rather just say it’s based of “this” book.

Okay, rant over, but still. The movie was enjoyable, but it would probably have been better if I hadn’t read the book so recently. Most of the time while watching, I was in a state of “that didn’t happen” or “this isn’t even close to correct!”

Some of the things that bugged me:

– Sophie’s whole story is ignored. The only family you get to meet is Fanny, but you don’t get to know her name, and Lettie, but you don’t get told that she’s in fact Martha or Sophie’s sister.
Also, for some reason Sophie’s age keeps changing in the movie, and I get that it’s supposed to show that she’s keeping the curse on herself and it shows how she changes at certain stages, but come on… that’s completely not what happened in the book at all. She was old and that was it.

– The scarecrow. Not only does Sophie like it in the movie and it helps her do things etc, but it also turns into the lost prince (which is right) who then says that the spell was “somehow” cast on him and could only be broken by his true love… what? NOOOO! That’s just so wrong it makes me mad! What about the story behind him becoming the scarecrow (kind of)… which leads me to:

– The whole plot around the Witch of the Waste was completely changed and ruined. They decided a war was for some reason a better idea and turned the Witch into a pathetic old biddy that Sophie takes care of even though she cursed her. This whole point makes my blood boil, because it was so integral to the book that I just can’t believe they changed it so much. They ignored that the witch had killed and maimed and tried to build a perfect human (wizard) and they also completely missed her demon part, because wizard Suliman never went missing and is now a woman and the actual villain. WTF?

– Michael is suddenly a pre-teen little thing called Marko instead of a teenaged boy. Apart from him doing some work right in the beginning, there’s also no mention of the fact that he does most of the work or that he’s an apprentice. Most of the time he’s just in the background. You also don’t get to know his story or the fact that he’s crushing on Lettie (who’s of course Martha in disguise).

– They completely ignored Howl’s wicked way with women. The book practically revolved around the fact that Howl’s passion is making women fall in love with him and then he drops them, but in the movie there’s a passing remark and then the rest of the time it ignores this and blow’s Sophie and Howl’s love out of proportion. Let’s not forget the reason Howl couldn’t love truly in the book was because he didn’t have his heart anymore, but in the movie he doesn’t seem to have a problem completely falling for Sophie. To be fair, I do think he did develop really strong feelings for Sophie in the book, but he only truly felt love for her once he got his heart back.
Also, he changes into a bird-monster periodically, which probably represents that he’s going bad? I’m not too sure about that but it seems most likely… I still don’t buy it.

I could have forgiven some small changes (like Sophie’s age changing constantly, I get that), but such a complete rewrite of everything shouldn’t be associated under the same name. If it had been presented as similar but different, then at least you know not to expect a visual representation of a story you loved, but instead just something along the same lines…

Book Review

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

My Rating: 4 Stars

I absolutely loved this book. As soon as I finished I wanted to start reading it again, and when I found out there’s a movie, I got indecently excited!
Half of the time I wasn’t sure if it was a childrens book or not, but it didn’t matter, because the story is fun and interesting and written in such a way that it really doesn’t matter if it was meant for kids, because adults can love it too… If it is a children’s book though, it’s got a couple of gruesome scenes and everyone is very blase about death…

There’s a lot of adventure and excitement though, and I’m sure I missed a lot of the hints throughout the book. The plot of the story was brilliant and it’s been a while since I’ve been so delighted with a plot twist… everything seems so predictable these days that it’s awesome to find something new.

The only negative I can point out is that it did lack a little something when it comes to making me feel the characters were real, because although I liked Sophie and Howl and Michael and Calcifer, they stayed characters in a story, and didn’t jump out of the page and become real like some of my other favorite characters did. There was very little real emotion, and I guess this is where the saying “Show, don’t tell,” came from, because although we’re told characters feel a certain way, their actions made these emotions fall flat… except when Sophie throws a jealous tantrum and Howl over acts when he’s sick or upset. Howl is a HUGE drama queen…

I still loved the book though and as soon as Goodreads figure out how to do re-reads, it’ll definitely be in my re-read list!