A SIGN OF CRITICAL DISILLUSIONMENT TO COME?Ben Applegate, Twage at Toonzone, has written a rather lukewarm review of Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle.
"Despite all these advantages Howl's plot falls flat. Although the first half of the film is engaging and well-paced, the second half wanders about rather aimlessly trying to find a good place to end. Unfortunately it never does, and though the climax is exciting, the resolution as a whole is clichéd, saccharine, and rushed. The solution to the war story thread is particularly shoddy and inexcusably naïve, especially considering this is the same director that gave us Princess Mononoke.
Though I have not read the book, I would not be surprised if the war subplot Miyazaki makes a central theme of his film does not actually appear in it at all. Miyazaki supposedly refused to come to the Academy Awards two years ago out of protest of the war in Iraq, and this view reflecting itself in his work is no surprise. However, the war elements do not integrate at all into the film, instead coming off as heavy-handed, inconsistent and distracting. Plot holes abound: there is no sense in Sariman, ostensibly a wise and upstanding character, recruiting wizards for the king to use in his war plans, and even less sense in her accusing Howl of using his magic "selfishly" when he refuses to help."
Not that there haven't also been a number of glowing early reviews, but my gut feeling is that tepid reviews of Howl's Moving Castle won't be as rare as they were for Sprited Away, and more critics will come to share my opinion that Miyazaki, in recent years, is becoming a bit too scattershot and unfocused and, dare I say, incoherent, at times, with his storytelling.