Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Detroit Free Press:
If you've yet to take the anime plunge, this is a fine place to start; if you're an old hand, you will not be disappointed.
With such an unfocused, impenetrable center, the film grows dull.
Los Angeles Times:
Miyazaki's gift for wonder, an ease with fantasy that makes enchantment second nature, is so great it obliterates differences in language.
Howl's Moving Castle moves -- in short, choppy, jumpy jerks that will never make anyone forget how fluid the truly great hand-drawn cartoons look by comparison.
Confirms that Miyazaki is one of the most brilliant practitioners of the cartoon feature form ever.
New York Post:
Another stunningly beautiful and beguiling work of animation from Japan's Hayao Miyazaki.
New York Observer:
The whole thing has the heavenly whimsy of Ludwig Bemelmans' illustrations from the classic French children's books.
What you get, above all, is some enchanting flashes of classic Miyazaki and the nagging sense that something essential is missing.
G. Allen Johnson,
San Francisco Chronicle:
A wise and wonderful parable of the passing moments of life, and dealing with both the advantages and burdens that make us individuals.
Miyazaki's animated adaptation of Jones' book is a charming and thoroughly absorbing treat.
The world it gives us to live in, for a couple of hours, is pure magic. It is one of those places we might wish never to leave.
At its best, Howl's Moving Castle offers a rich fantasy of adolescent escape, of romance in the old and epic sense.
Miyazaki, now in his mid-60s, has a refreshing and persuasive way of relating youth to old age and callowness to wisdom. Rather than presenting them succeeding each other and fighting for supremacy, he shows them coexisting peacefully.
The inhabitants of Miyazaki's enchanted universe understand that spirits are as much a part of everyday life as the fishmongers and soldiers and airplanes crowding the confines of the movie frame in set-piece scenes of spectacular detail.
Dallas Morning News:
Choppy story lines and threadbare characterization often hamper live-action adventures, and Mr. Miyazaki's newest anime endeavor suffers from similar handicaps.
Howl is often impish -- the slimy black things the Witch of Waste sends after Howl wear Panama hats -- but Miyazaki never panders to moviegoers with Eddie Murphy asides.
Prepare to be thoroughly enchanted. Prepare also to be challenged in ways that few current movies bother with, live action or otherwise.
New York Times:
The latest animated tour de force from the Japanese director Hayao Miyazak is a fitting introduction to one of modern cinema's great enchanters.
Miyazaki may not have achieved the level of Spirited Away, but he's still ahead of the curve.
A parade of weird characters comes onstage to do their turns, but the underlying plot grows murky and, amazingly for a Miyazaki film, we grow impatient at spectacle without meaning.
There's a word for the kind of comic, dramatic, romantic, transporting visions Miyazaki achieves in Howl's: bliss.
Meanders so listlessly that its details become less and less charming. Miyazaki's storytelling style resembles that of a breathless young tot who's fearlessly exercising his newfound powers of expression.
Miyazaki is like a soulful cartographer of the soul, mapping our inner landscape, leaving us bedazzled.
A strange delight awash in visual splendor, understated humor and clever body-and-soul transmogrifications among its bonny band of weirdos.
Globe and Mail:
With its bold screen-filling imagery, this is definitely a movie to be relished on the big screen.
A feast of images and ideas for those who still cling to the idea that animation ought to be every bit as expressive as anything that begins with a blank page, a sharp pencil and an unharnessed imagination.
Palaces and shimmering lakes, warplanes and fire sprites all come to life at the breath of Miyazaki's graphic genius.
The risibly cloying closing scenes are likely to nix any remaining goodwill, blotting out such delicate early touches as a stroll through the air far above a town square.
A stunning example of a pure, disorienting dream logic that cinema provides all too rarely.
This movie often soars, blending a childlike sense of wonder with sophisticated emotions and motives.
The tireless volley of ideas and inventions make this a delight that should connect with kids and adults in both dubbed and original-language versions.
The film is an organic, childlike wonder, fabulously unpredictable and seethingly inventive.
Speaking of enchantment, that's the ultimate thing missing from Howl's Moving Castle. That and soul.
There is no story, or rather, there's no force to the story, which meanders almost casually this way and that for no apparent reason.