Hauru No Ugoku Shiro (2004, JAP) C-119m. *** D: Hayao Miyazaki. Starring (the voices of) Jane Alan, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal, Blythe Danner, Jean Simmons, Emily Mortimer (English version). Miyazaki's follow-up to SPIRITED AWAY (2001) is another astounding, awe-inspiring fantasy epic. A little girl, working for a hatmaker, is saved from lecherous soldiers by a mysterious magician, and when she is cursed by an evil witch, turning her into an old woman, she seeks refuge at his moving castle. Soon she learns that the magician is a troubled soul himself and that the world is on the brink of a terrible war. Wonderfully animated, superbly scored extravaganza that even manages to work in a criticism of technology and war. Filled with interesting characters and marvelous twists, a must. Based on a novel by Diana Wynne Jones. English title: HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE.

© Ron Altman