Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 40
  2. Negative: 2 out of 40
  1. 67
    The voice acting, from new Batman Bale to the almost unrecognizable Bacall is fine – even Crystal reigns in his usual Borscht Belt bravado – if a little plain.
  2. 100
    Howl's Moving Castle is one animated epic that has it all: poetic intensity, potent storytelling, vivid and surprising characters, and intoxicating powers of visual imagination.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The filmmaker's obsessions have got the better of him. That said, I can't recommend the film highly enough, since bad Miyazaki is still leagues better than anyone else.
  4. A picture from an old man working at the top of his game.
  5. The movie's dreamlike spaces and characters are sometimes worthy of Lewis Carroll.
  6. 63
    While the movie contains delights and inventions without pause and has undeniable charm, while it is always wonderful to watch, while it has the Miyazaki visual wonderment, it's a disappointment, compared to his recent work.
  7. Perfect for anyone with a youthful heart and a rich imagination.
  8. You run across animation this ingenious about as often as a moving castle comes your way.
  9. Miyazaki's movies are as stunning as they are confounding.
  10. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    Just as Miyazaki seemed on the verge of properly crossing over, he serves up an anime riddle wrapped in an enigma - though with all his usual charm, wit and hand-drawn beauty.
  11. The worldview, the sense of childlike fun shaded with adult melancholy, and the joyful, serene attention to visual oddity and wordless beauty could only be made in Japan. And, specifically, made by Hayao Miyazaki.
  12. 70
    While Howl’s Moving Castle is far from perfect, it’s still a very good movie. It’s just not a great one.
  13. 90
    Another soulful gem from the peerless Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.
  14. 100
    Parse it any way you like, Miyazaki's gifts as an animator place him in a category of his own. To see his latest film is to be somehow reminded of Italians who could hear Verdi's operas as soon as they were sung or English readers who could experience the novels of Dickens episode by episode.
  15. 50
    The movie is practically incomprehensible.
  16. A richly inventive, slightly eerie animated movie from Japan.
  17. In the best moments of Howl's Moving Castle and in his extraordinary body of work, Miyazaki teaches his viewers more valuable lessons.
  18. 75
    The story, which also involves an asthmatic dog and a scarecrow, is more accessible than "Spirited Away" but less transporting than that Oscar-winning masterpiece.
  19. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Howl's Moving Castle has the logic of a dream: behind every door lie multiple realities, one more astonishing than the next.
  20. It is almost inevitable that Miyazaki, often compared to C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling, should have found in Diana Wynne Jones a kindred spirit.
  21. It's one of the best and strangest films of Miyazaki's career.
  22. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    The plot is pretty convoluted, but Miyazaki has a very good handle on it and lavishes his customary heart, humor, and inventiveness on every situation he depicts.
  23. 75
    Miyazaki may not have achieved the level of "Spirited Away," but he's still ahead of the curve.
  24. 88
    There's a word for the kind of comic, dramatic, romantic, transporting visions Miyazaki achieves in Howl's: bliss.
  25. 50
    The plot of Howl's Moving Castle meanders so listlessly that its details become less and less charming.
  26. Reviewed by: G. Allen Johnson
    A wise and wonderful parable.
  27. Movie magic is only as powerful as the imagination that casts it. Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki's imagination is the most creative in animated filmmaking.
  28. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Because of its convolutions, Howl's Moving Castle isn't quite as transporting as "Spirited Away." But it's a moving bridge between his lyrical fancies and his outrage. Miyazaki is like a soulful cartographer of the soul, mapping our inner landscape, leaving us bedazzled.
  29. 80
    Miyazaki's animated adaptation of Jones' book is a charming and thoroughly absorbing treat.
  30. With its bold screen-filling imagery, this is definitely a movie to be relished on the big screen.
  31. Consequently, though it's difficult to work out what's going on, it's never boring.
  32. Sophie, in both her incarnations, joins an impressive sisterhood of Miyazaki heroines, whose version of girl power presents a potent alternative to the mini-machismo that dominates American juvenile entertainment. Not that children are the only viewers likely to be haunted and beguiled by Howl's Moving Castle - all that is needed are open eyes and an open heart.
  33. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    The perfect e-ticket for a flight of fancy into a world far more gorgeous than our own. The film doesn't halve itself to appeal to two generations. At its best, it turns all moviegoers into innocent kids, slack-jawed with wonder.
  34. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    You'll gladly surrender to the whole gorgeous muddle.
  35. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Clever and often enchanting.
  36. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    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.
  37. 100
    An organic, childlike wonder, fabulously unpredictable and seethingly inventive.
  38. A moveable feast of delights.
  39. The movie made almost no sense whatever to me. I literally could not follow it, even as I was dazzled by it.
  40. Miyazaki, like an evil sorcerer, has plucked the heart out of Jones's story and left it there to die.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 241 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 95 out of 102
  2. Negative: 3 out of 102
  1. Dec 27, 2011
    With thrills, heart, love, visual beauty and humor and the great original score Hayao Miyazaki has directed another fantastic and beautiful adeventure. I give this move 95%. Full Review »
  2. Sep 29, 2011
    "Howl's Moving Castle" is amazing with powerful visuals. Mostly the symbolism of the movie, that life can be seen through adversity, was very touching and true. It's a movie you would like and become spellbound to. Full Review »
  3. Feb 6, 2014
    It's not in the same league as Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, but still pretty fantastic in its own right. It boasts amazing visuals in a wonderfully realized world, full with rich interesting characters. The plot is engaging and full with much appreciated symbolism. Full Review »