I agree with everyone on the fact that the first part of the movie was wonderful, and that the second part was messed up. Very confusing and pointless. Even my mom agreed.
I wanted to enjoy this movie. I knew it wouldn't be exactly like the book, and I was fine with that. I was still confident that I'd like it. And.....it was alright. Just that. Alright. I am shocked that my rating could go no higher than a C. Utterly shocked.
Okay, first I'll get my nitpicking out of the way:
-The war. Um... What was the point? If the movie were to go a little more in depth with that, the anti-war message would be appreciated (Naussica, Grave of the Fireflies, and Princess Mononoke were good examples of this). But here we have a fun fantasy movie. You can't do that in a fun fantasy movie. It doesn't FIT in a fun fantasy movie. Hayao Miyazaki, I respect your opinions, but please keep your politics OUT of your fun fantasy movies!!
-WTF with turning Howl into a bird creature? Huh?? My mom pointed out to me how similar that was to Haku in Spirited Away, and I agree. Howl is hot enough, he doesn't need to be a bird creature. And if he is, at least make it make sense.
-You know, one of the reasons Howl and Sophie's romance was so unconventional in the book was its subtlety. Even ignoring the fact that Sophie was a 90 year-old woman the whole time. A good instance of this is the chapter "In which Sophie expresses her feelings with weed-killer." In the movie however, I couldn't help but notice- actually, there was no way I could NOT notice- the complete LACK of subtlety. I mean...
"You're in love!" "I love you!" "Your hair is beautiful! It looks like starlight!"
Only rarely do I ever get the thought I could do better! while watching a movie. The last time I thought that was during the third Star Wars movie. And today I was thinking that repeatedly.
-The dog. >_> And the Witch of the Waste. If you're not even going to do plot-related things with them like in the book, why do you have them hanging around? Comic relief?? That's the exact reason why I don't like the comical animal characters in Disney movies! Jeez, and this is a recent trend for Miyazaki too (it started in Spirited Away).
And now for the things I liked:
-Howl. OMIGOD HOT. I loved the way he moved. Just... *____* And Christian Bale did good. Can't wait to hear him in Japanese. So.....PERFECT.
-SLIME SCENE!!! LOVE IT. Well, except for Sophie's angst. I preferred her scolding Howl instead of crying in the rain. ...But the towel made up for it. >)
-The animation was GORGEOUS. The landscape, the towns, and the scene with Howl catching the shooting star....SQUEE. ♥
-Calcifer. XD Gobbling up the egg shells. Crackling while he's speaking. Grabbing the logs with his little arms. If he weren't a fire demon, I'd want to HUG HIM! (One of the better changes, IMO. I don't mind a cute Calcifer verus a scary-looking one.)
-Howl and Sophie kissed. O.O In several scenes I was like omg they SO want to kiss, just look at them! But I didn't expect them to actually do it. I can't recall any characters in previous Ghibli movies by Miyazaki where the romantic couples have kissed (besides San and Ashitaka's mouth-to-mouth scene XD;). And look, now Sophie's kissing everybody! The ending kinda reminded me of the end of the Aladdin movie, to tell the truth. :O!! (I admit, I squealed.)
And...yeah. Once I get my hands on the book again, I'm going to read it to mom. :/ Because the book actually makes sense.