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HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE - 2 stars barely

HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE is another Miyazaki film, this one based on a delightful book by Dianna Wynne Jones.  It was a young adult book set in a amusing fantasy world.  The themes of the book were self-image, self confidence and the shallowness of physical beauty.  It was charming and this movie starts out the same way, it captures all the humor of the book.... but then half way through Miyazaki decided that he was going to use this movie to make a political anti war statement, because he disapproved of the US and Japan's support of the US actions in the middle east.  Miyazaki still blames the US for the horrors of his childhood when he should have been blaming his own government.... ah how conveniently they forget what Japan did in China, Korea, and all the Pacific islands even before Pearl Harbor.  But I digress.  The problem is not with his political statement but what it does to the movie.  GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES is a tear jerking beautiful anti-American political statement that is a work of art.  This was just a mess.  A the movie goes completely off plot  with an unexplained war that pops up  from no where like a mushroom in the second half.  Here he borrows ideas from the book the BLOODY RED BARON, again with no explanation as the wizard Howl transforms into some sort of war machine.  When this sequence is done, and it takes up almost the entire second half of the movie, he deserts if, never explaining it and jumps back to the original story and the original ending, which no longer makes any sense because a good half of the book is missing.  If you watch this you may want to stop half way, read the book and skip to the end, and then go back and watch the war visuals.   I give it barely 2 stars for the first half