|Howl's Moving Castle (2005)
Hayao Miyazaki's lesser but still boundlessly imaginative follow-up to his reigning masterwork, 2002's "Spirited Away," "Howl's Moving Castle" plays out like a Japanese fairy tale, with young woman Sofi cursed by a witch and turned into an old hag. Unable to tell anyone, her only hope to return to her normal self comes in the form of a mystical walking castle owned by wizard Howl. A little too long for its own good at 125 minutes, "Howl's Moving Castle" nevertheless sweeps the viewer up in its story, proving time and again why Miyazaki is truly one of the great filmmakers of animation the world over.
A Studio Ghibli feature released in the U.S. by Disney, "Howl's Moving Castle" looks radiant bordering on astonishing in high-definition Blu-ray, calling particular attention to, well, the undeniable attentiveness of the film's resplendent hand-drawn animation. Like a watercolor come to life, the backgrounds forge a partnership with the characters in the forefront; the results are nearly poetic in their beauty, and this just about flawless transfer does Miyazaki proud. The Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks, the former with the original voices and English subtitles and the latter dubbed with American performers, are both richly layered and immersive. No complaints here.
Original Japanese Storyboards (HD, 119 minutes); Behind the Microphone (SD, 9 minutes); Interview with Pete Docter (SD, 7 minutes); Miyazaki Visits Pixar (SD, 16 minutes); Original Trailers and TV Spots (HD, 8 minutes)