Gedo senki (Tales from Earthsea) Reviews
Well, the plot is thin. It is about a kid and a wizard on a journey. This can be done well but it is not the case here. For being on a journey, there is no character development. Prince Arren, who is the main character had no incentive for the journey and was never given one. He went on it merely because he had nothing to do do after he kills his father 10 mins into the movie. There was never a good explanation why he did this and it makes you wonder how we were supposed to relate to him when the main thing he is shown to do was killing his father in cold blood. The wizard, Archmage Sparrowhawk, is also a character with nothing going for him. He is just on a journey because that is what he does. It is the only explanation given in the film. There was small points about magic failing and he needing to find something but none of that is ever explained so in all honesty, you might as well just accept that he is on a journey for the sake of walking around. The plot eventually introduces 2 female characters. They seem to be just there to be female to be honest because there is nothing going for them either. They exist simply to pair with the 2 male protagonists. They are only ever shown in distress or living their day to day lives. They could have been replaced with rocks for all the point they serve to bring the story along.
So the protagonists were paper thin but nothing is more paper thin than the antagonist. The big bad evil guy has nothing going for him besides the fact that he is evil. We don't learn anything more than that until near the end and even then, he was just evil but now he has an evil goal of trying to become immortal as part of his whole thing. He looks evil, he acts evil and he has evil henchmen. His plot isn't at all explained and what he is even doing isn't explained. His only real purpose was to be evil in the story to drive it forward and to give some conflict.
The movie had the theme of life and death and the struggle of existentialism in the second half to set an explanation for the actions of Arren and to drive forth some form of plot. It was delivered extremely slow and in terrible dialog. The basics of the circle of life and how you can't have life without death is then pushed forward. Evil guy doesn't buy this and wants to be immortal. It all comes down to the final conflict point. The good guys were pushing the whole life without death is meaningless and the evil guy was all against that. Well, it ends with the evil guy trying to kill one of the girls. She gets strangled and falls on the floor dead. Then with no explanation nor any sort of hint before hand it is relieved she is a dragon and immortal or something. So the whole speech about how life and death is importation might as well been a joke. The evil guy was right all along. You should just be immortal and them you don't have to worry about being strangled to death. Evil guy dies by the dragon fire and then its happily ever after.
The whole plot sucked. The delivery was slow at times and it was all over the place. Things would happen and you'd never get anything out of it. Nothing is explained and it just leaves you with nothing. Maybe you believe the whole schpeal about life being precious and you have to have death to have life but after the girl gets up after being strangled, she might as well have been immortal or something, I'd rather have that than being mortal and die from being strangled. Because of that the ending sucked for me as well.
Terrible movie. I feel worse for watching it. If I could asked for some of my precious time back I would. The whole idea of life being precious is a thing and this movie is a waste of my life, so to me, it feels like someone stole some of my life. I got more enjoyment out of writing this terrible review than I did for the entirety of the movie.
In all other Ghibli films, there's usually a fun, blissful magic in their atmosphere (or at least sporadically in some). ("Pom Poko" has none when the fun has been replaced with gross-out). "Earthsea" is actually treated as a fantasy film that can work fine in live action. Meaning it belongs in the live-action medium than the Ghibli medium due to being serious throughout, combined with nastiness and some darkness. It's an okay combo for telling a story, as long Ghibli doesn't lose their animated touch.
"Tales from Earthsea" works well as a fantasy film with nice animation that Ghibli is known for, but it lack their blissful magic and fun moments with heart. (B+)
(Full review coming soon)
Really, it struggled to get started as a story, and spent most of the story talkinga bout the philosophy behind the world rather than showing it.
But it had a good message, a few good quotes, and some great animation.
A good quote that I kind of remember, 'Would you deny the waves of the sea from splashing?'
It has finally come; I have found a disappointing Studio Ghibli film. Before watching Tales from Earthsea, I looked around at a couple of sites just to get a rough idea of how everyone felt with this film; the reception was very mixed but I didn't let it get to me and hoped that I would come out of the experience in a positive light. I tried so hard to like this and I was able to keep my attention for the first hour but eventually due to its vast quantity of problems, my care started to fade and everything that happened during its final half, I simply just passively watched and shrugged off.
Tales from Earthsea would mark as the debut film of Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro Miyazaki. Goro handled both the writing and directing aspect of this film, along with writer Keiko Niwa whom by the way is also his writing debut. Miyazaki and Niwa's screenplay was based off a novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, which I have never read so I cannot make any comparison between the source material and this film. Tales from Earthsea is set on a world that is cinematically familiar; the days of dragon, swords, magic, and kingdoms. We have all seen these types of settings before in films like Lord of the Rings, Eragon, and Chronicles of Narnia. Films that deal with these types of elements tend to be a hit and miss for me as stories that tend to conjured up during these settings lack that certain quality that could hold my grasp. I think I would have found myself enjoying this film a lot more if it contained that magical quality in its fantasy like many of Hayao Miyazaki's films, he was the master of blending reality or overly recycled concepts with magic and wonderment. I felt there was very little in this film that contained originality, something that would allow it to stand out above the rest; though I believe as of now this is the only thing from the studio that deals with this sort of setting so it at least wins in that race.
Another thing that could have been improved is the film's narrative as during the start of the film, it lacks any sort of incentive or direction that would keep me invested, especially in its characters. The sense of drama seems to only come from the external or physical struggles that the two lead characters, Arren and Sparrowhawk, has to go through. There was very little character development, which I felt was odd as the first 10 minutes of the film made it seem like it was going to become an emotional journey for Arren. The film eventually gets around to its point during the second half, touching on themes of life and death, but by that time, my attention and care was already close to the point of diminished that I wasn't able to appreciate what it had to offer. Why couldn't the writers set these ideas up earlier in the film, even if they were just tiny moments?
The film's strong points are found in its technical aspects. The cinematography and animation of this film is marvellous, it was like watching the beauty of a live action epic film and translated to an animated medium in order to elevate the visual elegance. Though the character designs were a little too safe and western for a Ghibli film, I was still pleased with the level of detail that it provides, particularly in its backdrop. The film's music, composed by Tamiya Terashima, was also a delight to listen to as it takes the strong and familiar qualities found in the films in its genre. There were moments that I forgot I was watching this film, and instead was thinking of a random scene from the Lord of the Rings trilogy or Braveheart. The music could have used a bit more originality but what was delivered here was good enough that I could forgive that small flaw.
Tales from Earthsea succeeds in creating the large scale that Princess Mononoke had, but lacked the compelling story and purpose that made the latter so excellent. Watching this has not completely made me lose faith in Goro Miyazaki as I think he simply did not have the experience to handle a film with such a large canvas. I just hope his next film, From Up on Poppy Hill, would correct the issues that his debut film had.