Gedo senki (Tales from Earthsea) Reviews

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March 16, 2015
I can certainly understand why this film is one of the least popular of the Ghibli collection, but it's still worth seeing.
March 15, 2015
The only Ghibli movie I"ve ever been disappointed in. Uneven pacing, poor character development, weak acting, ludicrous plot.
½ March 7, 2015
This is a terrible movie. It was worse when compared to other great movies by Studio Ghibli such as "Princess Mononoke" or "Castle In the Sky" or Any of the other Movies. It was even worse than the previously worst Studio Ghibli film that I had watched: "Pom Poko". So what is so bad about this movie? Everything except the animations.

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.
½ March 7, 2015
Tales From Earthsea was released by Studio Ghibli in 2006 and was directed by Goro Miyazaki, who is the son of the great Hayao Miyazaki. It was based upon a set of books and short stories in the "Earthsea" series by Ursula K. Le Guin. The film tells the story of young Arren, son of the king, who steals his father's sword, attempting to murder him, and running away from home. Along the way, he encounters a wizard named Sparrowhawk who takes him under his wing. During this time, dragons have been seen in the air fighting each other, signifying an unbalance in the world. Arren must confront his fears if he is going to be able to fight against this unbalance and help to restore it with the help of Sparrowhawk and a mysterious young girl. Tales From Earthsea, in all honesty, is a less than stellar title in the Studio Ghibli line-up. It's one of the only truly fantastical movies that the company has ever released that didn't have a deeper meaning to it. Movies like Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle had much more depth to their characters and situations than this film, which is why I found to be a nearly total bore. I found myself yawning while watching it many times, waiting for something much more interesting to happen than standard fantasy fodder. I never really got that. The only character who comes close to having any depth is with the young girl Therru, and even her backstory is pretty standard for this type of story. As always in the Studio Ghibli films, Tales From Earthsea is beautiful to look at. The animation is some of the best that you're likely to find in any of their films, but the overall product feels hollow. It feels as if somebody was playing The Legend of Zelda or reading Eragon one day and decided to make an animated film in that vein. I can't say that for sure, of course, and it's very accusatory, but it certainly comes across that way to me. It's just another one of those epic fantasy films that feels pointlessly epic. There's no real threat to the characters at any time in the story. The only time it comes close to that is when Sparrowhawk leaves his home, leaving Arren, Therru, and Tenar exposed to Hare and the slavers. And, of course, that scene doesn't really go anywhere. Nothing happens, and everyone is perfectly fine. Poor dramatics will give me a reason to yawn every time. In the end, it's all a matter of preference really. Some people enjoy straight up fantasy without the need for standard dramatics, but not this person. I need a little more investment in the story to keep me interested. I need more from my characters than one dimensional dynamics. Sure it's lovely to look at, but there's got to be more to it than that. So Tales From Earthsea is a total miss for me. I love and adore nearly all of the films Studio Ghibli has released, but this falls at the bottom of the list for me. I felt nothing while watching it, which is the worst kind of movie to me.
February 2, 2015
Dark and gritty, yet bold and vibrant, it certainly has a lot of likable features. The setup is pretty solid and I don't mind a film that takes its time building up to its climax, but after all that, I was a tad disappointed by the ending. The theme was well-portrayed for the most part, but everything else just fell apart around it. And what was with all the dragon stuff?! Too many unanswered questions and not enough payoff. Great animation though.
½ February 1, 2014
Good animated movie overall in this Dark tale from Studio Ghibli that teaches you about the balance of life & death
½ November 1, 2010
I can see how some people are wary of this film, but it gets more negative response than it deserves. Tales From Earthsea doesn't do the greatest job at unfolding its story to greater potential, given that it does have a good story with good characters, and a great opening that leaves many questions and hooks you in. It's a good Ghibli film no matter how you put it, but I can see how the ending wasn't quite up to scale with what the rest of the film had built up, and some questions left either unanswered or even more ambiguous (like the dragons...). I'd watch this one again, but for the sake of slow pacing and not really being up to the heights of Hayao's works (a good effort nonetheless), it does rank in the lower-end of Studio Ghibli films, which at the same time is barely a bad thing at all given that I don't hate or really dislike any Ghibli films even when they've been at their... well, least-best. Don't raise any expectations for yourself on this one, but don't skip this one either.
July 18, 2012
The major problem with this film is that while the animation, writing and cast are all fantastic, the ending is what completely ruins this film. I was completely sucked in for most of this film but what happens in the climax is so remarkably stupid that it ruins the experience. I'd watch it again because, as I said the first hour and 20 minutes is really good, it's just the last 20 minutes that kill it. It's what keeps it from being one of Studio Ghibli's best
½ December 21, 2014
In most Studio Ghibili films one can grasp the tone of the film from the first five to ten minutes. This however, is the one misleading example as the opening promises a grand adventure full of mystical creatures and nail biting action, while the rest of the movie is just boring and forgettable.
May 3, 2012
Gor? Miyazaki, the son of master storyteller Hayao Miyazaki, makes his directorial debut with "Tales of Earthsea," a fantasy adventure based on a series of books that the studio been wanting to adapt. His debut is a nice start and a good first step on following his father's footsteps, including attempting to duplicate the "Princess Mononoke" experience of the dark fantasy approach from Ghibli. But there's one thing Gor? Miyazaki was unable to duplicate: the fun Ghibli magic.

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)
½ December 1, 2014
It got a much harder rap due to the fact that it came from Studio Ghibli, yet was directed by first-time director, the son of Hayao Miyazaki.

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?'
½ April 7, 2011
As a fan of fantasy media, I enjoyed the mystic adventure of these shallow characters. The plot did move quite slow throughout, like everyone was dragging their feet. I believe that there should have been more magic than mystery, but keep the epic scenery and this film would have been a beautiful addition to the Ghibli series.
July 4, 2014
Definitely not as bad as some people make it out to be. While Tales from Earthsea is by no means one of Studio Ghibli's best films, I don't think it deserves the poor reputation that it has received. I haven't read the books that the film is based on, which I've heard can change your view on the film itself since it apparently deviates from the source material, so I can't comment on that. I really enjoyed the animation in here (moments like the view of Hort Town towards the beginning and both the sunsets and landscapes were stunning to look at), I liked the characters, the voice acting was really good (especially Timothy Dalton and Willem Dafoe, who I thought were both great in their respective roles), the music score was nice along with some moments of atmosphere and I really liked the serious tone to the film. While the film can be a little bit slow (although I'm used to the slower pacing of some other Ghibli films) and it does lack the epic feel of Laputa, Mononoke and Nausicaa, I still thought Tales from Earthsea was a really good start from Miyazaki's son Goro Miyazaki, who would later direct From Up on Poppy Hill, which was even better. Check it out and see if you like it, especially if you were put off from some of the reviews.
September 10, 2014
Review In A Nutshell:

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.
½ June 9, 2014
Tales from Earthsea is a typical Studio Ghibli fantasy. It looks unbelievable, it has sweeping, grandiose music, it has good themes, and a strong female lead. If it's a typical Studio Ghibli fantasy, then why isn't this better received? Well it doesn't mesh all these elements together perfectly is why. Nonetheless I enjoyed it and I look forward to whatever Goro Miyazaki does next.
June 23, 2014
You're better off with "Spirited Away", "My Neighbor Totoro", or "Princess Mononoke."
June 22, 2014
OK, so according to Rotten Tomatoes this is the only Studio Ghibli film to not be considered "fresh". Tales from Earthsea sits at a paltry 41%..I don't entirely agree with it, but I can definitely see why people think this is the "worse" Studio Ghibli film. Goro Miyazaki takes over directorial duties from his father for this film and his rookie entrance kind of shows. The film is based on the Earthsea books which are very relatable to the Shannara series in my opinion by Terry Brooks. The movie follows a mysterious young man named Arren (Matt Levin) who has almost a split personality because of his inability to see the purpose in life (kinda weird right?). Without spoiling it an atrocious action leads Arren to flee his homeland. He runs into the Archmage Sparrowhawk (Timothy Dalton) who protects young Arren and brings him on his own journey into investigating reports of Dragons showing up in the area. Meanwhile, evil wizard Cob (Willem Dafoe) seeks revenge of Sparrowhawk and uses Arren as bait to ultimately destroy them all. The film also features voice work from Mariska Hargitay, Cheech Marin and Blaire Restaneo. The animation is amazing! I really enjoyed how beautiful everything looked like. One thing that just kept hitting me was that since I was not a fan, nor did I have any knowledge of the books I felt like I was missing out. Characters have a lot of backstory that just never develops, actions of the characters especially Arren are never fully explained and its confusing as hell. The action sequences are cool, but there is so little character development that by the end of the film I just didn't care what happened. It would have been nice if this had been expanded to perhaps a trilogy and everything flowed better. Overall, it's still worth a look!
June 22, 2014
was expecting a different movie, but still was good , although at some point the story started to lack a bit in interest
½ August 5, 2011
Okay. In every sense of the word. Okay.
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