"Tales From Earthsea"
Review by: Doug Nau
Directed by: Goro Miyazaki
Produced by: Toshio Suzuki
Written by: Gorō Miyazaki
Based loosely on the first four in the book series by: Ursula K. Le Guin "A Wizard of Earthsea", "The Tombs of Atuan", "The Farthest Shore", & "Tehanu"
Starring: (original Japanese)
Queen: Yui Natsukawa
Cob: Yūko Tanaka
Score Composed by: Tamiya Terashima
Tales From Earthsea loosely based on a combination of plots and characters from the first four books of Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea series. Something bizarre has come over Earthsea. The kingdom is deterioring. People are beginning to act strange... what's beginning to see dragons, which shouldn't enter the world of humans. Due to all these events, Ged (also known as "Sparrowhawk") (Bunta Sugawara), (Timothy Dalton), a wandering wizard, is investigating the cause. During his journey, he rescues Prince Arren (Okada Junichi), (Matt Levin), a young distraught teen-aged boy. While Arren may look like a shy young teen, he has a severe dark side, which grants strength, hatred, ruthlessness and has no mercy, as he flees from home. He then joins Sparrowhawk on the quest, and moving closer to their intertwined destinies, they cross path with Tenar (Jun Fubuki), (Mariska Haragitay), a former priestess, and her disfigured adopted daughter Therru (Aoi Teshima), (Blaire Restaneo). With Sparrowhawk's magical powers, all of them must band together to defeat the evil Cob (Yuko Tanaka), (Willem Dafoe) and his henchman Hare (Teruyuki Kagawa), (Cheech Marin) before Cob's mania to immortality destroys Earthsea.
The story is by no means bad at all, but it's not perfect, my main problem with the movie was Arren's motives at the beginning. I don't want to tell what he does but it wasn't executed well as there's a lot of other stuff happening before the moment that we didn't get a enough time to develop his character's motives so it wasn't so rushed. But as the plot progress it becomes more fleshed out and rather complex in themes and its underlining messages, as it deals with immortality, and facing the consequences of ones actions that the story's narrative feels very poetically told. I have watched both Japanese with English subtitles and English version and in my opinion are excellent voice casts, as for which is better really depends because I personally prefer the Willem Dafoe deep and chilling voice for Cob over the original because he sounded like a girl when he's not a women, yeah a bit of a miss cast for the Japanese's but the rest are so fantastic I especially loved Aoi Teshima as Therru, the English Therru is wonderful to, who both show off their sweet and beautiful voices, as they sing a very lovely song in the movie.
The animation and visuals are breathtakingly gorgeous, some truly splendid spectacle. I especially liked the dragon sequences towards the end of the movie, it's so beautifully animated and a very touching moment with Arren and the dragon. The score composed by Tamiya Terashima is so epic and some truly stunning melodies.My favorite tracks for the soundtrack are "Disaster:Dragon", "Haitaka: Runaway", "Journey", "Clouds", "Man of the Land", "Parting: Fear of Shadows", "Extortion: The Temptation of Immortality", "True Name: Awaking", and "Fire of Life".The as I told about early in this review "Therru's song" is a truly beautiful song especially it's Japanese version.
So overall while Miyazaki's son attempt to his father's legacy is a great effort, not quite up to standards to his father but still a worthy addition to the Ghibli canon. The animation is so vibrantly stunning and beautifully drawn, and the score is some of the best I've ever heard. Although, the beginning of the movie felt really rushed but the rest of the movie is actually really good. This is by far one of the most underrated movie. It's not perfect and also very dark and dreary film, but still an enjoyable experience for fans of Studio Ghibli.