Gedo senki (Tales from Earthsea) Reviews
It can be a little confusing as far as the unexplained parts of magic and madness go, but this is more an emotional coming of age story than a narrative.
While not as powerful as Spirited Away, Tales from EarthSea does an admirable job about the conflicts boys go through when becoming men and the balance between life and death along with good and evil. While it may not explain everything, it doesn't have to.
A must see for growing boys.
The film opens up with a ship at sea during a storm, in which the crew members witness an unprecedented event of two dragons fighting each other, with one dragon killing the other, which is viewed as a bad omen of sorts.
Things take a worse turn when the King of Enland hears of this news, which is combined with the news of droughts, pestilence, people going insane, and that his own son, Prince Arren, has gone missing. With this news, it is feared that the world's balance is about to become imbalanced.
And as the king is wandering through one of the corridors the castle, he is inexplicably assassinated by his own son, Prince Arren, who then flees the scene, leaving his father to die.
Arren then spends his time wandering the land which is falling into disarray from these events that are occurring, until one day he is being pursued by wolves in the desert and is saved by Archmage Sparrowhawk, who takes him under his wing as a sort of apprentice.
As they journey together, they visit Hort Town, which also serves as a place of slave trade, and the two must remain low-key while in the area. However, Arren encounters slave traders trying to take a young girl named Therru, which causes him to unleash his dark side that doesn't care about life and can be quite terrifying, which manages to ward off the slave traders, but incenses the girl who doesn't like people who don't care about life.
Later, he is eventually captured by the same slave traders that he scared off, and then has to be rescued by Sparrowhawk, who takes him to a secluded farm owned by a woman named Tenar, who is taking care of the mysterious girl that Arren rescued. Arren and Sparrowhawk spend their time working on the farm, hiding from the slave traders who are after them, including the insidious Lord Cob (Who has a big stake in the slave trade) who wants them captured, especially Sparrowhawk since he is an old rival.
Soon, thanks to Lord Cob and his forces, Arren will be forced to save those he cares about, while being forced to confront his dark side which torments him so much, while also learning to appreciate his own life, regardless of the terrible mistakes he has made as he confronts a powerful evil.
The storyline I felt was rather interesting, even though I felt that at some points it could have done more to explore its characters, especially the troubled Arren who struggles with his dark side and how he doesn't seem to value his own life. Still, despite a few minor setbacks, I felt that it was a compelling fantasy world that was presented, especially with the characters that are center stage in this story. For the most part, the story does a good job of establishing their relationships, and laying out their conflicts, especially as they are tested in the face of such evil, and other strange things are revealed (Especially Therru's character). While the story doesn't always get around to explaining things, there's a lot going on in this story, which I felt was compelling and at times, even emotional when it spoke about the meanings of life and other topics.
The acting is also quite solid. Or, at least, for the Japanese voice track. I have not watched this film in English, because I'm a purist bastard who prefers films in their original, intended language. So therefore, I cannot comment on the quality of the all-star English voice cast. That being said, the Japanese voice-acting is top notch, and provided the necessary life and depth that I craved from the characters and their complex problems. The performances were believable and soulful, as well, making for an interesting, compelling, and emotional fantasy film that gripped me from start to finish.
As far as entertainment goes, I felt that this film had a lot to say about valuing one's life, while also creating an intriguing fantasy world that I was eager to learn more about thanks to the well developed and complex characters. I certainly don't agree with the detractors who say that the characters are bland and uninteresting. I thought they had a lot of interesting qualities, with each one feeling unique to each other, or how the plot played out the dynamics between Arren and Therru. Granted, the storyline does feel a tad condensed at times, and I wish that it had been given a longer running time to flesh out all its ideas and characters. But, despite any minor nitpicking, I found it to be an engaging, emotionally-charged, and beautiful fantasy film.
Tales From Earthsea does not deserve the bad reviews that it gets. It's much better than you've been led to believe. It's easily one of the most underrated films of the century, and I hope in future years it will get the appreciation it deserves. I can't guarantee that you'll like it, but I urge you to give it a fair chance before dismissing it. I think it's a fantastic, beautiful fantasy film.
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.