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Tales From Earthsea

An anime film from Studio Ghibli

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An inferior work from the son of Hayao Miyazaki.

  • Apr 10, 2011
** out of ****

Hayao Miyazaki has collaborated with Studio Ghibli and made some of the best animated features out there. "Spirited Away" is one of my favorite films, as well as one of the very best in the animated category. Now, his son has begun to direct. His name is Goro Miyazaki, and he continues his dad's legacy by working with the same Animation Studio, and of course, still working with Anime. But why wouldn't he? That's a question that does not need to be answered. If you want a question that NEEDS to be answer, then consider my questioning of just how much young Goro inherited from his father. His first film, "Tales from Earthsea", is an adaptation of a series of novels (something that the Miyazaki's are not exactly new to). It has some dazzling images, solid (if not inferior) animation, and breezy story-telling and characters. That's great and all, but Goro is not his dad; and it shows. But he doesn't want to be. This is merely an ambitious new animated mind using whatever technology he has at his disposal. He uses it well; his film looks good. But Hayao Miyazaki is a great story-teller; while Goro Miyazaki...just isn't. This film captures the lesser fascinating side of Western Animation; the side that I tend to avoid. What I expected was an interesting and entertaining animated debut from the son of Hayao Miyazaki, but what I got was ultimately nothing short of a boring, tedious, mostly uninvolving, and essentially generic Anime feature-film that should have been saved for a two-hour television block. It would have worked better there.

This film advertises itself being about dragons; with a DVD cover and a surplus of posters featuring a dragon, as well as many synopsis' detailing the story (in a brief matter) to be about dragons and dragonology. While there are some dragons in this film, they don't show up enough for the flick to be all about them. What "Tales from Earthsea" is about: a journey lead by a sorcerer and a young boy. They find solace at a farm-house, whilst trying to avoid some authorities who are sent out by the villain of the story.

The problem here is not the pacing; the film moves along breezily enough for most viewers to get some enjoyment out of it. But what this film lacks is the characters and complexity that you'd expect out of a film directing by Hayao Miyazaki's son. None of the characters here strike me as memorable, worth-my-time, or particularly clever. The story itself is just way too simplistic, and lacks the themes of loss, love, fantasy, and magic that inhabited past Studio Ghibli films. This one isn't bad, but there's not enough back-up from direction or vision to give it that extra kick that it ever-so needed.

I won't deny that "Tales from Earthsea" looks fine. Studio Ghibli has some damn good animators, and while the animation here isn't as fascinating as the animation on display in Hayao Miyazaki's films, there are some good images to be found here. None of them are memorable, and of course, none of them are whimsical or artistic. But I do like what this film is at least trying to do; it just doesn't deliver that rich visual or emotional experience that Hayao Miyazaki's works tend to deliver. This film is not sad, beautiful, or tragic enough to be good or memorable. It's a decent movie, and can be entertaining, but for the most part it was uninvolving to the core. I have no problem with "Tales from Earthsea", and I see that there was effort put into it, but something about it just didn't feel right; and that was enough for me to lose a good amount of my animated appetite.

*I should also mention that this film has some fine voice-work support from Timothy Dalton and Willem Dafoe. The voice-work doesn't save the film, per se, but it's a nice touch. And as always, the dubbing doesn't suck big-time, which is always good, right?

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More Tales From Earthsea reviews
review by . March 31, 2013
posted in ASIANatomy
What a disjointed mess of a film this is. Studio Ghibli has made a handful of sub par films in the past, nothing bad just a few films that don't quite live up to their incredibly high standards. For a studio with such an outstanding track record its hard for me to fathom how this film was made. Did they think that just because they got the son of Hayao Miyazaki to direct it that it would turn out to be gold? The story is all over place, it takes forever to get going, and to top it off its main character …
review by . October 05, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   Title: Tales From Earthsea   Director: Goro Miyazaki   Starring: Timothy Dalton, Willem DaFoe   Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   Studio: Studio Ghibli   Genre(s): Fantasy   Rated:       (For some violent images)     Buy From DVD / BluRay / Soundtrack [IMPORT] / Novel    Studio Ghibli’s “Tales From Earthsea” has had a long and hectic road. Years ago Academy Award-winning …
review by . May 25, 2011
posted in ASIANatomy
Tales From Earthseais a film that is loosely based on a combination of plots and characters from the first four books in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series.  The film was directed by Goro Miyazaki, the son of Hayao Miyazaki.      At the beginning of the film, drought and pestilence is spreading throughout the land.  The main character of the film is Arren, and he is the prince of the land.  Arren murders his father, takes his sword, and runs away.  …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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