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Tales From Earthsea

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Tales From Earthsea - 8/8/2007 11:00:44 AM   
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- 8/8/2007 11:00:44 AM   


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Tales from Earthsea, the new feature released by Studio Ghibli, was directed and co-written by Goro Miyazaki, son of the studio’s primary auteur and widely acclaimed genius, Hayao Miyazaki. Earthsea is Goro’s debut at the helm, and therefore is thrust in the spotlight as a marker of his ‘worthiness’ to his father. The film has received mixed reviews, garnering overwhelming support in Japan and a slightly cautious welcome elsewhere. Indeed, detractors may say that momentum secures Earthsea’s domestic success on studio name alone, as previous Ghibli movies have successively broken gross and attendance records. However, such a view should also take into account its flipside, that fans in Europe and in the US, treating Ghibli as an ‘arthouse’ alternative to Disney and other mainstream animation films, may savage Earthsea and its young, still-learning-the-ropes director for simply not living up to his father’s precedent, for not delivering on the momentum. This is, in a way, is a shame, because Tales from Earthsea, while certainly not a masterpiece in the Ghibli mould, has too much to commend to be rejected and dismissed.

Miyazaki shows his inexperience in the story. Adapted from an English language fantasy novel, Earthsea chimes with previous Ghibli films, such as its immediate predecessor Howl’s Moving Castle. However, Le Guin’s source material, epic and widely spanning in its own right, is reduced to a frustrating cipher, in which a hodgepodge of characters and setpieces merely fill stereotypical roles in telling an immaterial and at times confusing story.

The film runs close to the two hour mark, yet I left the cinema feeling that little has been told. The film’s first act, which introduces the world of Earthsea, quickly seems irrelevant, as such tantalising plotpoints as duelling dragons, a deteriorating climate and dwindling magic power are cast aside,. A vague environmental message is attempte

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- 8/8/2007 5:08:02 PM   


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Whilst the full potential of this film was never realised, and story became somewhat confusing towards the end, it is certainly worth seeing for some truely stunning visual moments and imaginative ideas, as well as one of the most amazing soundtracks I've ever heard.

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Tales From Earthsea - 11/8/2007 4:46:44 PM   


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Anyone who knows their anime will know about the team behind this latest release, the mighty Studio Ghibli. Lesser well known is the director, Goro Miyazaki (son of head honcho, Hayao). The signs are initially encouraging. The opening half an hour reminded me of early Ghibli masterpieces, Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind & Laputa - the epic scope, a land in decline, a young hero/heroine with a mission of discovery ahead of them... However, Tales From Earthsea then takes a bit of a nosedive into predictable tweeness, and it pains me to say so as I am as big a fan of all things Ghibli as the next anime fan, and was very much looking forward to this. The first half of the film promises so much and the second half just does not deliver at all. From setting up this epic world of Earthsea, with the opening dragon fight, to Sparrowhawk's introduction wandering the wastes between wrecks of old ships to the fantastic looking Hort Town - the film then camps down in a flippin' old farm hut! Even Lord Cob's fortress, underwhelming as it is, cannot lift things. Mentioning Lord Cob, I cannot think of a more disappointing villain in recent Ghibli films - painfully effete to the point of blandness, his design flaws are exposed in comparison to the charismatic Sparrowhawk. Plot threads introduced in the opening scenes (the plight gripping the land of Earthsea, magic users forgetting their spells, the relationship between Prince Arren and his father...) are not fully explained or successfully developed. I haven't read the books, but on the strength (or rather weakness) of this adaptation, I am not tempted to do so. Goro has a lot to learn, but I cannot think of a more perfect teacher than his father. A Ghibli film is always worth making the effort to go and see, and Tales is invariably a spectacular feast for the eyes, and the music is excellent too. It just all feels like a case of the could-have-beens.

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RE: Tales From Earthsea - 31/8/2007 10:20:06 AM   

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Saw it yesterday and not expecting much following the iffy reviews but have never missed a Ghibli yet so there was never a question of me not seeing it.

Tales of Earthsea could be to Studio Ghibli what Cars was to Pixar, a good film that got a critical kicking because the tabloid journos think that the studio deserves one after making so many good films. Like Cars, Earthsea isn't perfect but it's a lot better than the reviews say and if you're a fan of the previous work then there's much to keep you enthralled and entertained here.

Great animation (Hort Town is stunning) and beautifully scored, this is less humorous than other recent Ghibli outings (no comedy animals here although the cowardly chief of police raises some laughs) and as the previous reviewer states some potentially interesting sub plots disappear and Lord Cob isn't the most interesting of villians.

However, the heroes are likeable enough to really root for and there's enough sublime touches to keep you hooked throughout. Looks like the Ghibli dynasty is in good hands after all. 

4 out of 5.



Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, "I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead." Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead.

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Long To Get On With. - 3/2/2008 10:25:37 AM   
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From: Bexhill
Tales From Earthsea is a visually stunning beauty with rich colurs and beautiful art work. But the bad thing about it was it took so long to get on with and when it did, it was the best and really scary scenes of the bad guy played by Willem Defoe. He was evil, I'm quite surpised it got away with a PG because of the blood, the dark story and his evil face. It's not as got as Oscar winner Sprited Away or my fave Howl's Moving Castle but it's a good one that isn't the main guy on the camera seat, I think he did a three star job.

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A lil too long but still worthy of Ghibli - 4/2/2008 12:52:46 PM   

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My only problem with this film is that it may be a little too long. However, having only seen it once this may change after having seen it a couple more times. The film is far darker than most Ghibli works which is good as it offers something new to Studio Ghibli. Goro does a good job of directing his first feature and although the film has flaws he has the potential to work towards greatness that his father has shown. Goro is his father's son but he is also clearly a darker character which is reflected in this film. To say some of it is scary is an understatment. The music and the look of the film is truly stunning and beautiful...if anything you should watch it just for that. 


Et In Arcadia Ego

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