So I've been away for a while for reasons that would bore you so I won't go on but I'm back and that's all that matters(to me anyway).
I recently had a chance to sit down with a friend and watch Tales from Earthsea. I knew that the author and the fans of the books were displeased with it but figured people can be really nitpicky with adaptions. I mean I love P4 and yet that's all I did during it's TV adaption. However in this case I'm inclined to agree with them as this movie is atrocious. The pacing is plodding,the plot is a mess,and the animation feels phoned in.
The film is directed by Goro Miyazaki as opposed to his father,Hayao and this is the only movie he would direct till 2011's From Up On Poppy Hill which I have not seen. Based on a series of fantasy novel by Ursula L. Guin. Specifically the Wizard of Earthsea cycle which features Ged. That's all I'll say about the books as I really haven't read them. Let's get to talking about this movie then.
The movie opens with a scene off a Dio album cover with two dragons fighting then cuts to a long scene about politics that ends with the king stabbed by one of the main characters,Arren. Both scenes are not brought up again. After that it finally decided to pick a damn scene and cuts to Arren getting saved by Ged. All of this happens in a rather short span and I had no idea what was going on. After a while I really wished we went back to jumping around scene as being confused would have been better that being bored. Events happen that have no meaning,the action has no stakes,and the film just wanders. It's like the middle of Eva 3.33 except uninteresting and twice as long. There is a lack of purpose and as a result nothing happens. It spends time on a crappy romance subplot between Arren and this girl who lives with Ged's friend. The have the chemistry of a pair of redwoods and they just sort of fall for each other after she sings a terrible song. This whole thing culminates in a ending scene where she turns into a dragon. By the time this happened I just wanted the movie to be over and never questioned it.
The actual plot is even more boring and concerns a evil wizard who wants to live for ever and magic being dead. Everything is poorly explained and glossed over. There is something about Arren fighting his shadow that just seems to be thrown in and takes up more of the movies long run time. The film runs for about two hours but felt like almost four due to the horrendously slow pace. So the story is like your father on Wednesday afternoons: rambling,stupid,and awful at his job. If the story is the father then the characters learned being terrible from watching it.
All the characters are flat as the disc that the movie is on and also just as uninteresting. The villain has a poor immortality obsession,Ged's character is non-existent and most everyone else is bland. Arren whom I guess is supposed to be out main character has an arc that is schizophrenic. First dealing with the aforementioned shadow malarkey and then he has an obsession with living forever. It would help if I had any idea of these character's motivations and sense of them as people. However I don't so I don't. My friend and I decided early on that most likeable character was Arren's horse and rooted for him the whole time. We dubbed him Donkey punch and hoped he would save the day. Just saying when the horse is the best character,you are doing something wrong
To the movie's credit,there are are two good scenes that are frankly wasted on this movie and both involving Ged. One where he gives a wondrous speech about valuing life and why immortality is foolish. Had this film been in a better films it would have skyrocketed to greatness. However it's in this movie so it just fizzles out. Th second is a funny moment where Ged trolls the guards looking for him with magic that is hilarious. Again if this would have made a good move shine but nope wasted on this tripe.
I mentioned that the animation seemed phoned in and while I do stick by that, it does not mean it looks bad. It actually looks really good and flows really well. That being said it really has nothing special about it. They seemed to take the visual style from Howl's Moving Castle instead of giving it it's own look. Nothing really amazing but perfectly serviceable. There is a randomly violent scene that just comes straight out of no where near the end. It's really jarring as the film was pretty tame up to then.
So as we reach the end,what have we learned:probably nothing of value. However if we are talking about pointless things then it would be that this movie is bad and it should feel bad. Go watch a good Ghibl film or heck read the books,anything to avoid this garbage. I only hope that the director learned form his mistakes and did better with From Up On Poppy Hill.
Until next time Stay Positive