Tales from Earthsea (2006)

Tales from Earthsea Movie Review

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Tales from Earthsea Movie Review

Tales from Earthsea is a 2006 fantasy anime film directed by Goro Miyazaki. It is not one of Studio Ghibli’s strongest films, but still a solid fantasy.

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But only to men is it given to know that we must die,

and that is a precious gift

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Tales from Earthsea Movie Review

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It is based on the book by Ursula K. Le Guin and that is evident, especially near the end. The film suffers from being too short. Yes, it is a two-hour long film, but I had the impression that it was ridiculously rushed at times and obviously trimmed for movie treatment. It is an overly epic and detailed story that needed more time to develop properly.

But thankfully the first half is slower in pace and particularly engaging. To me that is the highlight of the film as it flowed really well, it was very involving to watch and quite mystical and magical. But the film definitely stumbles near the end with a somewhat abrupt conclusion and rushed approach at concluding this story. The plot holes are sometimes evident too.

I loved that Tales from Earthsea is a period piece but with magic, wizards and dragons. It is an epic fantasy work which is surprisingly mature and brutal for a Studio Ghibli film which usually does not go into such dark territories. The film is at its core about death and it is has a pro-life message which was great. It also has some inevitable environmental themes. But it also includes drugs, attempted rape and violence which was unexpected, but well done for the most part. The ripping of the arm was unnecessary and too brutal though…

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Tales from Earthsea Movie Review

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Let’s talk about the characters. The character development here is surprisingly solid for such a maligned Ghibli film which is not great, but certainly not bad as the studio never made a bad film and this one is perfectly solid and quite underrated. I found Prince Arren to be a very strong and not too heroic protagonist which I always appreciate.

I wanted more from Sparrowhawk. He was so cool, but he never got enough action sequences unfortunately. The henchmen were goofy but memorable and those two gossipy women were hilarious. I liked Tenar and I loved that Therry was the savior in the end. She really got a moment to shine in the end which was great.

As for Lord Cob, he is your typical gender-bending anime villain, but those always work and he truly is one of the standouts here. He was so well animated and designed and with such a creepy voice. His quest for immortality is typical but still well realized. And he is just a very menacing presence felt throughout the entire film.

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Tales from Earthsea Movie Review

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Tales from Earthsea is gorgeously animated. Not as artistic as some earlier Ghibli efforts, but still beautiful to watch and absolutely magnificent at times. The attention to detail is expectedly spectacular, I loved the English look of the towns and villages and both the imagery and action sequences were terrifically animated.

The action is very good here and not at all excessive. The end battle was very memorable, but rushed. The pacing is off as at first the film is slow but later on it becomes somewhat abrupt. The direction from Goro Miyazaki is obviously problematic as this is his first effort, but still he showed promise here. The voice acting is terrific, the dialogue is solid but somewhat standard. The standout remains the villain, that beautiful song that stops the film at the middle and of course the entire interesting first half.

Tales from Earthsea is definitely problematic in direction and pacing. It has familiar themes and it is obviously overly rushed in its second half which is much weaker than the first one. But still for a much proclaimed “worst Studio Ghibli film”, it is actually pretty solid and not bad at all. The animation is frequently gorgeous, the first half is very interesting, the action sequences are excellent, the film is admirably dark in tone and the characterization is quite good with the villain being very memorable and menacing.

My Rating – 3.5

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Posted in 2000s, 2006, Animated, ANIME, Fantasy, FILM DECADES, Foreign, Japanese, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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