After seeing the entire series, I wasted no time in buying this. From what I'd heard, this was a let down to many Escaflowne fans. But not me!
Although Folken was my favourite character in the series, I loved him in the movie too, even with his drastic character changes. He's been given a new look, (as well as a right arm!) and also a new motive. Making his character appear pretty arrogant. But with such a beautiful (in my opinion) character design and outstanding VA (Paul Dobson) and seiyuu (Johji Nakata), I couldn't help but love him!
Hitomi was easier to like too. I found her annoying in the series, but she had been given a makeover as well as a new outlook on life this time around.
Drastic changes in the storyline? Yeah, but often these were changes to things that put people off the original series. For a start there is the whole fate-altering thing. Dornkirk has been totally left out in the movie and I think that is a definate improvement.
However this also means Dilandau has no background (Celena) other then "Roaming with wild dogs." Good or bad, you can make up your own mind.
Other changes? People with Dragon-clan (draconian in the series) blood have psychic powers, and Hitomi's pendant does VERY little. Also tarot cards. What tarot cards?
This isn't a continuation. And it isn't merely a re-telling. I my opinion, it is an improvement. Don't get me wrong, I loved the series, but I felt that Dornkirk (Isaac Newton? Gimme a break ¬_¬) was a dumb idea.
And other then Dornkirk and Celena/Serena, fans of specific characters shouldn't worry. I can't recall any major character's being left out, whether or not they are portrayed differently.
So, to end, this is a typical beautiful anime, which also happens to remind me of Final Fantasy... And a must for anyone wanting a decent story with interesting characters! BUY IT NOW!