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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life and death
"Tales from Earthsea" is a Miyazaki movie. Just not THE Miyazaki.

No, this extremely loose adaptation of Ursula le Guin's Earthsea series is directed by Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro Miyazaki. And it has the earmarks of a promising first effort -- the visuals are hauntingly lovely, the dialogue is sometimes beautiful, and there's raw passion in its making. But...
Published on 25 Aug 2011 by E. A Solinas

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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing but not all bad
Having read, and loved, the books on which this film was based, I had very high hopes for it. Unfortunately, I left the cinema feeling a little disappointed.

Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea is a grand and deeply moving epic, and none of this really came across in the film. Parts of it were brilliant, but I agree with the reviewer who said the end of the film doesn't...
Published on 2 Feb 2008 by H. Barter


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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing but not all bad, 2 Feb 2008
By 
H. Barter "fantasy fan" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tales From Earthsea [DVD] (DVD)
Having read, and loved, the books on which this film was based, I had very high hopes for it. Unfortunately, I left the cinema feeling a little disappointed.

Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea is a grand and deeply moving epic, and none of this really came across in the film. Parts of it were brilliant, but I agree with the reviewer who said the end of the film doesn't live up to the promise of the beginning, with major themes and ideas left unexplored and questions left unanswered. The potential in the source material was squandered leaving me with a feeling of 'what might have been'. I really think that if they'd followed the book more closely they'd have ended up with a better film.

On the whole, I think it was a fair first effort for Goro. For me, the film was better than some of Ghibli's other works, and overall I do like it. It's certainly worth buying for any Ghibli fan, and shouldn't disappoint too badly (even my non-Ghibli-fan friend loved it). For those who haven't already done so, do read the books, they're fantastic!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The magic was missing.., 27 April 2008
By 
Rosemary Harris (Coventry) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tales From Earthsea [DVD] (DVD)
This is an incredibly well animated film, just what you'd expect from Ghibli, but it just did not hold the same magic that most Ghibli films has done. I felt it was quite western in its storyline which may have something to do with it. The first Ghibli I saw was Princess Monoke, shortly followed by Spirited Away, and I was enchanted from the very start. I've seen several more and loved them all, but I just wasn't taken with this one. 3 stars for the usual quality but I probably won't watch it again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad... But Something's Missing..., 16 Oct 2008
By 
JEY (Largs, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Tales From Earthsea [DVD] (DVD)
I've never read the books, so I was watching this with absolutely no expectations on that score. I got the impression it was about dragons and the decline of wizards and so on. However, it also became clear that for a film about a mystical world full of wonder, it sure kinda skimped on the magic. And plotline.

The main character totally reminded me of Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion. He had that whole Emo Boy routine going for him. It really annoyed me that the consequences of his crime was never really addressed. Gee, wouldn't there be like a WHOLE kingdom of people out looking for him? And why the heck did he do it in the first place? And what's with that weird berserker rage anyway?

This film left me with a whole lot of questions that it barely answered. Sparrowhawk, although intriguing also came over as a wee bit senile. "Yes, I'll just leave you alone with the rouge slavers running around the city while I pop back to the inn. See ya!" Yeah. Good one, Mr Archmage. The farm witch was all right and the girl was interesting, but their characters were never really developed much and as a result, the climax was more 'bwuh?' than stunning revelation. I would have seriously *killed* for some decent character story background exploration during this movie. (I'm very tempted to read the books now!)

I loved Cob though. He simply oozed with slinky malevolence. Then he just oozed. LOL! The Shadow was nice and creepy too, especially when it was chasing Emo Boy.

The animation was up to its usual excellent Ghibli standard. Stunning landscapes and beautifully rendered bustling cities abound in this feature. There's a pretty good atmospheric music score too. However, I did get the feeling that the movie was all a bit disjointed and unfortunately, decidedly lacked the impact it needed to give Goro Miyazaki's debut work that epic lasting impression he was no doubt gunning for.

Over all, it's not a bad effort. Just kinda average. It's well worth a look, but I'd personally consider it not one to keep, unless you're a die hard Ghibli anime completist.
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112 of 123 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a tale of two miyazaki's, 13 Sep 2007
By 
C. J. Redfearn "reddersss" (reading. uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tales From Earthsea [DVD] (DVD)
Expectations are doubtless high for this - the first Studio Ghibli release since 2005's Howl's Moving Castle; it is also the debuting directorial effort of Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro - a decision which is known to have been the source of much tension between the pair during the film's production.

Tales from Earthsea concerns the plight of Prince Arren - a boy equipped with both shy humility and apoplectic rage as violent as it is ephemeral. Fleeing the palace after a brutal murder, the seemingly cursed Prince finds unlikely companionship in the wizard Sparrowhawk, whom he accompanies on his travels to discover the source of that which is unbalancing the world; disease, poverty and enslavement are proliferating at the hands of an esoteric force, which Sparrowhead will discover emanates from the pernicious machinations of one Lord Cob, who seeks immortality. The two male protagonists come to encounter and reacquaint themselves respectively with female companions, Therru and Tenar, who assist them in their ultimate battle against Lord Cob and his minions.

The film falls very much into the "epic" category of Ghibli's dichotomic catalogue, and allegedly forces the contents of at least three Earthsea books (which, regrettably, I have yet to read) into its duration - a decision which, I feel, results in disjointed pacing: the anti-climatic final battle yawns over a vast chasm of slight tedium, while the more intriguing opening scenes involving the King are danced over with quite unnecessary flourish. Unlike most Ghibli films, there is no fixed setting - the protagonists wander from one settlement to the next, lending a Tolkien-esque quality to proceedings, and allowing for some stunning and varied backdrops; but while the scenery is a sublime as ever, the animation, I feel, suffers from slight inconsistencies - especially noticeable in the final battle scenes (the climatic collapse of the Lord Cob's tower pales in comparison to the collapse of Howl's castle, for example).

Characterisation is the weakest aspect of this film; there are arguably three main characters, each as intriguing but ultimately undeveloped as each other. We learn little of the abused and scarred Therru, the insinuated erstwhile relationship between Sparrowhawk and Tenar is never fully revealed, and the demons that haunt Prince Arren are only explained to superficial levels. Goro Miyazaki has attempted admirably to infuse his film with a miasma of history and magical mysticism, but perhaps he should have derived less content from the books, or expanded one film to more, in preference of revealing more of the world and its inhabitants. Aspects such as the dragons, the concept of True Names, and the Land of the Dead are all referenced with frustrating brevity, while the admittedly interesting pontifications on life and death outstay their welcome; it is such inconsistent focus that mars the film as a whole.

The first half of this film is glorious: the music with its epic recurring theme in varied guises, the scenery, and the potential of the characters render it a pleasure to behold; however, the second half let me down by not fulfilling the promises established in the initial scenes, and what could have been a captivating and magical dive into the ocean of a highly-regarded literary creation feels like nothing more than a pleasurable but short-lived paddle. But it's still Ghibli, so you should still watch it and will still enjoy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tales from the Earthsea, 25 Mar 2008
By 
Hv Wakeford (Rhondda Valley, Wales. UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tales From Earthsea [DVD] (DVD)
hi, i love studio ghibli and the amazing films that Hayao Miyazaki has produced. Unfortunatly i found Tales from the Earthsea lacking in something, and it may be because his son Goro produced this film, and its his first big anime. I found it difficult to keep myself interested in the story line but the visual effects are excellent it has to be said. If you look at the other ghibli films the key people who carry the stories are women, spirited away, howls moving castle (sophie), kiki's delivery service, nausicca:valley of the wind etc these make the stories a breathe of fresh air from the usual male dominace you usually see in films, which is what you see in tales from the earthsea. Dont knock this film until you see it as this reveiw is a personal opinion. On a last note i believe this film is missing the magic and exitement that you get when watching the other ghibli films. Lets hope Goro does have another go at making anime's as he may produce something more special next time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Upsetting the balance, 21 Mar 2009
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tales From Earthsea [DVD] (DVD)
After killing his dad and running away, Arren joins a nomadic wizard and begins a near epic adventure...

..I say 'near' epic because the film looks epic - the visuals on the whole are very good, with towns and the final scene being particularly impressive - but the epic scale is never properly realised. I'm not familiar with the books on which this film is based on, and had I some background knowledge then I might have felt more relaxed with the film. But instead I was left to appreciate the visuals whilst the plot felt a bit thin and not satisfactorily explained.

This film didn't compare well to the previous Ghibli fantasy feature Howl's Moving Castle. 'Howl...' had characters with depth and they stayed with you after the film, whereas Tales From Earthsea failed to use the characters enough and develop them so that you cared for them. There were brief attempts to introduce a history but not enough to ensure they were well rounded.

Ghibli films tend to have a political message, normally anti-war or environmentalism related - here there are serious issues such as child abuse and slavery, yet after a quick mention the issues are abandoned and the impact lost.

This isn't a bad film, were it not a Ghibli film it would no doubt be celebrated as a great fantasy adventure - but it doesn't live up to the expectations built up during the first hour or so. Goro Miyazki stepped into some big shoes when he directed this, and comparisons were always going to be made with his father (who is undoubtedly one of the most creative film makers of the modern age), some of the criticisms of his ability on his debut directorial project seem a bit unfair as this might not be excellent, but it's still a worthy watch.

In a nutshell: Tales From Earthsea doesn't have the rewatch value of many other Studio Ghibli films. The lead character Arran is physically reminiscent of the Little Norse Prince - another animated feature which is a nice little fantasy adventure, but the weakness of this film is simply that doesn't utilise the Ghibli magic of establishing strong characters which draw you in and make you want to watch on. This is something that the studio has turned into an artform (quite literally!) over decades of film making. It does look fantastic however and although the characters haven't stayed with me, I can still picture some of the beautiful buildings and the collapsing brickwork of the tower at the end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life and death, 25 Aug 2011
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tales From Earthsea [DVD] (DVD)
"Tales from Earthsea" is a Miyazaki movie. Just not THE Miyazaki.

No, this extremely loose adaptation of Ursula le Guin's Earthsea series is directed by Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro Miyazaki. And it has the earmarks of a promising first effort -- the visuals are hauntingly lovely, the dialogue is sometimes beautiful, and there's raw passion in its making. But honestly, the story is often confusing.

The archmage Sparrowhawk encounters a young boy named Prince Arren in the desert, and takes him under his wing. Arren is on the run from his own kingdom after committing a horrible crime, and Sparrowhawk is out to find out why magic seems to be draining out of the world, and darkness is creeping into people's hearts.

After some misadventures with slavers, they make their way to Sparrowhawk's friend/love interest Tenar, and her adopted daughter Therru. Unfortunately, the malevolent mage Cob has learned of Sparrowhawk's presence nearby, and plans to use Arren in his quest for eternal life and revenge againt Sparrowhawk... unless Therru can help her friend come to terms with his inner darkness.

For the record, "Tales From Earthsea" is just a stunning movie visually -- ivy-draped cities, azure seaports, dark looming castles against twilight skies, and long sweeping green fields dotted with trees in the morning sun. There's a genuine sense of magic and mystery to this world, and you can really feel the passion that Miyazaki had for his story.

However, the story itself is kind of mixed. The dialogue is strong and often hauntingly powerful ("But only to men is it given to know that we must die, and that is a precious gift"), and the story has some scenes that are . But the narrative is often confusing -- the murky cosmology, undeveloped backstory (what are the tombs of Atuan?), and the whole subplot about Arren is just befuddling.

Most of the story's character development centers on Arren. He seems like a nice polite young boy, but from his very first shocking scene we see that darkness and despair are slowly consuming him. Miyazaki crafts a solid father/son relationship between Arren and Sparrowhawk, and the archmage is also a powerful character -- understanding, forgiving, and universally kind.

Miyazaki also spins up a solid bond between Sparrowhawk and his old friend Tenar, who have the comfortable feel of an old married couple. Therru is flawed, though -- she's not really fleshed out much, and she does something near the movie's end that left me scratching my head. It wasn't really foreshadowed or hinted at -- it just happens.

As for the villain Cob... uh, he seems like just a pallid effeminate villain at first, but he gets progressively creepier as we see more of him. Example: the scene where he slips Arren a roofie to get his true name. That was... disturbing.

Goro Miyazaki isn't the master that his father is, but there is still plenty of power, beauty and promise in his movie debut, "Tales From Earthsea." It's kind of confusing (especially if you've never read the books), but a worthy anime.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uninspired mangling of a classic, 7 Oct 2008
By 
Nicholas B. Hilligoss (Oakleigh, Victoria Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tales From Earthsea [DVD] (DVD)
I haved loved both Ursula Le Guin's books and most of Studio Ghibli's films, and this film does justice to neither. I understand a film's need need to condense from the written word, and to find a visual way to tell a story, but there was no need to shift Jed's shadowy doppelganger onto another character altogether, completely distorting both of them. By using the title it has probably killed any chance of a good film - or three good films - being made from the material any time soon.
For those who don't know the books, but do appreciate the fresh and original storytelling of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, this feels more like a hackneyed Hollywood epic except for being a bit muddled. It has the fine design and animation we expect from Ghibli but falls short where it matters. I saw this at the cinema, and sadly it is the ONLY Ghibli film I will not add to my DVD collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying, 1 Jun 2011
By 
A. Woodfin (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tales From Earthsea [DVD] (DVD)
As someone who has read the Earthsea books I found this film really unsatisfying. It is an ok film and my sons like it, but it misses the magic that the Earthsea stories wrought. I did not recognise it as Earthsea; though some remnants were there it didn't do Ursula le Guin's world justice.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Technically as stunning as ever!, 20 Feb 2008
By 
Rory Geoghegan "The Boy Rory" (Taunton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tales From Earthsea [DVD] (DVD)
I have to say that this is a decent effort from a debut director - the story is well handled and the animation is as spectular as you would expect from Studio Ghibli.

If you were to compare this to previous Ghibli films, you will find there are some plusses - the script translation is much better handled so not all of the voices are as rushed as before (although I can understand if people might like the quick, breathless delivery of Howl's Moving Castle or Laputa). Personally, I found the slower delivery allows the story to flow at a much more even pace. The right voices were employed as well - in particular, Willem Defoe's softly spoken delivery is spot-on (if a little quiet) and made Cob all the more creepy. This film is a lot darker in subject matter than other Ghibli movies and for this alone it should be checked out.

One drawback however is that the visual charm of Spirited Away, Laputa and Howl's Moving Castle is at times replaced by a far more intense style, particularly noticable in the hero (his facial expressions are occassionally a bit "Pokemon") - but given it is a darker piece, perhaps it was inevitable that some charm would be lost. Secondly, the inventiveness was not there - perhaps there was no need for it but I do like the peculiarities of Hayao Miyazaki's worlds (particularly the spiritual beings and the mechanical pieces of past films).

Although this isn't a Hayao Miyazaki masterpiece it is a Goro Miyazaki start - there is better to come from this guy no doubt but this is an assured enough piece to pass the test at many other animation studios. Don't mark it down just because it's Ghibli, but don't expect another Oscar contender.
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Tales From Earthsea [DVD]
Tales From Earthsea [DVD] by Goro Miyazaki (DVD - 2008)
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