Newest Reviews
Beach Bum, The
Kill Ben Lyk
Into the Mirror
Support the Girls
Little Monsters
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans
Moulin Rouge
Ray & Liz
African Queen, The
Helen Morgan Story, The
Golem, Der
Finishing Line, The
Triple Threat
Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians, The
Planet of the Dinosaurs
Big Breadwinner Hog
Thunder Road
Moby Dick
Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie
Mad Room, The
Phantom of the Megaplex
Night Sitter, The
Child's Play
Power, The
After Midnight
Dolemite is My Name
Varda by Agnes
Toy Story 4
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy
Man Who Never Was, The
Newest Articles
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
  Tales from Earthsea Here be dragonsBuy this film here.
Year: 2007
Director: Goro Miyazaki
Stars: Timothy Dalton, Mariska Hargitay
Genre: Animated, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: While anime fans eagerly await Hayao Miyazaki’s forthcoming film, Ponyo, Studio Ghibli’s latest opus marks the directorial debut of his son, Goro. A few years ago, Hallmark adapted Ursula Le Guin’s first Earthsea novel into a mini-series, starring Danny Glover. Ghibli have adapted the third, wherein Le Guin’s older, wiser, wizard hero Ged (voiced in English by underrated Bond, Timothy Dalton, and in Japanese by yakuza film icon, Bunta Sugawara) befriends young Prince Arren, a tormented soul fleeing the darkness that drove him to murder his father. Following numerous misadventures amidst a magical world of dragons and sorcery, Ged leads Arren to the rural tranquillity of Tenar’s farm. Here he meets Therru, a mysterious girl with a scarred face and a secret past. The youngsters grow close, but face the threat of slimy sorcerer, Cob.

Tales from Earthsea is a handsomely crafted, stirring, fantasy adventure, but drew criticism over decisions to alter characters Le Guin wrote as black, and over Goro Miyazaki’s lack of animation experience. A landscape gardener by trade, his father became his most vocal critic causing a rift between the two (Although Miyazaki senior later delivered his blessing upon viewing the finished film). The racial controversy must embarrass Ghibli founders Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki whose films reflect their heartfelt, liberal idealism, but while the changes are regrettable one doubts they were malicious. Anime characters are aestheticized renditions of personality, and rarely resemble any specific race: black, white or Japanese. That said, Arren is a disappointingly remote hero. The film kicks off with a jolt as he murders his father, and his reasons are never adequately explained. Is he possessed, crazy, or just another homicidal teenager?

Away from unfathomable Arren, Tales from Earthsea boasts Studio Ghibli’s trademark storytelling flair and rich characterization. There is a wealth of subtext: death and rebirth, the darkness inside men’s souls, the reaffirmation of humanity via nature, a mature adult passing the baton to his uncertain, young successor. Strong ideas, but Goro Miyazaki explores them via heavy exposition instead of visual invention and struggles with reams of back-story. Instead of the moral complexity and gentle humanism of his father’s films, Tales from Earthsea delivers a straightforward battle between good and evil.

On that level it’s fabulous, family entertainment featuring exciting battles, daring escapes, a lovely musical interlude actually relevant to the plot, and a knockout duel between two ferocious dragons in the sky. It seems unfair to compare the elder and younger Miyazaki’s styles, but this film does suffer when set beside other Ghibli epics. Face it anime fans, over the years we have been spoiled. Hayao Miyazaki had a talking pig pilot battle fascists (Porco Rosso; 1992), turned his childhood anxieties into a spiritual uplift (My Neighbour Totoro; 1988), questioned his own core beliefs (Princess Mononoke; 1997), used folklore to examine the fallout from Japan’s bubble economy (Spirited Away; 2001), and reworked a children’s novel into a love letter to his wife (Howl’s Moving Castle; 2004). Compared to his mind-blowing ideas, Tales from Earthsea is a little lightweight. However, its eleventh hour plot twist, philosophical aspects and a climax of visual poetry elevate this far above the CG cynicism of Shrek the Third (2007). It certainly didn’t deserve three Razzie nominations. Across Asia, Tales from Earthsea made more money than Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (2006), so Goro Miyazaki will direct again and is sure to develop his own voice. Meanwhile, Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo reputedly concerns a father trying to reconcile with his son. That is what separates craftsmanship from pure genius.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 2407 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M


Last Updated: