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Hello there,Thank you so much for your comment! It was very kind of you. I'm blushing. xD I'm very glad you told me this, because I've been trying to be more in-tune with what others are trying to say and mean, and not just be fixated on my own reactions -- and this would affect how I watch anime, I suppose. haha. Will always be a work in progress, though. ;) The bit you italicized -- is that from something or an original?Once again, thanks for such a generous comment.
GREATEST REVIEW OF ALL TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
An animated Studio Ghibli film by Miyazaki featuring magic and dragons and wizards! Can't go wrong, right?Well... first let's clarify that it's not Hayao, but his son Goro Miyazaki in the directorial seat. Second, it's a Studio Ghibli film, so the animation will be gorgeous; that's a given. Third, I'll note that I have never read the series on which the film was based, so I have no opinions whatsoever about the film's supposed deviation therefrom.My conclusion? Tales from Earthsea is a beautifully drawn, breathtakingly rendered, but otherwise terrible film. I initially stopped watching because I found it unbearable. I then forced myself to finish after reading some positive reviews to see if the film's ending redeemed it; it did not.STORYThe problem starts with a terrible story. I don't know what the books are like, but the film lacked any sense of narrative focus or cohesion, not to mention momentum. It goes something like this (SPOILERS at the end, so beware):The movie begins with unexplained events that indicate that the world is out of balance. Then, Prince Arren commits an unspeakable, unexplained act of violence for no apparent reason and meets up with the wise wizard Sparrowhawk who, for some reason that escapes me, decides he wants to mentor this random stranger he met in the desert. The duo travel to a town for some reason that escapes me. The town has evil slavers that work for an evil wizard named Cob because, for some reason that escapes me, this is all necessary to the story. Prince Arren saves a girl with a scar from the slavers, but ends up getting captured himself. Sparrowhawk saves him, and the whole incident contributes little, if anything, to the story, except to show that (1) slavers are evil; (2) Sparrowhawk can do magic; (3) Sparrowhawk can and will rescue Arren.Arren and Sparrowhawk then go to a woman named Tenar's house for no other apparent reason than to embark on a spirit-heartening farming trip. There, they find that ploughing the fields, playing with oxen, and getting in touch with God's green earth rights all that is bad with the world. Sparrowhawk leaves for a day and shit turns hairy when the slavers come and kidnap Tenar on Cob's behalf. Arren wanders off to run from his as yet unexplained demons and gets captured by evil wizard Cob. Cob, the evil looking drag queen, offers Arren a mysterious black-looking drink and claims in a creepy voice that it is no poison; for some as yet unexplained reason, Arren drinks it and then suddenly begins to mistrust Sparrowhawk, the man that saved his ass multiple times and has shown no signs of Saruman and only signs of Gandalf. In the meantime, Scarfaced girl wrestles free and runs to warn Sparrowhawk.Sparrowhawk goes to Cob's castle to confront Tenar's kidnapper. His magic is useless for some poorly and hastily explained reason. Cob the Drag Queen sics Arren on Sparrowhawk, because he has learned Arren's "true name" and can thus control him, for some unexplained reason. Sparrowhawk is captured and taken to await execution. Meanwhile, Scarfaced girl follows an apparition of Arren--later revealed to be the "light" of Arren (please don't ask me what that means)--to Cob's castle, where she finds a conveniently opened side door and sneaks in.Scarfaced girl then confronts Arren and asks him why he is acting so fucked up. He whines that no one should bother to save life if it will all just end in death. Oh, woe is Arren! What darkness lies yonder! Scarfaced girl makes what I'm sure was meant to be a heartfelt, uplifting speech about how fearing death means you fear life, and how it's all just one circle of life, mumbo jumbo, life-death yadda yadda. She utters Arren's true name and, voila, he breaks free of Cob's evil spell and values life and is now able to unsheath a magic sword for an as yet unexplained reason.Arren now kicks some ass with magic sword, saving Sparrowhawk and Tenar from execution by jumping off a high building. Cob turns into some old creepy Voldemort-like thing--he's been trying to cheat death. Arren tries to stop Cob, but Cob chokes Scarfaced girl to death. Except that for some unexplained reason, SHE IS ACTUALLY A DRAGON and burns Cob's sorry drag-queened ass. Arren says, cool, now I have to go answer for the crime of patricide/regicide back in my hometown, but let's hug and hang some time, aiite? Dragon Scarfaced Girl says, yeah, thas coo'.Yeah. That's the story, or the essence of it anyway. What the eff? Maybe some of these important details were explained, and I just missed them. But maybe I was too busy falling asleep or trying to keep my mind from wandering as one illogical, nonsensical event slooooowly tumbled into the next.ANIMATIONThe character design in this film was very simple--some might say too simple. Prince Arren was a rehashed and far inferior version of Ashitaka from Princess Mononoke, only Ashitaka's reindeer-mount and cloak were gifted to a different character, Sparrowhawk (aka Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, only less high on hobbitleaf). Scarfaced Girl was San from Princess Mononoke with facial scarring, longer hair, dingier clothes, and 10x less spunk and beauty. The characters barely had three different facial expressions throughout the film. But really, the character designs didn't bother me so much.The landscapes and cityscapes were breathtakingly beautiful, and I found my eyes fixated on the backgrounds rather than the characters. It's good to know Studio Ghibli still knows how to make one helluvan awesome looking film.SOUNDI have no complaints about the sound. The soundtrack was decent (and somewhat cheesy, but I'm okay with that), but mostly forgettable. I watched the dubbed version on Netflix and enjoyed Willem Defoe's delicious take as Cob, especially when accompanied with Cob's drag queen look. The other voice acting was fine. No complaints.CHARACTERSThe characters in Earthsea had some potential, but the story did them few favors. So much more could have been done with these characters.In Arren, we had a prince with a sordid past and a tangle of dark emotions and impulses--the makings of a fascinating character. He needed a coherent coming-of-age and redemption story, or else some clever variation from the traditional fantasy tropes. Instead, we got a mess of confusing dreams with lots of oozy black liquid.In Scarfaced girl, we had a fierce, passionate foil to Arren that needed to come out of her shell. She does so literally and explodes into unexplained dragon-form, but her more figurative emergence is barely explored.In Sparrowhawk, we had a wise mentor-figure who could help Arren grow. Except that he didn't really help Arren grow; he just saved him a few times and let him tag along and did some farming with him. And while Sparrowhawk's bout of powerlessness at Cob's castle was necessary for Arren to show what he could do, it was manufactured out of cheap, nonsensical plot devices. Come to think of it, aside from being "the archmage" who wanders around (doing what? I'm not sure), Sparrowhawk is pretty bland as a character.And in Tenar, we had a warm motherly figure who had no real purpose in the story. Tenar needed to be a character in her own right, as opposed to the bland accompanying mother figure that she was. She needed a better fleshed out backstory, or something to define who she was as a person.Cob was an acceptable villain, but fairly conventional and uninteresting. He was the drag queen version of Voldemort, except that he was capable of oozing. His goons, including the ugly head slaver, were far worse: totally one-dimensional and, unsurprisingly, evil.OVERALLOverall, I was sorely disappointed with Tales from Earthsea. I really, really wanted to like it and was excited to see that it had appeared on Netflix. But I found the lack of coherent narrative to be fatal to an otherwise beautiful, contemplative film. There were characters that I wanted to like, but couldn't, because they were given nothing interesting to do. Sorry, Goro, but Earthsea was a fail for me.