TALES FROM EARTHSEA
(directed by Gorō Miyazaki, 2006)
*** (out of 5)
> No, this Studio Ghibli release was not the jumbled mess it was reputed to be, but as one of their only films not directed by Hayao Miyazaki, it is a major step down from the ecstasies of SPIRITED AWAY or MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO. Celebrated author Ursula Le Guin who wrote the original books, had hoped Miyazaki Sr. would take the project on, but Hayao was already flirting with the idea of retirement, and even though it caused a rift between them over his readiness to direct, his son Gorō ended up a novice in the director’s chair.
. The production design of this outlier has its own colorful charm, but lacks the jaw dropping perfection of his father’s work and the elegantly rendered backgrounds that radiate beauty. Once again, credit Disney with having the vision to translate the property for American audiences to enjoy. As always, the English language voices were impeccably cast, using the talents of Timothy Dalton, Mariska Hargitay, Cheech Marin and the sinister whisper of a malevolent Willem Defoe. But I must say, I felt no small amount of cognitive dissonance when immediately after seeing the familiar Disneyland Castle logo, we get a scene where the young hero murders his father with a knife to the gut! Did Disney watch this film before they agreed to distribute it? Graphic regicide at the hands of a brooding young protagonist is hardly the way to start a Disney toon!
. Unfortunately, through the course of the film we never are informed why the angry prince would do such a vicious thing, except that the young feller was plagued by fits of anger. Ya think? Maybe it’s just me, but I would call such poor anger-management on this scale, a fatal character flaw in a fantasy hero!
. Dragons. Pastels. Clichés. Entertainment.
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