Japan Release date: 29th July 2006
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 17th December 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I’ll admit to having become a bit of a fan of the work of Studio Ghibli over the years. For those that don’t know, they are a Japanese animation studio that has consistently brought out amazing films over the years. I became aware of their work several years ago and whenever a season of their films is shown (as now) I make an effort to see as many of them as I can. So be prepared for a few more Studio Ghibli film reviews over the coming days and weeks. This is one I have seen before; it’s maybe not the best of the best, but still worth a look. I’ll give you my thoughts after this brief summary.
There is something wrong in the land of Earthsea; farm animals are falling prey to a mysterious illness and they say it is even spreading to children. Dragons have been sighted fighting off the coast and that is deemed a very bad sign. On top of all this, a young prince, Arren, seemingly goes mad and kills his father, the king. He then disappears… We next see him facing a pack of wolves, ready to meet his doom when he is rescued by a wizard, Sparrowhawk (or Haitaka). The pair travels together to a nearby city where Arren saves a young girl, Theru, from slavers. She runs away from him afterwards. Later, Arren is injured and they take refuge at a farm run by a friend of Sparrowhawk’s, Tenar. Arren is surprised to find Theru there as well. It soon transpires that another wizard, Cob, has the key to the strange events happening in Earthsea and it falls to Sparrowhawk, Arren, Tenar and the mysterious Theru to face this evil doer. I will leave it there or the Spoiler Police will be sending the slavers after me again.
This film is truly wonderful to look at; the animation is quite breathtaking at times! I really love the look and feel of it. As far as performances go, well, I watched it in Japanese with subtitles and I always find it hard to judge performances that way, so I’ll give honourable mentions to the voice talents of; Junichi Okada as Arren, Aoi Teshima as Theru, Bunta Sugawara as Sparrowhawk (Haitaka), Yûko Tanaka as Cob, Teruyuki Kagawa as Hare and Jun Fubuki as Tenar.
Although I love the visuals in this film, I must say the telling of the story does let it down a bit. I found the pace a little too slow and some of the songs a little overly sentimental. I also found it quite hard to sympathise with the character of Arren, particularly after he murdered his father! This is never fully explained and I feel it lets the film down somewhat. Having said that though, it’s still worth a look!... Recommended, (if only for the superb animation).
My score: 6.1/10.
IMDb Score: 6.5/10 (based on 7,241 votes at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 42/100 (based on 36 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 49/100 (based on 27,385 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Haitaka: Listen to me, Aaren: Everything you see under the sun and stars owes its very existence to the balance: the wind and seas, the powers of earth and light, all these do is well and rightly done within the equilibrium. But now, men hold the power to control the world. Men must learn to do what leaf and whale and wind do naturally. It is for us to keep the balance. Everything that exists has its true name. The power of magic is nothing more than the power to command based on the knowledge of a things true name. But use that power irresponsibly and the balance of the world is easily damaged. Spells should be made only when absolutely needed.
Theru: You think your life belongs to you? Tenar gave me my life. That's why I have to live, so that I can give life to someone else. Lebannen... that is the only way we can live forever.
Official Site (Japan): http://www.ghibli.jp/ged/