I have 469 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? Tales From Earthsea (2006)
What’s it rated? Rated PG-13 for portrayals of men in touch with their emotions, a few instances of face melting and more long pauses than Christmas with the Cheney’s.
Did people make it? Based on the stories by Ursula K Le Guin. Written by Goro Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa. Directed by Goro Miyazaki. Voice acted by Timothy Dalton, Matt Levin, Blaire Restaneo, Mariska Hargitay, Willem Dafoe and Cheech Marin.
What’s it like in one sentence? The most boringest anime I ever did see.
Why did you watch it? A Chewer named Cooper threw it down and I reckon I picked it up.
What’s it about in one paragraph? An archmage named Sparrowhawk (Dalton) and a douchey Prince named Arren (Levin) team up to save the world from the evil Lord Cob (Dafoe). Everyone acts strange and inconsistent and I feel like there’s something I’m missing.
Play or remove from my queue? I would remove it. Maybe it’ll be worth watching if you’re a huge fan of the books (of which this movie combines elements of four of them) and want to see some of your favorite characters brought to life but, aside from that, I don’t really see what this has to offer. It’s overstuffed with about three or four tertiary stories that don’t fit, while simultaneously feeling empty and boring. At one point, Arren gets captured by some slavers and is put in chains inside of a giant desert boat, only to be rescued by Sparrowhawk two minutes later. Him being sold into slavery was the first interesting thing that happened in the whole movie and it lasted for two minutes and was never brought up again.
Half the movie is about Sparrowhawk and Arren walking somewhere until they hear about how evil Lord Cob is, and then it becomes about taking him out. Which is fine, except that we don’t know anything about Sparrowhawk other than the fact that he’s an Archmage but we never find out the importance of that in relationship to magic and the rest of the world. Is an Archmage (in the world of Earthsea) the king of the mages or is it something more specialized? Is there a mage union that he’s the chapter head of or something? I don’t need everything spelled out, but at least give me something to chew on. The art design really makes the universe of Earthsea fascinating with all of the history that you can see in the cities and in the moments characters talk about the past, but aside from a few brief glimpses, we’re not given enough context into the realm of Earthsea to have it feel any different than Spira or Middle Earth.
If I wasn’t watching this movie for the column I probably would have turned it off by the 30 minute mark but, in the interests of complete disclosure, I should tell you that anime has been pretty hit or miss for me lately. I almost feel like my tastes are changing and I’m not getting the same enjoyment out of the genre that I used to. The only anime I’m truly in love with are Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Serial Experiments Lain, Akira, Neon Genesis Evangelion and most of the works of Hayao Miyazaki (except I didn’t care for Ponyo). I’ve been trying to get into Full Metal Alchemist and can’t seem to make it past the 4th or 5th episode and the later series of Ghost in the Shell bored my face off. All of this is to tell you that if you enjoy anime more than me, then you’ll probably get more out of this than I did.
Goro Miyazaki is the son of Hayao Miyazaki, and I see him doing a wonderful job following in his father’s footsteps if he pays more attention to story on his next go round. Tales From Earthsea looks very nice and the sound design is excellent, but I never gave a shit about anyone for a second of it’s running time. Even with Timothy Dalton’s voice, Sparrowhawk was an enigma to me who is built up as the most powerful mage in the world, yet completely sits out the final battle. Arren murders his father in the opening scene and we don’t ever hear another thing about it until the very end, so we spend the entire film wondering what the hell is going on with the weird murderous kid and wondering why we should care. The main female character (spoilers) turns into a motherfucking dragon at the end with no explanation at all. Or maybe there was one, I don’t know. It was all so muddled they might have explained it five different times for all I know.
Do you have a favorite line? “I must go see to my correspondence.” Solid example of the dialogue this film has to offer.
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? This won the Worst Movie award at the Bunshun’s Raspberry Awards in Japan. Goro Miyazaki also won Worst Director. I’m not sure if it’s as bad as all that, but it was nice to feel I wasn’t alone in my lack of understanding the point of this film. Even Ursula K. Le Guin said it was like “watching an entirely different story, confusingly enacted by people with the same names as in my story.” Now I feel like I’m picking on it.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Fire and Ice (incomparable), Zu Warriors (saw this when I was 15. Loved the shit out of it), Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society (I quit the series before this came out), Nirvana (Christoper Lambert + Italians= a giant pile of awesome?) and Tripping the Rift: The Movie (just a few episodes of the show edited together).
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? Melatonin.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 2.8
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 1.8
Can you link to the movie? I sure can!
Any last thoughts? Watch this instead. “Fritz! Oh my God, they’ve killed Fritz!”
Did you watch anything else this week? Rewatching Season 2 of Carnivale and loving every minute of it.
Next Week? Funland? The Funhouse? Cool World? Rhyme and Punishment? The King of Fighters? Leviathan? Really, it’s up to you so I’ll take any requests.