Tales of Earthsea doesn’t hold water !


August 1, 2010- Sara Barton

   It was an early Sunday morning as hundreds of movie patrons stood on line for the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) US Premier of, Tales of Earthsea, directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro Miyazaki.  

  Tales of Earthsea is based on a fantasy book series by Ursula K. Le Guin.  It is a beautiful story that is set in a medieval world of castles and dragons that has been thrown into chaos by an imbalance of magical forces and is being over taken by a dark sorcerer on a quest to attain immortality. Meanwhile,troubled young Prince Arren (Matt Levin)  flees after murdering his father. He then crosses paths with the master wizard Sparrowhawk (Timothy Dalton) and young girl Therru (Blaire Restaneo), and the“adventure” begins. 

    Talesof Earthsea, meets the Miyazaki standard of stunning visual quality. The artistry is reminiscent of a beautiful renaissance painting, it as if history has come to life. However, it doesn’t fit with films edgy style.

    It’s a dark film; the characters are psychologically tormented. The director cleverly uses them astools to reflect a world that is numb, afraid, and lacks hope. This causes the film to be disconnected, making it difficult for the viewer to identify with the characters, especially Prince Arren, the protagonist.  

  Goro Miyazaki uses sophisticated styleof storytelling. He tries to balance how the story unfolds, by how much thecharacter’s reveal about themselves and their past; a devise often seen in independent films. It is very ambitious, yet it fall flat, showing director’s inexperienceand the studio’s poor script writing abilities. This leads to the films slow timing. After 40 minutes of watching it there’s almost little or no information about the characters and the viewer must piece it together himself.

   Surprisingly, the film was a hit with children at the NYICFF premiere, especially the action sequences.

  It’s no secret that Goro Miyazaki directorial debut won him the, Worst Director award and Worst Movieaward at Bunshun’s Raspberry Awards in 2006. This award ceremony recognizes the worst of Japanese cinema, the same as the Golden Raspberry Awards recognize the worth of North American cinema every year.

  Tales of Earthsea is a film that tookseveral risks, but it fails to take flight.It’s a vinegar and water film; the cinematic elements Goro Miyazaki uses don’t blend together. I admire that the director took a creative risk. It obviously shows that he has his own style. Goro Miyazaki tried to fit into his father’s artistic mold, when he clearly needed to break away from Miyazaki tradition, and follow his own path. Nevertheless,with a few more years of experience Goro Miyazaki has the potential to become agreat filmmaker.

“Tales From Earthsea” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned) for some violent images.


Opens on Friday in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Honolulu.

Directed by Goro Miyazaki; written by Goro Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa, inspired by the manga “Shuna’s Journey” by Hayao Miyazaki and based on the “Earthsea” series by Ursula K. Le Guin; music by Tamiya Terashima; produced by Toshio Suzuki; released by Walt Disney Studios/Studio Ghibli. In Manhattan at the Angelika Film Center, Mercer and Houston Streets, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes.

WITH THE VOICES OF: Timothy Dalton (Sparrowhawk), Willem Dafoe (Cob), Cheech Marin (Hare), Mariska Hargitay (Tenar), Blaire Restaneo (Therru) and Matt Levin (Arren).



New York International Children’s Film Festival: 

Disney’s Official Tales of Earthsea website:

Studio Ghibil:

NYICFF Now Presents The 10-PASS Card



$80 10-pass is valid for 10 adult or child admissions to NYICFF year-round screenings at IFC Center.

(Regular admission is $13 adult and $9 child.)

For more details and to purchase 10-pass CLICK HERE!

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