Remember how I said "Miyazaki envy can be the death of a wannabe director" (well, I think I said words similar to that effect)? That has never been the case more than it is with Hayao Miyazaki's own son, Goro. Goro Miyazaki popped his directing cherry on this shitty Studio Ghibli movie (Tales From Earthsea), and he tried — oh how he tried! — to make it look like his daddy did the deed.
To his credit, Goro did make his movie LOOK like a Hayao Miyazaki masterpiece, but like most other Hayao imitators he forgot that it's not the look of the master's films that makes them great, it's the heart. And like all those who attempted to (poorly) copy Hayao before, Goro FAILED. He failed abysmally. Profoundly. Unfathomably. Completely.
Tales From Earthsea is based on (well, apparently it's only very, very loosely based on) a series of fantasy books that themselves are envious of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Earthsea is a magical world filled with dragons and wizards and curses, and apparently boredom. The story told in this movie wraps those four main components up into one lame package that captures none of the fantastic sensations that you'd expect from a world where superstition and the sword rule. Instead we get to follow the painful exploits of one of the biggest douchebags who was ever called a main character of any entertainment medium.
Arren, the main douchey character in question, starts the movie off by killing his own father (the wise and kindly king), and then proceeds to steal daddy's mystical sword for himself. When Arren is later attacked by wolf-like creatures and later still captured by slave traders I actually hoped he'd die and we'd move on to a protagonist worthy of being watched. Unfortunately that is never the case.
Anyway, the whole of the world of Earthsea is apparently in peril as some sort of unnamed balance is being fucked up, causing dragons to start attacking, magic to start failing, and droughts and diseases to run rampant through the land. Bad shit. Right after being informed of this is when the good king gets killed and his turd-like son runs away with the magic sword. Then Arren meets up with some über-mage named Gandalf. No, sorry, the uber-mage is called Sparrowhawk because that's just so much cooler. Then the two of them wander into a town and save some hideously disfigured girl from some slavers... Actually, the girl really just has a slightly pink complexion on half of her face, but we're told matter of factly that she's "grotesquely burned." And that's another major problem with this flick: The character designs and costumes are very non-detailed — even more so than Hayao's stamped out characters usually are. It's all very bland, and thusly uninteresting.
Anyway anyway, more non-exciting shit happens, Arren is captured by the slavers, Arren is freed by Sparrowhawk, they both go to one of Sparrowhawk's exlovers' place (the ex-cummuffin, Tenar, is of course the master of Therru), and we listen as Therru (the burnt and fugly girl) stands in a field and pretty much sings all of American Pie as we just continue to watch on and on and onnnnnnnnn (we think she's done on at least 3 occasions, but she just keeps fucking going!). Honestly, this was about an hour of the movie... just getting from that town to Tenar's place. And nothing of importance happens during that time. Hell, nothing of importance happens AT ALL in this flick!... But back to the spoiler-filled synopsis.
So they're all at Tenar's place, then Arren wanders off like a retard, Sparrowhawk goes off to do some shit, and Lord Cob (the fruitiest of villains ever put to screen) kidnaps Tenar because he wants to get at Sparrowhawk. Then everybody gathers at Lord Cob's castle, it's revealed that Therru is a dragon and that Lord Cob is an easily defeated dickhead who's almost as douchey as Arren himself. Then when he's all dead and shit Arren says that he plans to return to his kingdom to face his crime (of MURDER ONE). For some reason he's confident that he'll return to see Therru and Tenar again though. Oh, and we NEVER LEARN why the magic of this land is fading... Which appeared to be the main question that was actually driving what little plot there was.
Honestly, Tales From Earthsea went fucking everywhere, yet never managed to tell one of its plotlines cohesively or completely. It was a total mess! The story was actually very, very small and not epic in any way. There were only a few scenes in the marketplace of the town that Arren and Sparrowhawk went to in which there were more than 3 people on the screen at the same time. The world just felt sparsely populated and tiny! You don't want that in a fantasy-world adventure movie. You want a grand quest, a large, formidable force of enemies, and fantastic scenery and beastiaries... No. Not here. I fully understood why Hayao told Goro that this movie was not ready to be released when it eventually was. It's fubar in every way.
On top of all those complaints Tales From Earthsea plays like you're supposed to already know the entire history and rules of the world before going into it. That's just annoying. It doesn't make you say, "Boy! Now I have to read the books!" Instead it makes you say, "My GOD that was tedious and hard to get through. I never want to visit this world again!"
I found nothing redeeming about Tales From Earthsea. It wasn't the worst thing ever (that'd be Saikano), but it wasn't even average. It is obvious that Goro Miyazaki needs to find his own voice though or else he'll always be known as the son who couldn't quite measure up to daddy.
There are five people in all of Earthsea. Kuni live in box in transport ship with 20 people for 30 days! Box in cargo ship to America have more people than Earthsea! Goro! You bad boy! Daddy make smack you in butt! You make bad thing, Goro! Kuni spit on your grave! You make daddy's cry for your badness! Shame, Goro, shame!
(Notes from the Rossman: That's all Kuni would say about this movie. Quite honestly I'm surprised! He's usually the first person to stick up for children who completely disappoint their fathers after his own dad caught him with roughly 2 terabytes of pictures and videos of his own sister, Kim-Chi, on the family computer. Now daddy only refers to Kuni as "Sick-Dumb Puddle Of Filth My Wife Shit Out After Telling Me She Didn't Believe In Condoms.")
If I were a betting woman (and I am — it's in my nature), I'd place big bucks on a wager that poor ol' Goro Miyazaki is going to crack like an egg on the jagged shores of Reality when he realizes that he'll never be his father, and he'll go batshit loco very soon. In his madness he is going to take out "The King of Anime" much the same way that his pathetic protagonist did his own father in this godawful movie. I'm telling you, Goro saw himself gutting Hayao with a kitchen knife in some sort of hazy vision and thought it would make a great opening to his directorial debut.
I'll tell you one thing, it'll give film historians plenty to talk about for generations to come.