Tales From Earthsea (Japan 2006)

Rating: **
Review Date: 9/3/18
Director: Goro Miyazaki

The world of Earthsea is out of balance. Crops and livestock are dying, drought and disease are spreading, and dragons have been spotted in the sky. The Archmage Sparrowhawk wanders the countryside looking for answers and meets a young Prince Arren who appears to be suffering from some kind of personality disorder. The truth is much stranger, as part of his soul has been split from him, and is trying rejoin his body. This often leads to outbursts of unbridled rage, which the evil wizard Cob intends to use for his nefarious plans. As Cob's plan to master eternal life unfolds, Arren and a young witch girl named Therru have to rescue Sparrowhawk and his friend Tenar from Cob's castle before they are put to death.

It's a beautifully animated tale, but one of Studio Ghibli's lesser efforts. Hayao Miyazaki was supposed to direct it, but was too busy working on "Howl's Moving Castle" (2004), so his son Goro took over directing duties. I'm unfamiliar with the books that the film is based on, but I found the story and characters to be completely uninteresting. The pacing is sluggish and the sparse action scenes aren't particularly energizing or satisfying. Overall, it feels like an attempt to condense a bunch of different ideas and events into a disjointed highlights reel rather than tell a cohesive narrative. The lack of compelling characters also makes the story suffer.