Reviews of Yesteryear: Tales from Earthsea

Back in my review of Kiki’s Delivery Service I talked about how much I love Studio Ghibli and mentioned that their films generally range from good to excellent. This is not only the third exception to that I’ve found but also the very worst Studio Ghibli film I’ve seen. It remains the worst film I’ve seen from them, but the exceptions have since gone up to four with the mediocrity of From Up on Poppy Hill. 

Let’s start with the story. The balance of a planet is being destroyed, a prince murders his father for unknown reasons and joins up with a traveling wizard. And all of this has virtually no bearing on the plot whatsoever. Yes, these scenes are mentioned later, but nothing gets done with them. Well, except for the part about the prince joining a traveling wizard. After several long minutes of walking scenes the pair end up in a town with an active slave trade and an evil wizard. From there you can probably guess the main plot. At first it seems like a pretty standard fantasy story with atrocious pacing, since a lot of time is wasted with padding scenes of farm work, but then you get to the last thirty minutes or so and two massive plot holes drive through what was a mediocre story and make it atrocious. There are also some major moments that are almost unbearably cheesy, Adam West’s Batman series was less corny. The ending is especially guilty of this. 

Overall the characters fill out cliche roles. One problem that comes in with the characterisation is that characters have knowledge that the narrative has given them no way of knowing. Hooray for plot contrivances? An even bigger issue is that most of the characters are very poorly fleshed out and, as a result, don’t have any real motivations or they have motivations that are completely unbelievable. There’s also some really clunky dialogue for the sake of exposition. 

The art is spectacular. That, at least, hasn’t changed. The only real problem is that the character designs make it so obvious who’s a villain just by looking. Subtlety, who needs it? Just go the bad 80s cartoon route. 

The voice work is capably done. The music is decent, but it gets repetitive really quickly. Probably because they keep playing the same song segments over and over and over again until your ears bleed. 

There is no yuri in this film. I give it a yuri factor of 1/10. 

I hate to say it, but my final rating for Tales from Earthsea is a 3/10. It’s a bad movie. The story suffers from massive plot holes that could take out most of Asia, the characters are dull, plot points are brought up and turn out to be completely superfluous to the plot, and the ending is bollocks.If you’re looking for a decent film to watch, pick anything else out of Studio Ghibli’s library and let this one rot in an unmarked landfill where it belongs.

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