bad/awesome flixxx review: Tales from Earthsea (2006)


"This life that is both our torment and our treasure was never meant to endure for eternity. Life is a wave on the sea. Would you force the sea to grow still to save one wave? To save yourself? " - Sparrowhawk

"You think your life belongs to you? Tenar gave me my life. That's why I have to live, so that I can give life to someone else." - Theru

"Everything that exists has its true name. The power of magic is nothing more than the power to command based on the knowledge of a things true name." - Sparrowhawk

This is an incredibly beautiful movie, with a horribly discombobulated plot. I seriously think that something was lost in the translation, and upon reading the reviews by the lady who wrote the books that the film is based on, I'm not sure the director even grasped what he was trying to convey in the first place. It certainly wasn't what the author was trying to get across. BUT... the first time director was Goro, the son of famous Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki who's made tons of killer films. No doubt the kid has talent, but he may have bit off more than he could chew. Trying to piece together this plot will scramble your eggs. Timothy Dalton and Cheech Marin do American dubs in TALES FROM EARTHSEA!!!

This is a BEAUTIFUL flick. Like I said, it may be so gorgeous that the plot doesn't even matter. Fuck it, watch it for the art. BUT if you're like me, and you need brains with your good looks, you may be skeptical. The whole first ten minutes make no sense whatsoever with the rest of the flick. This is the main "lost in translation" part for me. And I guess "everything" doesn't HAVE to make sense all the time to enjoy something, this just SEEMS like there's something we are missing. When it starts out theres a storm brewing around a ship out in the sea. They call up this "master of storms" or "storm whisperer" guy who claims he forgot how to talk to the sea. Before they have time to scream at him, 2 dragons fly out of nowhere and are ripping each other apart. Finally one dragon kills the other which falls into the ocean. Cut to a roundtable meeting of a king and a bunch of bearded and mustachioed guys talking about a disruption in the "balance" of nature. When they hear the story of the dragon sightings, one old guy explains that once men and dragons lived together, but dragons chose freedom, & men chose possessions, so they split into different worlds. Then this kid comes out of no where, and kills the king while he's walking by himself.

The kid was the king's son, and he takes this sword from the king. Then he runs off into the desert and almost gets eaten by wolves because he says he doesn't give a fuck, but he's saved by this scarfaced wizard named Sparrowhawk. No other mention of the king ever happens except for when the kid admits that he killed his dad to this young chick, but they never give a reason that he did it. There's my big beef. Why did this kid do that? What the fuck was that about? Ok, so the wizard takes the kid to a beautiful city. He leaves him to explore and the kid freaks out that he's being followed. About that time, a dude tries to sell him some drugs, but he is convinced not to by Sparrowhawk. Again Sparrowhawk leaves. This time Arren (the kid) rescues some chick from getting raped by the slave captains who ride in town on bulls. The chick is not psyched on Arren even tho he saved her because she values life, and he doesn't give a shit. He is obviously confused. The captain comes back, kicks his ass and takes him to be a slave. Sparrowhawk rescues him from the slave wagon by flying on a mystical light. He tries to tell Arren some mumbo jumbo about the balance of the world, and that he is trying to find out why something is "off" out there. And also he starts talking about eternal life and shit like that.

Sparrowhawk takes Arren to his old girlfriend (Tenar)'s house and surprise, she's taken in an orphan chick Therru (the chick Arren saved). Therru is still pissed at Arren for a while. Sparrowhawk goes to seek out his metrosexual arch nemesis Lord Cob, who is the head cheese in charge of the captain of the slaves and probably a lot of other bad stuff. While he's gone, we have a game of back and forth, as Arren wins over Therru by confessing his crime and deciding to split to help Sparrowhawk. Sparrowhawk meanwhile figures out how he'll "get" Lord Cob, but misses Arren on his way back. The bumbling captain is always trying to have his way, riding up and talking shit to Tenar and finally kidnapping her in place of Sparrowhawk. Lord Cob catches up with Arren who falls into a lake to drown after being chased by his own shadow, or what I think they were trying to convince us was his "good" side. I think maybe they were trying to say: Arren's own "balance" or dark and light side split when he killed his father. And he was really a good kid, so it was trying to get back to him, but he was still filled with his darkness so he was scared of being killed for what he did. Lord Cob tells him that Sparrowhawk is trying to use him because he "is" the key to eternal life. So he's brainwashed. Lord Cob pits him against Sparrowhawk, but Sparrowhawk is like, "look man, no one can live forever." Oh yeah, Lord Cob controlled Arren because he told him his "real" name- Lebennon. Back then, no one could mind control you unless they knew your "true" name. So everyone went by fakes. I like that part. 

So with the spell broken but his light still missing, Arren just goes to hang in his room in the top of the castle bummed that he tried to kill his friend. DEPRESSION. But Therru is busy trying to take Arren's sword back to him and she meets his light half. He says to go find Arren and speak his true name to him. Sparrowhawk saves Tenar I think, and finally Therru meets up with Arren, tells him whats up and he goes to fight Lord Cob. Finally Arren can use his magic sword and he cuts off Cob's hand. Cob turns into a creepy fucking old man that can turn into that black jello pudding virus shit that surrounds the possessed giant pig in PRINCESS MONONOKE. He's all flying around and he grabs Therru. Arren goes to save her but Cob chokes her to death, and the castle starts to crumble and Arren starts to fall, but somehow THERRU TURNS INTO A FUCKING DRAGON, KILLS COB AND CATCHES ARREN AND THEY FLY OFF INTO THE COUNTRYSIDE!!! Then she turns back into a little girl and I guess the end? Weird shit. Should you watch it? Well, as a fan of most everything this studio has produced, I'd say yes, its not like the story is terrible, and it is stunningly drawn. Some of the wide shots of the cities they created are some of the best cartoon city drawing I've ever seen. So go for it, but if you're confused, don't even trip. I think everyone that watches it feels that way.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gerald Abernethy