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Old 22-05-2007, 08:33 PM   #16   [permalink]
John Faulkner
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Originally Posted by MrBS
I saw it a couple months ago at a preview screening (world premier of the subbed version just by a couple days but still ) and I wasn't too impressed.
Originally Posted by mrgazpacho
Yeah, it's got a very limited showing around Australia at the moment, so we get the subbed version in the cinemas.
I think it's going straight to DVD in the UK, you certainly have it good Down Under . Still, I can't complain: in the U.S., they have to wait until 2009 ....

Originally Posted by MrBS
The animation has taken a step back. The budget is definately less than say Moving Castle or Spirited Away. Background art is the real culprit for the poor look. Backgrounds are just barely functional.

As for the movie itself. Its long winded and quite pretentious and has no real payoff. So uh.... I didn't like it.
Looks like the rumours I heard about the animation could be true - interesting also that the anime genre as a whole has been noted for having more static backgrounds compared to say Disney (according to Roger Ebert).

And now that you say it is long-winded and quite pretentious, it makes me even more curious about the film ....

Originally Posted by mrgazpacho
It's a conglomeration of the first 4 books in the series so it leaves heaps out, and changes a few things for convenience.
For some reason, when I first heard about these books, I thought they were similar in content and style to the ubiquitous Harry Potter series.

Originally Posted by mrgazpacho
I was really watching for the story, but some of the scenery was quite spectacular. No idea about frame rates.
Looks like the rumours I heard about the animation might not be true - I usually look for a good story, but since it was a Ghibli production, my expectations for the animation are higher than normal. One of the things I like about most of the Ghibli movies I've seen is their sensitive rendition of nature - large fields, trees, wind, water etc. This is something I'm looking forward to in Gedo Senki.

Originally Posted by mrgazpacho
I think it ranks above Neko no Ongaeshi in lasting significance. It was probably aiming for Mononoke Hime epic qualities, but doesn't quite reach the levels that Hauru no Ugoku Shiro managed.
I haven't seen The Cat Returns or Howl's Moving Castle yet, but GS will have to be something special to beat Mononoke Hime IMO.

Originally Posted by mrgazpacho
If you thought the plot of Howl was confusing, this won't be to your liking at all as you do need knowledge of the books to make the most sense of it.
I avoided watching Howl because I thought it was just going to be a more light-hearted romantic story, with an atmosphere somewhat like in Kiki's Delivery Service. But having seen some previews of it, it seems to have more of a cutting edge, so now I'm interested in watching it. As for confusing plots, I'd take that any day over a linear one. Gets you thinking at least ....

Originally Posted by mrgazpacho
In a way, it's a bit over-ambitious. They could have made a great epic with another 30 minutes (and perhaps removing some stuff that was a bit irrelevant), but at this stage in Goro Miyazaki's career, and with the limited production time, I don't think that was possible.
Well, they'll need someone to take over the reins from Hayao when he retires, so who better than his son? Imagine if Goro reached the same level as Hayao, or beyond. We can look forward to at least 20yrs more of Ghibli films! Or how about a co-directed Father&Son special?
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Old 23-05-2007, 09:41 AM   #17   [permalink]
mrgazpacho
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Originally Posted by John Faulkner
I haven't seen The Cat Returns or Howl's Moving Castle yet, but GS will have to be something special to beat Mononoke Hime IMO.
Neko no Ongaeshi is just a light-hearted kids' film.

I meant that Mononoke Hime still stands as Ghibli's most epic film. Gedo Senki has a denouement that drops off faster than Howl, so in the end feels less epic than even that film. Especially as the "epicness" of Le Guin's books makes you hope for more.

J. K. Rowling learnt a bit from Ursula K. Le Guin (and Enid Blyton too)...
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Old 13-09-2007, 06:14 PM   #18   [permalink]
John Faulkner
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Managed to find time to see "Tales from Earthsea" on DVD (subbed) recently. First impressions .... not up to scratch compared to the later Ghibli films, but OK.

*******Spoilers below*******



















Positives: Some of the animation was very atmospheric. I liked the tranquil, natural scenery. Hort Town deserves a special mention as its hustling and bustling character was portrayed effectively - people scurrying about, traders being busy and shady characters lurking in the crowds. The solo song by Therru, I thought, was one of the highlights in that it tried to express the personal sorrow which seems impossible for anyone else to comprehend. The translated lyrics were quite poetic. I also liked the overall theme of the movie, namely, the struggle to overcome a tragic event (Arren killing his magnanimous father). Arren runs Shinji close in being the self-deprecating figure who manages to affirm life in the end. The parallels run thicker as Arren gropes around for meaning to a life that must end in death. I was impressed by Therru's philosophical outlook on this harsh reality, particularly the symbolic interpretation of "living forever" through others, by sharing your feelings and experiences with others who will outlive you.

Negatives: Animation appears basic in parts. Perhaps this was due to budget and/or time constraints, but the detail found in say, Spirited Away, was lacking in places. The characters were a bit 1-dimensional. Arren was universally focused on his dark side until near the end, and we didn't see him wrestling with accepting his dark side in the context of his light side. Therru was an interesting character, but was underdeveloped. OK, her lonely past was mentioned in passing and her taciturn nature explained through a sense of disillusionment with people. But how did she come to possess such a strong affinity for life? How did she realize the importance of death's role in life? What events shaped her current philosophy? That she turned into a dragon at the end was symbolic of her unity with life in general (dragons and humans were originally one - that old chestnut theme of unity), but it was not clear whether her elevated life-view was a result of meeting Arren and Sparrowhawk or existed already. Another gripe was that the characters were too blunt about their motives. Arren blurts out how he thought life was futile as it always ended in death, while Therru and Sparrowhawk gave monologues on how it was not futile. This felt forced and did not make a strong impression on me - I would have preferred a more subtle mixing in of these character traits, through more indirect methods. For example, rather than an explicit speech on the necessity of light and dark in sustaining the balance of life, a scene might be included which shows that e.g. Therru understands the pivotal role of death in the glory of life. Something like Therru seeing a tree shedding its dead leaves and making a comment about how the changing weather system causes this, yet the changing weather is beneficial for other life forms. The plot fizzled out to a predictable and contrived yarn. The physically transgender bad guy Cob appeared menacing and mysterious at first, but had a simple and childish wish to achieve eternal life above all else, after being ostracized by his peers. There's no sense of complexity in Cob's motives, which would betray some sign of intelligence. Plot twists were conspicuous by their absence. Tenar being kidnapped as bait by Hare (who reminds me of that jerk captain from Nausicaa) was unoriginal and so was the drawn out finale where Cob carries Therru King-Kong style to the top of a man-made structure, spews out nihilistic drivel and fails spectacularly to choke a girl. To add to the cheese, Sparrowhawk was about to be sacrificed when just in the nick of time, Arren, with his revolutionary new world-view, came charging to the rescue. And surprise, surprise, he was able to draw the sword out of its sheath in the moment of need. Tales from Earthsea is lacking the diversity of plot threads or issues found in, say, Princess Mononoke.

Overall: Average fare. Its plot promises much, but failed to deliver in terms of the breadth and depth of the issues covered. Could have been a whole lot better, but it is saved from full disappointment by some inspired animation and music. Not bad as a first outing from Goro, but his dad would have done a much better job, IMO.
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