Exposition-heavy but borderline incoherent, “Tales from Earthsea” is perhaps the least substantial offering from Studio Ghibli, a rudderless mess of a story without the saving grace of stunning visuals.
Perhaps familiarity with the books the film is apparently a mash-up of would have helped the story make sense to me, but for all the exposition the film unloads, it can’t even manage being a frantic mess, as it lazily plods through building its world through exposition instead of visuals, a bizarre misjudgement considering how great the studio is at doing exactly the opposite. The music is quite nice though.
The story behind the film – Hayao Miyazaki approaching Ursula K. Le Guin about wanting to make a film from her books, Le Guin refusing but being won over after watching “My Neighbour Totoro”, Miyazaki being busy by that time and a producer at the studio getting Miyazaki’s son Goro to direct it instead, Miyazaki being vocal about how he opposed this and apparently not speaking to his son for the film’s development – sounds a great deal more interesting than the film itself. Two sparrows, and a hawk.