Posted on Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
The good news: Disney is finally giving a domestic release to Tales From Earthsea, the 2006 film directed by Hayao Miyazaki‘s son Goro Miyazaki that adapts stories by Ursula K. Le Guin. The bad news: it will still be Tales From Earthsea, which wasn’t up to the high standards set for Ghibli films by the elder Miyazaki.
Cartoon Brew (via AICN) notes that Disney will release Tales From Earthsea on August 13 as a Touchstone film. The film has been released elsewhere in the world following the 2006 Japanese premiere, but could not be distributed in the US thanks to a SyFy Channel rights agreement for Ursula K. Le Guin’s work. We’ll be seeing the English dub, which features voice work from Willem Dafoe, Timothy Dalton, Mariska Hargitay, Cheech Marin and many more. English dubs from Ghibli are often quite good, as these things go, so that’s something.
But Earthsea isn’t a particularly satisfying film, especially when stacked up against the legacy of Ghibli. I imported it on DVD in 2007, watched it once and haven’t thought much about it since. Given the way that other Ghibli films tend to resonate (even non-Miyazaki work like Pom Poko) that’s damning enough. It’s not a terrible movie; it just doesn’t cohere, and feels like it is trying to do way more than it is capable of. The animation isn’t as fluid and impressive as other Ghibli films, and a great many changes were made to elements of three Le Guin books (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Farthest Shore, and Tehanu) to to cram their stories into one.
If you’re a Ghibli completist and haven’t managed to see Tales From Earthsea yet, this is probably still good news. Just don’t get your hopes up too high.