The Asian DVD (both the regular and limited editions) came out about a week ago complete with English subtitles. The limited edition contained the English dub too as well as other languages. I didn't pre-order this one like I did when "Spirited Away" was due for release even though I'm a fan of Ghibili's movies because its trailers just didn't quite grasp my attention. So, I decided to download it instead and it's not too bad.
"Gedo Senki" is another adaptation of a Western novel just like the last movie "Howl's Moving Castle". This time, it's based on the "Tales from Earthsea" series of fantasy novels by Ursula K. Le Guin. In the land of Earthsea, the Balance of Light is being broken and farmlands are becoming abandoned as crops fail to grow and livestock die. While out on his travels, a powerful wizard known as the Archmage Ged meets an exiled prince named Arren from Enlad. As Ged continues his travel with his new companion, they soon find themselves facing a powerful enemy...
Spoilers and thoughts ahead.
The movie didn't make much of an impression on me just like the studio's last movie. Quite an coincidence that both of them just happen to be based on Western novels but, I'm sure that's not the reason why a lot of other Ghibli fans found this movie boring. I myself found it pretty average mainly because it lacked the exoticness and creativity of some previous movies such as "Laputa" or "Spirited Away".
Laputa took you through a journey of discovering a mystical ruined city in the sky. Spirited Away had a very exotic oriental setting, vibrant lively creatures and an touching heroine. Gedo Senki in this case didn't really have anything special to it much like Howl's Moving Castle with many of its medieval Western scenes. Well, at least Howl had a moving castle and a talking flame. This movie left you trying to figure out what's happening most of the time. A bit rushed.
Hey, it's Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.
Another thing was there were many parts of the movie that reminded me of previous Ghibli titles. Arren felt like Ashitaka from "Princess Mononoke" and Hare was kind of like Kurotawa from Nausicaa. The characters didn't really feel that interesting. When Ged rode through the night with his staff lit up, it reminded me of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.
Cob the evil wizard was too generic residing in a big dark castle, random bursts of craziness and having a great ambition that he's trying to reach at the expense of innocent lives. Then there's that black ooze. It seems to be quite a popular design for the bad guys.
The black ooze is back.
On the other hand, it's not all bad. You have to admire Therru when she ran into the castle alone to bring Arren his father's magical sword. The dreams Arren had were pretty creepy when you ended up staring into those big empty eyes and also the scene at the swamp. The scene where Ged disguised himself from Hare was quite a laugh! "Therru's Song" is really good too.
Therru singing her nice little song.
The original author herself didn't seem to be too impressed with the movie either but, I agree with her movies are a completely different medium thus, this movie shouldn't be exactly the same as the books. This should be a good experience for Goro Miyazaki's first movie, though and I look forward to his father Hayao Miyazaki's next movie, "Ponyo on a Cliff".
You can read Ursula's response to the movie at her site.
Not sure when the UK and US DVDs will be out. I might consider getting this being a Ghibli fan but, like I said, I wasn't that impressed with it.