In the magical world of Earthsea, the Amulet of Peace has
ensured harmony between humans and dragons for centuries.
But when the Amulet is broken and a piece of it disappears,
it's up to neophyte wizard Ged to restore balance and stop
a king from conquering the islands...
(Shawn Ashmore) is a blacksmiths son who has visions of a
beautiful woman (Kirstin Kreuk) and a desire to see the world
and become a wizard. All this changes when his village is
attacked and he is supposedly killed, only to be revived by
Danny Glover (I kid you not, he's actually quite good). So
starts his quest to become a wizard and to save his planet
Earthsea is not a bad piece of television and, if it
had come out before the Harry Potter and Lord of
the Rings films, would have been looked on more favourably.
Unfortunately for Earthsea, it didn't and it won't.
The fact that the DVD sleeve refers to it to these film as
a comparison indicates that they know their target audience
and just which films to try to gain some kudos from. That
aside the story itself is quite engrossing, once it gets going.
It's not a bad little romp and for anyone who has watched
either the new Doctor Who, Galactica, or the
Dune mini series you
will know that whilst the CGI won't blow you off you seat
at least it won't make you turn off the program in disgust.
is a two disc set, with the first disc containing all four
hours of the program. No real choices in the menu, you either
get to play part one or two and that's it. Shame really as
a cast and crew contribution may have been enlightening. Sound
is stereo, but very clear with a nice balance between the
vocals and the background music. The picture is also crystal
clear, if a little soft, though this may be intentional on
the part of the film makers to give a more ethereal look to
second disc contains the extras. They consist of production
features and cast interviews most of which are sadly the self
congratulatory type of old tat that we've come to expect as
disc filler. Nothing wrong with that, except it always seems
to come over as a lost opportunity, especially when you have
the likes of Isabella Rossellini on the screen. Two of the
most fascinating pieces to watch are hidden in the production
features. Earthsea and CGI is a small feature detailing
some of the work done by Anthem FX in Vancouver showing how
they created some of the two hundred plus special effects
for the program. Rather than try and give an overall impression
of the work, they take a few key scenes and show how they
were built up, from the raw shots of the actors against green
screen to the completed on-screen visuals. Production Design
looks at the overall look that the producers were trying to
attain. The feature takes you through from conceptual art
work to the finished film.
problem of the fantasy genre is that it appears to have become
stuck in its own visual rut. The environment, in which the
stories are set, always seems to be some non-existent almost
mythic medieval time. The director admits that the piece is
set in a kind of twelfth century Europe. Unfortunately this
gives Earthsea a uniform well worn look, only leading
to endless comparisons with other fantasy pieces. Fantasy,
it would seem, only stretches as far as raiding history books.
The one exception to this is the Master Namers Tower, which
is truly a brilliant bit of visual design. I guess that this
is truly the problem with Earthsea, there is little
in it that you won't have seen before and usually done better.
The school for wizards that Ged attends can only be compared
to Harry Potter's Hogwarts, and given the budget this
was never going to be as good. As an aside why is it that
wizards seem to start out as virile young men and turn into
Santa's brother, complete with white beard? Answers on a postcard,
to the usual address, please.
basic story itself is nothing earth shattering either. Young
man who has no idea that he has a destiny goes out into the
world under the tutelage of some kind old sage, gets a side
kick, gets the girl and saves the planet (my god it's Star
Wars). Well to be fair to both pieces Joseph Campbell
in 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' identified this structure
as being almost universal in human story telling, with variations
appearing all over the world. Hence, good old George nicked
it as the basis of Star Wars as on some level we would
all have some recognition. Problem is Star Wars was
so successful that any other story using the same structure
will seem a little overly familiar these days.
overall, not a bad piece of television, it's just not going
to show you anything you haven't seen before. Maybe it was
a problem with the adaptation, its interesting to note that
Ursula Leguin, the original writer, is noticeable by her absence.
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