It’s review week here at AZM! Every day this week I’ll be reviewing a movie or DVD release or comic book or something. Okay, really, I only have enough material for three days of reviews. But I’ll see if I can find something else those other two days.
To kick things off, I received some review copies of two new releases from Disney that are hitting stores tomorrow.
Tales From Earthsea is the first full length animated feature film directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro Miyazaki. The film is based on the fantasy novel series by Ursula K. Le Guin. Since I don’t read anything without pictures or word balloons, I’ve never read the series so I don’t know how close the film follows the series. The title is a bit of a misnomer because there’s really only one tale that’s told in this film.
The world of Earthsea is out of balance. Crops are dying. Dragon has returned. Magic is dwindling. Chaos threatens to destroy the world of man and it up to the Archmage Sparrowhawk and young prince Arren to discover the cause.
Even though it’s definitely Goro’s film, you can feel the elder Miyazaki’s touch throughout the film. The look of the environments in the film is inspired by an illustration Hayao had done to portray his vision of the world of Earthsea. The little details that help realize Earthsea as a tangible environment are a familiar hallmark of Hayao’s productions. 3D CG for environments is used throughout the production which may be something that Goro brings to the table (although, we saw some early Ghibli CG work in Spirited Away). It’s difficult to tell because the 3D set pieces are so well blended into the work that if you’re not looking for it, you probably wouldn’t notice.
I never bother with the English language track on these releases, but Disney has assembled an impressive cast of voice actors, Timothy Dalton, Cheech Marin, Willen Dafoe, and Mariska Hargitay. There’s a special feature about the making of the film and a fun interactive feature that gives you previews of all the Disney Ghibli releases. But I suspect there will be a Blu-Ray DVD combo pack sometime in the future. If you don’t have a Blu-Ray player or have a previous Ghibli Blu-Ray release (it seems like a lot of the extra features are the same across the Blu-Ray releases), you can pick up Tales From Earthsea tomorrow at your favorite DVD retailer for $29.99 USD ($35.99 CDN).
Disney is also re-releasing Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind in a Blu-Ray DVD Combo pack tomorrow. Someday I will find someone with a Blu-Ray player so I can really compare the quality between the two versions.
Earth has somehow survived a destructive global war. The Valley of the Wind is one of the few places left that have escaped the horrifying ravages of war. A poisonous forest threatens to overtake the valley so it’s up to the young Princess Nausicaa to somehow bring harmony back to the ravaged world.
This is one of my favorite Ghibli films and I think one of Hayao Miyazaki’s best. The Ohmu creatures are absolutely wonderful to behold. And the animated sequence of the God Warrior is still one of the most striking scenes in anime to this date.
The DVD has a Behind the Microphone feature with the English language voice cast as well as “The Birth Story of Studio Ghibli” which is the same one on the Ponyo Blu-Ray DVD combo. The Blu-Ray disc, which is mocking me right now as I can’t play it, has a “Behind the Studio” feature that goes into the origin of the Nausicaa film and an interview with Hayao Miyazaki. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
The 2-Disc Blu-Ray combo pack of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind drops tomorrow for $39.99 USD ($44.99 CDN).