Intro and Story Review
This is an interesting film to say the least. It's certianly one of Ghibli's darker films.It's not really a family film. There's violence/gore, one scene of drug use and the effects drugs have on people,people being beat up and forced into slavery, and a constant need to beat into everyone's brain that everyone's going to die someday and death is something that can't be escaped and just needs to be accepted in order to accept life ironically enough. The story had alot of action,but often times it left me confused. For example, why were there two Arren's exsisting at the same time? Did Arren have multiply personality disorder or was his alternate persona the cause of some kind of magic or curse? And why did a certain character turn into a dragon randomly at the end of the movie and then turn human again? Or was that dragon a seperate character? If so, where was the said character who I thought was the dragon while all this was happening? There's simply too many questions left unanswered and the movie is rather confusing. I haven't read the book so I don't know if things are explained better in it or not. That being said, anyone looking to watch this movie for the dragon aspect, steer clear. There is mabye only a minute total of dragon screentime.
While the story left something to be desired, the art was the quality one would expect from Studio Ghibli. The backgrounds were quite colorful and gorgeous and the characters(except for the bad guys but it's a trend in most movies for the bad guys to look hideously ugly) were quite nice to look at. Arren and his "horse" remind me quite a lot of the main boy from ghibli's earlier film Princesss Monoke and his pet elk-thing. That being said, the animals in this movie were rather strange. The wolves that attacked Arren on one occassional had unnaturally short tails and it could be do to mistranslation on the English dub's part, but the creature belonging to Arren certainly looked nothing like a horse even though one of the characters refered to it as one at one put in the film.
The dub was nicely done. The voices fit the characters' personalities well and the music was the right theme-style for the type of film. Other than whether or not the voices fit with the characters though, I don't tend to pay attention so much to sound as I do to the art and story.
The characters were decent,but could have used a little more development. Like for instance, an explanation why Arren occassionally had random violent tendences out of nowhere was much needed. Also, some more history on Theru and why she distrusted strangers would of been nice rather than just a fleeting mention of her parents having abused and abandoned her. Some of Arren's past would have helped us sympathize with him more as well. And Sparrowhawke(apparently called Ged in the non-dub version)remains a rather mysterious character throughout the whole movie that you can't really relate to much. The bad guy has some kind of beef against Sparrowhawke but even this isn't explained in much detail. The character development would have been much better if the film had shown flashbacks of how the characters were invovled with each other rather than just brief,fleeting mentions of the character's past meetings/involvements with each other.
The first half of the movie had me bored out of my mind because it seem to just be setting everything up for the real events,but the second half's action and drama redeemed it considerably for me. All in all, I have to say, nice art and sound and decent,but sometimes confusing story and characters.