Earthsea Robert Lieberman

Featuring a relatively high profile cast ranging from Danny Glover to Isabella Rossellini, Lieberman's Earthsea takes a crack at adapting Ursula K. Le Guin's fantasy-based stories into a made for TV epic. Originally presented as a two-part mini-series, Earthsea was filmed in Vancouver. The story involves a young wizard named Ged (Shawn Ashmore), whom after unintentionally releasing an evil force on the land of Earthsea must face his fears and own up to the mistakes of his past. This is a sadly unimpressive take on Le Guin's novels and features a gratuitous amount of CGI and an overall poor quality of acting. Given the film's mere 15-million dollar budget (as opposed to the hundred of million spent on The Lord of the Rings trilogy), such flaws are forgivable. The real issues are with the film's inconsistencies, which greatly detract from the believability of the fantasy world. The dialogue, for example, which is established as being quite formal, is almost too unnatural. Attempting to counteract such stiffness, Lieberman also attempts to achieve humour through moments of casual dialogue, yet these attempts only serve to further deter from any realism. The film's timeline is also distracting. The story, which claims to take place over years, seems to only occur over a few weeks. Attempts to recreate the fearful elements of the novels also fall short (lisping dragons aren't scary) and overall Earthsea fails not only to capture the essence of its source material but to create an effective story of its own. With only a director's commentary and an extremely short hype video to accompany the film, there is not much of a point buying this DVD. Fans of the books that simply must see the film will be better off waiting to catch a rerun on television. (Lions Gate)