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"Earthsea" More at IMDbPro »

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148 out of 195 people found the following review useful:

I just don't understand

Author: markbvt-1 from Burlington, VT
14 December 2004

It never ceases to amaze me how some hack screenwriter can think he's gifted enough to take award-winning, much-loved source material and alter it nearly to the point of unrecognizability. This can never lead to a good outcome. This miniseries was further proof. What a complete waste of time and money. Stilted, wooden acting, lame dialogue, and pointless major plot changes (not to mention detail changes) resulted in one of the worst book-to-film adaptations I've ever seen. Several times I found myself wondering whether the people responsible for this mess had ever actually read the books. And what was up with the casting? I've never seen a bigger load of actors who are simply wrong for their parts.

How do they get funding for this stuff? I just don't get it. They should just give me the money instead -- I could have made a better adaptation with my video camera, a plastic swimming pool, and a stick of modeling clay. Unbelievable.

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124 out of 151 people found the following review useful:

I join the ranks of the dismayed

Author: narose from Virginia
14 December 2004

I am a huge fan of the Earthsea books and have been since the 1970s. I was so excited to hear the books were being adapted into a mini-series, particularly now with the CGI possibilities out there. To say this was a huge disappointment is the understatement of my year. Unlike some, my dismay is not because they changed the story from the books - screen adaptations do that all the time, sometimes to an extreme degree like here. But for that kind of adaptation to be good, you still need good casting, good writing, good acting, and good direction. There was none of that here.

Even my husband, who is not a fan of the books, didn't want to keep watching it (we tuned out after about 45 minutes and then looked in twice more for about two minutes each), purely because the script was so wooden (oh, for the lyricism of Le Guin's original prose!) and the line reading by the actors was so poor - it was like watching a high school play without a breakout star. They took what was a subtle, UNIQUE (the operative word to the max) series of books and made it grotesquely derivative - heartbreaking, given how truly original Le Guin's world was. She had no Sauron or Voldemort equivalent in her books (think about it, you fans of the books) - her whole point was there is only the evil that men do. In her Earthsea, no one is completely evil but everyone is capable of evil acts (even Ged). But obviously Hollywood can only deal with external, black and white conflicts - and so it had to invent a big bad villain (with only a glancing association with an original Le Guin character). I started out very nervous about this, because Ged was cast with blond curly hair - but I couldn't have possibly imagined how profoundly awful it would be.

Please, everyone who is reading and writing these comments - don't blame Le Guin. This mini-series has virtually NOTHING to do with her books.

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117 out of 143 people found the following review useful:

TIGO replaces GIGO

Author: PaterPotato from Planet Halmi
14 December 2004

Treasure in, Garbage Out. This can hardly be called an adaptation of the novel, as the miniseries has almost nothing in common with the books except a few - not all - of the names. The story has not been changed, but discarded, and a hackneyed Swords & Sorcery 'epic' put in its stead. Ged's solitary search for understanding is replaced by a buddy flick, with Vetch now providing comic relief. In a curiously inconsistent approach to political correctness, women are introduced to Roke, but the black characters are played by white actors, with only one notable exception. (Yes, Ged, Vetch, Jasper, Nemmerle - excuse me, 'Archmagus' - were all black in the books.) Heck, even the Shadow isn't a shadow anymore. Any resemblance to the book is strictly for market appeal.

As a movie/miniseries, it fails. The dialogue is laughable, the acting generally wooden, the special effects not up to the grand effect desired. This would-be LOTR/Harry Potter comes across more as Dungeons and Dragons. Glover mails in his lines, Ashmore fails to achieve the depth of character necessary to make the audience feel the change before and after the incident on Roke Knoll, Calvert turns Kossil into another tiresome scheming vixen; Roche at least has fun with the only role with no counterpart in the novels, and he hams it up royally.

It's simply amazing that the script ever got greenlighted.

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128 out of 172 people found the following review useful:

Worst Adaptation EVER. Shame on you, Sci Fi Channel.

Author: TheAscender from Provo, UT
13 December 2004

The Sci Fi channel should have put some of their marketing money into production, because this was not only a BAD adaptation of an incredible book, it was the worst I've ever seen. If you have read the books, you'll know exactly what I mean. If you haven't, go to the library or bookstore (they're worth owning) and spend the time in the book instead of wasting it on this worthless show.

A few key points of my utter disenchantment (pun intended): 1) Ged was the same age throughout the entire movie when in the books we get to follow him from age 10 to 80. 2) There is absolutely no sex in the book, but you get a nice bedroom scene in the first 5 minutes of the movie. COME ON. The books offer MORE than enough material to engage the reader. You don't need to whore the characters, although Sci Fi managed to make one up for just that purpose. 3) Bad acting. It took me back to the days of MTV's "Undressed". 4) Lame ass CGI. After seeing Sci Fi do OK with Dune, I was hoping for much better graphics in this movie. 5) Most importantly, Le Guin's books won awards for what they are. IMHO, Sci Fi showed an inordinate disrespect for that by bastardizing the plot into something completely different. BOOOOOOOOOO!

To sum up, don't see it. Don't even give it a second glance. Anyone associated with this atrocity needs to have their head handed to them on a magician's staff. If you want to see an Earthsea worth seaing (a pun on the level of the Sci Fi production), get the books. Or borrow mine; but you'll have to wait a few days as I read them again to regain the enchantment.

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78 out of 94 people found the following review useful:


Author: minspam2004-public from Georgia
16 December 2004

This was the most appalling adaptation of a story I have seen in quite some time. It does violence to the fundamental story line of LeGuin's books--no wonder she has publicly distanced herself from it.

For one thing, Ged (that's his true name, by the way, and everyone on Earthsea has them) is not a petulant teenager. He is impetuous, but not petulant. There was also no Christian subtext in the books. Ged did not rise from the dead; he was re-born when he received his true name, but that happened when he was seven, and is something he shares with every other Archipelagan.

The people of the Archipelago are red-brown to black. They are not pasty Chlorox white. A series that had non-whites as its protagonists was a rare thing in the sixties and seventies--whites don't need to appropriate this one now.

The God-King was not trying to conquer all of Earthsea in order to conquer death. He does not succeed in an attack on Roke, and he does not knife the Archmage.

Normally, I understand the compromises necessary to translate a book to a film. The two move at different paces and have different story telling needs. So if dialogue wanders, or secondary plots disappear--fine, so long as the original author's intent and main story line are preserved. This adaptation (in which the producer, Robert Halmi, claimed to speak for Ms. LeGuin (and called her "miss"--MISS, to a woman who has been in the forefront of feminism for over thirty years!!!!!!!)) did not even maintain the same story or the same intent. LeGuin has noted that the whole story revolves around two young people coming into their power--and the responsibilities and problems thereof. There was none of that in this story. For shame, anyone responsible for decisions about this film: you did terrible work this time around.

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65 out of 84 people found the following review useful:

Lack of character motivation mirrors lack of viewer motivation

Author: Daniel from Michigan
14 December 2004

One of the main problem is the massacre of most of the motivations that guided Ged & helped me relate to him as a character. In the original, Ged started out with a delight in control over other creatures; this delight was warped by his pride, which was the origin and core of the conflict. His desire to impress arises from his interactions with a witch's daughter, leading to his first summoning of the shadow (not to mention the fact that the daughter plays a key role later in the story). In an equal-and-opposite kind of way, Ged's pride and power unleashed his own potential destruction. The mini-series detaches the characters from almost any sense of motivation, turning them into pieces passionlessly moving about in something akin to a bad D & D adventure.

For the record, I voted with a rating of 2/10. Under ordinary circumstances, I need to black out from the pain before I rate something this low; unfortunately, the fact that the movie claims to somehow be related to Le Guin's series warrants a further deduction for misrepresentation.

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61 out of 84 people found the following review useful:

So, so disappointing!

Author: bmoore-13 from Arkansas
14 December 2004

Two-thirds through last night's show--the first half of EARTHSEA--I muttered to my wife, "This is so bad." She said, "So tomorrow you'll be at the computer typing up your gripes to someone." I looked at her indignantly and said something like, "Ah, why waste my time?" Of course, she was right, so here I am. An Earthsea adaptation is long overdue; I'm just so sad that it was done so shabbily, with such an eye (apparently) toward anticipating what the unimaginative masses would like to see, as opposed to the rich, subtle, mystical world that Ursula Le Guin so beautifully created in her great Earthsea novels. I don't have the heart (or time) to break the mini-series down, bit by bit, to show what's wrong with it. Let's just say that the screenwriters, producers, and director insisted on reshaping a great work of popular art into a cookie cutter shape, substituting clichés for subtleties and an "epic" (read Lord of the Rings) war story for what should have been a personal struggle with good/evil. Worst, I suspect that in Part II, tonight, we're all gonna see Ged, whose little cheek scar only adds to his overall "hotness," smooching a princess (the SMALLVILLE babe). This thing is almost as bland as last month's elections. Mr and Ms. Producers, either do Le Guin justice and tell the story right or don't bother!

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50 out of 69 people found the following review useful:

a bitter disappointment

Author: kyrstaldolfin ( from Roswell, New Mexico, USA
14 December 2004

I have been a loyal fan of Ursula K LaGuinn's Earthsea series for years, and when Sci Fi announced they were making a miniseries, needless to say I was excited. And then the movie began... what a bitter disappointment! I had hoped, with the beautiful and excellent work done on Lord of the Rings, that movie makers and script writers were at last going to be true to an author's vision. What a terrible blow then, when Sci Fi aired Part I of Legend of Earthsea. I did not even bother to watch the second half, for I truly couldn't stomach anymore. I guess the writers and producers didn't even bother to read the books... in fact, I think they borrowed a name here, a place there, threw Ursula K LaGuinn's name on it so they couldn't be sued for plagiarism, and said here you go, an epic retelling of a masterpiece! Maybe they should have stuck with science fiction, 'cause they sure do suck at fantasy! If any of you watched this, "movie" and liked it, I urge you to read the true Earthsea Cycle and then decide. As for me, my faith in the skill and talent of the writers hired by Sci Fi has been badly shaken, and may never recover!

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39 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Greatness to Mediocrity

Author: blyden4 from United States
15 December 2004

Legends of Earthsea has a quality cast and acting -- though a cast that was largely south Asian or middle eastern might have been truer to the original story -- and also does nice things with settings, sets, and computer graphics, and could be an enjoyable TV movie in its own right, if the viewer were not aware of and comparing it to the original story.

The great shortcoming is the script and storyline, which has mangled the first two books of the Earthsea trilogy -- one of the greatest pieces of writing in the fantasy genre by one of the greatest fantasy and science fiction writers -- into a very mediocre, formulaic fantasy production with a story that bears only a passing resemblance to the original. The story suffers from a peripheral character, the Kargad king, being blown into a major character to provide a central villain, all but destroying the nuance and social complexity of antagonism in the original stories. The original stories have a strong theme of growth through the lifecourse of the central character, Ged. Collapsing the stories together and shortening the time frame has required a number of story changes which weaken this central theme. A number of changes have been made with respect to Atuan that play into a sappy, very unsatisfactory ending.

If you want cheap entertainment this is a good movie. If you want truly great stories, and fantasy reading that offers insight into your everyday life and commentary on the world, read the books instead: A Wizard of Earthsea, Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, by Ursula LeGuin. The later Tehanu continues the story of Ged, but is, IMO, less deserving of praise.

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59 out of 92 people found the following review useful:

Worse than I thought possible

Author: cneiss from new jersey
14 December 2004

I had read Ursula K. LeGuin's response to some statements made by the director and I expected it to be bad. What I saw was horrendous. This is, to my mind, one of the best fantasy series ever written. This adaptation of it only resembles it in the location it was set and the names of the characters.

I have seen a couple of posts to which I must respond:

1) Comparing this to other works such as Dune and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant miss the mark. While both of those series were great, A Wizard of Earthsea precedes them. Moreover, the best of the series was the last two books, unlike most other most similar series (was it Frank Herbert that said "every good trilogy is five books, at least"?

2) Changing the race of the characters misses an integral part of the statement made by the author. I know she hates it when people read meanings into her works, but given that the book was written in the middle of racial unrest in the '60s a statement was made, intended or otherwise. The "good guys" were the dark skinned peoples and the "bad guys" were the tall, blond white peoples (yes, I know it's no where near that simple, but the basic idea stands).

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