07 July 2015

Mini-Series Review: "Earthsea"

Rated: TV-PG for language, sexual scenes, and violence
Starring: Shawn Ashmore, Kristin Kreuk, and Isabella Rosselini
Released: December 2004 (Sci-Fi Channel premiere)
Synopsis: After the death of his mother, Ged (Shawn Ashmore) is being trained to be a blacksmith by his father...but Ged knows he is meant for something greater.  When he meets the wizard Ogion (Danny Glover), Ged begins to study under him to learn the art of sorcery...but, Ged soon gets bored with the lessons, and Ogion tells him to study at the wizarding school in Roke.  When a competition with his arch-rival leads Ged to unleash an unspeakable evil, he'll stop at nothing to undo his terrible misdeed...even if it costs him his own life.
Based on the novels of Ursula K. LeGuin.  As seen on the Sci-Fi channel.

The Good: This is the first miniseries I've watched in a while...but I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I couldn't get into the original novels, but, these two episodes told a captivating story that kept me on the edge of my seat.  All of the performers did very well, and the two antagonists were appropriately despicable.  The special effects were great for a made-for-TV production.  Also, surprisingly, the profanity quotient was very low; I think I heard about two utterances of expletives the whole time, even with closed captioning.

The Bad: While the language may have been quite minor, a few sex scenes--one of which included partial nudity--and some bloody violence may disturb discerning viewers; then again, the illicit affairs are done by the antagonists, which means such actions are vilified.  Young children may also be scared by the main villain, who smacks of Harry Potter's sworn enemy Voldemort.  Of course, there's also the usage of magic, but you already knew that...right?

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: An unmarried couple is seen in bed three times; some passionate kissing. 2/5
  • Nudity: Partial female nudity in a sex scene; shirtless guys. 2/5
  • Language: One usage each of the d-word and h-word. 4/5
  • Violence: Fantasy violence throughout; a woman is impaled with bloody results; another woman is hung (not graphic); yet another woman is poisoned; a man is presumably stabbed to death. 2/5
  • Drugs: A woman is poisoned. 4/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: The hanging; the impaling; a demon-like creature is rather hideous and talks in a scary voice. 1/5
  • Other: Usage of magic throughout. 4/5
Conclusion: All the way back in the fall of 2011, I watched a very long movie called The Witches of Oz.  Despite its obviously poor production values--shoddy special effects, sub-par acting, etc.--it kept me up past midnight only because of the story.  Earthsea is much better quality in that regard, but it still got a critical drubbing, mostly because of its lack of faithfulness to the "classic" books that inspired it.  Well, maybe I need to give those LeGuin works a second try; regardless, I found this to be captivating, despite its content issues.  Discerning viewers will want to take note of the concerns mentioned above, but, I found this to be a treat...for the most part, anyway.

Score: 4/5

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