Last night’s viewing was Earthsea, a 2004 Sci Fi Channel movie that purports to be adapted from Ursula K. LeGuin’s series of the same name.
I guess they were faithful to the books in one respect — I don’t remember there being any acting schools in Earthsea, and these people have clearly never been to one.
Wikipedia informs me that LeGuin herself said of the production, “I can only admire Mr [Executive Producer Robert] Halmi’s imagination, but I wish he’d left mine alone.” I’m going to be honest — I never liked the books that much when I read them as a child; I found them slow and kind of bland. I felt like I struggled through them and didn’t get that much out of them. But, man, they were way better than this.
My earlier comment about crappy acting includes Isabella Rosselini, who seemed to be phoning it in. Only my fellow San Franciscan Danny Glover (represent!) seemed to take the script seriously and have any insight into it, which makes me think he’s really weird. But that’s his job, I guess, so bravo, Mr. Glover.
Interestingly, most of the peoples of Earthsea are described in the books as being nonwhite, but the Kargs are Nordic. Here, they’re all white except Ogion (Glover) and Tenar (Kristin Kreuk, who is of Chinese and Dutch ancestry). Apparently, that pissed LeGuin off, too.
All told, though, Earthsea is better than 95% of the heroic fantasy movies I’ve ever seen, maybe more… which is a miserable thing to say, but for every Dragonslayer, there’s a dozen Hawk the Slayers.