Friday, March 30, 2012

unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent.

So the BBC is running a story right now asking just why it seems so many Fantasy characters speak with distinctly British accents. Speaking strictly as a fan of the Fantasy Genre, It is a rather preposterous question to be honest. They act as if they need it spelled out to them that the reason the bulk of the characters in Middle Earth and Westeros speak with a variety of British accents is because, well, they are set in Pseudo Britains. They argue, rather unconvincely, that due to Game of Thrones being based on an American series, the characters should probably have American accents. I could buy this if the series being adapted was Terry Brook's Shannara, set unquestionably in a future north America. In fact, I would be offended if Shannara was adapted and wasn't populated by North American accents. If they ever get around to adapting Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, the author himself was explicit on what sort of accents his characters should have, and I hope, for sake of the strangeness of seeing a bunch of African Samurai's speaking with Texas accents, they honor the author's wishes.

The Article goes on to question whether or not the surge in British Accents in Fantasy is a result of Kevin Costner's abysmal accent in Robin Hood: Prince of thieves, It's an alright question but rather dubious. Fantasy Films have been sporting accents and casting "Foreign" (Non American) Actors for a very long time. Or that perhaps it is in reaction to years and years of British accents being synonymous with villainy in Hollywood. Star Wars being a great late example of this. But Practically every World War II film that didn't force its actors to use bad fake German accents, simply substituted for British.

However, that being said, if you look at the 1977 Rankin-Bass adaption of The Hobbit, the entire cast, more or less, is comprised of Americans, and it worked. At least to me, I felt the voices in The Hobbit were all quite good for the characters. They were believable because it was consistent. Obviously you run into problems when you have a hodgepodge of accents with no discernible reason for them to be different. This was a sevre problem with the recent Tom Cruise film Valkyrie. Every other actor in the film, except Cruise, had a British Accent. It made the Germans convincing, except for Tom Cruise. Why so many Americans, myself included, have so much difficulty with accents, baring caricatured ones, is a mystery.

Monday, March 5, 2012


I just found out that the Finnish folk metal band Turisas included a cover of Jethro Tull's Broadsword on the 2 disc release of their recent Stand up and fight. I'm sure those who are more in tune with the whole metal scene knew about this already, but seeing as it is only available on the 40$ import 2-disc release, I thought I would share it with everyone.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty

I went to see this film last night. As is usual for studio Ghibli films it was pretty much great. It was a cute kids movie without being cloying or leaving the lingering aftertaste of artificial sweeteners. At the same time it also kept from wandering into the soul crushing, entire box of kleenex affair, territory of some of the studio's other films.

Following their adaption of Diane Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle and Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea, we are treated to another foray of Studio Ghibli adapting western Fantasy fiction. This time, Mary Norton's The Borrowers, was the subject of the adaption. As with the previous adaptions it captures something of the spirit of the book. At the same time losing something due to shifting the setting to Japan, which to me, felt some what jarring. Though that likely was due more to the Dub (All animation is dubbed by the way, so don't tell me to watch the subtitled version) choosing extremely western names for a number of the characters. I just cannot see a Japanese boy having the name Sean, or his aunt being named Jessica. And at the same time the landscape was so unmistakably Japanese that I couldn't imagine the film being set anywhere else. These are minor quibbles, It wasn't distracting enough to keep me from enjoying the film.

This particular film was not directed by Studio head Hayao Miyazaki but it didn't suffer for it. It had all of the studio hallmarks, and was clearly part of a larger corpus of work stretching back to Nausica: Valley of the Wind. I really can't think of anything bad to say about the film. On the other hand I can't say that I liked it as well as I liked The Borrowers with Jim Broadbent, or the BBC television show with Ian Holm.

All in All, this being the first Studio Ghibli Film I've seen in Theaters since Princess Mononoke, I had a pretty good time. Disney for the most part does a really top notch job in the dubbing process and in bringing attention to these films. At the same time some of the localizations (such as the names) were jarring in ways that they wouldn't be if the entire movie had been localized (which it wasn't). If you haven't seen it, or if you have kids and want to show them a movie which has deep themes to it but won't leave them distraught or hyper active after they finish watching.. I recommend the movie.