Earwig And The Witch (PG)Cast: Taylor Henderson, Kacey Musgraves, Richard E Grant
Author(s): Emi Gunji, Keiko Niwa
Director: Goro Miyazaki
Release Date: 28/05/2021 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 83mins
A cherubic baby girl is deposited on the steps of St Morwald's Home For Children by her magically gifted mother. Ten years pass and Earwig blossoms into an intrepid adventurer. Out of the blue, a strange-looking couple adopt Earwig and spirit the girl away to a house in a nearby town. The woman, Bella Yaga, confides she is a witch and needs Earwig to become an assistant in her spell-casting laboratory. Earwig agrees on the condition that the witch teaches her magic.
LondonNet Film Review
Earwig And The Witch (PG)
Tokyo-based Studio Ghibli has blazed a trail in emotionally rich animated films since the 1986 release of Castle In The Sky written and directed by company co-founder Hayao Miyazaki. In 2003, Miyazaki’s wildly imaginative fantasy Spirited Away became the first hand-drawn film not in the English language to win an Academy Award as Best Animated Feature – an honour it retains to this day. The studio’s last four films, The Wind Rises, The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There, and The Red Turtle, earned consecutive Oscar nominations. That run of rich form comes to a screeching halt with Earwig And The Witch…
Adapted from the novel by Diana Wynne Jones, this slick yet soulless yarn bears almost none of the Ghibli trademarks, trading in the expressive hand-drawn visuals for unimpressive 3D computer animation as a plodding script addresses a 10-year-old girl’s close encounter with magic under the direction of Miyazaki’s son Goro. Characters are so thinly sketched they could almost be translucent including the spunky and unsympathetic title character, and the studio’s usually skilful tugging of heartstrings never materialises.
A cherubic baby girl is deposited on the steps of St Morwald’s Home For Children by her magically gifted mother (voiced by Kacey Musgraves), who is on the run. Apart from a handwritten note, the only possession left with the baby is a cassette tape inscribed with a single word – Earwig. Matron (Pandora Colin) won’t condone a child being called Earwig so she rechristens the new arrival Erica Wig. Ten years pass and Earwig (Taylor Paige Henderson) blossoms into an intrepid adventurer, who has the orphanage’s staff wrapped around her little finger, to the delight of best friend Custard (Logan Hannan).
Out of the blue, a strange-looking couple adopt Earwig and spirit the girl away to a house in a nearby town. The woman, Bella Yaga (Vanessa Marshall), confides she is a witch and needs Earwig to become an assistant in her spell-casting laboratory. “If you work really hard, I shan’t do anything to hurt you,” snarls Bella Yaga. Earwig agrees on the condition that the witch teaches her magic and the girl gradually unlocks the secrets of the house’s inhabitants: Bella Yaga’s companion Mandrake (Richard E Grant), who has demons at his beck and call, and talking black cat Thomas (Dan Stevens).
Earwig And The Witch is a crushing disappointment from an animation powerhouse with an enviable reputation for excellence. Paige Henderson’s heroine remains a headstrong brat to the bitter end and gives us no reason to care one iota about her fate. An abrupt and deeply unsatisfying ending is indicative of a slapdash approach to storytelling that doesn’t come close to Studio Ghibli’s previous rifle through the pages of Wynne Jones’s imagination with Howl’s Moving Castle.
– Kim Hu
UK and Irish Cinemas Showing Earwig And The Witch
From: Friday 18th June
To: Thursday 24th June
Sat 10:25; Sun 10:00
From: Friday 25th June
To: Thursday 1st July
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