Earwig and the Witch
Earwig and the Witch (2021) movie review
Earwig and the Witch, or Âya to majo, is the latest animated film from Studio Ghibli. The film follows the titular Earwig, an orphan, who ends up being adopted by a witch. The film was directed by Gorô Miyazaki and was released early this month after a festival run that began in October. However unlike most films from Studio Ghibli, Earwig and the Witch has received a predominately negative reception, with only a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences seem a bit warmer to the film than critics, but most of the complaints do stem from the animation, as this is the studio’s first CG animated film.
Everyone’s impression of Earwig and the Witch will depend on the expectations they set going into the film. The lower they are, the more you might enjoy this honestly interesting adaptation of the novel by Diana Wynne Jones. However go into the film with high expectations and this will almost certainly be a bad taste that will stick with you for a while. While I do have some mixed feelings on the film thanks to my low expectations when going into it, the name Studio Ghibli sets such a high bar that I would dare to call this film good in any way.
Now I bet I could fill an entire review talking about the animation. But while I am not going to do that, I will say I don’t really care for the choice. I don’t mind it the animation itself, and honestly, this film doesn’t look terrible for a first attempt. But gosh going from the consistently stunning animation of Ghibli to this just makes me ask ‘Why?’ I don’t think it adds anything, and this story in particular is on such a small scale that it never gets a chance to do really anything visually impressive.
Now as far as the story goes, the film is actually hard to like early on. While much of the lack f depth to the story can be attributed to a rather abrupt finale, the larger issue comes with protagonist Earwig, who is consistently and entirely dislikable through most of the film’s rather short runtime. She spends what feels like every minute on screen either getting what she wants or manipulating people to get what she wants. This could have easily turned into a compelling character arc, but the film falls short in terms of actual character growth. Earwig simply becomes more tolerable as the story progresses and the supporting characters become more interesting.
All that being said, this wasn’t a bad film. Despite a downright annoying character leading the film, the small-scale story and supporting characters almost make up for Earwig. On top of that, there is a good bit of comedy that comes hand in hand with some surprising heart that I should have been expecting. I’m not saying it’s as moving as literally anything else form this studio, but it did make the entire film feel almost worth watching. That said, I’m going to leave this one up to you all. I think I’ve met in the middle with a 5/10 for Earwig, but I could see arguments on both sides with this one. If you like your films hand drawn with likable protagonists on a level that this studio SHOULD be on, you might just hate Earwig and the Witch! But if you don’t have high expectations and you just want a fun and innocent 82 minutes, hey you honestly could do worse!
So Earwig and the Witch? Did you see it? What did you think? And I know this is a bold question, but what is your LEAST favorite film from Studio Ghibli and why? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know what else we should write about!-review by Ryan Prince