Monday, January 11, 2010

DVD Review: Naruto Shippuden - The Movie

The original Naruto series finished its run just a little while ago and VIZ has begun releasing the sequel, Shippuden, in case you were unaware. It should be no surprise then that the first Shippuden animated film would find its way to our shores. The first series received several films during its time and I'm sure the same will hold true for the second leg of Naruto's journey.

Much like other anime franchises, Naruto's films felt like extended episodes from the show, just with better animation and slightly more grandiose stories backing the adventure. Some of these have been successful, but for the most part they aren't necessary viewing material for fans, but rather just something else to watch. With that in mind, how does Shippuden's first film stack up?
Originally Naruto Shippuden: The Movie came out in 2007 over in Japan, but since VIZ only recently started releasing the show here in the States it's not surprise that it took a couple of years. After all, what's the point in watching a Shippuden movie if we haven't even received the show yet? If you've been a follower for some time and know the Naruto franchise in and out then you should be pleased to note that this movie in no way messes with the timeline of Shippuden. We've only received a handful of episodes from the series at this point and thankfully there is no spoiler material anywhere in this film.
Naruto Shippuden: The Movie begins rather boldly with the death of Naruto. He's fighting a giant serpent thing and the tide of the battle seems to be going in his favor until he's impaled by a large tentacle. There's a bit of a funeral back at Konoha and from that point the movie launches the title screen and takes you back in time to the point the beginning of the end came about.

Basically what's going on here is nothing surprising to anyone who has watched the show or movies. A big powerful demon is on the verge of being reawakened and if that happens all hell will break loose and the world will come to its end. Rather than fight the throngs of devils head-on, Naruto, Sakura, Neji, and Lee are assigned the special task of guarding a person of great importance. It would appear that a priestess is out there that is the only one who possesses the ability to stop the resurrection and save the world. She also has visions of the future, which is the snippet we saw of Naruto's death.

Along the way minions of the demon try to kill the priestess and prevent Naruto and the rest from achieving their objective and stopping their master. The four minions are pretty powerful and go through many transformations during their battles. They are basically very similar to some of Orochimaru's goons, however, and don't really stand out as being unique or interesting. The same goes for the main villain in the film, who is almost too straightforward and one-dimensional for his own good.
The script here isn't anything special either. The plotline kind of deadpans and it's not very entertaining, and the only thing that really drives the film are its characters. Naruto is an entertaining idiot as always, Sakura, Lee, and Neji are also their usual selves. The priestess is snobby and more like Naruto than anyone would care to admit, but somehow the two play off each other very well. Fights are another big draw here, and though Naruto's name is in the title, I dare say that it's Lee who really steals the show as always.

Naruto Shippuden: The Movie hits DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. The film is as bright and colorful as the rest of the franchise and the picture quality is just as appealing. There are some moments where light grain is noticeable, but there are no other detractions worth mentioning. Japanese and English 5.1 are available here for audio tracks. Both have a nice presence on the soundstage and each offers a slightly different experience with regards to the quality of the dub. The sound here is crisp, clean, and the presentation revs up during the film's many fight scenes. For bonus features there is the original Japanese trailer, clean animations, and trailers for other VIZ titles. There is also a little booklet included with artwork and information about the characters in the film.
From start to finish Naruto Shippuden: The Movie isn't bad, but it's not exactly amazing. It's a standard Naruto adventure with few surprises and very little drama. It's basically an extended episode of the show with plenty of laughs, fighting, and Naruto antics to appease fans. If you're enjoying Shippuden then this movie is worth checking out, but it's not exactly a run-out-and-see kind of experience. It is worth noting that the film will also not spoil anything of the show for you, so you don't have to worry about it being ahead of where VIZ is with its release. When you get around to it you'll be pleased enough and that's why this release receives a light recommendation.

Maki Rating:

Review material provided by VIZ.

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