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[R1 DVD art]
AKA: N/A
Genre: Modern-day fantasy adventure
Length: Movie, 83 minutes
Distributor: VHS from Fox Home Entertainment
Content Rating: G or PG (some violence)
Related Series: Digimon: Digital Monsters, Digimon 02, Digimon Tamers, Digimon Frontier
Also Recommended: Digimon 02, Final Fantasy: Unlimited
Notes: This is actually the combination of the first three Digimon featurettes (mini-movies / OAVs), rearranged as a full-length feature for the American market.
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars
 

Digimon the Movie

Synopsis

A movie in several segments: One, which occurs after the events of the first TV series, deals with the nefarious entity known as Diaboramon. Another, which takes place several years later, involves an mysterious American boy, who must find a way resolve the fight between his twin Digimon companions.


Review

This movie really is a mixed bag. This isn't surprising, considering that the movie is in reality a splice of the first three OAVs. Unfortunately, due to poorly-handled transitions, frequently kitschy dialogue, and a badly-paced and badly-written second half, Digimon the Movie does very little to dispel its image among many anime fans as the smart-alecky foster brother of Pokemon.

However, there is quite a bit of good to be seen here. The first segment is truly inspired, if only because, for once, we see how a little sister would really react upon seeing her older brother in a crisis situation. (Laugh her butt off, naturally.) I can see why there are so many Digimon fans out there - as the characters are, at times, acted realistically, and play off each other just like real-life siblings. Then comes the plot, which concentrates on the threat of Diaboramon, and how the Digi-Destined deal with an online entity that may destroy them all quite literally, as well as a large, unsuspecting chunk of Japan with it. It's actually pretty good, with some suspenseful scenes, and it's a good deal darker and more exciting than you'd expect from something in this genre. The ending, though, is incredibly contrived, and though it's logical, it's a great deal less inspiring than it probably should be. Also, the Digimon themselves are relatively underused here, though perhaps that might not be such a bad thing.

(The comment has been made that this ending inspired a campaign by a certain mailing list to remove THEM's less-than-supportive preliminary review of the TV series, by using a similar method. If so, then I am even more embarrassed to be an anime fan. -_-)

The second half, which happens several years later, is segued somewhat messily, leading anyone unfamiliar with the series (like parents, or college-age anime reviewers) wondering who all these new characters are. Unlike the first segment, in which the characters use the ambient conditions rather cleverly, the second segment relies far too heavily on the Digimon Digi-Volving into more powerful forms. It plays way too much like a bad road movie, chopped up into video-game-ready stages (fight boss form one here, form two here, et cetera).

What's worse is the dialogue. While Digimon, unlike Pokemon, can speak coherent human speech, they are prone to horribly stilted dialogue, whether it's talking back or being extraordinarily cloying ("I'm not a pet, I'm your *friend*!"). And their Digi-Volved forms, which are prefaced by some of the most embarrassingly stupid transformation sequences I have EVER seen ("Aquilamon the Hawk of Love"?!?!?), feature lines we think were actually recorded by the Superfriends. "Look, Angelmon, they're in trouble! Let us assist them!" Not to mention some of the strangest design choices possible for a monster show, like a chain gun-toting Rambo bunny. (I wish I were kidding.)

And if the ending to the first half was lukewarm at best, the ending to the second half is unbearably bad.

Throughout the entire movie, we are treated to alt-rock tunes that were last popular when I was still attending high school, kinda like Tekken the Movie. I guess they were attempting to go for a "period" soundtrack for segment one (which ostensibly occurred five or so years ago), but it doesn't really come off well because the tunes just seem randomly inserted during the course of the movie. And the instrumentals (or what's left of them) aren't much better, having been so thoroughly gutted by the transfer from Japan to North America as to be disjointed and largely ineffective. If anything, all the music does is distract from the action and dialogue, which is precisely what a movie soundtrack should NOT be doing.

Finally, the animation, though serviceable for a kids' show, has a tendency to be badly whitewashed. If you aren't familiar with the TV show, the character designs aren't distinctive enough for the casual viewer to get a feel for the characters, especially when two of them have an almost identical outfit.

Will I ever consider Digimon to be the pinnacle of anime children's programming? Probably not, and certainly not after this movie. However, it's clever enough and marketable enough for it to weather the passing of the "monster-game" trend, and I think we'll be hearing from Digimon for a bit longer yet. I just hope that the creators concentrate more on the original spirit of the series rather than what their critters can Digi-Volve into next...

Or, like my roommate, you could just simply enjoy this movie by turning it into a drinking game. Your choice.

Two bad endings, "tawdry bad" dialogue (thanks, A---!), and a horrid soundtrack overshadow an otherwise pretty average movie. Digimon fans will, however, want to add a star or two, as it features their favorite characters and monsters doing what they do best. Those on controlled substances may ALSO get a kick out of this.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: Some of the Digimon battles get pretty nasty, and if similar violence were inflicted upon human characters, it would easily knock this into PG-13 range. No sexual situations (they're all kids, duh!), and I didn't even notice even a mild swear word in there.



Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Digimon the Movie © 2001 Toei
 
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