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Digimon: The Movie

review by Zach B.

Rated PG

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 83 minutes

Retail Price: $24.98

Features: Theatrical Trailer, Len "Kids In America" Music Video

Specs: 1.33:1 Pan And Scan, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby 2.0 Surround, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search

On over 260 top ten lists and winner of Five Academy Awards®, including Best Picture and Best Original Song (for "Stupid American Fad", written by Michael Jackson and Billy Joel), "Digimon: The Movie" can be argued as one of the greatest movies of all time. Forget "The Godfather". Forget "Schindler's List". "Digimon: The Movie" is an incredibly deep and powerful epic, and I urge everyone to see this movie.

There is so much to "Digimon", I can't even describe it. This movie will take your breath away. It's no surprise this movie was showered with awards and critical praise, and it's no surprise it made 704 million dollars domestically and nearly 2.1 billion worldwide. The animation is so lifelike, the story is so timeless and wonderfully written, the message of teamwork is explored so deeply and the voice acting is so distinguished and brilliant. It's like a recorded broadway stage play of sorts. Kevin Spacey was nominated for an Oscar® for his role as Tai, and you have an all star cast that includes Matt Damon, Geoffery Rush, Sophia Loren and Scott Bakula.

Yes, of course I am joking. "Digimon: The Movie" is more likely on 260 top ten lists for WORST MOVIE of the year and was never even nominated. If it was, it'd be fair to say that all Academy® members were on drugs.

As some of you kids and parents may know, "Digimon" is a Japanese animated cartoon show that airs on the Fox network. It premiered a few years back, and it really became a hit. From what I believe, the show was never hyped and Fox was trying to cash in on this whole animé craze. But kids watched it and it became a popular show, spawning millions in merchandise. Just like Pokémon before it, Digimon then released a movie. This really just goes to show you that you can put ANYTHING on the air during the weekday afternoon and kids will watch and really get into it. And soon enough, it will spawn a fad. I was really surprised how successful Digimon became.

While I've heard a lot about the show, I admit I've never seen an episode. I've seen a clip or two while flipping through channels, but I never sat down to watch an episode. Never. So when I was asked to review "Digimon: The Movie", I don't think I could do the review as much justice as it may deserve. I don't know the characters. I don't know the back story. I was hoping the movie would explain things, to recap for kids and let the parents get into it so they understand, but of how the story is presented and how much useless things they're in the movie, it's just a giant jumbled mess. But I'll get into that in a moment.

"Digimon" has been around for a long time now in the U.S. as an electronic hand held game. Bandai created "Digimon" as a male version of the ultra popular virtual pet fad "Tamagotchi". The Digimon pet never caught on, as the idea was to train them and battle them against friend. But again, once the show hit the airwaves, it did catch on with the younger set.

Now comes time to what this movie is about. To be honest, this movie confused the hell out of me. I'm sure a fan of the show knows everything and what the hell is going on, but as I've never seen the show, this movie fails to really explain the Digimon universe for those who are just coming in to see the movie. The movie is just a whole mess, it's not consitant at all, and feels like you're watching three TV episodes of the show. They try to explain, but the characters talk fast with their poor dubbing and stupid yet hilarious voices, and what is explained is not reinforced. You basically know it and are recapped, or you don't know it and can't catch on. If you're stuck watching an 83 minute film, it may help to actually know what's going on and why.

From what I gathered (and kids, please don't sue if I get all of this wrong), Digimon are eggs that somehow hatch out of the computer, and they evolve into greater forms and then go into the internet and battle evil Digimon through phone lines. Somehow, Digimon have to do with the internet. They battle on the internet and live on the internet or something. And the internet is a magical, fairytale world where you can fly and float and ruin the world by battling on the internet, causing panic all over the world.

So the plot... it takes place during three time periods. Eight years ago (sort of like origins), four years ago (a battle) and present day (another battle thing). Somehow all three try to connect, but it doesn't really work out so well. Again, it's basically three TV episodes. The characters live in Japan and somehow have to stop this evil Digimon online, but the "Digidestined" team are all split up for the summer, and must reunite despite their distances to stop the force. It's just a mess. And then somehow they go to America or something to stop another evil force. And they get help from an American kid. Bleh.

The movie can be fun to watch... since it's so confusing and Japanese animation can be funny, it's just wacky and you can laugh how dumb it really is. The dialogue is corny and so are the jokes, but keep in mind this is a movie aimed for kids. The voice acting is also kind of lame, but funny, so it evens out. The characters are also kind of crazy. To make the movie even more sloppy, there are stupid subplots that don't get finished and popular songs from the likes of Smashmouth, Fatboy Slim and Barenaked Ladies are just played to appeal to those watching, but really have no place in the movie.

With all this said, it won't matter what I say. Kids are going to buy this movie and innocent adults are going to be subjected to watch it. Do yourself a favor parents - don't buy the movie. It's really mindless. They shove the moral of "teamwork" and getting along dozens and dozens of times, thinking kids will learn something, but it's a plot that makes no sense filled with mindless violence (hence the PG rating). Still, if you don't care and want your kids to watch "Digimon" and let them have a good time, that's all up to you. But if you want a good laugh on what stupid things we expose our kids too, "Digimon" can be fun that way.

There's no surprise why the movie is presented in 1.33:1 pan and scan. As we know, a lot of younger viewers and families prefer the whole frame, and this is a children's movie. Of course, they probably could have stuck a widescreen version on the disc. Don't worry, there's not much to see anyway. I think a pan and scan transfer is perfectly fine, there aren't any breathtaking, mindblowing wide shots. As far the transfer, it's decent. Colors are bold and vibrant, but sometimes the image is a little soft. Also, there's a ton of debris and dirt, plus some scratches. Not up to Fox's latest standards, but not bad at all.

A very nice Dolby Digital 5.1 track is included. There are an excellent amount of surrounds that have some great directional effects. This movie has a good amount of action and battles, and the Digimon screaming and fighting sequences are mixed well. The music sounds fantastic, using all the channels and putting the .1 LFE to good use. I was really surprised how good the music sounded in 5.1, it brought a very good amount of life into the movie. A Dolby Surround track is also included, plus English and Spanish subtitles.

"Digimon: The Movie" isn't too packed, but I'm sure kids are going to buy this for the movie itself, not a commentary or anything. Still, you got the Theatrical Trailer in 2.0 and it really makes the movie confusing and sort of stupid, plus the horrible Kids In America Music Video by Len. The music video has terrible animation and "plot", and incorporates clips from the movie. Still, a good chunk of the movie takes place in Japan.

Yet another Japanese craze has been turned into a motion picture. This movie performed pretty poor at the box office, but there's no doubt that this movie will do really well on video and DVD. "Digimon" was just put on the Fox network and kids caught on, kids will really start an obsession with anything. Parents, if you can, try to escape from this one. If you can't, I'm sorry to say those 83 minutes of your life won't be coming back. As for the disc itself, it has a good presentation. Pick it up if your kids love the show... but beware that there's a lot of mindless violence, and it's pretty doubtful your kids will like the teamwork message, despite the fact it's rubbed in your face a few dozen times. Then again, if you already have the complete first season on DVD, this is a nice supplement for the kids.

(1.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




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