If you were born sometime in the early nineties, there is a good chance that Yu-Gi-Oh has played some sort of role in your life. Wether you watched the show, had a friend who did, or just looked over with curiosity at those kids playing the card game at lunch, it’s presence in the past decade has been hard to ignore.
The show has had three different incarnations over the past ten years. The original, and probably best known series, was simply called “Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters” and told the story of a teenaged boy with ridiculous hair who solved an ancient puzzle and inadvertently unlocked the spirit of an ancient Pharaoh. The two then went on a seemingly never ending quest to discover the king’s memories and save the world from various trading card related villains.
I’d like to say there was a bit more to the plot than that, but there really wasn’t. And I say this as a fan.
This initial series was spun off into two sequels; Yu-Gi-Oh GX, the story of one boy’s quest to go through some sort of academy that taught you how to play children’s card games, and Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s, the story of one slightly older boy’s quest to play card games on motorcycles.
Obviously, I’m a bit less familiar with the two spin-offs than the original.
At the height of the original series popularity, a movie was released called “Yu-Gi-Oh Pyramid of Light”. It was terrible. It was the subject of mockery from both critics and fans alike, and to this day goes down as one of the worst anime movies ever made.
So naturally, with this solid foundation to work from, it was decided to make another. In honor of the original show’s tenth anniversary, Yu-Gi-Oh: Bonds Beyond Time was officially released in the US on February 26, 2011. This film, unlike the last, is apparently canon, and features all three of the franchise’s primary protagonists – Yugi of the original series, Jaden of GX, and Yusei of 5D’s – in the single most epic card game to have ever occurred in three dimensions.
Or at least, that’s what the promotional material says.
To define this movie as either good or bad is pretty much impossible. It is in no way a good movie, but does that necessarily make it bad? Of course not.
There are two ways to look at it; as a standard movie goer, and as a fan. If you are in no way familiar with Yu-Gi-Oh and are simply seeing it because a.) you’ve been forced, b.) it looks like a good way to kill an afternoon, or c.) it’s only a six dollar matinee ticket, then don’t feel bad if it’s not at all your cup of tea. You might get a bit of a laugh out of it. But apart from that, there’s really nothing there that makes it all that exceptional to the casual viewer.
But let’s be honest. The only ones who are going to see this movie are the fans. The casual viewer’s opinion doesn’t really matter. This movie was made for the fans, in celebration of the fans, and it is the fans who will have to make the call.
So, as a fan, how was it?
It was AWESOME.
Admittedly, it was really silly, a bit jumbled, a bit too short, and more than a bit ridiculous. But you know what? It didn’t really matter. Above all else, this movie was fun. It was fifty-nine minutes of action packed 3D card games, and I loved it. The voice work was great, it was decently animated, and had a seriously cool villain with some deliciously over the top evil monologues, and lots of explosions.
The story, if you want to be hugely technical here, is about a guy called Paradox who comes from a horrible, ruined future in which he is one of the only human beings alive and everything is apparently perpetually on fire. He naturally decides that the source of all this devastation is duel monsters, the card game the entire series revolves around, and makes it his mission to go back in time to destroy the game, it’s creator, and it’s three greatest players, namely, Yugi, Jaden, and Yusei. He goes back in time, finds every one of them, they follow him to Yugi’s time, and the three of them challenge him to a duel in the name of the human race.
It’s pretty basic. The power of friendship is mentioned, and teamwork ensues.
The film will never be considered a masterpiece. This should, however, in no way deter old and new fans of the show from seeing it. Those turned off by the franchise’s previous effort in movie making should be pleasantly surprised as long as they don’t attempt to take the film too seriously. Go see it for the action, the fun, and of course, for the card games.
- Nelly Nickerson