The original Naruto series received a couple of movies before it was time for the show to move onto its sequel. Each of these felt like extended episodes, just with better animation and more grandiose plotlines. None of them was an all-out success, but fans looking for more adventures with Naruto found plenty to appreciate. Does the same hold true for Shippuden's first movie?
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/demon 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 Rock 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.
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 stand 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, Rock, 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 Rock who really steals the show.
From start to finish Naruto Shippuden: The Movie isn't bad, but it's not exactly great either. 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. When you get around to it you'll be pleased enough and that's why this release receives a recommendation.
Naruto Shippuden: The Movie hits DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. The film is very good looking with familiar designs from the show and amped up animation, which really makes some of the battles here outstanding (again, check out Rock's fight). 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. All around this is a solid looking film that captures the spirit of the franchise and brings it to the next level.
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. I've always preferred my Naruto with the Japanese dialogue, but English fans will be pleased as well no doubt. The sound here is crisp, clean, and the presentation revs up during the film's many fight scenes. English subtitles are also included, though that's fairly standard.
A nice little booklet is included with this release which contains information and artwork for the movie. The original Japanese movie trailer, opening and closing animation videos, and trailers for other VIZ releases are included on the disc.
Naruto Shippuden: The Movie was exactly what I thought it was going to be: an extended episode of the show. The story here is very straightforward and predictable, but the charm of the characters and tone of the series are what make it as entertaining as it is. There are no new revelations here and nothing truly epic happens, but fans looking for another way to sate their Naruto craving will be pleased enough. Consider this movie recommended, but not too strongly.
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