Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions Review
It's time to D-D-D-DDDD-Duel! Yes, everyone's favorite brightly-colored hair duelist Yugi Muto ( Dan Green) is back. His friends Joey Wheeler (Wayne Grayson), Tristan Taylor (Greg Abbey), Téa Gardner (Amy Birnbaum), and Bakura Ryou (Ted Lewis) are all back and just as we remember them. Old favorites are back as well. Such as the arrogant, Seto Kaiba (Eric Stuart), his little brother, Mokuba Kaiba (Tara Sands) and the dungeon dice master, Duke Devlin (Marc Thompson). New comer includes the mysterious blue-haired Aigami (Daniel J. Edwards).
The original series itself is hailed as the starting point for everyone who started playing the card game. For the most, it's their favorite. Anytime a new series is introduced there are many fans who complain and reminisce about the old days. Fortunately for them, for two weeks the old days are here! More to my surprise, when you see the movie in an IPic theater you get a complimentary Obelisk the Tormentor card.
While the movie could have relied solely on its nostalgia to please fans, it doesn't. The movie delivers visually with its crisp animation and CGI. Normally, anime films are given the budget needed in order to look nice. However, there are some awkward drawings that are hard to miss due to large the size of the screen.
Despite looking older they all act as we remember them. Joey still talks with that famous Brooklyn accent and horseplay's around with Tristian. Téa still dresses in scantily clad clothing (thought we love her for it). Yugi is still adorable but no longer soft spoken. And to our delight, Kaiba is still pompous and full of himself. Speaking of Seto Kaiba, he in steals the film. He has all the best lines and constantly had the crowd in a uproar of laughter.
The dueling in the film uses a mix of anime rules and trading card game rules. Each player now instead of 4,000 LP now has 8,000 LP (mimicking the video games and official card game). Which is typical of anime rules, questionable activations of summons and trap card activations are present here. While some old cards return to the fray, variations on old cards make their debut in the film as well.
The dueling in the film is also quick and filled with tension. I went in knowing that since there was a limited amount of time for the movie that duels would have to be accelerated. It is important to note that the quality of the duels in the film are not affected by the quick time limit. The duels end in 4 - 7 turns. But, each turn has multiple magic/trap card activations. Also, the monsters' effects are deep and complex. Each turn in a duel will fill like two. To make things better, remixes on classic Yu-Gi-Oh! soundtracks are played which make for a rich, dueling experience. Forewarning, It's important to note that not all the characters in the movie get a chance to duel.
Though the gang is graduating, the center of the movie focuses around Aigami and his Quantum Cube. The cube itself allows him to alter the world. The trouble comes when he encounters Yugi and his friends. He is solely focused on one thing and one thing only, revenge. On the other hand, Kaiba's plot is focused around the Millennium Puzzle. He desperately wants to put back together the pieces in order to duel the Pharaoh. He is a man obsessed at this point. The new technology shown in the film is a result.
Speaking of new technology, ordinary dueling is no longer in style. Despite the new and improved duel disks developed by Kaiba, a new way of dueling is introduced and it's called dimensional dueling. Similar to the shadow realm, Dimensional Dueling takes place in another place entirely and has a different set of rules. Monster cards can now be summoned without any tribute costs. The attack of monsters summoned can be increased by giving the monster some of one's spirit (which leads to a lot of awkward powering up moments in the film). There are a bit more but honestly these duels unfortunately are the worst part about the film. The rules heavily favors the villain (typical) and are not consistent.
The film itself is a breath of fresh air for those who grew tired of the Yu-Gi-Oh! sequels. Those who still play the trading card game will love every moment of it. The usual 4Kids censoring is not present in the film. There are guns in the film! Anyhow, the film isn't perfect and the buildup to a certain character will be disappointing. Make no mistake about it, this film is an attempt to capture the audience of the original Yu-Gi-Oh series again and maybe get them watching the more updated series that air in Japan. All in all, I see this as a one-off and being a one-off it's great that fans of the old school Yu-Gi-Oh! anime for one more time can feel like a kid again.
Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions is currently in theaters and will be available on Blu-ray.