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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: PG for scary combat and monster images

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Animation, Action Adventure, Kids Family and Science Fiction/Fantasy
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Featuring: Dan Green, Wayne Grayson, Amy Birnbaum, Eric Stuart
Director: Ryôsuke Takahashi
Producer: Norman J. Grossfeld (4 Kids Entertainment—the Pokémon movies)
Distributor: Warner Brothers

“Everything else was just practice!”

I am beginning to believe that the simple days of childhood games may be fading quickly. Let me jog some memories. Do you remember the games that we played with marbles? Do you remember dividing up a deck of playing cards and playing “War”? The first problem that I have with “Yu-Gi-Oh!” is a generation of children that are obsessed with these card games. I am referring to games like “Pokémon” and “Magic-The Gathering.” These games all begin with a starter deck. It does not stop there. There is an endless supply of specialty packs that our youth can and beg to buy.

I have met students that have hundreds of dollars invested in collecting the cards and playing the game. As I Christian Counselor, I recognize that there is so much about these games that feeds and nurtures Excessive Compulsive behaviors. The other problem is creating millennial class warfare between children that can afford an endless request for cards and those who cannot. Most students that can only afford just the starter deck soon loose their cards. They just cannot compete. I still prefer games like “Risk,” “Life,” “Monopoly,” etc. You buy the game and when you are finished, you can put it away. These games are fun, challenging and involve thoughtful strategies. This card game phenomenon can be an unhealthy obsession. Our children can now know more about dueling monsters than solving life’s problems. Yes, let me sit down with a child and play “Tic, Tac, Toe,” “Checkers,” or “Chess” any day of the week.

I do know that Kazuki Takahashi has quite a hit on his hands. His comic version of “Yu-Gi-Oh!” has sold over 23 million copies so far. Mr. Takahashi wanted to create a game where a weak and childish boy could become a hero just by playing a game. He also knows that boys really like monsters. It is built on the concept of a “henshin” or the ability to turn into something or someone else.

Here is some additional help for those who are trying to figure out the storyline. I know that most parents will be lost during this movie and probably only fans will go to see it. Yugi Muto is a mild-mannered high school kid who beats everyone at his favorite card game, which the kids will recognize as Yu-Gi-Oh! Just like Pokémon, your deck is only as powerful as the cards you put in it. The only skill involved is knowing how to combine and put certain cards together.

Yugi gets some help from his Grandpa Muto, who owns a game shop. Grandpa not only helps him build his deck (I guess it could be every child’s dream to get all those cards for free), but he gives him an ancient Egyptian artifact called a Millennium Puzzle. When Yugi solves the puzzle, he releases the 5,000 year-old spirit of the Pharaoh—who looks like an older, deep-voiced version of Yugi. The Pharaoh, who seems to be part of Yugi, takes over and wins when he plays for Yugi. Yes, to be a winner in life, an ancient spirit must possess you.

In the movie, the Pharaoh has also incurred the wrath of Anubis, the Egyptian god of death, whom he defeated centuries ago. Anubis awakens and decides to destroy the world. That is always the ambition of any evil person in a movie. And how does he do it? Through a Yu-Gi-Oh! card game battle of course! Anubis secretly “stacks” the deck of Yugi’s greatest rival, Seto Kaiba, a wealthy high school kid who spends all his resources in trying to beat Yugi (at least they don’t try to hide the facts of my early objections).

Copyright, Warner Brothers

I am sure that “Yu-Gi-Oh!” fans will like the ways the monsters and other characters come to life in the gaming duels. I don’t know if they will learn any knew gaming tips or cheat codes, but as with Pokémon (which was produced by the same 4Kids Entertainment team), there is that universal message of friendship. The film’s primary redeeming value is that it makes it clear that all the money in the world can’t buy Seto Kaiba a victory. Yugi learns that he may have the help of a Pharaoh, but he still needs his family and friends.

My recommendation is to skip this one and soon “Yu-Gi-Oh!” fever will pass. Yes, family game night is looking better every day.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor

Viewer Comments
Negative—I don’t recommend exposing your kids to this movie. This is full of magical powers and exposes the power of the demonic. This Japanese anime as well as Pokémon both are based on witchcraft…
My Ratings: [Average/2½]
—Jason Goldsberry, age 21
Neutral—The movie is like the television show. The centerpiece of the Yu-Gi-Oh stories are the Egyptian gods. Plus, the duels between characters invoke many magical aspects when “bringing monsters to life.” That said, however, after the movie, my sons (ages 7 and 9) and I had a conversation based on the movie which included the importance of friendship, fighting evil even if it means you don’t get something you really want, and the sin of pride. My advice—since the movie is like the TV version, watch the television version first (or rent a movie with several of the TV episodes); decide from there because the movie is like the TV show.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Dianne, age 36
Positive—I think the movie plays to the audience it was marketed to. It’s just an episode of the TV show, only three times longer and no commercials. If the viewer doesn’t like the show then they obviously wouldn’t like the movie…
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Eric Travis, age 18
Neutral—If You like the TV series go and watch it, if you don’t—don’t go. Simple as that. Just for those who don’t understand the line where Yu Gi’s “spirit” tells him to “trust in the heart of the cards,” this means that he must believe in himself to win.
My Ratings: [Good/3½]
—Paul, age 23

Comments from young people
Positive—OK PEOPLE! LISTEN UP! You don’t want to let people above the age 20 and below the age 11 to see a movie specially meant for 12 year-olds and teenagers. Quote from the makers “This show will be specially made for 12 to 19 year olds.” As I said above… Sure some teenagers won’t like it, BUT most do… so, you people who are too old or too young who watch a teenage movie, have to stop criticizing this movie… cuz it is truly an awesome movie… so there. I may not have said much about the movie, but at least I defended it.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Zee Allen, age 13
Neutral—I would just like to say that most people (in the young adult section) did not make their comments on the “biblical or Christian worldview.” Not saying you have to, but if you found that movie boring, you obviously didn’t like the tv episodes much. I don’t see why you would go and watch the movie if you don’t like it and give it a negative comment. I personally thought the movie was okay, but pretty much like the norm tv ones.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Victoria Davison (non-Christian), age 15
Positive—The Yu-Gi-Oh Movie lacked a bit in many areas, but it was still an enjoyable movie. The fact that it was made specifically for American audiences after the huge hit could lend something to this—there were quite a few commercial plugs. Fans of this anime, however, can stand it and enjoy it (I know I did). The bottom line: If you enjoy the series, you’ll probably enjoy the movie. If you don’t, then you’re not going to like it.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—Samma, age 17
Neutral—Fans of the television series will enjoy this film. Mostly because its EXACTLY THE SAME. Took my 8 year old nephew to see it, he loved it as did all his buddies. Adults, bring a pillow.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Gene Angel, age 17
Negative—This movie is so very boring. It’s like a giant commercial for the card game. The characters are super bland, and the plot is not interesting at all. If you watched the cartoon, this follows the same routine of the characters battling some glorified Pokémon match where Yugi always wins. Yawn. Unless you get really excited playing poker, there’s nothing to watch here.
My Ratings: [Average/2]
—Katie, age 13
Negative—…introduces demons spirits and other horrible witchcraft. The part that scares me is that they want your kids to go out and act like the cards come to life. The line that is so irrelevant and meaningless is the line where Yu Gi’s “spirit” tells him to trust in the heart of the cards. They are pieces of paper for crying out loud!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1]
—Josh Kahley, age 13
Positive—How about we get a few things straight. Too many people feel anime in general is kiddy. You people make me sad, but I’ll live. Some shows are, yes, but most are much like a regular tv show.

Next. 4Kids entertainment has GREATLY changed the intended audience of the show to a much younger age than the original Japanese version. A great deal of character depth, and all references to death was removed from the show. This movie, while not too impressive in that respect, is at least a step in the right direction of appealing to a slightly older audience.

This movie, though not amazing, did have its moments. The “Toon” Monsters were amusing, along with a few other several characters. What is probably most important for this movie, is having, if not an appreciation of the show, but an understanding of the show.

The “Heart of the Cards” is a belief in yourself that you built your deck with love, care, and an attention to detail. That it won’t fail you because you worked your hardest and trust in yourself. Also, the Spirit of the Pharoah does not duel instead of, but works with him. They work as a team.

Finally, it seems quite a mistake to label the show “Satanic.” The show is not attempting (or even accidentally) to corrupt children into summoning monsters, or being possessed. The spirit is good and is even helps several villains to redeem themeselves. They may not have suddenly started praying to God, but at least they began to live their lives with love for fellow man.

Anyways, I went with a skeptical friend and we both enjoyed it. Was it worth it? Yes. Would I see it again? Probably not, I usually like to see new movies. But that doesn’t stop me from quoting it every once in a while. Or thinking of the hilarious toon monsters.

Quite lengthy, but there are far too many misconceptions on Anime. I would hope that people do not take Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, Pokémon and Yu-gi-oh! as examples of the wide variety of anime. Most of the good ones can’t be found on TV.
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Slavik, age 17
Movie Critics
…Sorry, moms and dads, but “Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie” is hardly poised to join “Finding Nemo” …as one of those children’s films that both you and your kids can enjoy. Shallow and repetitive…
—Ellen Fox, Chicago Tribune
…stresses marketing ploy over plot… lifeless animation, characterless characters…
—Louise Kennedy, Boston Globe
…will make you go ugh! This anime mess masquerades as a big-screen adaptation of the popular card game and TV series, but it’s really a 90-minute commercial for more toys…
—E! Online