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Still shot from the movie: Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie.

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie

Like Pokemon and Digimon before it, marketing is the real name of this film. The almost nonexistent plot of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie is only there to create various conflicts designed to flog the accompanying trading cards. Get the movie review and more. »

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Overall: C-
Violence: B-
Sexual Content: A
Language: A-
Drugs/Alcohol: B-
Theater Release: 12 Aug 2004
Video Release: 15 Nov 2004
MPAA Rating: PG
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First things first: If you don't live in the universe of Yu-Gi-Oh!, this animated movie may be as enjoyable as a root canal. And if your kids aren't part of this trading card sensation, you may want to have a long think before sending them into the theater, where they might become thoroughly Yu-Gi-Oh-ized.

Like Pokemon and Digimon, marketing is the real name of this film. The pathetic plot serves only as a chicken-wire skeleton upon which are plastered various conflicts designed to flog the accompanying trading cards. But for those who insist on knowing a little about the storyline, I'll attempt a brief synopsis --albeit from the perspective of someone who, previous to this film, thought Yu-Gi-Oh! was possibly the name of a yogurt drink product…

A young boy named Yugi (voiced in English by Dan Green) is considered the master of the card game "Duel Monsters." Along with a group of friends who are (quoting from the official Yugioh website--www.yugioh.com) "obsessed" with the game, Yugi looks for any opportunity to battle his cardboard monsters--especially his trio of coveted Egyptian god cards (available on Ebay for a little better than 30 bucks).

In the meantime, Yugi's grandfather has given him a mysterious pyramid puzzle. Although no one has been able to solve it, in the hands of he-who-wears-far-too-much-hair-gel the last piece is put in place. Suddenly endowed with even more power, the card shark somehow melds with the spirit of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh to become Yami-Yugi. It's also revealed that these ancients used to play a similar game, only with real monsters. Now these terrifying critters are about to be unleashed in the present day.

The bulk of the film revolves around a couple of battles, one with Pegasus, who appears to be the creator of the game; the another involving Yugi's archrival Seto Kaiba (English version voiced by Eric Stuart). The latter confrontation serves as the climax of the film, with Yugi using his god cards against Kaiba's legion of monsters, in a fight to a very, very long finish.

Viewing concerns for children are subtle, but important. Obviously, parents can expect violence to erupt when the cartoon monsters meet each other. However, the impact of these depictions is minimal, as the loser simply crumbles into digital oblivion. Other scenes show mummies who ooze fluid (for a "yuk" effect) after being broken apart.

The greater worry is Pegasus, a major character with a taste for wine coolers. In view of the target age for this film, it seems inappropriate to be pushing a product considered by some to be a gateway into harder alcohol.

Then there's the role women play in this strange land. In the "real" world, all of the people playing the card game are male, except for Yugi's friend Tea. She's described on the Yu-Gi-Oh website as a "cheerleader," who roots for the boys. The only other females are some of the strange card-incarnations who (in typical Japanese anime fashion) are big-busted, short-skirted creatures. (In a more bizarre moment, one of these girls injects a fluid into a boy's rear using a huge hypodermic needle.)

Sounding like an infomercial with lines like, "These aren't just any monsters… they combine!" along with opposing players spouting instructions on how to calculate "life points," this movie has high hopes of sending Yu-Gi-Oh card collectors out of the theater convinced they're not playing with a full deck.

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie is rated PG: for scary combat and monster images.

Studio: 2004 Warner Home Video

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About the Reviewer: Rod Gustafson

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