Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Review - Naruto The Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow (2007 - Dir. Tensai Okamura)

If you've watched any of the Naruto TV series, then chances are that you've already seen this. If not, a bit of back story is in order. Naruto is a trainee ninja who has the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox sealed inside him. He doesn't have that many ninja powers apart from the use of the Shadow Clone Technique, which consists of loads of Naruto copies appearing and generally hitting people. Sakura and Sasuke are his ninja chums and Kakashi is their immensely cool sensei. 

Naruto's main characteristic is that he's a bit of a useless ninja but he never gives up. Ever. He can get beaten to a pulp, on the verge of death, and he still gets back up and carries on fighting. You can't help liking the little fellow. 

The TV series is great, but seriously slow. A battle starts between two ninjas, five episodes later it's still going on. In the first series, our ninja friends have a mission in a misty location and it lasts for hours. You can't just fight someone in Naruto, you have to chat about how you're going to fight them and partake in some serious posturing. This first Naruto film dispenses with the slow pace and moves along at a fair whack. There are still some flashbacks, but it is refreshing to watch a Naruto product where things actually happen vaguely quickly.

You can tell that this has a bigger budget than the TV series. The set-pieces are all entertaining, making use of CG where appropriate. The climactic end battle is good fun; even Sakura gets in on the action for once. Most of the film is appropriate for younger children so it is strange that one of the scenes, recalling the end of Hero, is overly harsh. Tonally, it is very different from the rest of the film.

You will get more out of this if you watch the series first, but that is an acquired taste. Watched as a standalone film, there is still plenty of enjoyment to be had.

If you like this you could also try:
Naruto (the TV series), Bleach (the TV series), Summer Wars.

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