MOVIE REVIEW 'Yu-Gi-Oh!' teaches kids lesson
The franchise is on a downward slide.
By NANCY CHURNIN
DALLAS MORNING NEWS
Three years after the animated "Yu-Gi-Oh!" television series became a sensation on Kids WB!, the comic-book-turned card-game and video-game franchise has become a big-screen animated movie.
Like its once-popular predecessor, "Pokemon," "Yu-Gi-Oh!" is a star with a brief life expectancy and it's already on its downward spiral. The movie probably won't turn that around. But it should be a treat for the fervent young fans that remain, and a true test of devotion for their accompanying parents, who may need all the help they can get figuring out the storyline.
Here's some of that help.
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! Your deck is only as powerful as the cards you put in it. But a player's skill comes in knowing how to combine cards for their greatest effect.
How did Yugi get so good? His Grandpa Muto, who owns a game shop, helped him build his deck and -- crucial plot point -- gave 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.
But -- and here's the next crucial plot point -- 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 Yugi so he can destroy the Pharaoh so he can destroy the world (yes, in that order). 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.
What "Yu-Gi-Oh!" fans should like best are the ways the monsters and other characters come to life in the gaming duels. They'll probably listen eagerly to the gaming tips about what cards are good to get and combine. Four new cards highlighted in the movie will be randomly distributed to moviegoers while supplies last -- another plus.
But, as with "Pokemon" (which was produced by the same 4Kids Entertainment team), there's also a nice message about the importance of friendship. The film makes it clear that all the money in the world can't buy Seto Kaiba a victory and that Yugi, even with the Pharaoh's help, could not prevail without his family and friends at his side.
Long after the "Yu-Gi-Oh!" craze ends, one hopes the message about the importance of people looking out for each other lingers.