When a movie begins by telling you that “Eternity does not last forever,” it is clear that no one behind it is paying much attention to whether the script makes sense, so you’d better not worry about it, either.
Oh, well, it’s less a movie than an infomercial, anyway. As in the television show, this is the story of champion card-player Yugi, who can access the power of an ancient pharaoh to help him triumph over all who challenge him. His perennial nemesis is wealthy Kaiba, who does not realize that his spirit has been captured by the spirit of the pharaoh’s evil enemy, Anubis. Five thousand years ago, the pharaoh vanquished Anubis for what he thought was eternity. But eternity…you know the rest.
The static visuals get tiresome quickly, and the characters are confusing to those not already familiar with them from television. The dialogue consists of a lot of boasts and threats like, “Soon worms wll feast on your flesh as they feasted on mine!” “Meet your Doom!” and “Allow me to introduce infinite power!” with a couple of crude jokes like, “I smell trouble!” “Actually, that’s me. Sorry about that.”
As with Pokemon, anyone who has ever seen the TV series, played the game, or bought the cards knows what to expect here. Every generation of children has some hideously annoying cartoon series to provide parents with much agonizing and many, many buying opportunities. The characters usually undergo some transformation or make use of a secret to attain power. This theme is endlessly interesting to kids who can feel overwhelmed by a world built on a scale that is often too large for them.
Kids, especially those ages 6-10, also love to memorize and sort endless facts, whether about Pokemons, dinosaurs, cars, or Beanie Babies. It gives them a sense of mastery, especially because they can do so much better than adults. And it becomes an important part of their social development, creating a shared language with their friends. This can be particularly meaningful for kids who are insecure about talking to other children. So, parents may decide that the movie’s benefits as a sort of training wheels for social interaction and a sense of mastery outweigh its shortcomings as a movie. Nevertheless, non-fans will conclude that eternity may not last forever, but this movie feels like it does.
Parents should know that the movie has a lot of cartoon violence, meaning that some scary-looking creatures face off against each other, including monsters and decaying mummies. There are a lot of meaningful glares and lightning-type bolts shooting out between the characters but even those who are defeated and seem to evaporate turn out not to be gone for good. Human characters are in peril, too, and sometimes seem to be hurt, but again it is only temporary and there are no serious or graphic injuries. One girl character is loyal and brave but when the creatures attack, she is the only one who cries and is incapable of fighting back. There is some mild schoolyard language like “blow chunks” and many threats, insults, and boasts. A somewhat decadent character refers to wine spritzers and is so effete that some viewers may wonder if he is supposed to be a stereotyped gay man.
Families who see this movie should talk about the characters’ view that there is nothing more powerful than friendship. They might also enjoy looking for the movie’s many references to other movies, including On the Waterfront, The Godfather, and The Wizard of Oz.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Pokemon. They might like to find out more about Anubis and some of the other inspirations for Yu-Gi-Oh characters. And they might like to try to find the original Japanese films, which have more texture and depth than the dubbed and cut down American television versions.