So this past Saturday I watched a crappy Chinese dub of Film Gold with Mangapanda-level subtitles. Thankfully, I managed to understand most of the movie, and now it's time to review it. I'll try to be as broad as possible to avoid going into specific spoilers, but if you haven't watched the film yet and want to remain unspoiled you may want to leave. Here's a cute shark to make this blog worth your time:
Now, time for a review:
Let's start with the protagonists themselves, the Straw Hats. No Straw Hat really stood out in this film, and that's a good thing because almost ALL of them got ample screentime. Luffy was in his normal place as the leader. Nami didn't fight but she had the most personal plotline of everyone. We got to see Usopp use his wits to defeat a major antagonist single-handedly. Sanji was Sanji. Chopper played a pretty important role in a part of the plot. We got to see a ton of Franky's moves being used. Brook didn't play too much of a role (as usual) but did provide quite a bit of comic relief. And then there's Zoro, who wasn't in too much of the film as he was captured, but him being captured and the Straw Hats having to rescue him was quite an unusual development. And when he was freed, he actually had a semi-decent fight! Sure, it didn't go for too long and he wasn't injured, but for once he actually was facing someone who was a swordsman, wasn't scared of him, and actually landed a hit on him. And his finishing moves were the best I've seen in a while.
We got a buttload of supporting characters revealed in the months before the film, and surprise surprise, most of them are onscreen for only a few minutes and some only for a few seconds. The main supporting character, Carina, is one of the more intriguing filler characters, as she plays all sides of the board during the film, and at the end we find out that everything that transpired in the film was just her get-rich-quik scheme. To be honest, many of the twists involving her didn't really have as much oomph as I'd have liked, but Carina was a one of a kind filler.
Surprisingly, the next most relevant supporting character is Rikka, a little boy whom I thought would be a cameo character when his concept art was revealed. He's not in the film too much, which helped make him not annoying, but he served as a pretty good perspective on what life in Gran Tesoro was really like, and him actually taking action at the end will probably make him more memorable than all the other child characters in One Piece films. His sister was cute. Then there's Raise Max, the Revolutionary who seemed like he would be the most important supporting character. However, he only plays a pivotal role in one scene, and so he didn't end up leaving too much of an impact. Everyone else is minor and unimportant, except for Straight. Always go straight.
As for the villains, well there's Tesoro and then there's everyone else. Tesoro is one of my favorite OP movie villains ever, and possibly the best one yet. He has a really sad backstory, but unlike Z, this backstory makes him into a maniacal dictator who can control his subjects in every sense of the word. He even goes full out Enel at the end. Had his backstory been shown in full like Z's was, and the details hadn't been relegated to Volume 777, I think he would without a doubt be my favorite OP movie villain of all time. And as for Tesoro's cronies, well, say goodbye to the traditional crony pair that gets their asses handed to them by Zoro and Sanji. Not only are these guys competent in battle, but they get taken down by Straw Hat teams! Yes, you heard that right! (Well, Zoro gets one to himself like usual). Some get less screentime than others (like Dice), but it was fun seeing all their extremely unique powers in action.
And you may have been able to guess this, but Sabo, Koala, Lucci, Spandam, and Sakazuki are only in the film in order to hype it beforehand, as they served little to no effect on the main plot. Sabo and Lucci get about 2-3 minutes of screentime, and their "fight" consists of them doing a clash, cutting away for a long time, and then showing Lucci walking away from the battle. Quality action. Sakazuki and Koala only get 30 seconds of screentime each in which they complain about stuff. Ironically, it's Spandam who plays the biggest role as he actually gets a scene with himself in action, though the scene feels kinda tacked on and only seemed to be there to give little Rikka something to do. Rikka vs. Lucci would have been a sight to behold.
OK, I better stop running my mouth about the characters, what about the story? To put it simply, I loved the story since it deviated so much from the normal tale of adventure/race against the clock, and that was all because of main man Tesoro. His full control over Gran Tesoro forced the film to become a heist/spy film, as the Straw Hats were forced to sneak into a grand hotel to steal a lot of money. The drama and the tension that comes with it is handled very well, and it's given one of the best musical sountracks ever (though they didn't name any songs after me hmmmm). Also, the Straw Hats mug and strip Celestial Dragons! (offscreen)
My one complaint with the story is its double twist at the climax, with one coming extremely shortly after the other and overall there wasn't a whole lot of effect from it. Luckily, the film doesn't indulge too much in its twists and immediately cuts to the action afterward. The second twist revolves around a secret plan that was in motion as soon as the original plan was formed, but for the life of me I can't go back to the execution and understand how the secret plan was intentionally in motion.
I don't think I've ever seen animation this detailed and beautiful. We saw sweeping shots of the golden city Gran Tesoro, and the animation spared no expense in making Gran Tesoro as beautiful as it was hyped up to be (though it did come at the expense of the weekly anime's quality). Even though I was watching a horrible pirated version where everything was much too bright I thought it was beautiful, so I can't wait to watch it in a more official capacity. So yeah, that's pretty much all I have to say.
Well, here we come to the end of my final review on the Film Gold paraphernalia. And, while this film couldn't get everything perfectly, it delivered on pretty much every facet. It's currently my favorite One Piece movie out of all of them, with fresh takes on characters and plotlines, and a breathtaking setting and soundtrack to go along with it.
So overall I give the film a 9/10. To people who have watched the film, what do you think of it? To people who haven't, what are you most looking forward to?