So, about a week and a half ago now (I think), Kristen and I got the chance to go see a Fathom Events showing of Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale for another blog that Kristen writes for, Twin Cities Geek. Since she wrote about it there, I thought I’d give my thoughts on the movie here.
If you’re not familiar with the Sword Art Online anime, the basic premise to it is that, in the first season of the show, they get stuck in a fantasy video game called Sword Art Online and to get out you have to beat the game. It’s a full immersion sort of game where you put on a head set and you are transported into the game. That’s the basic premise, except, to add one thing to it, it isn’t about clearing levels, beating boss monsters and epic fights, it’s about the people’s lives who are stuck in the game and how they deal with that well or not. The second season is more of the same thing, so you can kind of guess what the movie is about.
Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale follows many of the same characters you meet in the anime, mainly Kirito and Asuna, as they spend time in the real world as well as venturing back into the old games. In the real world there is now an AR (augmented reality) system that is becoming really popular. Not learning for their many previous mistakes with getting sucked into games or games being more real than they expected, everyone is buying into it. But it turns out that the game might be more than they are thinking. Kirito starts to expect this when Asuna’s memories of the fantasy world from the first season are stolen from her. He then needs to find a way to get the love of his life memories back and as he searches into that, he unravels a greater mystery than he had thought was there.
I tweeted out my very brief thoughts on the anime/movie, but I’ll go into more depth here. Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale is the light beer/pilsner of anime. What do I mean by that and is that a bad thing? To answer the second question first, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. In the case of a light beer or a pilsner, sure there isn’t a ton of flavor of depth to the beer, but you’re still getting the alcohol. That’s kind of what this movie is. It’s something that doesn’t have a ton of depth, touches on areas at kind of a surface level, but it’s still an enjoyable movie. And as the case for some people with light beer and pilsners, that’s what you want. You don’t want to get into something that is very heady. It was an enjoyable watch and would I watch it again? Maybe, eventually, but it isn’t something that grabbed me all that well.
What I do appreciate about the movie is that it was more than just a monster hacking and slashing movie, they spent some time trying to developer real character driven plot hooks. Now, all of these hooks were quite shallow, but it wasn’t just cool AR monster followed by a fight. I do want to say that I didn’t appreciate some of the fights though. In particular, one fight towards the end of the movie, the animators were like “We have no clue how to do this.” so they were given the direction, just make it a ton of close-ups where you have no idea of what you are really seeing, move the camera around a lot (aka the Bourne Identity method) and we’ll call it good. It made for a very bad fight sequence.
Would I recommend that someone goes sees this?
If you’re a fan of the show, definitely and you probably already have or already plan on it. Would I recommend it to someone else. Sure, it’s a popcorn type of flick, know that going into it, and enjoy it, but if there are other movies that you want to see, put it low on your list and you won’t have missed out on anything if you don’t see it. I probably wouldn’t have ever seen it if Kristen hadn’t gotten free tickets for it, but I’m not sad that I saw it.
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