Rather, it is a nearly three-hour movie containing all the cutscenes from the DS game in remastered form.
And while it turns out to be a comprehensive abridgment of the events of that game, as a film, it is more than a little lacking. In between plot points were seemingly endless missions, all taking place in areas we had already seen before in Kingdom Hearts II. In this movie version, by the very absence of gameplay, all this monotony has been cut—as have been the Disney-related story tie-ins.
This leaves the movie as a clear cut character piece focusing on Roxas, Axel, and Xion. And while it still drags—especially in the first half—the refocusing of the tale is to the movie's overall benefit. As it was on the DS and not the PS2 as were the other two gamesthe improvement is even more.
But while most of the time the remaster is perfect, every once in a while the remaster reverts back to the DS quality of graphics—specifically whenever there is a crossfade between two scenes. While this degradation only lasts for a second or however long the transition takesthe sudden change of visual quality is jarring and pulls you out of the film each time it happens.
Cut down from tens of hours to just three, it still feels overly bloated with filler. However, the biggest contributor to this is not the content of the film, but rather how it is presented.
Instead it is a myriad of small video clips with interspersed text screens. And in between each and every one is a short second or two of loading time.
This useless dead air is an anathema to the flow and adds in a stilted and disconnected feel to the film. While this is little more.
The final two fights of the film—Roxas versus Xion and Roxas versus Riku—really demand to be seen in their entirety. Without these climactic moments, the film feels as if it skipped its most important point—which, let's face it, it did—and I came away from the film feeling somewhat cheated by the lack of a climatic fight scene after watching three hours of conversation.
The movie would have been infinitely better with at least a real fight scene or two added to what was originally animated for the DS game. As a standalone product, I'd never recommend buying it.
Kingdom Hearts HD 1. It is scheduled for a Western release sometime later this year.
So if I wanted to get into the Kingdom Hearts series, which games would I have to play in order to understand the basic story? The A. By Richard Eisenbeis.